Guest Blogger Tina Aguilar teaches Humanities and Cultural Studies at Brookhaven College School of the Arts.
Galleries are in abundance in North Texas, and one of the more original spaces is Deep Ellum’s The Public Trust. The gallery’s current show is a group affair called “The New Deal.” Blakely Thomas Dadson’s, Bring Down Babylon is intense and permeates the psyche. Brent Ozaeta’s Why Children Fail shows a particular filtering of online imagery. His intricate stitch work and installation in progress offer viewers a chance to see the creation of the mass of culture he references. Jeremy Smith’s Untitled, a darkly curious piece, conjures up different stories as I gaze into it. As he explains, it “shows the weight of your personal demons and you dealing with them.” And Steven Hopwood-Lewis’ figures in Untitled entrance me with those shimmering eyes.
Gallery owner Brian Gibb recently took a break from installing “The New Deal” to speak with me for this week’s Art&Seek Q&A
Tina Aguilar: In recent years, many galleries have relocated to the Dragon Street quadrant. You are a point of origin for contemporary art seekers and have a history with artists pushing the edges. Tell me how you picked your location here in Deep Ellum and about its sustenance.
Brian Gibb: When we were looking to move from Denton, I met an art patron named Gianni Madrini who heard we were going to make a move towards Deep Ellum. She introduced me to Lou and Susan Reese, and they said they loved what I was doing and said they had a building for me to consider. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the Reese’s encouragement. They understood me. Susan has been wonderful. Deep Ellum has friends and environment. There is traffic down here to enjoy the arts, and its gaining momentum again. I attribute my success to having good relationships. I think Deep Ellum is a great neighborhood and changing in positive ways. It is pedestrian and urban, like Brooklyn, and I hope in the future we have more parking, less meters, more free parking, but we’ll see.
T.A.: How would you describe the art climate at present?
B.G.: I hope it is coming back. Across the board, I feel like there is a change. It was very difficult to hear stories with the market decline. There were individuals that declined and said, “I am sorry I can’t buy right now.” I think a lot of people left to assess their situation, and I feel a sense of resurgence for our area. Relationships are the best part of doing this work.. There is a synergy happening.
T.A.: You also connect to art discourse in the community with your gallery artists, most recently with Richard Garet in collaboration with Southern Methodist University’s Doolin Gallery at the Owen Fine Arts Center. Can you tell me about these partnerships and the importance of such efforts?
B.G.: You want to create a second opportunity with the artist. At an opening, you get random blips. But when you can take the time to learn about them and their work, hearing about it adds to the experience. The Dallas Museum of Art is another great venue. I was able to go see Mark Bradford when he was here, and it was amazing. If I can be a part of that experience and help another person have one or more of those encounters … I am happy to do that.
T.A.: Where does your eye wander?
B.G.: I look at so much work, and I am in search of it all the time. I travel and see the art fairs, Miami is great, and when you do it this way you are dealing with new art. I can bring new artists to Texas, and it is an opportunity for me to see strong work. You are really seeing prime examples. I also like this region. In a few weeks, I look forward to the Dallas Art Fair. It’s also about creating opportunities and finding new points of interest.
T.A.: Tell me about the current show? There is a range of work by artists that stimulates the senses and mind.
B.G.: This show and amount of work is understated. I really wanted to create a quiet space for everything to happen. The execution from all of these artists is exact. There has definitely been a shift with what I show. In Denton, the content was more underground and portrayed something about counter-culture. There are often things I show now … that are of a different background. The longevity of what these artists create is promising, and they are not cranking out fast work. They are so considerate of what they are doing and what leaves the studio. The subject matter and narratives challenge people to really look at the work.. It’s not something that is hard to look at … it’s not controversial, but you have to think and you find yourself asking: What is this about?
“The New Deal” runs through February 27.
The Art&Seek Q&A is a weekly discussion with a person involved in the arts in North Texas. Check back next Thursday for another installment.