I first encountered Ja’Tovia Gary a few years ago, sometime during that smeary blob of time that began with the COVID shutdown. If I remember correctly, Brandon Kennedy—then working for galerie frank elbaz, which then had an outpost in the Design District—had mentioned her to me and then I tracked her down and we spoke on the phone for about an hour. We met at Pacific Plaza a month or so later. My intention, at the time, was to profile her for the magazine.
She is a fascinating human, precise in thought and speech, doing everything with intention. Your mind does not wander when in conversation with her, because she keeps you locked in. It’s not something she forces; it’s just a natural byproduct. It is much the same with her art and films. You will not idly glance at your phone when you are standing or sitting in front of something she has created.
But the time hook for the piece I hoped to do went away, and then other assignments got in the way, and it never happened. Luckily for me, in May of last year, our former dining critic, Eve Hill-Agnus, had separately found Ja’Tovia in Paris, where Eve (who has dual citizenship) had moved after leaving our employ. (Coincidentally, it happened at galerie frank elbaz.)
When she came to Dallas a few months later, Eve told us she wanted to write about Ja’Tovia. If you knew when she was based in Dallas, you know that you were just as likely to find her at a gallery or a museum as you were to see her at the newest restaurant. Her writing, as well, has a dreamy quality that matches well with an artist. So if I couldn’t do it, we couldn’t have found anyone better for the job. The resulting profile, tied to Ja’Tovia’s exhibition at the DMA, is in our September issue and online now.