Dallas Art Week is a queso-filled, liquor-soaked helluva good time. Gallerists, journalists, artists, collectors and a handful of “art enthusiasts” make the annual pilgrimage to Texas’ newer cultural hub (the old one being Austin) to partake in the festivities (and take in some art at the Dallas Art Fair and surrounding exhibitions, of course).
Nate Lowman brought his gang of New York it-boys (or are they it-men by now?) to fete the opening of his exhibit, America Sneezes, at Dallas Contemporary. Though the show is centered around a puzzle of shaped canvases arranged to mimic the American flag, it was the back room, which showcased lamps constructed from found objects like Timberland boots and vintage t-shirts, that had everyone talking.
In the parking lot out front, guests like Leo Fitzpatrick, Aaron Young and Dan Colen (who also opened a gallery show in Dallas this week – more on that later) drank candy-flavored vodka cocktails under a glowing Light Cave erected by LA artists FriendsWithYou.
Following a rather tame after party at The Joule (the hotel that serves as Art Week headquarters), a more raucous celebration took place at local dive Double Wide. I apologized to a couple of handlebar-moustached locals for our obnoxious behavior. They were not charmed.
Then came the centerpiece of Dallas Art Week – the art fair itself. At the gala opening (Dallas folk use the word gala to excess. It looked more like a cocktail party to me) guests drank champagne and roamed the spacious aisles of fair, inquiring about a price here or putting items on hold there. Why alcohol isn’t served at all fair previews is beyond me; is there anything that loosens pocketbooks more effectively?
The following evening was the MTV RE:DEFINE Gala – a delightful exhibition of wealth and excess (all for a good cause, of course – proceeds from tickets and the live auction benefit the MTV Staying Alive foundation and Dallas Contemporary). While the highlight was undoubtedly a spirited performance by IUD, comprised of drum beating heroes Lizzi Bougatsos and Sadie Laska, a morbid form of entertainment could be found in the ladies’ bathroom line, where women dripping in diamonds gushed about the pricey art acquired by their husbands.
Later, the more ambitious hedonists (myself among them) topped off the night with a visit to XTC – a BYOB strip club where the pole extends two floors and the girls are extremely, ahem, voluptuous. I groped my first implant that evening – it left something to be desired.
Dan Colen’s opening came on night four at hip Dallas outpost And Now (some fancier folks attended the Dallas Museum of Art Gala – I was not among them). The gallery, which is located in a rundown house in an unassuming Dallas neighborhood, served as the perfect space to showcase Colen’s assemblage of S&M materials. Attendees watched the sunset on the porch, sipping Modelos, before stumbling over to BBQ joint Lee Harvey’s for quesadillas, tequila and mediocre live tunes.
Teddy Perweiler, co-owner of nightclub du hour Happy Ending, hosted a pop-up version of the New York hotspot in a loft in Deep Ellum – Dallas’ answer to LES. Dallas native Erin Wasson cut a rug with model pal Noot Seer while others took tequila shots or climbed out an open window to smoke cigs on the roof.
The week was capped with the Eye Ball, named for Tony Tasset’s hideous eye sculpture that sits on the lawn on which the event takes place. With the country rock performances, wackily outfitted waiters, and beanbag seating, the resulting Instagrams looked much like those being simultaneously posted from Coachella.
But having already overdone it in terms of complimentary beverages and buffets, a few of us hopped in an Uber and hightailed it for one last helping of queso and enchiladas at an old school tex mex spot. I returned to New York with congealed plastic cheese coating my stomach.