A scene from the F.A.N. Gallery. Credit: Andi Harman.

Arts & Entertainment

A General Guide to Gallery Hopping in Dallas

Plus this weekend's openings, including an especially busy Saturday.

Dallas has a reputation as an up-and-coming arts city in part because of the volume and quality of art galleries in town. One of my favorite things to do is to go gallery hopping, but for many it can be an intimidating prospect. Even for a seasoned gallery hopper—Saturday, for instance, has at least 20 gallery openings to choose from—making an efficient night of it can seem downright impossible. Fret not! Just this once I will tell you my secrets for maximizing your gallery hopping experience.

Most galleries in Dallas are welcoming places and do not have formal dress codes. You don’t need a dress or a suit to enter, although some people wear them. You don’t need to wear anything particularly stylish, trendy, or over-the-top, although you’ll see these folks as well. Wear what makes you feel good, but do pay attention to your footwear: most galleries do not have any seating and you may be on your feet for several hours.

Next, take a moment and look at where the galleries are located. Some are clustered together geographically; others are more isolated. You have a limited window of time, so minimize the minutes you spend in the car as much as possible. Does it make sense to drive across town to see one opening when you could see four in that same amount of time?

For this Saturday, the order I’m thinking is: Erin Cluley Gallery, Site 131, Craighead Green Gallery, Mary Tomas Gallery, Laura Rathe Fine Art, Wall Gallery, Barry Whistler Gallery, Carneal Simmons Contemporary Art, Conduit Gallery, Photos Do Not Bend Gallery, Cris Worley Fine Arts, Holly Johnson Gallery, Circuit 12 Contemporary, Liliana Bloch Gallery, Galleri Urbane Marfa + Dallas, The MAC, 500X. (Locations are all below this text.)

This is admittedly a super ambitious schedule; I’ll probably miss at least two or three from this list, although I try not to spend on average of more than fifteen minutes at each. Just enough to time to enjoy a glass of wine. And about that wine: in celebration of their openings, many galleries provide free beer or wine to their guests. A nifty trick to gauge how long you have been at a gallery is to measure how long it takes for you to drink a glass of wine. Although—and especially so if you’re driving—you should probably alternate between wine and sparkling water. For me, that’s about 15 minutes. 

Another thing to remember is that the artists and gallerists are working during the opening. They are trying to sell their artwork; that’s how they make their livings. It is perfectly acceptable and wonderful to say hello, but try to avoid a long conversation unless you are actually considering buying a piece of artwork. If you have burning questions or opinions about the show, come back and see it during normal gallery hours. Usually the gallerist will be happy to chat with you then.

In fact, I must confess, openings are actually not the best time to see the work. There are often a lot of people, it can be noisy, you are hurrying from place to place (15 minutes!), and you may or may not be drinking a lot of wine. One of my favorite things to do is to note a show that seems particularly interesting, and try to revisit it before it’s taken down. Usually exhibitions are up three to six weeks, and most galleries are open Tuesday through Saturday. The opening celebrations are prime opportunities to preview the work.

Finally, if you have the means—buy a piece of art! Don’t be afraid to buy art from Dallas galleries and Dallas artists. Many are exceptional and need your support. It is a wonderful way to start or deepen a relationship with both the gallery and the artist. Plus, once you buy a piece of art you become a collector—arguably the most powerful people in the Dallas art world. And you get to own an amazing piece of art that moved you in some way.

Even if you don’t, go look at the art anyway. The artists and galleries spend countless hours putting these shows together and part of it is so that people can experience the artwork. You never know when you might encounter a work of art that will change your life, shift how you see the world or yourself, or just make you thankful to be alive. I hope to see some of you out this weekend. Without further ado, here are this week’s openings:

Thursday:

Jay Cantrell: Constructions at
Ro2 Art at The Magnolia Theatre – February 16, 6 -8 p.m.
3699 McKinney Avenue Dallas, Texas 75204

Opening of Practice: Mosaic Community Exhibition at
Creative Arts Center of Dallas – February 16, 6 – 8:30 p.m.
2360 Laughlin Drive Dallas, Texas 75228

Friday:

Faces of Earth at
LuminArté Fine Art Gallery – February 17, 7 – 10 p.m.
1727 E Levee Street Dallas, Texas 75207

Saturday:

Robert Hudson: Between the Lines at
Bivins Gallery – February 18, 5 – 8 p.m.
300 Crescent Court Ste 100, Dallas, Texas 75201

Jeanine Michna-Bales: Through Darkness to Light at
Photos Do Not Bend Gallery – February 18, 5 – 8 p.m.
154 Glass Street, Ste 104, Dallas, Texas, 75207

VANGUARD at
Laura Rathe Fine Art – February 18, 5 – 8 p.m.
1130 Dragon Street Dallas, Texas 75207

Jennifer Morgan: Mesonoxian Meditations at
Carneal Simmons Contemporary Art – February 18, 5 – 8:30 p.m.
1415 Slocum Street, Ste 105, Dallas, Texas 75207

Krista Harris, Faith Scott Jessup and Carolin Wehrmann at
Craighead Green Gallery – February 18, 5 – 8 p.m.
1011 Dragon Street Dallas, Texas 75207

Scott Dykema: Indigenous at
Wall Gallery – February 18, 5 – 8 p.m.
1529 Dragon Street, Dallas, Texas 75207

Through Thick and Thin: Image Painting Today at
Erin Cluley Gallery – February 18, 5 – 8 p.m.
414 Fabrication Street Dallas, Texas 75212

Transformed: reclamation, re-invention + identity at
Site 131 – February 18, 5 – 8 p.m.
131 Payne Street, Dallas, Texas 75207

Patti Oleon: Neither Here Nor There at
Cris Worley Fine Arts – February 18, 5 – 8 p.m.
1845 E Levee Street, Ste 110, Dallas, Texas 75207

Joan Winter: Edge of Light at
Holly Johnson Gallery – February 18, 5 – 8 p.m.
1845 E Levee Street, Ste 100, Dallas, Texas 75207

Fred Villanueva and Chris Lattanzio at
Mary Tomás Gallery – February 18, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
1110 Dragon Street, Dallas, Texas, 75207

Barsamian, Fahamu Pecou, and Maria Molteni at
Conduit Gallery – February 18, 6 – 8 p.m.
1626 Hi Line Drive, Ste C, Dallas, Texas 75207

Terrell James: SOTOL View at
Barry Whistler Gallery – February 18, 6 – 8 p.m.
315 Cole Street Ste 120, Dallas, Texas 75207

Lucas Martell and Gina S. Orlando at
Circuit 12 Contemporary – February 18, 6 – 9 p.m.
1811 E Levee Street, Dallas, Texas 75207

Mayra Barraza: History Lessons at
Liliana Bloch Gallery – February 18, 6 – 9 p.m.
2271 Monitor Street, Dallas, Texas 75207

Lucy Kirkman Allen and Heath West at
Galleri Urbane Marfa + Dallas – February 18, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
2277 Monitor Street Dallas, Texas 75207

Lily Hanson and Brad Tucker at
Kirk Hopper Fine Art – February 18, 6 – 8 p.m.
3008 Commerce Street, Dallas, Texas 75226

Joshua Goode: Outhouse Oracle at
The MAC – February 18, 6 – 9 p.m.
1601 S Ervay St, Dallas, Texas 75215

500X College Expo at
500 X – February 18, 7 – 10 p.m.
500 Exposition Ave, Dallas, Texas 75226

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