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The Economist Discovers Dallas Arts

by Jerome Weeks 23 Apr 2013 11:43 AM

Outside recognition appears at last.


Local painter Vernon Fisher at the Dallas Art Fair. Photo by Jerome Weeks

You may remember Mayor Rawlings’ “creative conversation” in the middle of Dallas Arts Week (a term that never fails to remind one of Greater Tuna‘s radio station OKKK’s own innovation in cultural journalism, the weekly “Arts Minute”). The conversation was the mayor’s convocation of an all-white, all-male panel of arts leaders to talk about what could be done To Take Us All to the Next Level, shiny-happy-culture-wise.

If you remember the panel, then you recall that, at one point, DMA director Maxwell Anderson said he’d recently visited New York for a “propaganda session” — promoting Dallas to a group of leading New York  journalists. We must wonder if the article in today’s The Economist, “Cultivating Culture,” is a direct result.

In it, the author “A. B.” (who, we must reveal, is not “Anne Bothwell”) skims the Dallas Art Fair, the Dallas Contemporary and the mayor’s panel and generally congratulates us all: The Dallas Art Fair, A. B. writes, just might repeat what Art Basel Miami Beach did for Miami (ignoring the fact that art biennales have proliferated to such a degree that, last year, Dallas  Contemporary held something of a post-mortem on them).

Whereas Miami’s fair inherited much of its kudos from Art Basel in Switzerland, Dallas wants to forge its own identity. “It has to be unique to us,” insists Mike Rawlings, the local mayor. After all, Dallas has all the right ingredients — money, talent and institutions — needed to turn it into a thriving arts hub.

Sadly, though, one sentence in the article implies that admission to the DMA is free — as a kind of condescending, annual, one-day-only gesture:  “The Dallas Museum of Art recently introduced an initiative to offer free general admission on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.”