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April Brings Art Shows, Parties, Performances with Dallas Arts Month

April Brings Art Shows, Parties, Performances with Dallas Arts Month - March 31, 2017

With the arrival of 2017, Dallas Arts Week got a makeover. It is now Dallas Arts Month, which began April 1 and will last the entire month.

Paul Simon wrote "April Come She Will," having no idea that, in Dallas in 2017, it would mean a month's celebration that includes but is hardly limited to the ninth edition of the increasingly popular Dallas Art Fair (which is open to the public from April 7 through April 9). 

Mayor Mike Rawlings recently got the opportunity to usher in arts month and did so by citing the art forms present in Dallas — "Theater, music, dance, sculpture, literature, painting and more" — and why it now takes 30 days to "do it all justice.”

Jennifer Scripps, who last May became director of the city's Office of Cultural Affairs, calls it "an embarrassment of riches," which extends from Saturday's TITAS Alvin Ailey dance performance at the Winspear Opera House, to the much-lauded ongoing Mexico show at the Dallas Museum of Art, to the free Arts District block party on April 22.

Here is the website that gives you the full rundown. On April 10, the mayor's free Creative Conversation will return to Dallas City Performance Hall, focusing on art, architecture and place-making. The city is offering a free Family Day on April 15 on the Ron Kirk Bridge, as well as three performances on April 22 of BANDALOOP, the pioneer in vertical dance. BANDALOOP will perform on the side of a downtown office tower across the street from the AT&T Performing Arts Center.

And that's not all. The Dallas Book Festival is April 29. The 14th annual "Hecho en Dallas" opens April 15 at the Latino Cultural Center. The South Dallas Cultural Center is staging "Black Art 214." And the Oak Cliff Cultural Center is staging an exhibition of student art.

The Dallas Theater Center will debut Electra, Sophocles' play about a woman agonizing over her father's murder by her mother, but will do so in a most unconventional way when it opens April 12. Electra will be staged outdoors in the AT&T Performing Arts Center's Annette Strauss Artist Square, with audience members wearing earbuds to hear commentary from the chorus.

Pop-music lovers will get their usual lineup of commercial fare, but two nuggets during Dallas Arts Month are being offered by Kipyn Martin, she of the exquisite voice that calls to mind an early Joni Mitchell, who will play Uncle Calvin's Coffeehouse on April 7.

And on April 14, Dallas' own, the great Edie Brickell (and the wife of the aforementioned Simon), will play the first of three nights of concerts at the Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff.

Even the city's signature art event, the Dallas Art Fair, which is open to the public from April 7 to April 9, is adding music.

Focusing on local, homegrown talent, artist and writer Lee Escobedo (also a Dallas Morning News contributor) has curated a lineup of performers whose sounds can be heard from 4 to 7 p.m. April 7 on the lawn of Fashion Industry Gallery, where the fair is taking place. The headliner is hip-hop emcee Sam Lao. Rounding out the lineup is surfpunk band Sealion, lyricist Bobby Sessions, five-piece punk band Party Static, electronic and techno producer Cygnus and producer Picnictyme, who moonlights as a member of Erykah Badu's band.

The fair itself is luring luring almost 100 galleries from around the world. And some are considered elite.

Dina Wright is one of four U.S. directors of the internationally renowned art gallery owned by its Swedish-born founder, Per Skarstedt.

Skarstedt's elite gallery will make its inaugural appearance at the Dallas Art Fair on April 7, when its ninth edition opens at Fashion Industry Gallery on Ross Avenue. To be or not to be in Texas was, for Skarstedt, a no-brainer.

"Dallas and a lot of other cities in Texas have a great history in collecting," Wright says, noting the state's "wonderful legacies of art-collecting families." But now, there's another element, which made the Dallas connection impossible to resist.

"There's a vibrance in the newer collecting down there," Wright says, calling it "a great opportunity" to head to Dallas. "It's definitely an area that we would like to get to know better."

The fair is also importing one of the bigger names among art-world heavyweights by luring noted New York gallery owner Larry Gagosian, who will showcase the work of Piero Golia. 

Gagosian and Skarstedt are two of the bigger names, but others making their way to Ross Avenue include Lehmann Maupin (New York and Hong Kong), Simon Lee Gallery (London and Hong Kong) and Shane Campbell (Chicago). Maupin is bringing his own marquee attraction in the person of acclaimed artist Juergen Teller.

As for Golia, he created plenty of buzz last year, when his four-month installation, Chalet Dallas, staged at the Nasher Sculpture Center in collaboration with architect Edwin Chan, featured a marching band, spun cotton candy, Champagne, mechanical bull-riding and fireworks.

The full lineup includes 39 venues coming from 16 different countries. Seventy percent of those participating in 2017 are "returning" galleries. That alone is remarkable considering the inauspicious roots of the fair, which began in the shadow of the Great Recession in 2009.

But now is a different time, with the U.S. faring better in international art sales than foreign counterparts. Recent estimates say the U.S. accounts for 40 percent of the world market, and among the 50 states Texas fares better than most, with the Dallas fair being one reason why.

That makes the appeal of Justin Adian even more inviting than it might be otherwise. "It's nice to have that local talent to showcase," Wright says.

Her Skarstedt gallery will bring to Dallas "between 15 to 18 works" that, in Adian's case, will range between $18,000 and $40,000.

Born in Fort Worth, Adian graduated from the University of North Texas in 2000. Now based in New York, he's known for stretching oil, enamel or spray-painted canvas around foam cushions to create wall-mounted sculptures. As his gallery boasts on his bio page, he "comfortably straddles the theoretical divide between painting and sculpture with wry assertiveness.”

And then there's David Salle, whom Wright calls a "historically important artist." He was born in Oklahoma and is now based in New York. "He started getting recognition in the early 1980s and has been producing and exhibiting ever since. He's just got this vibrant, rich career of painting, and he's one of these true American artists that we really believe in," Wright says.

"He has a style that's very unique. He likes to create these very symphonic, robust compositions that are packed with imagery he's culled from advertising from the 1950s of magazine clippings or archival images. Or he'll incorporate portraiture or his own photography. They're super engaging. He's looking to constantly create a moment where you can go back to a piece and always find another story line." Each of Salle's pieces will cost $45,000.

Adian, says Wright, also "has a language that is extremely unique. Justin's works are amazing in the sense that he approaches painting in a very unique manner." Because of his style, "they have this wonderful, three-dimensional quality." In addition to an artist with local roots, plenty of area galleries will also have a presence at the fair. They include And Now, Barry Whistler Gallery, Conduit Gallery, Cris Worley Fine Arts, Erin Cluley Gallery, Photographs Do Not Bend, Ro2 Art, Talley Dunn Gallery and Valley House Gallery & Sculpture Garden.

And there's one more new face.

Hannah Hoffman, 31, is a rookie participant at the Dallas Art Fair and brings with her strong local credentials. She's the daughter of the late Robert Hoffman and the stepdaughter of one of the city's most noted art collectors, Marguerite Hoffman. Hannah's mother, Sally Hoffman, lives in Santa Fe, N.M. Hannah graduated from the Hockaday School before graduating with a degree in art history from Boston University.

Hannah lives in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles and operates the gallery that bears her name, one she opened in 2013, in Hollywood.

She is bringing to the fair the work of a noteworthy trio of contemporary artists: Olga Balema, Tom Burr and Elaine Cameron-Weir.

Dallas marks the debut of her association with Burr, whom she describes as "a critical artist. He's quite established at this point," and is, in her words, "quite significant in the larger cultural conversation.”

She says she's excited to introduce Dallas to three significant artists who are being exhibited at an international level.

In addition to being able to view art from all over the world, the fair also promises a plateful of ancillary events, which you can read about here. Among the more noteworthy is the exhibition opening at the Power Station on Wednesday. It features the work of Steven Parrino, whose "Dancing on Graves" gathers painting, sculpture and works on paper and video from the artist's "short but robust career."

Last but not least, the fair has doubled the size of its Acquisition Program, which began last year in partnership with the Dallas Museum of Art, which received funding of $50,000. This year, the amount has increased 100 percent, to $100,000. 

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