Must-see Texas art exhibits worth a visit


IIf the urge to travel has struck, could we suggest one of the most American adventures: a summer road trip. PaperCity Culture and Style Editor-in-Chief Billy Fong has put together a list of must-see art exhibitions, all located within a day’s drive of Dallas and Houston. So, fuel up, hire a friend or two, and hit your ignition button. By the way, we would have included Marfa, but we’re sure everyone is already tuned in to this hipster mecca and made the required pilgrimage to Prada Marfa – #beentheredonethat. We suggest you do like Frost and take the one less traveled. Then end your summer art pilgrimage in one of Texas’ art mecca, Austin.

“And Justice For…” by Ebony Iman Dallas in 2014, at Oklahoma Contemporary, Oklahoma City. (Courtesy of the artist)

Oklahoma City

“We believed in the sun”, Oklahoma Contemporary

If you haven’t yet visited this spectacular new arts center, located on a 4.6-acre campus in the heart of the city, then wait no more. The magnificent modern 54,000 square foot building, designed by architect Rand Elliott, opened during the pandemic. The title of this exhibition echoes a quote from civil rights icon Clara Luper: “I come from a family of believers. We believed in the sun when it was not shining. We believed in rain when it was not raining. My parents taught me to believe in a God I couldn’t see. The show pairs Oklahoma-born Ron Tarver, who recently received the 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography, with Oklahoma City artist Ebony Iman Dallas. Together, they offer an intergenerational perspective on the struggles of Black Oklahomans for equal rights.

Until September 20,

Retail therapy: Don’t think that just because you’ve left Dallas there won’t be shopping. Unexpected places often have hidden treasures. Discover Balliets in the Tony Nichols Hills district for ready-to-wear (Stella McCartney, M Missoni), trendy shoes (Aquazzura, Nicholas Kirkwood) and new and vintage bags (Chanel, Louis Vuitton). My chic Diorcombat-boots-on-the-floor Okie girl, Dana Garner, says to ask Teresa Sanders when shopping.

Balliets, 6443 Avondale, Oklahoma City,

Crystal Bridges Art Exhibitions
“Hugh Hurd” by Alice Neel, 1964, at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Bentonville, Arkansas

“Crystal Bridges at 10”, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Since opening in November 2011, the museum that Alice (Walton, for those who don’t know) built has welcomed more than 5 million visitors. The building, designed by architect Moshe Safdie, and the expansive grounds are a glorious testament to what an important Walmart legacy can accomplish. The “Crystal Bridges at 10” exhibition is an immersive experience with 10 unique artistic vignettes. Be a part of Maxfield Parrish’s famous Symbolist painting The Lantern Bearers (1908) via a life-size living painting. Do you want to see art being created before your eyes? Explore the gallery with Fayetteville artist Ziba Rajabi, who creates new works during most of the public hours for the running of the exhibition. If the weather doesn’t allow, don’t worry – you can always wander through part of the exhibit which is an audio / visual experience inspired by the Ozark Forest that surrounds the museum.

July 11 – September 27,

Grace Museum art exhibitions
“Vine, Branch & Root Menagerie” by Lilian Garcia-Roig, 2008 at Grace Museum, Abilene.


“Grace collects women artists”, the Grace museum

If you want to avoid the traffic in a large metroplex, consider Abilene, a small hamlet worth a visit. The Grace Museum is housed in a historic building from 1909 that was once a hotel on the railroad line between Fort Worth and El Paso. The Grace Hotel was renamed The Drake in 1946, but fell into disuse when downtown Abilene declined in the 1960s. In 1987, the Abilene Preservation League purchased the property. It took a few iterations before the 55,000 square foot building was renovated into the Grace Museum. The institution has a long history of investing in women artists for its permanent collection. More than 100 works of art, including paintings, prints and photographs, are included in this exhibition. Get ready for incredible plays by Lee Krasner, Alice Neel and Mary Ellen Mark.

Until October 2,

Also on the route: A short drive from Abilene is Buffalo Gap (population just over 600), home to the famous Perini Ranch Steakhouse. Tom Perini’s namesake restaurant, which opened in 1983, is a carnivore’s nirvana and a favorite of past presidents (George W. Bush had them hold the annual Congressional Picnic at the White House while ‘he was in office) and celebrities (Robert Duvall has been spotted several times at a corner table). If you have your mouth watering just think about it, Perini Ranch (along with Bergdorf Goodman) ships their meats nationwide.

Perini Ranch Steakhouse, 3002 FM 89, Buffalo Gap,

Contemporary Austin
Torbjørn Rødland’s “Dancer” in 2009, at Contemporary Austin. (Courtesy of the artist)


“Torbjørn Rødland: Bible Eye”, The Contemporary Austin

This little gem in Downtown Austin is currently showcasing the photographs of Norwegian artist Torbjørn Rødland, whose work pays homage to the alluring appeal of commercial and fashion photography – but with a conceptual bent, presenting everyday life through an eerie perspective. For this presentation, Rødland presents a selection of recent and old works alongside new images created in Austin.

Until August 15,

Where to mark a res: How did we do it for so long? Texas now has its own Soho House. Entrepreneur, disruptor and bon vivant, Nick Jones’ highly anticipated outpost, the members-only party and respite institution, is just a stone’s throw from Lady Bird Lake on South Congress Avenue. Beyond the dining and drinking spaces, the three-story club has a rooftop pool and bar, a screening room, and 46 guest rooms. Designed by Soho House Design, it is classic Texan modernism with a contemporary Spanish aesthetic. The art collection includes works by 72 artists born, based or trained in Texas, from established talent (Deborah Roberts) to emerging talent (Tsz Kam and Santiago Escobedo Garcia). Like all Soho Houses, you must be a member to enjoy all amenities (hotel rooms are open to the public), so apply early before Austin techs take up every last slot.

1011 S. Congress,

Yoshitomo Nara
Yoshitomo Nara is a major artist of the Superflat movement. (Courtesy of Nara, Blum & Poe and Pace Gallery)


“Yoshitomo Nara – I forgot their names and often I don’t remember their faces but I do remember their voices”, Dallas Contemporary

The current exhibition of Yoshitomo Nara, one of the main leaders of the Superflat movement in Japan and pretty much a darling of the art world, has drawn record crowds. This mid-career exhibition brings together a vast selection of paintings, drawings and sculptures from 2006 to the present day which often feature his playful and slightly disturbed children and animals. Dallas Contemporary Assistant Curator shared exclusively with PaperCity – “Most of the artwork in the exhibition has been produced within the past two years. The exhibition includes several impressive large-scale paintings on wood. There are references to popular culture, the street, activism and music. Who can’t love an image of a young girl, who looks like she’s playing bass for an all-female punk rock band, with the words “fuck bout it all” scrawled below her. Also on view are larger-than-life sculptures that seem to suit your favorite amusement park. Prepare to have a smile that lasts for hours as you leave the galleries. Until August 22,

Where to sip a cocktail: The Dallas food scene is always adding new additions and we look forward to the opening of Carbone in the Dallas Design District this fall. But until then, after you’ve finished the Contemporary’s Nara exhibit, head to the booming Bishop Arts district for a cocktail at the new Elephant Bar located inside. me, the very chic restaurant combining Indian cuisine and French culinary techniques. You might ask, “What goes well with a Japanese poppy artist?” »We suggest their Boulevard de Clichy made with Pierre Ferrand cognac, Rittenhouse rye whiskey, curacao and Gran Classico bitters. Or let yourself be tempted by one of the myriad bubbles in the living room. 418 N Bishop Ave,


William E. Bennett