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Visual Arts

See These Art Exhibitions Before They Close in January

There are six must-see art shows in Dallas and Fort Worth. Make time for them.
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“Black Abstractionists” is open at the Green Family Art Foundation through January 29. Courtesy Green Family Art Foundation

You should rush to see a crop of exhibitions that won’t be up past January (or in one case, December). This group pushes the envelope, invoking topics of race, gender, and whimsy. On the threshold of the New Year, they give us time and space for moments of introspection. They all say something about ourselves and others.

Breathing Amongst Werewolves

In numerous ways, this exhibition at one of Dallas’s newer galleries takes as its starting point the question “What are they so afraid of?” The intelligently installed group show probes bodies and boundaries and draws a parallel between contemporary culture and “the medieval symbolic meaning of a werewolf as an abusive patriarchal power.” The female or female-identifying artists push back against the patriarchy and its strictures through a celebration of self.

M. Florine Démosthène’s mylar cut-outs mirror a body but suggest celestial vastness. In an installation by Beya Gille Gacha, pairs of disembodied children’s feet made of black and blue beads applied in traditional Cameroonian fashion peek out from beneath a sheer, white curtain—a haunting presence in a corner.

Barbara Hammer, the late radical, lesbian documentary filmmaker, was a family friend, and it was with astonishment that I saw vintage prints of her stills and learned there would be a screening on Jan. 14 of excerpts of her filmic work, rarely screened outside museum exhibitions and film festivals. (Houston is the closest place her work has been shown.) Less disruptive than questioning, the show takes bodies as places of celebrating, opening. It blends fear and nostalgia.

On view until Jan. 28, 2023. Screening of Barbara Hammer films Jan. 14, 3-5pm (RSVP at [email protected]). See hours and information here.

Green Family Art Foundation

Oh, Man! and Black Abstractionists: From Then ‘Til Now

In its new space on Flora Street in the heart of the Arts District, the Green Family Art Foundation has two exhibitions worth perusing throughout January. In the inner room, the paintings of Venezuela-born Bernadette Despujols turn upside-down the notion of the male gaze. Here, the female artist depicts male figures from her life in ordinary, quotidian scenes, reframing manhood, intimacy, domesticity, and gender paradigms in a solo show.

Despujols creates slippages in received notions of who supports women’s reproductive rights. Such is the textural beauty and lusciousness of the oil on canvas that it takes a moment to notice that a subject’s t-shirt reads “Abortion Rights Are Human Rights” or “Her Body, Her Right, Her Choice” and quietly becomes a banner. Amid luxurious plants or the mundane detritus of cigarettes and coffee, the men and boys are often depicted reclining, lost in thought, like clothed remakes of the reclining female nudes of art history.

In the rest of the gallery, an extraordinary collection of works forms the show Black Abstractionists: From Then ‘Til Now, guest curated by Dexter Wimberly. The premise, of course, is that the contributions of Black artists to the contemporary art world is undeniable, though often historically and institutionally overlooked. Their engagement with the potent mode of abstraction begs unpacking. To see the work is to delve into an alternate history that should not, in fact, be alternate. From the multihued washes of Sam Gilliam to the metal sculptures of Melvin Edwards, the black and blue mink coat of David Hammons, or the vertical firehose composition of Theaster Gates, the range is spectacular. To see them all in one place is a singular privilege.

On view until Jan. 29, 2023. See hours and information here.

Nasher Sculpture Center

Nairy Baghramian: Modèle Vivant and Matthew Ronay: The Crack, the Swell, an Earth, and Ode

While the Berlin-based 2022 Nasher laureate’s work fills the main galleries, my favorite pieces lurk in the shadows of the gallery to the left, just before the main entrance. Wax and wood blend in tones that mimic human flesh. Their softness and the hardness of the surfaces seem to speak eloquently, intuitively of our times.

Whimsical and Willy Wonka-esque, The Crack, the Swell, an Earth, and Ode sparks Technicolor joy. Slithering segments of hand-carved wood—pinks, mauves, oranges, and browns—mimic tendrils or bodily organs or perhaps an uncanny assemblage of surreal architecture. The Brooklyn-based artist has made a horizontal frieze, a 24-foot-long exploration of the imaginary yet possible. It’s ambitious and his longest work to date.

On view until Jan. 8, 2023 (Baghramian) and Jan. 15, 2023 (Ronay). See hours and information here.

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You’ll want to touch the tactile surfaces of Catherine Howe’s unusual paintings in Miracle Grow. Full of kinetic energy, they feel like a fingerpainting invitation into an abstract garden of delights. It’s open until December 31. Courtesy Conduit Gallery

Also see:

Amon Carter Museum of American Art

Speaking With Light: Contemporary Indigenous Photography

You will likely be moved and humbled by the scope of the exhibition and our ignorance of so many Indigenous artists whose work fills out the largest survey exhibition of its kind. Photographs, videos, and installations create a riveting scrutiny and celebration of under-represented identities.

On view until Jan. 22, 2023. See hours and information here.

African American Museum of Dallas

Fire! The Resurrection of Mr. Imagination

Gregory Warmack (1948-2012) is the figure whose name became Mr. Imagination. The story behind his collection and life—ravaged by fires and an example of a phoenix-like triumph over adversity—is wondrous. The more than 80 objects exude his dazzling ingenuity.

On view until Jan. 22, 2023. See hours and information here.

Clay Bodies: Expressions in Ceramics and Miracle Grow

Placing the spotlight on ceramics, the group show of work by Nick Lenker, Jennifer Ling Datchuk, April D. Filipe, and Yana Payusova beautifully explores a medium in all its idiosyncratic possibilities in a way we rarely get to see.

You’ll want to touch the tactile surfaces of Catherine Howe’s unusual paintings in Miracle Grow. Full of kinetic energy, they feel like a fingerpainting invitation into an abstract garden of delights.

On view until Dec. 31. See hours and information here.

Author

Eve Hill-Agnus

Eve Hill-Agnus

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Eve Hill-Agnus was D Magazine’s dining critic from 2014-2021. She has roots in France and California and during her time at D wrote…

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