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Meet the Woman Who Turned Her Oak Lawn Condo Into an Interactive Pop-up

Artist Molly Sydnor couldn’t find a gallery to host her show, so she improvised.
Molly Sydnor's
Levi Havard
Artwork lined the stairs that led to the second and third floors, where exhibits filled two rooms. Gallery owner Liliana Bloch, cup of sangria in hand, mingled with attendees in the living room as they watched a video piece projected on the dining room wall and waited in line for henna tattoos and tarot readings.

The “Like a Girl” art show, held May 18, was unlike most art shows in Dallas in that it was hosted in artist Molly Sydnor’s Oak Lawn condo. While some Dallas galleries or arts groups, like Shotgun Art Gallery and Pariah, host shows in empty houses or warehouses connected to the living quarters of artists, Sydnor actually resides in the space in which she held the show.

Producing an art show in her condo made sense for Sydnor, a multifaceted artist who works with paint, textiles, fashion, and installation. She said it was a common occurrence in Baltimore, where she lived before Dallas.

“The idea for ‘Like a Girl’ was a concept for a solo show I had been thinking about for a couple months,” she says. “I started reaching out to local galleries and didn’t receive responses or was told no. I was in the process of getting my floors redone, so my house was practically empty. That’s when it hit me that I could have a pop-up show and prove what I can do.”

The rest of her Oak Lawn condo featured works by 16 local female artists, as well as tarot readings and henna tattoos.

Sydnor put out a call for artists on Instagram and received an overwhelming response. “Some of these artists have never shown their work in a show before,” she says. “I was happy to provide a platform for talented people. I had people reach out to sing, read tarot cards, and do henna. I was looking for a gallery show, and came out with a collaborative artist networking event.”

Set on all three levels of her condo, “Like a Girl” featured 16 artists. Morgana Wilborn of Photo Noire presented a photographic series titled “From ___ to ___” that starred choreographer Colby Calhoun and captured an individual’s journey toward self-identification through gender. The interactive piece asked attendees to write and draw directly on the condo walls, allowing them to examine their personal journeys from one identity to another.

The second-floor guest room was Sydnor’s own installation. The mostly pink textile masterpiece covered all four walls and, lit by a disco ball, was meant to examine the power of women and the strength of their bodies. On the third floor, Sydnor’s emptied bedroom was filled with pieces that showcased diverse perspectives on what it means to be “like a girl.”

“My show was over 60 percent women of color, and that wasn’t because of a diversity callout,” says Sydnor, a self-identified queer woman of color who didn’t previously know most of the artists in the show. “I didn’t try to get diversity. It just happened because of the people I surround myself with. When places have diversity, it brings diversity.”

It made sense to Sydnor to host such an art show in an environment different from the norm, allowing it to be accessible to people who like to appreciate art through a social lens. “Between my walls as murals and the art collection I’m continuing to grow, I already look at my home as if it’s a gallery space,” she says. “Sometimes the art scene can be so intimidating and exclusive. So having it at my house was a way to make it almost a party.”

Two works of art sold during the show, and another two pieces are pending sale. For Sydnor, however, the success of the show went far beyond commerce. “For me, this show was the most important thing I’ve done to date. I was providing myself a platform next to the platform I was providing for others.”

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