Photo by Natalie Gempel.

Visual Arts

The Basement Gallery Returns With ‘There Goes the Neighborhood’

Months after the fire marshal closed down its Oak Cliff space, the gallery is back with an exhibition of boundary-breaking street art.

Vibrant street art has taken over the Latino Cultural Center for The Basement Gallery’s latest show, “There Goes the Neighborhood.” On view through January 7, the show presents a diverse array of paintings, sculptures, and installations from local artists. This is the Basement Gallery’s first show since the Dallas Fire Marshal closed its doors last March. Now, the graffiti and pop art-based gallery uses its space as a studio, outsourcing shows to other local galleries and exhibition spaces.

For this returning exhibition, Daniel Yanez, a.k.a. Artist DIY,  brought back 15 artists who had previously shown at his gallery’s Oak Cliff space.

“The idea was to show [that] even though the Basement reopened as something unrecognizable to what it was before, we are still in essence the same, but just growing,” Yanez, who opened the Basement Gallery in 2012, says.

The artists share roots in street art, but their works distinguish a variety of branches within the field. Newcomer Max Quest’s paintings merge comic books, anime, and graffiti in bold collages. Robert Garza also taps into comics for inspiration, confronting current issues and social injustices in reimagined comic book covers. Antolin Pineda introduces Chicano lowrider art to a gallery setting with his airbrushed paintings. Similarly, graffiti artist Jerod Davies brings the energy of his murals into smaller-scale portraits for the show.

Another graffiti-inspired artist, Steven Hamilton’s elaborate stencil work juxtaposes images of guns and ski masks with delicate florals and cheery color. UTA undergrad Keith Brown’s approach to street art might be the most interesting: what look like large, engraved wooden panels are actually laminate desk surfaces, etched with intricate geometric patterns to reveal the particle board below. It’s what you would find in the back of a high school classroom, with a lot more skill and a lot less profanity. A number of other artists, including Yanez, bring street art style to traditional mediums in paintings, sculptures, and installations.

Photo by Natalie Gempel.
Photo by Natalie Gempel.

Yanez, who curated the show with Raymond Butler, hopes that the exhibition will bring attention to avenues of art that are too often overlooked, or that are perceived in a negative light.

“I believe this group represents the art in Dallas that is undervalued,” he says. “This was our opportunity to show how much value we have as artists and how much value the Basement Gallery has to offer its neighborhood/community.”

If losing the gallery space in Oak Cliff was a setback, it was also a blessing in disguise. Having the support of institutions like the Latino Cultural Center could give The Basement Gallery more visibility.

“Lowbrow artists and artists from the ‘hood’ are worth the investment!” Yanez says. “We hope people point at this exhibit and say ‘Yes, There Goes the Neighborhood and I am happy to be a part of it!’”