For a place that has long been a city of collectors, Dallas' own art scene has long had a pretty low profile. But once a year—for Dallas Art Week and its highlight event, Dallas Art Fair, which starts today—all eyes are on the Texas city. And it's not just a fair for big-name New York and European galleries (though many of those are present): among a few local galleries, Dallas' two-year-old And Now will also exhibit.
In fact, the success of the city's emerging art scene can be partially credited to James Cope, the art dealer behind the more experimental And Now. He first moved to Texas from his home in Gloucestershire, England, 10 years ago, to help the singer George Michael and his partner Kenny Goss start the curatorial program at the Goss-Michael Foundation, a new museum focusing on the Young British Artists movement (an era marked by the use of found materials displayed in unexpected ways). Over the course of six years, Cope helped put on shows by artists including Sarah Lucas and Damien Hirst. He then moved on to New York, where he worked as both an independent art dealer and a curator at Marlborough Gallery, working with artists such as Mike Boucher and duo Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe.
But Cope didn't feel completely satisfied with the way the New York art world worked. "I was noticing that my friends and colleagues who have galleries had to compromise in one way or another because it's so expensive and there's so much competition," he says. "I wanted to open up a space where I was able to keep my integrity."
So in 2014, he moved back to Texas with his wife, a Dallas native, and opened And Now. Cope started the gallery as more of a project space, with no plans to have a regular exhibition program, but that soon changed. When well-known artist Dan Colen approached him about doing a show, he says, "I realized that it could be more than just a project space; there was a niche that could be filled by a gallery like mine."
Cope has grown the gallery since then with shows by artists like British painter Ian Kiaer, who Cope had been following for years but who other gallerists hadn't expressed an interest in. And Now has also become known for more experimental exhibits like Daniel Turner's, where refrigerator door handles were displayed on the gallery floor, and Steve Bishop's, where he exhibited a blue bathrobe and carpeted floors. It's shows like these—ones that are put on without the spatial and budgetary restrictions of other major art cities—that fulfill Cope's vision for his gallery.
"I was really worried that I wouldn't be part of the art historical dialogue when I left New York," Cope explains, noting that in New York, you have to play to what will sell. "But it turns out, I'm even more a part of a dialogue in Dallas."
Now, get a glimpse of Dallas' art scene from a local's perspective. Follow Cope's guide to the can't-miss galleries and museums and where to eat along the way.
Start at Cope's project space for his innovative, internationally focused exhibitions from young artists like Daniel Turner and Elizabeth Jaeger and the more established Dan Colen and Ian Kiaer.
1415 Beaumont Street
Right across the street from And Now, this bar is Cope's go-to hangout. "The area is a bit of a no-man's land," he says, "but you get a whole mix of people: biker guys, the fashion crowd, art people, skateboarders." Cope suggests ordering the Roadrunner sandwich or fish tacos. "They even have a free jukebox and pool table," he says. "It feels like a time warp."
1807 Gould Street
The Power Station
This non-profit exhibition space was started by local collectors Alden and Janelle Pinnell in 2011 inside an old electrical power station. The program invites artists to create installations in response to the raw and industrial space, which was built in 1920. Cope's favorite shows have been one by Norwegian artist Matias Faldbakken, who covered the floors with bullet casings, and minimalist Oscar Tuazon, who created industrial sculptures from concrete, steel, and wood.
3816 Commerce Street
A 10-minute drive from The Power Station, this is the place to go if you're looking for "a greasy fix," as Cope says. Order the the Do It Murph-Style burger and Sloppy Cheese Fries—or the Red Brick Chick, if you're not a red meat-eater.
331 Singleton Boulevard
Dallas' premier art museum shows engaging contemporary works like this year's groundbreaking Black Sheep Feminism, which was a look at sexual politics, a film exhibition by local artist Jeff Zilm, who Cope represents, and a survey of work by appropriation artist Dan Colen.
161 Glass Street
Across the street from Dallas Contemporary and five minutes from And Now, this taco shop looks like it was converted from an old gas pump. Order the breakfast taco with egg and chorizo, or the barbacoa at lunch. "They're amazing!" Cope says.
1900 Irving Blvd
Nasher Sculpture Center
This Renzo Piano-designed museum shows the modern and contemporary collection of Raymond and Patsy Nasher, with works by Richard Serra, Alexander Calder, and Auguste Rodin. Catch Cope's favorite work, Henry Moore's "Reclining Figures: Angles," and stop at the Nasher Cafe's patio for an afternoon coffee.
2001 Flora Street
Wild About Harry's
This neighborhood spot is best known for its hot dogs and frozen custard. Cope's go-to order is the Texas hot dog with an Oreo Concrete (frozen custard with vanilla and cookies). "Growing up in England, I never had this kind of food," he says. "I love it."
3113 Knox Street
This historic Art Moderne motor hotel was recently renovated in a boho, boutique hotel style. On a hillside overlooking downtown, the Belmont is a favorite for artists and musicians passing through Dallas. Cope books his artists here when they're in town.
90 Fort Worth Avenue
Close to the Nasher Sculpture Center, this upscale hotel was also renovated from a historic landmark. The 1920s neo-Gothic property is a popular spot where you can grab a coffee and do some work in the lobby, or to grab an after-dinner drink, at their Midnight Rambler bar.
1530 Main Street
The Dallas Art Fair will be open through April 17 at the Fashion Industry Gallery. For more information, see dallasartfair.com.