A Beginner's Guide To Dallas Gallery Scene.

Recently, Dallas's small art community has been abuzz about, well, itself.

This past year, it seems as if there's been a lecture or panel discussion every other month about why Dallas's “art scene” is great or, barring that, how it could be made better.

This self-love hasn't stopped there, either. The Dallas Museum of Art even opened a visual art scene retrospective DallasSITES: Charting Contemporary Art, 1963 to Present this past May — and, starting this Friday, the museum will begin its month-long, experimental Available Spaces program in conjunction with that aforementioned exhibition to give the contemporary artists of the region some much-needed shine.

Truth be told, it does seem like things are looking up for the Dallas art scene. So, to that end, here's another article about it.

Over the past few years, we've seen a number of “best of”-style Dallas gallery guides published. But few of these have really addressed the highly important feature of accessibility.

Our savvy readers probably already know to occasionally drop by staples like the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center, but sometimes getting out to Dallas's galleries can seem like an intimidating, if not tedious task. Below, we offer up an introduction to some of the best art spaces in the city for those who are not yet experts on the gallery scene. Familiarize yourself with these places, and you're really just a night away from infiltrating the exclusive, see-and-be-seen, complimentary beer and wine world of art.

Circuit 12 Contemporary
1130 Dragon Street, Suite 150
Design District

After making a name for himself as an independent curator in Miami years ago, Dustin Orlando has now settled down here in Dallas. He and his wife, Gina Orlando, opened Circuit 12's inaugural exhibition just last spring, but the gallery has been going strong since its debut. The space's impressive roster of emerging artists from all over the country makes the gallery a welcome addition to the Dallas Design District. The Orlandos' consistent aesthetic vision is evident throughout the 11 shows they've put on since March 2012, but the young gallery is never boring — Circuit 12 is known for hosting parties and events that bring together art, music and fashion enthusiasts alike. Also this year, the curator couple began a new program at their gallery called Regional Quarterly, which specifically focuses on the efforts of Texas-based artists and curators.

CentralTrak
800 Exposition Avenue
Exposition Park

CentrakTrak, the University of Texas as Dallas' highly respected artist residency program and gallery, brings together local and international artists to engage in dialogue and create work within the unique urban environment of Dallas. Current residents include UTD MFA candidate and recent founder of semigloss. magazine Sally Glass, plus visiting artists from Nigeria and Slovakia. The gallery space hosts thought-provoking exhibitions featuring local, national and international contemporary artists, as well as a bi-weekly panel discussion program called NEXT TOPIC each spring and fall.

Oliver Francis Gallery
209 South Peak Street
Deep Ellum

In 2011, Kevin Ruben Jacobs was 22 years old, working full-time at the Goss-Michael Foundation and finishing up his undergraduate degree at UT Arlington when he made the decision to open his own art gallery just outside of Deep Ellum. Perhaps understandably, this story was irresistible to local media outlets; more so than maybe any other curator in town, Jacobs is a total local media darling. More impressive, though, is the fact that Oliver Francis Gallery actually lives up to the buzz by consistently putting on some of the most unique shows in Dallas. Since opening the space, Jacobs has already brought in nationally and internationally recognized conceptual artists such as Brad Troemel and Rachel de Joode, while also spotlighting local emerging artists, many of whom work in new media. Oliver Francis is definitely one of the best spaces to visit if you want to see some of Dallas' more experimental art works. The gallery doesn't always have regular hours, though, so be sure to check the gallery's Facebook page for opening receptions and special open hours.

The Public Trust and Liliana Bloch Gallery
2919 Commerce Street
Deep Ellum

For the past few months, the small room in The Public Trust has been curated and owned by Liliana Bloch, formerly of Kirk Hopper Fine Art and the McKinney Avenue Contemporary. The concept of a “gallery within a gallery” has been confusing to some visitors, but the co-occupancy of this Deep Ellum space is a good fit. The Public Trust owner Brian Gibb has operated his gallery in its current iteration since 2006, gaining attention for showing accessible and unique art. And, though less than a year old, Liliana Bloch Gallery already boasts a strong stable of national and international artists on its roster.

500x Gallery
500 Exposition Avenue
Exposition Park

Established in 1978, 500x (named after its address in Expo Park) is the oldest artist-run cooperative gallery in the state of Texas. The main gallery exhibits co-op members' work, while an additional space upstairs showcases different guest artists every month. The fact that 500x is artist-run means that its members have direct control over the way their work is exhibited, and that visitors and collectors also have more of an opportunity to interact with gallery artists. If you too have aspirations of being an artist and getting discovered, consider trying your luck by participating in 500x's annual unjuried open show each summer called “Hot and Sweaty: Open Season.”

Goss-Michael Foundation
1405 Turtle Creek Boulevard
Design District

The Goss-Michael Foundation is a nonprofit art space in the Design District that exclusively exhibits British contemporary artists. Since 2007, the Foundation has shown work by big names such as Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin. The Foundation also places a heavy emphasis on art education, granting scholarships to promising high school students and maintaining a resource library/archive available by appointment and with a student ID.

Dallas Contemporary
161 Glass Street
Design District

Like the Goss-Michael Foundation, the Dallas Contemporary isn't technically a gallery — this 36,000-square-foot space located in the Design District is a “non-collecting art museum” — but it still changes its exhibitions a few times each year. Since becoming director of the Contemporary in 2010, Peter Doroshenko has focused on putting Texas artists into an international context by showing an impressive variety of work via his space's smart exhibition programming. For example: Currently on view are works from Belgian fashion designer Walter van Beirendonck, Dallas-based painter and UTD professor John Pomara, a graffiti artist from San Diego who goes by the name SONER, and Josephine Durkin, who currently lives and works in Greenville. Those interested in learning about the art world can attend the Contemporary's moderately frequent, free lecture series with Doroshenko called “Director's Discourse.”

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