This Week’s Visual Art, Oct 2-6: Video Art For the Glittering Omni Hotel | Reviewing TOPO-TARANTULAS

Expanded Cinema

This Friday will be the second year the Dallas Video Festival taps a handful of artists to create media art designed specifically for the luminous skin of the Dallas Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas. I’m told the best place to watch the program is near the Hickory House BBQ on Industrial/Riverfront Blvd. Sound will be simulcast on 91.7 KXT.

Last year’s program was a success, at the very least for the thrill of the coup: a downtown building coopted for an art installation. But the second time around the Video Fest has taken a different approach, tapping Mona Kasra to curate a selection of artists from both Dallas and around the country. I like the change. Last year’s program offered a cross-section of artists in the community, and the result was a broad range of quality. The new approach should open it up. Here’s a key point: the Omni, as an artistic medium, is still an unknown entity, and it will take some time working with the building’s light-skin to really begin to understand what it can and can’t do. I hope the opportunity to experiment keeps coming every year.

Here are the artists who are creating works for the hotel (and over on Art and Seek, they have been profiling a handful of them): Morehshin Allahyari, with sound collaborator Andrew Blanton; Michele Jaquis; Kyle Kondas; Jonathan Monaghan, with music collaborator Evan Samek; Mike Morris; Luke Savisky, in collaboration with David Bartner and Paige Swift; Nina Schawanse; Kelly Sears; Carolyn Sortor; Jenny Vogel, with sound editing collaborator Andrew Blanton; Bart Weiss, with collaborators Mark Clive and Micah Hayes; and Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Art’s students.


Artist Arthur Pena’s free-for-all warehouse space in West Dallas held its latest event this past weekend, a collaborative project by two relatively new artists to the area, Tim DeVoe (now teaching at UNT) and Miriam Ellen Ewers. The entry to exhibit was its most intriguing aspect: a white van crammed into the entryway of the West Dallas warehouse with a wood and plastic wall constructed around it making it look like it came careening through and stuck. To enter, visitors had to crouch down and shimmy through and out the back of the van to the sound of underwater gurgles playing on the radio.

Once out and into the space, the first thing you confront is large wooden ramp-like structure, its bright painted surface fanning out to the sides and funneling down towards the back of the space. You can walk around the piece and peer underneath at the complicated two-by-four substructure, but a ladder invites you to climb up – forcing a more deliberate and precarious experience of the art and the warehouse. Ease your way down the ramp, and find yourself in the back part of the warehouse where DeVoe and Ewers have painstakingly rendered a long strip of multicolored, undulating plastic shards, a topographical cross-section of an unknown landscape which stretches nearly the full length of the wall. The plastic surfaces reflect dim sparkles of light to the floor; the sides reveal, as with the large ramp, the complicated guts of the construction.

The most immediate and available experience of the work is its theatricality. The spidery associations of the show’s title suggest an interest in the way these objects can manipulate or snare our experience of an environment. And yet the experience of TOPO-TARANTULAS isn’t quite the trap it is set out to be. The van is the only element in the show that fully subjects the viewer to his or her surroundings, and the large sculpture proves surprisingly undramatic. The longer visitors stayed in the space, the more they just navigated around it as if it wasn’t there. The wall-hanging sculpture also struggles for impact, feeling overwhelmed by the drab emptiness and poor lighting in the warehouse. These pieces are a blend of the sensational and meticulous, but the end result feels academic.

The curious forms do, however, elicit a number of intriguing relationships: between volume and emptiness, organic and manufactured structures, natural and digital environments, and the visible and invisible organizers of movement. You could say that they are using architectural elements to generate a sculpture form, or creating a sculptural objects that work like architecture. It is a deliberate confusion of methodology that is a byproduct of so consciously lifting the skirt, so to speak, on the construction.



NEXT TOPIC at dcU: ‘Social Practice – A Conversation with Rick Lowe, Janeil Engelstad, Vicki Meek, and Greg Metz Hosted by CentralTrak at The Dallas Contemporary — October 3: 7 p.m. 161 Glass St. Dallas, TX 75207.


Extended Market: The Function, Vol. 2 hosted by Trans.lation: Vickery Meadow — October 4: 7-11 p.m. 6327 Ridgecrest Rd. Dallas, TX 75231.

Expanded Cinema: MultipliCity at Omni Hotel Downtown Dallas — October 4: 8 p.m. 555 S. Lamar St. Dallas, TX 75202.

“One Last Ride” by John Alexander Taylor, at The Gallery at Visit Addison – October 4: 6-9 p.m. 5100 Belt Line Rd.,Ste 400, Village on the Parkway, Dallas, TX  75254.


Fall for the Arts at Klyde Warren Park — October 5: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. 2012 Woodall Rodgers Fwy, Dallas, TX 75201.

Working Space at Mountain View College — October 5: 4-9 p.m. 4849 W. Illinois Ave., Dallas, TX 75211.

TOPO-TARANTULAS Closing Reception at WARE:WOLF:HAUS — October 5: 6-10 p.m. 425 Bedford St., Dallas, TX 75209.

Michael Mazurek at Beefhaus — October 5: 7-10 p.m. 885 Exposition Ave., Dallas, TX 75226.

Sweetest Taboo Closing Reception at Red Arrow Contemporary — October 5: 6-9 p.m. 1130 Dragon St., Suite 110. Dallas, TX 75207

240 + Artists at the Cottonwood Art Festival – October 5: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m./ October 6: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Cottonwood Park, 1321 W. Belt Line Rd, Richardson, Tx 75080.

“CAUSE AND EFFECT” by Midge Lynn, at Gallery 422 – October 4: 5-8 p.m. 422 Singleton Boulevard, Dallas, Tx 75212.


lo-fi by Benjamin Terry at RE Gallery — October 6: 7-9 p.m. 1717 Gould St., Dallas, TX 75215.


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