Dallas' Performance Art Problem Isn't A Matter of Quantity. It's A Matter Of Quality.

In his lead up to this Saturday's “Inside)(Outside” performance art showcase — a series of four performance art pieces going down at various venues, starting at Oil and Cotton and curated by (wo)manorial and Performance SWD Magazine's Peter Simek took some time this week to ask if there was too much performance art in North Texas. It's a fair question: As Simek notes, there indeed has been a noticeable uptick of area performance art pieces in the last 18 months.

But the problem with performance art in Dallas is not a problem of quantity. It's a problem of rigor.

Many of the performances I've seen recently have ranged from cute (see: Performance SW at Boom Town) to indulgent (Randall Garrett at Deep Ellum Windows).

For my money, Slik Stockings is still the best performance art outfit in North Texas — and this has a lot to do with the fact that Danielle Georgiou is a professional dancer who is constantly training and fine-tuning her body's expressive possibilities. For what it's worth, I'd rank Erica Felicella a close second, as her “Invisible Shell” series in which she literally cages herself in front of audiences just might be the single best individual performance of the last few years (although, I must say, Thomas Feulmer's performance at Modern Ruin in 2010 was quite spectacular, too).

My hope is that everyone who is currently engaging in performance art in these parts continues engaging in it — but starts to take it more seriously. There are many ways to do this, of course. You can partner with an institution and bring in some leading performance artists and groups for a workshop (credit to the McKinney Avenue Contemporary for doing just this last year with Tony Orrico and David Graeve). You can learn from other disciplines outside of the visual arts and research the physical and historical context of where you are performing, too. And you certainly shouldn't be afraid to let your performance do something that is bigger than yourself.

Performance art can be beautiful. At its best it is immediate, impactful and fleeting. And, to be sure, in this highly networked, digital, social age there is something especially romantic and communal about the idea of having to be somewhere at a certain time or otherwise risking on losing out on the magic.

To that end, I'd encourage art fans to ignore the possible overkill and check out these four “Inside)(Outside” performances on Saturday evening.

Hey, there's always a chance you could see something magical. And that alone makes the effort worthwhile.

Moving on, CultureMap reports this week that Erin Cluley is leaving the Dallas Contemporary to open her own gallery — yes, called Erin Cluley Gallery — in Trinity Groves. Cluley will represent both East Coast-based and local artists, including the Dallas-based Francisco Moreno and Kevin Todara, at her space. Her inaugural exhibition will be September 13th with works by René Treviño.

It's worth pointing out, though, that CultureMap is incorrect in reporting that Cluley will be bringing the first contemporary art space in the area. That honor goes to Arthur Peña's Ware:wolf:haus, which celebrated its one-year anniversary last May. And that's just one of the many projects Peña's got up his sleeve in those parts.

Speaking of interesting projects: The “21st Annual New Texas Talent Exhibition” juried by Andrea Karnes at Craighead Green Gallery last weekend was yet another reminder as to just how much top-notch talent our region produces. The New Texas Talent exhibition only goes as far as the juror takes it, and Karnes this year brought this venerable showcase to previously unseen heights.

It's no secret that Karnes, a curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, has a talented eye, but she once again proved it by assembling here one of the best group shows of the year. Among the highlights: “Exile” by Maurcio Saenz, a mixed media sculpture that incorporates flat paneled videos inside of well-crafted white cabinets dipped in magical realism; Susan Sponsier's “Hoodie,” which is a triptych of cyanotypes on white linen pinned onto canvas that featured three portraits of people wearing hoodies; and Jessica Kreutter's “Of Ruin and Rooms That,” which is a mixed media wall and sculpture installation that neatly invokes domesticity and ruin and sadness and waste. But, truly, there are great pieces everywhere you turn in this show, so do yourself a favor and see it before it comes down August 30, 2014. Check here for gallery hours.

Also of note from this past weekend was the debut of the “LINESCAPES” show from James M. Rizzi at Circuit 12 Gallery — an exhibit that serves as a reminder of the value of presentation and scale. Rizzi's decision to go from the ceiling to the floor with his line mural — not to mention the extra pop that his bulky, black-and-white lines received from the freshly shined floors — must be seen in person to properly appreciate. Seeing it feels like being shrunk and wrapped inside one giant drawing. You have until September 2 to see what that feels like, so check here for gallery hours.

This Week's Openings and Happenings of Note.

THURSDAY.
DIY Panel hosted by THRWD's Lee Escobedo at CentralTrak. 7 p.m.

SATURDAY
“Women For Hire” hosted by Vanessa Quilantan at WAAS Gallery. 5:30 p.m. – 1 a.m.
“Red Hot” at Liz London’s Art & Design Gallery. 6 – 10 p.m.
“Lenworth” by Joonbug Lenworth McIntosh at Epocha. 6 – 9 p.m.
“Inside)(Outside – Live Performance Showcase” at Oil and Cotton. 6 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Midtown ARTwalk at Gallery at MIDTOWN. 6-10 p.m.
“Broken Perspective” by Favio Moreno at {neighborhood} in conjunction with The Public Trust. 6 – 10 p.m.
“Ctrl + V: Collage” at Kirk Hopper Fine Art. 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
“No Need To Be Heroic” at Fashion Art Network Gallery. 7;30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Cover photo of James M. Rizzi's “LINESCAPES” courtesy of Circuit 12 Gallery.

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