In fact, one thing remarked upon by any arts professional working in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is this jointed relationship. Christen Wilson, who along with her husband Derek sits on the DMA and Nasher boards, the International Council of the Tate Modern, and the Met
’s Costume Institute, represents this younger wave of Dallas collectors. “Dallas is friendly and caring about their community,” she says. “The older generation of collectors actively mentors the younger generation of collectors. It gives us all a pass-it-on kind of a feeling.” The weaving of patronage and institutional support certainly is the backbone of what has catapulted Dallas into the national consciousness. “We actually have fun here and it is not a competition,” continues Wilson, remarking on a quality readily identified as making Dallas unique. However, the city’s art scene doesn’t begin and end with the robust funnel between patron’s pockets and the museum’s walls.
Any thriving art scene needs one thing to be considered a scene: artists. Dallas may not be Miami or Detroit, where the derelict urban landscapes breed cheap rents and endless experimentation, but it does have a supportive art gallery system, as well as independently working artists and those within residencies, such as CentralTrak, the University of Texas’s consistently excellent program. “People are pretty savvy,” explains Barry Whistler
, who for 20 years or so lead the development of the Deep Ellum neighborhood as Dallas’s unofficial gallery district (not to be confused with the city-funded Dallas Arts District, wherein the museums are housed.) “There’s a sophistication level that gets our artists shown here and in places out there. There’s an undercurrent, too, that can link the city to Marfa
.” says Whistler, whose own roster is a mix of Dallas-based artists and others who live on the coasts. With stalwarts like Conduit Gallery
and Talley Dunn—who represents local art star
and rising one
—and alluring project spaces like The Reading Room and The Public Trust, “major dealers around the world began to come to Dallas to both investigate what’s happening here but also to engage in our community seeking exhibition opportunities for their own artists,” chimes in Goss.