New Art Space in Dallas Brings One Family’s Impressive Collection to the Public
Installation view, from left to right, of Joy Labinjo, You can ask me all the questions and I'll tell you the truth about the boys in blue, 2021; Amoako Boafo, Steve Mekoudja, 2019; Dominic Chambers, Reverie in Blue (Kayla), 2021; and Henry Taylor, Ancestors of Ghenghis Khan with Black Man on horse, 2015–17, in “Black Bodies, White Spaces: Invisibility and Hypervisibility” at the Green Family Art Foundation, 2021. Photo by Todora Photography. Courtesy of the Green Family Art Foundation, Dallas.
Earlier this month, a Dallas family with over 25 years of art collecting experience opened their first public exhibition space. Located in a discrete brick building in Dallas’s hip but industrial Design District, the Green Family Art Foundation is next door to some of the city’s top art spaces, including PDNB Gallery and Erin Cluley Gallery. The move is the next big step in the Green family’s collecting journey, and signals their decision to expand their foundation’s mission beyond serving artists and museums to reaching the public at large.
The foundation’s new venue will take the Green family’s collection—consisting of more than 350 works on paper, paintings, and sculptures by over 200 artists—from their private home to the streets of the metroplex. The 2,000-square-foot space promises to bring ambitious exhibitions of international contemporary art—with a special focus on women artists, artists of color, and LGBTQIA+ artists—to Dallas–Fort Worth, a large and diverse metropolis that is nonetheless often underappreciated as an art destination.
Installation view, from left to right, of Derek Fordjour, Two Point Bend, 2019; and Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, Beret Boys 2, 2021, in “Black Bodies, White Spaces: Invisibility and Hypervisibility” at the Green Family Art Foundation, 2021. Photo by Todora Photography. Courtesy of the Green Family Art Foundation, Dallas.
“We’ve always been very proactive about inviting gallerists and collectors to see our home and to give them tours when they come into town,” said Green Family Art Foundation director Adam Green on a recent video call with Artsy. “Now by having a public space, we can do this on a much larger scale and make it much more accessible to all kinds of people, whether they’re art insiders or just members of the community with an interest in art.”
Though he’s been based in New York City since 2008, Adam Green was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He remembers his parents taking him and his brothers to art museums—or in his words, “dragging” them—when he was a child. He gravitated towards the artwork on those trips, but it wasn’t until a Renaissance art history course in his freshman year of college at Brandeis that the art bug really bit. “I loved that you could look at a painting for 10 minutes and find so much symbolism in it,” Adam said, “and that you could have such a lively discussion about a single work of art.”
David Hammons, Untitled, 1974. Courtesy of the artist and the Green Family Art Foundation.
Toyin Ojih Odutola, Lip-Biting through Grace, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and the Green Family Art Foundation.
Since then, Adam’s academic interest in art has become a professional passion. After finishing his bachelor’s degree in art history, he completed a master’s degree in art business from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, and another master’s in business administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He worked at Christie’s in New York for nearly a decade, specializing in business analytics and strategy projects at the auction house. Five years ago, Adam branched out and started Adam Green Art Advisory. He also hosts the podcast ArtTactic, where he discusses the art market with global art industry leaders.
As Adam’s interest shifted to the business of contemporary art, he became increasingly involved in his family’s art collection. His parents, Eric and Debbie Green, initially started collecting in the late 1990s with a focus on American Impressionists and American modernists. But as Adam moved towards a contemporary lens, his parents also saw the value of collecting work by living artists, who, as Adam explained, “were making art that was reflective of our culture and society.”
Nina Chanel Abney, Always Ready, Always There, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and the Green Family Art Foundation.
To that end, the Greens began their contemporary art path by concentrating on women artists like Dana Schutz, Nicole Eisenman, and others who question the status quo through their work. “We felt that they were incredibly talented and important artists, but they were also severely undervalued,” Adam said. Over time, the family began collecting the work of various generations of women artists, tracking strains of influence among painters like Alice Neel, Maria Lassnig, and those who followed.
Another motivator for collecting works by living artists was that the family could develop relationships with them and offer tangible support. Besides being able to meet artists for studio visits and home tours, the Green family has boosted artists’ careers by donating their works to museums across the United States, funding museum acquisition grants, financing exhibitions, and loaning pieces from their collection to museums for national and international exhibitions, all of which help widen an artist’s audience and reach.
Social media plays a key role in the Green Family Art Foundation, which has a lively Instagram feed. Adam described his family’s collecting style as a collaborative effort between himself, his parents, and the foundation’s curator, Clare Milliken. “We have a very active group chat with messages being sent all day and night about different artists and artworks,” he told Artsy. “We’ve always felt that we can make better decisions as a team.” And although the foundation is proudly Texas-grown, its scope—thanks in part to advances in technology—is global. “Nowadays, the world just feels smaller than it’s ever been,” Adam observed. “You can communicate with artists across the world and have a connection with them. So we haven’t really been restrained in terms of geography.”
Installation view, from left to right, of Jordan Casteel, Ato, 2014; Robert Colescott, Hard Time, 1982; and Ludovic Nkoth, Holding on to Hope, 2020, in “Black Bodies, White Spaces: Invisibility and Hypervisibility” at the Green Family Art Foundation, 2021. Photo by Todora Photography. Courtesy of the Green Family Art Foundation, Dallas.
About eight years ago, the Greens expanded their focus to include other underrepresented artists like artists of color and LGBTQIA+ artists. Accordingly, the foundation’s first exhibition, “Black Bodies, White Spaces: Invisibility and Hypervisibility,” explores the complexities of Blackness through the work of 21 trailblazing artists across generations, from Barkley L. Hendricks to Jordan Casteel. The show is guest-curated by Aindrea Emelife, an independent curator based in London. The foundation’s new space will feature three annual guest-curated and in-house exhibitions that combine artworks from the Green family’s collection with works from other private collections. An exhibition focusing on the work of rising contemporary women artists will open in February 2022.
Thanks to the Greens’ vision, the brick building on Manufacturing Street that was empty throughout the first long months of the pandemic now has a new life. “What excited me about joining the Green Family Art Foundation was working with passionate collectors as we built something meaningful from the ground up,” wrote Clare Milliken, the foundation’s curator, in a recent email to Artsy. “We are creating a space in which impactful engagement with art will take place.” And with any luck, parents will be dragging their kids to the Green Family Art Foundation in the coming years, too.