Thanks To The Dallas Medianale, McKinney Avenue Contemporary Tops Our March Gallery Rankings.
Welcome to Canvassing, our regular look at the conversations that surround the Dallas art world. Pull up a chair. Stay with us for a while. The view's pretty nice from here.
Well, a month has passed since we introduced our new — and, yes, monthly — gallery power rankings concept to this site. So that means it's time for an update.
Before that, a reminder of how this works: While we started off in February by looking at the top 25 galleries in town each month, these power rankings will now focus on the 20 top non-museum art spaces in Dallas moving forward. It's important to note, meanwhile, that these rankings are not created for art world insiders but for the casual fan or the person who might not care at all about contemporary visual art yet. The idea is that it might serve as a possible entryway for these people — a friendly attempt to cut through the noise and create an ongoing, relatable narrative about what is actually happening in the Dallas arts world.
We come up with these rankings by looking at the various exhibitions, news and happenings that have occurred in previous month (in this case, February). It's a month-to-month thing and, as they state on every financial prospectus, past performance does not guarantee future results.
Finally, please keep in mind that all rankings are created very unscientifically by a committee of one.
As for this month's rankings: Today, Canvassing welcomes WAAS Gallery, Photographs Do Not Bend, Gray Matters, Galleri Urbane, Valley House, Alan Simmons and the Bath House Cultural Center into the fold for the very first time. We also have a few galleries — Beefhaus, Centraltrak and Circuit 12 — that have made huge climbs up the rankings.
Again: We invite you to go to all of these spaces, to find a gallery to root for, to get upset that your favorite space was snubbed, to argue over a beer about which spaces are overrated and underrated, and to tell us your own take via social media.
Now, onto the countdown.
20. Bath House Cultural Center (Last month: Unranked).
19. Holly Johnson (Last month: 18).
18. Kettle Art (Last month: 20).
17. Alan Simmons (Last month: Unranked).
16. Cris Worley (Last month: 19).
15. 500X (Last month: 10).
14. Valley House (Last month: Unranked).
13. The Safe Room (Last month: 15).
12. Galleri Urbane (Last month: Unranked).
11. Gray Matters (Last month: Unranked).
10. RO2 (Last month: 4). There's something refreshing about seeing Sarah Atlee and James Zamora's contemporary still-lives in a scene so dominated by modernist abstract painting.
9. PDNB (Last month: Unranked). Earlie Hudnall Jr.'s current exhibition is a must-see show of black neighborhoods in both Houston and Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
8. WAAS Gallery (Last month: Unranked). Brandy Adams' gallery space has been hosting a solo show by James Rizzi, who was last seen at Circuit 12. This time, though, JMR's showcasing his more colorful side.
7. Circuit 12 (Last month: 21). I really enjoyed the cohesion of this space's most recent group show, “Private Eyes | Grey Sunset,” especially when compared to last month’s group show, which felt more like a free-for-all.
6. Erin Cluley (Last month: 8). Cluley's continuing her march toward local domination with a solo show by Kevin Todora, whose convention-defying photography pieces are still as good as ever.
5. Zhulong (Last month: 1). Zhulong has stayed in the clouds this month with a two-person show from Matthew Plummer-Fernandez and Anne Katrine Senstad. When looking at this show, I couldn't help but think of two more Dallas-based artists, Travis LaMothe and Randy Guthmiller.
4. UTD-Centraltrak (Last month: 14). In general, group shows are difficult things to pull off. But this past month's tribute show to Chuck and George could melt the heart of even the iciest critic. It was our art scene at its most loving — and the mock Dallas Art President election was just the icing on the cake.
3. Conduit (Last month: 11). Stephen Lapthisophon is truly a genius, and his paintings remain as strong and as intricate and as clever as ever. Vincent Ramos and Jeff Gibbons both delivered interesting shows here, too, although Gibbons' work felt a little more crowded than normal.
2. Beefhaus (Last month: 24). Compared to the the McKinney Avenue Contemporary's Medianale (more on that in a bit), the Alison Starr-curated “In the Room We Discovered an Other in the Corner” here was a bit less polished and more homegrown, and yet nonetheless an excellent month-long series that pushed performance art into the consciousness of the Dallas art scene. Congratulations to everyone involved on a great show.
1. McKinney Avenue Contemporary (Last month: 2). The MAC's Dallas Medianale would not be denied this month. Receiving glowing reviews from every possible outlet, this new media, experimental film festival finished with the Carolyn Sortor-curated “Existential Virtuality” just as the whole run started. In other words: It was smart, provocative and just plain excellent. Although it felt impossible to find the time to take in every program, every small glimpse into this ambitious series, which involved some of the brightest artists and curators working in Dallas, was expansive and often pleasurable.
Cover photo by Scott Mitchell.