Though it might not get the recognition New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago do, the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area is a major player in the art world. Not only is it home to the largest contiguous arts district in the United States, but the gallery scene, world-class museums, and Dallas Arts Fair
have brought in an international assortment of art, artists, and collectors. Like in many art communities, DFW’s art institutions have not always focused on diversity, whether through representing diverse artists or providing exhibitions and programming for the city’s diverse communities. For instance, it was only in 2019 that the Dallas Museum of Art
appointed its first curator of Latin American Art—which is surprising considering the city’s population is 40 percent Latino.
In the past few years, local artists like David-Jeremiah and Molly Sydnor, cultural instructors and leaders like Morgana Wilborn and Sanderia Faye, small art spaces like WAAS Gallery and Ash Studios, and various groups like the Muse Collective and De Colores Collective have led initiatives and discussions about diversity in the arts. This has resulted in two distinct art worlds in the region: powerful art institutions and commercial entities; and smaller, socially-conscious art initiatives. Gossy seeks to meld the two, in Dallas and beyond.
The Gossy story began when Ratcliff and Crawford met at Ash Studios, a space Ratcliff opened with artist Fred Villanueva in South Dallas in 2012.
“I’m all about making Dallas a more livable place for artists,” Crawford said. This sentiment, and Crawford’s love for advocacy, sealed her friendship and business partnership with Ratcliff. For his part, he’s long been an advocate in the Dallas arts community—as the owner of an art space, an arts writer, and through his leadership on projects like Creating Our Future, which he said has awarded grants to artists totaling over $3.2 million dollars.
In 2017, Ratcliff worked on a project called “Decolonize Dallas” with Michelada Think Tank
, a group of artists focused on issues people of color face. Through this project, he realized: “We need our own money. We can’t always ask the institution, ask the rich white person for their money to do the radical things that we want to do to reshape our world.”
The idea that artists of color need their own money and equity led Ratcliff and Crawford to create Gossypion Investments.
“With Gossy, we wanted to try to address…how can we own the cultural ecosystem? We talk about equity, but very rarely does any Black or brown person own any of the venues, the publications, the actual infrastructure,” said Ratcliff. “People of color, Black people have been innovators and excellent for hundreds of years—forever, but often haven’t been able to own their content, own the structures in which it’s presented.”
Since launching in April, Gossy has grown quickly. With eight employees, it’s now an international company with clients as far as Boston, New York, and Cairo, Ratcliff said, and plans to open a West Coast office in October. And just as their clients span many cities and cultural scenes, Gossy’s work includes a startling range of activities.