Dallas Museum of Art Announces Exhibition Celebrating the Past Fifty Years of Contemporary Art in Dallas

Exhibition is Part of a Two-Year Research and Publication Project Documenting the Contemporary Art Landscape in Dallas and Surrounding Areas of the Past Fifty Years

The Dallas Museum of Art today announced DallasSITES: Charting Contemporary Art, 1963 to Present, an exhibition celebrating the history of North Texas’s bold and distinctive art scene. Looking back over fifty years, DallasSITES examines the moments, people, and organizations that helped shape the area’s incredibly vital relationship with contemporary art. So often relegated to the art world’s “third coast,” North Texans created opportunities from this peripheral status by working in ways that can be described as uniquely Texan, while capturing and maintaining the attention of the national and international art communities.

Using materials culled from several local private archives, as well as major public records, DallasSITES recovers many of these now-forgotten moments that are intrinsic to the DNA of the North Texas art scene. Some of this history is better known thanks to the longevity of certain efforts, like 500X Gallery, which started in 1978, or Valley House Gallery, which took over the reins of the Betty McLean Gallery in 1954. However, much of it remains obscured by time and the area’s constant desire to look toward the future without first reflecting on its past. Through gifts of private papers, records, and archives, the research accumulated in preparation for the exhibition and publication will help establish the DMA as the primary archive and center for the research of contemporary art of North Texas.

“The contemporary art scene in North Texas has always been active and edgy,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “It is the DMA’s pleasure, and also its responsibility, to present the city’s fifty-year engagement with the art of our time both in our galleries and on our website.”

DallasSITES: Charting Contemporary Art, 1963 to Present, on view May 26 through September 15, 2013, is composed of mainly ephemeral works—gallery invitations, posters, publications, photography, video—as well as a select group of art objects. The majority of the art is from the DMA’s archives, with loans from the Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C., the Dallas City Municipal Archives, the Texas/Dallas History & Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library, and several local private collections. Organized geographically, the exhibition will focus on seven major areas of Dallas, including Oak Lawn and Cedar Springs, Deep Ellum, Oak Cliff, the Dallas Arts District and downtown Dallas, and surrounding university communities such as Arlington and Denton. Within each of these geographic areas, the history of the galleries, artist collectives, individuals, collectors, artists, and institutions—including the South Dallas Cultural Center, the Arts District, Good/Bad Art Collective, Toxic Shock, and others—are presented through the ephemeral objects produced by these neighborhoods over the past fifty years along with research compiled for the DallasSITES project.

In addition, the DMA will host a month-long experimental project space from July 19 through August 18, 2013, in its contemporary art galleries titled DallasSITES: Available Space. Viewed as a companion to the historical exhibition, Available Space aims at foregrounding the current state of contemporary art in North Texas by tapping select artists, curators, collectives, and art educators from the community to program unique and innovative projects in the DMA’s contemporary art galleries. This aspect of the exhibition is multifaceted, with galleries dedicated to video, performance, education, and artist-led workshops. Programming for the space will be dynamic and will change over the course of the month, allowing visitors new ways to engage with the space each time they visit. In this way, Available Space is intended to bring the DallasSITES exhibition up to the present day, providing a platform for local artists to contribute to the living history of this vibrant community.

“We are very excited to be engaging the local arts community in such a dynamic way,” stated Gabriel Ritter, The Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art. “The space will offer a level of immediacy and experimentation that is rare within encyclopedic museums today.”

A scholarly electronic publication will accompany DallasSITES: Charting Contemporary Art, 1963 to Present and will be the first DMA project to utilize the Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI), a program begun by the Getty Foundation to bring scholarly research and publication into the digital age. The electronic publication will be available in July. The DallasSITES publication will use software developed by the Art Institute of Chicago and the IMA Lab for the OSCI program. The publication will follow the geographic organization of the DallasSITES exhibition, providing broader and more detailed narrative of the development of the contemporary art scene within each enclave. Content for the publication, in conjunction with the exhibition, includes histories of major nonprofit and for-profit institutions, artist collectives, and key individuals such as artists, collectors, administrators, critics, and educators, along with documentation of moments that have contributed to the history of Dallas’s contemporary art scene.

The exhibition is curated by Gabriel Ritter, The Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, and Leigh Arnold, DMA Research Project Coordinator. The DallasSITES publication will be available on the DMA’s website in conjunction with the exhibition opening. The exhibition, publication, and research project is funded by the University of Texas at Dallas’s Texas Fund for Curatorial Research grant.

About the Texas Fund for Curatorial Research
The Texas Fund for Curatorial Research, administered by Richard Brettell, The Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair, Art and Aesthetics, at the UT Dallas–based Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Museums [CISM], was established to promote, support, and sustain advanced curatorial scholarship in North Texas. The fund, which was created by a gift from Nancy B. Hamon and matching research funds from the State of Texas, promotes museum-related scholarship at the highest level by supporting specific projects of locally based curators and art historians (often in conjunction with national and international colleagues). It offers a framework for collaboration among regional museums, universities, and other cultural institutions, and between all those institutions and the larger professional world.

About the Dallas Museum of Art
Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than 22,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, the Museum welcomes more than half a million visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary events, and dramatic and dance presentations. In January 2013, the DMA returned to a free general admission policy, and launched DMA Friends, the first free museum membership program in the country.

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported, in part, by the generosity of DMA Partners and donors, the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

For more information, please contact:
Jill Bernstein
Dallas Museum of Art