After 41 years in operation, 500X Gallery—the artist-run space in Exposition Park—will cease operations at its current eponymous address in April.
According to a Facebook post from the 500X page earlier this morning, the gallery’s “lease was terminated.” 500X will close “permanently” on April 13. This marks the third major closing of a gallery space in Exposition Park in three years: CentralTrak closed in 2017, and Beefhaus closed in 2018.
D Magazine’s David Dillon wrote about the inaugural 500X show in 1978, which drew thousands of visitors over a two-night affair. His thorough capture of the scene could describe hundreds of exhibition openings that have taken place in this city ever since:
The opening had a carnival atmosphere, with artists in sneakers and paint-stained jeans mingling with elegantly attired couples on their way to the Pyramid Room. It took me fifteen minutes to get my glass of Chenin Blanc and another fifteen to find enough elbow room to drink it. What I could see of the show was impressive, but I spent most of my time admiring the space and eavesdropping on conversations about the possibility of a SoHo in Dallas.
And D online arts editor Natalie Gempel had a comprehensive history of the gallery last year in honor of its 40th annivesary, with an exhibition titled This is 40:
That 500X has maintained its ideology, let alone continued to operate for 40 years, is nothing short of amazing. It’s taken a constant stream of new members, as well as a network of former members, to keep the legacy going.
500X President Ashley Whitt responded by email to a number of questions. She says the closing comes as a shock to not only the gallery’s members, but also “the DFW arts community.”
According to Whitt, a meeting between the leasing agents and gallery representatives was supposed to take place on February 18, following a notice to vacate. “The leasing agents canceled the meeting one hour and 45 minutes before it was scheduled to happen,” Whitt says. “They said the meeting was canceled and the decision to terminate the lease was final.”
A call to the Gibson Company offices, which made the decision to end the lease, was met with no comment. The answer was the same when Gibson was asked by D contributor Darryl Ratcliff to comment on the premature closing of an exhibition titled Queer Me Now: The Queer Body and Gaze in December of 2019. The show was eventually moved to the MAC. I asked Whitt if she felt the closing of that show and the termination of the lease are connected.
“While we cannot speak for our leasing agents, we are concerned about the timing of their decision,” Whitt says. “In December 2019, Queer Me Now was forced to be taken down to avoid lease termination. After we tried to meet with the leasing agents about this situation, they would not agree to having more than one 500X member present to the meeting and never responded to our request to meet with at-minimum two 500X members. The LGBTQIA+ call for entry with Chuck and George as jurors was announced on February 10 and the notice to vacate was sent three days later on February 13.”
According to a statement on the gallery’s website, 500X may live on at another address.
“While our organization will not be able to continue our mission at 500 Exposition Avenue, we hope to find another outlet to continue our longstanding commitment to artists in Texas.” I asked Whitt where she sees this possible relocation taking place.
“We would love to find another space in Deep Ellum, but we are also excited to look at possibilities in Trinity Groves and the Design District,” she says.
Finally, I asked if Whitt had any advice for someone looking to open another gallery in Exposition Park.
“Be careful who you rent from.”
This post will be updated as necessary.