What do Dallasites think about Dallas? Ask an Argentinian.
Argentina native Florencia Levy opened her solo show, Commute Portraits, at Centraltrak last Friday night. For the show, she accompanied Dallasites on their daily commutes, recording both spoken commentary and the visual impressions of locals upon their own city. The show is simultaneously a collection of portraits, an assemblage of pieces creating an urban character and, in one small section, an ode to a regional memory of lost innocence.
Each piece in the gallery takes its title from the first name of the commuter who inspired it. Some pieces are found objects, such as jars of Oleander, a model airplane and a bookmark. Some are simple, gorgeously rendered watercolors, photographs or video. There are quite a few take-away items in the exhibition; most are postcards of various sizes, which gallery-goers do not seem to sample, probably because art lovers are so trained NOT TO TOUCH THE ART. I love artists who defy that credo, like Felix Gonzales-Torres, whose green candy piece was at the Dallas Museum of Art’s Fast Forward exhibition a couple of years ago.
The one sought-after souvenir at Centraltral was “CJ,” a stack of CDs hand-labeled “CJ’s Mix Tape,” which disappeared faster than the free wine and beer. The muse of that piece was almost certainly C.J. Davis, Dallas art world staple. A lot of the pieces, in fact, suggested Dallas art world staples – “Noah” (Simblist?), “Polly” (Perez?), “Charissa” (surely Terranova). I had fun trying to guess who amongst the muses was an artist, but Levy insists that she followed a cross-section of Dallasites for this project.
The most amazing moment of Commute Portraits is the interaction between “Judy,” a model airplane, and “Shelby,” an ode to a parking lot created by three slabs of concrete and a stack of tiny postcards with the view through a windshield from a parked car. The view is of high shrubs, and those postcards were stacked really, really high, yet close to the floor, right above the concrete. I stood looking down at the concrete, and the shrubby postcards reminded me of those Dallas skyscrapers with garden rooftops. I took the picture, and when I went through my images, realized the shadow from the model airplane was perfectly positioned like a jet flying over a city.
Commute Portraits runs through March 18, with an Artist’s Talk by Florencia Levy on February 12.