Four years ago, the McKinney Avenue Contemporary moved from its bright blue building in the Uptown neighborhood of Dallas to a partially finished warehouse in the Cedars. Now the MAC is moving again, into a smaller store front nearby. For State of the Arts this week, I talked with Rachel Rogerson, executive director of the MAC, about the group’s new home.
For the last four years, the MACs home has been this huge warehouse in the Cedars. It’s an unusual place to consider installing an art gallery. Can you describe the space for me?
So the large warehouse space is really three buildings combined. It was Ben Griffin Ford Dealership from the ’30s to the ’60s, before that, Franklin Motors in the early 1900s. And this really
beautiful historic building, the degradation of it, really added to its charm and its character.
There were no windows in some spaces. There wasn’t central heating or air conditioning.
Nothing like that. It had been in disuse since, I believe, the ’90s. It was really just a great setting for art.
And you threw some great shows there. And now you’re moving into a much more traditional space.
Right, we’re now the baby blue building on South Ervay Street. It’s a smaller building. it’s a single-story structure, and we have about 2,500 square feet now. Less imposing, I like the inviting nature of it.
And you have walls and you have heat.
Yes, very importantly. And we’re able to provide a secure setting for artwork. Which, the warehouse space was fun, but it wasn’t handicap accessible. And it also wasn’t really conducive to the preservation of art.
Your first show is called “Independence.” Tell me about it.
“Independence” is a group exhibition of all local artists. We have Helen Altman, who is based in Fort Worth. Alicia Eggert works in neon signs, sculpture, primarily. Liss LeFleur is video and sculpture. Leslie Martinez works in two-dimensional works that are paper and paint. And Leticia Huckaby, photographic prints on vintage textiles.
Independence includes themes related to identity, social dominance, ecological responsibility, as well as consumerism. Those are all really relevant themes.
The MAC has actually been around for 35 years. It started in Uptown before moving to the Cedars. Why is a non-profit gallery like the MAC important to the arts community?
So we tend to see art presented in a commercial setting. That means it’s sales driven. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Artists deserve to make a living wage and fine-arts sales are really important.
But it also means that more challenging works…that’s not something that’s really sellable. So we’re able to present exploratory, challenging works that may not be presented in a commercial setting. We want to provide a community setting for local artists. Our first goal is to support our local artists.