Soon you'll see this at the corner of Pearl Street and Ross Avenue.

Ask John Neely Bryan: What Is That Thing at 2100 Ross Avenue?

Being a brief discourse on public art.

John Neely Bryan, Our Founder
John Neely Bryan, Our Founder
Photography by Matthew Shelley

Likely you will not be surprised that I’ve yet to hear a response from any of the lily-livered members of the Dallas City Council whom I so forcefully challenged last week. Doubtless they were each too intimidated by the thought of having to match up against me to dare accept. Even though their continued silence is a clear violation of protocol of the code duello, I feel sorry for them — for the many remaining years they shall have to live with their own cowardice, waking up each day to look at themselves in the mirror in the full knowledge that they weren’t man or woman enough to take me on.

In the meanwhile, I’ve returned to address your needs. Keep your requests for information, advice, adjudication, or discussion of teleological ethics coming to [email protected].

 

Question: While trekking down Ross Avenue over the past few weeks, I have been watching some odd construction taking place at Ross and Olive, near Stephan Pyles’ restaurant, San Salvaje. Can you tell me what they are building? — Kathy L.

As of this writing, the structure (of which you sent me a photo) sits at the corner Ross Avenue and Olive Street in downtown Dallas and looks rather like a giant sculpture of a wooden wastepaper basket. In actuality, it is but a small part of a larger project likely to shock and astound you. It certainly did so me.

Watch the video below, but you might want to pop a Prozac or two first. The mournful music therein is liable to thrust you into a state of melancholia.


Confused? Disturbed? Maybe even feeling strangely ashamed and guilty? These are all natural responses, friends. For what you have beheld is “art” created by an “artist,” a fellow whose mind operates on a plane slightly askew from the normal world in which you and I operate. His name is Tristan Al-Haddad. Read his bit of rodomontade about the piece:

Allotrope Exi is fundamentally about movement, change, transformation and flux; and in this way it is an analog to the city itself. It is understood to be an essential element that exists in various allotropic configurations that react to and engage the formal gestures of the building and initiate a dialog with various works of art and architecture throughout the arts district such as the Wyly Theater, sculptures by Di Suvero and Serra, and the Perot Museum by Thom Mayne.

He’s talking about his work and this building as if they are living things, somehow capable of carrying on a conversation with other nearby buildings — even the Perot, which is a half-mile away. Then there’s this:

It sets up a series of interior and exterior spaces and carefully frames perspectival views that weave the public space of the city to the public space of the building almost as it if were a cinematic construct. For me, the piece is about creating a sculpture that engages both the Dallas arts district and the  building and creates a bond and interplay between the two. The banded formal language of the work splits and conjoins, folds and twists, opens and closes as it is woven throughout the lobbies and the exterior plazas. The piece moves and transforms itself visually as viewers change their spatial relationship to it.

I wouldn’t mind a hit of whatever it is he’s smoking. I tell you, the only sort of man more adept than an artist at shoveling this big a pile of horse manure is a stablehand — or an art critic.

But, hell, it’s not unpleasant to look at, and it’ll certainly set 2100 Ross Avenue apart from your run-of-the-mill downtown office building, so why not? The installation of this sculpture is the final piece of a major renovation that began last year, and which included the transformation of Samar by Stephan Pyles into San Salvaje by Stephan Pyles.

A nice woman I spoke with at 2100 Ross couldn’t tell me exactly when the installation would be finished, but this will obviously be a months-long project. Don’t expect it to be completed until the spring.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must initiate a dialogue with the ham sandwich currently sitting on a plate before me — splitting and conjoining, folding and twisting it as a means of altering our spatial relationship (as well as satisfying my hunger.)

 

Brooking no insults,

John-Neely-Bryan-signature
John Neely Bryan is the founder of the city of Dallas and an expert on all matters. Email him for advice, to have a dispute adjudicated, or to seek his wisdom on any of a myriad of topics, at [email protected]

Newsletter

Get a weekly recap in your inbox every Sunday of our best stories from the week plus a primer for the days ahead.

Find It

Search our directories for...

Restaurants

Restaurants

Bars

Bars

Events

Events

Attractions

Attractions

View All

View All

Comments