Texas Tale

Left: Dealer Jeremy Strick, artist Piero Golia, and collector Nancy Nasher. Right: Dealer Carla Camacho with artist Juergen Teller. (All photos: Kat Herriman)

MY FIRST DAY IN DALLAS, I revisited the mall of my childhood. Collector Nancy Nasher was my tour guide. This was her home, or rather ours: Northpark Center, the luxury retail property her parents, Raymond and Patsy Nasher, founded in the 1990s and subsequently filled with art. With a parade of collectors, dealers and artist in tow, we began with a spikey fire-engine-red sculpture by Mark di Suvero. We continued past Iván Navarro’s water towers (a recent addition that I caught at Madison Square Park) as well as several Anthony Caro sculptures, which Nasher pointed out with special affection, adding that Caro is the “most important British sculptor.” Only the shiny Anish Kapoor in the Louis Vuitton boutique surprises me, although I’d be hesitant to call either Kapoor or Caro the most important.

Private tours are a staple at the Dallas Art Week rodeo. The Karpidas and the Rachofskys tend to host visitors offsite, but I always look forward to Marguerite Hoffman’s collection in the suburbs. Hannah Hoffman, her daughter, gave the walkthrough this year, her first time participating as a dealer. “Family friends keep coming up to congratulate me,” she said, standing in front of a favorite Frank Stella. Would the local support translate into sales? “I hope so!”

Left: Dealers Barry Whistler and Dolly Geary. Right: Dealer Hannah Hoffman.

The bronze-ish Stella came to mind when looking at Pia Camil’s slatted woodworks at Dallas Contemporary. Historically, Dallas Art Week has predominantly run blockbuster shows of the white and male. But this year, Contemporary senior curator Justine Ludwig bucked tradition with the pairing of Camil and Ambreen Butt. I stopped by the museum on Wednesday afternoon to see the installation in progress. When I arrived, pieces of Camil’s Divisor Pirata were already flying overhead. Ludwig pointed at the MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN items woven into the found T-shirt tapestries. “It’s about the details,” she says. “Not about beating you over the head.”

I spotted Gagosian’s Andisheh Avini at the Power Station opening for Steven Parrino later that night, but never again. The entire gallery team appeared absent from a fair, despite the collective anticipation swirling around the brand name. When I peered into the unmanned booth on Thursday morning, I met artist Maneesh Raj Madahar. He invited me to sit on the floor, as he had during the five-month-long run of Dallas Chalet, artist Piero Golia’s secret 2015 show at the Nasher Sculpture Center. He explained that it’s a solo booth dedicated to remnants of the show. The paintings are scraps from a banner that had read THAT’S ALL FOLKS.

The press conference is a Dallas Art Fair ritual, but everyone seemed keener to attend than usual. Perhaps because the Dallas Museum of Art’s dedicated acquisition fund doubled this year, from $50k to $100k. The winners were announced by DMA senior curator Gavin Delahunty, who headed the jury alongside dedicated patrons including Gowri and Alex Sharma. With their new purse, the group picked out work by Justin Adian, Katherine Bradford, Matthew Wong, Summer Wheat, and Derek Fordjour. When I ran into Delahunty at Jessica Silverman’s booth, I told him that a boardroom debate over what to buy makes me think of an art-world version of 12 Angry Men, Reginald Rose’s 1954 courtroom drama. He shrugged and said, “It’s not like that. They keep us fed.”

Left: Collector Jimmie Johnson and dealer Chandra Johnson. Right: Artist Paul Manes and Barbara Rose.

I returned to the fair in the evening and spent several hours looking for George W. Bush. The President-turned-painter had RSVP’d for the opening gala, but it turned out that a last-minute engagement kept him away. The show went on without him, as it has for the past nine years, under the direction of its two cofounders, dealer Chris Byrne and developer John Sugrue. I spotted them by the entrance shaking hands with art adviser John Runyon, another Dallas pioneer.

I also bumped into art historian Barbara Rose. What did she think of the spectacle? “This is a fair for collectors, not investors,” she said. “Ninety percent of it is real. There aren’t the acres of brand names at astronomical prices you normally see at the endlessly proliferating art fairs.” She was happy to speak about Christopher Le Brun and Ed Moses, whose paintings she’d curated for Albertz Benda’s booth.

Ludwig spared me the walk to the after party. We parked in front of Forty Five Ten, a recently completed department store. The event was on the top floor, where Juergen Teller had installed several large portraits, including one of Kim Kardashian climbing—or perhaps descending—a hill. Marcel Duchamp’s staircase translated for the era of Bravo and E!.

Neither the former POTUS nor Kardashian was in attendance, but Teller was. I found him at the bar drinking champagne with ice. “It’s called a piscine,” he said. “The French do it.”

The crown jewels of Dallas are Tex-Mex and steak, but everyone kept asking for barbecue recommendations. You heard it here first: Don’t do that. I’d skip the sushi too, but beggars can’t be choosers. At the after party, I found myself eating nigiri, watching the naturally and not-so-naturally beautiful people dance. Kardashian’s ass loomed behind them like the moon.

Left: Artist Adrianne Rubenstein with dealer Ellie Rines. Right: Artist Fredrich Kunath with dealer Tim van Leare.

Left: Collector Christen Wilson and Ann Hobson. Right: Marlene Sugrue with developer John Sugrue.

Left: Artists John Riepenhoff and Scott Reeder with dealer Jeffrey Rosen. Right: Curator Justine Ludwig, artist Pia Camil, and dealer Sarvia Jasso.

Left: Curator Gavin Delahunty, dealer Jessica Silverman, and designer Sharon Young. Right: Dealers Claire Bergeal and Frank Elbaz.