The Exhibitionists may sound a little risqué. But they’re actually a brand-new visual arts group in Fort Worth — with a sizable show coming up. For their first collective exhibition Saturday, they’ll have more than 50 artists displaying their works. KERA’s Jerome Weeks says, it’s also who the Exhibitionists are that’s notable.
The Exhibitionists, An Art and Music Event at Shipping and Receiving, Saturday at 11 am, ticketed show at 5 pm.
Aimee Cardoso and Dee Lara work the information desk in the echo-y lobby in Fort Worth’s Modern Art Museum. They sell tickets and memberships, hand out brochures, and they get asked questions about the art, the museum, the restrooms – well, actually, just about anything.
“Where to eat, how to get to DFW airport, phone calls for the wrong museum, phone calls for the Omni Theater,” Cardoso lists. So you seem to be a font of universal knowledge, I note. It would appear so, yes, she says.
“So what is the strangest thing anyone’s ever asked you?”
“Oooh. That’s tough. My favorite one was probably, ‘Why do I need to pay to see modern art?'”
“How did you answer that?”
“Well, I was taken aback, obviously.”
“He’ll play to see an Old Master.”
“Exactly, and that’s kind of what he said. And I was like, “OK. Well, we’re free on Sundays!'”
Cardoso and Lara have a personal interest in people wanting to see modern art – not simply because they work at the Modern. They’re artists themselves and they’re creating their first exhibition. Along with James Lassen, a gallery attendant at the Modern, and Shane Green, who used to work there but is now at the Amon Carter, Cardoso and Lara head up the group called the Exhibitionists. And yes, they’re aware of the double entendre in the name. In any event, the four of them are staging a one-night-only collective art show Saturday at Shipping and Receiving, the Southside warehouse gallery.
Many businesses hold employee art shows. It’s a way of generating goodwill among the staff, helps employees bond and learn more about each other. This is a little different. Many museum employees are actually part-timers, with their own independent art practice on the side. So these are serious artists. Plus, these are people surrounded by significant art all day. That seems to have helped inspire things.
“It started as a project amongst friends at the Modern because we’d all talk about the work that we see in the galleries,” Dee Lara recalls.
Shane Green chimes in: “Mostly, it used to be us just joking around about it, like, ‘Hey, wouldn’t this be a cool idea.’ And then we kept saying it and repeating it. It kinda of stuck, like, ‘You know what? That really would be a cool idea! Let’s get started on this.”
And so they formed a band — and the rest is music history. No. Actually, there will be music at the Exhibitionists’ ticketed show in the evening, in many cases music by other art museum employees, like John Nuckles. He’s an audio-visual technician at the Modern who’s one-half of the electronic band Wire Nest.
But what really happened was the project expanded far beyond the Modern. Now, 63 employees from the different art museums across Fort Worth’s cultural district will participate. Naturally, with so many artists, the works on display will vary from painting and sculpture through video and conceptual art.
This big but brief project bears more significance than just a one-night event. Argues Green: “It’s a building block in what the Fort Worth arts district is really becoming.”
Very few artists in America make a living at their art, so it’s only natural creative people would gravitate toward art museums for employment. And now more than sixty of them in the cultural district are joining forces and heading to the funky Southside to display their artworks. It’s kind of a come-together moment for many in the Fort Worth visual arts community.
“The Fort Worth art community is really growing,” says Lara. “You see a lot of these activities and these ventures more often in Dallas than you do in Fort Worth. But I would say in the past two years, people are really hungry to show their work. These little ecosystems that exist around the city – the Riverside Arts District, Fairmount – most of them have some common ground here. This is really kind of the pool where everyone comes together.”
Besides, the show is not entirely a one-night-only pop-up event. Artspace 111, the warehouse gallery on the east side of downtown, will pick 25 artworks to show.
Which means some of the Exhibitionists will be exhibitioning through November.