Is The Dallas Visual Art Scene Too White?

Online Texas visual art publication Glasstire generally does a pretty outstanding job of looking at the Texas visual art world and adding a little perspective to the goings-on in that realm, but a piece penned by local art hound Darryl Ratcliff and posted to the site this past Friday, March 14, is downright staggering — and well worth your immediate attention.

In the article, called “Whites Only: Diversity and the Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas,” Ratcliff takes a look at the 13-member CADD organization — a group that includes such esteemed area galleries as Circuit 12, Conduit, Kirk Hopper, RO2 Art, Public Trust and 500X, among others — and, subsequently, takes them to task for “how diverse this prestigious group of galleries is when it comes to the artists they choose to exhibit.” Or, rather, how diverse they aren't.

It's jaw-dropping stuff: Ratcliff scanned the shows held in the last 15 months at each of these 13 member galleries and found that, of the 189 shows hosted in total, a full 93 shows (or just a shade below 50 percent) featured white males as the showcase artist. Women of all races accounted for 38 percent of these shows by Ratcliff's count.

Most revealing, though, was what Ratcliff found when it comes to minorities — regardless of gender — being showcased in this group of galleries: Hispanics accounted for just 10 percent of the shows hosted at these galleries; blacks, meanwhile, accounted for just two percent; other minorities accounted for another five percent.

“It still isn't bad to be a white male artist in the Dallas contemporary art scene, though,” Ratcliff writes in his scathing thinkpiece. “Every other opportunity in the last fifteen months went to that group. It was, however, horrible to be a Hispanic artist, with only [10 percent] of opportunities going to this group. Given the population percentages in our areas, this number is even more indefensible.”

Being a black artist, meanwhile? “Abysmal,” writes Ratcliff of opportunities presented this group.

But are these numbers surprising? Certainly feels that way — especially when the artists we're most excited about coming from this region these days are hardly classified as white males.

Either way: Ratcliff's piece is a must-read.

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