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Small Community, Big Support in Dallas

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Last week, I penned a short preview of MTV’s RE:DEFINE charity event and auction in Dallas, starting off with the cliché “everything is bigger in Texas.” And, yes, things were relatively large; the scenery was sprawling, the galleries gargantuan, the hair humongous, the bling brazen.

The event on Friday, April 8, was no exception. The evening began with a lavish spread of caviar and champagne cocktails (provided by The Joule hotel), and a preview of the work up for auction, which was no less lux. Works such as Sterling Ruby’s bronze Trough (2014) sprawled majestically on the floor; Paula Crown’s Alphabravo, Night Sky (2016) hung resolutely on an immensely high wall; and Helmut Lang, whose exhibition at Dallas Contemproary opens April 16, offered small stalagmite-like sculptures, Untitled (2015), which burgeoned from the concrete floor.

Photographer Javier Bosques

Cocktails were followed by a sumptuous dinner and a frenzied bout of bidding that was spurred by the always-energetic Simon de Pury. Works flew off of the proverbial floor, some fetching prices that were nearly double their estimates. The frenzy was eventually quelled by the banging of de Pury’s pocket sized gavel, and Leona Lewis’ subsequent crooning. All in all, the event garnered $2.5 million for its two beneficiaries, the Dallas Contemporary and MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation.

RE:DEFINE’s immense success is the result of several factors, not least of which is the tight knit art community that supports events in so many ways. This community is small (in contrast to the general theme of this article), yet immensely generous. The supporters love for the foundation and museum, which garner’s nearly half of its annual operating budget from this event, is demonstrated in the multitude of ways that they get involved. Take Chicago-based Crown, for example, who was both a donating artist and the Art Chair of the event.

Installation view of “Paula Crown: Bearings Down” at the Goss Michael Foundation
Courtesy of PAHC Studio

Her involvement in this year’s event illustrates how small, yet impactful, the Dallas art community truly is. Not only did Crown strongly support the event in a multitude of ways; but she also, opened an arrestingly beautiful solo exhibition “Bearings Down,” at the Goss-Michael Foundation the night before the auction.

“Bearings Down” was the extraordinary icing on the cake to an already decadent Dallas weekend. The show, comprised predominantly of glittering etched glass installations and immersive video work, explores both interstices and overlaps of time, materiality, art-making praxis. Crown is focused on the congregation of landscape imagery, objecthood, and our growing reliance on the digital realm. Of her practice she said, “My work explores place and landscape. I am interested in how landscape can exist as an object in many forms. I make ‘dimensionalized’ drawings. An alchemic relationship exists between the media I use and the forms that are generated by physical and technological means.”

Photographer Javier Bosques

The work in “Bearing’s Down” is no different, only, the “drawings” and static installations have morphed into animate, all-encompassing and engrossing video installation. The show’s centerpiece and namesake is a three-channel, large scale, video projection that reflects onto a shattered acid-etched surface atop a table. The tabletop work, which glitters dangerously in the projections light, has been smashed with ball bearings, an obvious fact that would border on tongue and cheek were it not so harmonious with the larger video element. The video is both hypnotic and sensual—a masterful conflation of nature imagery, fissuring surfaces, and continuous fluid motion. The soundscape of the video, and the experience of sitting among the images both from the projector and the fractured reflection from the centerpiece, creates an environment that is all at once magical and intimidating. Crown successfully allows us to situate and experience ourselves both as individual egos, and as minuscule beings in the great big world.

Crown’s work in “Bearing’s Down” is the perfect symbolism for this past Dallas weekend. A community can seem unassuming, but a few big hearts with equally big wallets can be a the life-force for contemporary art in Texas as well as a major HIV/AIDS charity that supports the world.

Installation view of “Paula Crown: Bearings Down” at the Goss Michael Foundation
Courtesy of PAHC Studio

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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