KERA Arts Story Search

Looking for events? Click here for the Go See DFW events calendar.

Why Are Art Collectives Popping Up Everywhere?

by Joan Davidow 22 Oct 2013 7:04 AM

Artists are often lone wolves – the painter in his studio, the sculptor immersed in her work. But that’s changing in North Texas. A surprising number of artists are banding together – and changing the contemporary art scene. KERA Contributor Joan Davidow takes us on an eye-opening journey into the world of art collectives.


Artists are often lone wolves – the painter in his studio, the sculptor immersed in her work.  But that’s changing in North Texas.  A surprising number of artists are banding together – and changing the contemporary art scene.  KERA contributor Joan Davidow takes us on an eye-opening journey into the world of art collectives.

(NOTE: Post updated)

  •    The Reading Room in Dallas is showing Asteroid Belt of Trash Blocking Transmissions of Love, an installation by The Art Foundation for the Texas Biennial through November 2.
  • Art Beef presents a collaborative project Saturday at Beefhaus in Deep Ellum.

The Art Foundation’s “Asteroid Belt of Trash Blocking Transmissions of Love” on display at The Reading Room.

What a concept, artists working together!

The artist commune has roots in Dallas stretching back 35 years, when a small group that called itself 500X gathered to exhibit together in Deep Ellum.  Fast forward to 2000.  A band of Skyline high schoolers named Sour Grapes began painting graffiti at night, and The Good-Bad Collective, a bunch of sassy artists from UNT, got a buzz making group art.

But something new is going on.  In the past two years, over ten new collectives and collaboratives has exploded on the north Texas scene.  At TCU, 11 students formed the Homecoming Committee, posing a subversive approach to making art together.  This summer, they mounted a raucous installation at the Dallas Museum of Art.

In Dallas, a cerebral trio rolled out Art Foundation.  They’re serious about investigation in a quiet, poetic way.  The handsome Fountainhead book they presented to the Nasher Sculpture Center invited artists’ to create oversized photographs to respond to Marcel Duchamps’ Urinal, a play on art that rocked the art world a century ago.

The Homecoming Committee’s co-founder and new media artist Gregory Ruppe says this burst of communal activity is a response to the economic downturn, and to a broken art and gallery system.  To add to the buzz, Ruppe included 21 of the collective artists in a recent exhibition at The Power Station called Amarillo Entropy.

Painter Eli Walker is a member of another collective called SCAB (Socialized Contemporary Artists Bureau).  He grew up here and returned after attending art school in Chicago.  He agrees that artists were having a hard time showing their work.  “The galleries couldn’t fit us in,” he told me.  SCAB decided to work around that.  In just one year, employing a do-it-yourself mentality, SCAB members participated in over 40 group exhibitions!

dick higgins

Dick Higgins members in performance, “Making Sauce,” at Dick Higgins Gallery.

These talented kids fill a vacuum in the art community by finding sites to display emerging talent.  They form a hive, a networking community, a support group.  They exhibit in each other’s studios and create an alternative network of spaces, like a series of non-commercial galleries.  Venues created from vacant lots and empty industrial sites fill the landscape. There’s even a publication called semigloss. that has sprung up to chronicle artists’ musings.

Members of these collectives view Dallas as a growing art city:  they see a maturing Dallas Art Fair, the Rachofsky collection, small adventurous galleries, Central Trak’s artist residency, and active graduate programs.  And they want in!

They’re finding that working together helps them grow.  SCAB artist Kelly Kroener likes the informality and support of a collective.  “My network grows,” she told me.  That gives her more opportunities for people to see her work.  She gets help within the group on things like writing and proposals.  These artists share and trade access to skills they might not have, such as videography, archiving or digital work.  Together, they bring in artists from the US and Europe.

All this generates productive art experiences for serious young artists and a curious public.  What a big breath of fresh air!  ~ Over 50 artists bringing new ideas and energy into north Texas’ art scene.  Bravo to them for filling a void in this creative and industrious way.

Some of the art collectives in North Texas (feel free to help us build out our list!)

UPDATES: The members of In Cooperation with Muscle Nation were incorrect in a previous version. We’ve updated the entry…we inadvertently mixed their entry with Art Beef‘s. That’s updated below as well.

500X:  Texas’ oldest, artist-run cooperative gallery, established in 1978, exhibits its up-and-coming Dallas members – and guest artists.

Includes: Bernardo Cantu, Colette Copeland, Diane Durant, Michael Francis, Timothy Harding, Clayton Hurt, Joel Kiser, Shelby David Meier, Bruce Monroe, Chancellor Page, Elaine Pawlowicz, Irby Pace, John Alexander Taylor and Giovanni Valderas.

Apophinia Underground:  Pair of UTA students that hosted four pop-up exhibitions in Deep Ellum, May 2013

Includes: Jeff Gibbons, Justin Ginsberg

Art Foundation: Brainy Dallas art collective established in 2012 that cultivates artistic dialogue with aesthetic, critical explorations.

Includes: Ryder Richards, Lucia Simek, Andrew Douglas Underwood,

The Sour Grapes:  Oak Cliff group has evolved from the days when the busy graffiti crew woke up hours before junior high to tag the neighborhood with their signature popsicle-esque characters. Here they are preparing an exhibit at UT-Dallas.

Includes: Arturo Donjuan, founding member, brothers Carlos and Miguel, and 10 other artists.


Good-Bad Collective: Surrealist pranksters, the Texas-based artist group created over 250 events in Texas andNew York from 1993 to 2001. The group returns for the Nasher Xchange project.

Good/Bad FOREVER Trailer from Jason Reimer on Vimeo.


HOMECOMING! Committee ( 13 ): An experimental Fort Worth-based art collaboration hailing from Denton in 2011, calls itself dynamic and energizing.

Watch the video announcing their Post Communique show at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Includes: Christopher Bond, Bradly Brown, Ryan Goolsby, Courtney Hamilton, Timothy Harding, Joey Hoff, Shelby Meier, Devon Nowlin, Kris Pierce, Gregory Ruppe, Alden Williams, Briana Williams, Tiffany Wolf


S.C.A.B. (Socialized Contemporary Artists Bureau) : Underground Dallas artist collective making big splash with exhibitions in warehouses, pools, studios, galleries in Dallas and beyond.

Includes: Joshua Ammon, Frank Darko, Alexander DiJulio, Lucy Kirkman, Kelly Kroener, Samantha McCurdy, Michael Morris, Eli Walker


Dick Higgins: Small band of artists that invented its own Dallas Biennial exhibited at Oliver Francis Gallery in 2012.

Includes:   Jess Morgan Barnett, C J Davis, Michael Mazurek

Solvent:  Past and present UTD student collective of young artists working in Texas.


The Ghost Town Arts Collective (GTAC) Artist co-op with gallery and performance space in Denison since 2006. Multimedia collective nurturing all art forms.

Includes: Meghan Cardwell-Wilson, Jean Roelke, Heidi Rushing, Ellen Weaver, Cedric Woods

In Cooperation with Muscle Nation:  DFW art group that met at UTD explores the spirit of the collective body, addressing risk and reward of collaboration.

Includes: Andy Aamato, Willie Baronet, Sandie Edgar, Danielle Georgiou, Hillary Holsonback, Emily Lovoing and Robin Myrick.

Art Beef: Dallas group, temporarily based in Deep Ellum, produces site-specific installations, exhibitions and events using vacant commercial space.

Includes: Willie Binnie, Zachary Broadhurst, Luke Harnden, Crisman Liverman, Nic Mathis, Adam Rico

The Junior Ward: Shown at UTD’s Richardson campus, 2013.

Deadbolt Studios: Studio space for four independent artists working together who periodically welcome the public to their West Dallas industrial site.

Includes: Matt Clark, Nathan Green, Arthur Peña, Brian Ryden