I arrived at this year’s Art Conspiracy 7 not knowing what to expect, my experiences with the Dallas art scene mostly associated with visits to Deep Ellum and Design District galleries while living with an art-collecting roommate years ago.
The lively and freewheeling spirit echoing through the South Dallas warehouse was a vast departure from the more quiet and intimate exhibitions of my previous outings. This energy has been characteristic of the event since its first year in 2005; “the auctions were done by bullhorn the first year,” said Executive Team Member Erica Felicella.
The room was lined with displays of 18×18 inch canvases covered in paint or mixed media, all of which had been made the day before the event by a collective of more than 150 artists drawn from a random lottery. Bids began at $20 and went as high as $1200, with live auctions occurring roughly every half hour, while bands such as The Hope Trust performed atmospheric indie-rock on a stage occupied by a color-changing number “7.” Stands were serving craft beer and food trucks The Butcher’s Son and Nammi stood out front with their signature fare.
What began as a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina relief years ago had snowballed into something with a unique grassroots appeal to the artist community. In seven years, Art Conspiracy has raised over $110,000 for local grassroots non-profits that provide arts and music programming for the underprivileged in Texas. This year’s non-profit was Musical Angels, an organization that currently provides piano lessons to hospitalized children at Baylor Hospital and Children’s Medical Center.
A newcomer to ArtCon, I asked its President Cari Weinberg how she felt this year was unique from previous years, besides the usual change in their featured charity. “We’ve never had a community response quite like this,” which may be reflected in their supposedly record numbers at Saturday’s event.
I finished my last beer and walked toward one of the two simultaneous auctions occurring. A colorful piano with an octopus painted on it had sold before I had even seen it, as its winner lived blocks away from the event. I watched a piece of art sell for $40, and then one following it sell for $400. The auctions concluded at 11:30 and the art began disappearing as its winners collected them. J. Charles and the Train Robbers took the stage and closed the night out, the large space emptying of people, but not of liveliness.