by Michael Westfried
Photos by Nicholas Bostick
“Have you been to the reading room yet?” A friend of mine asked as we chatted inside of 500x’s opening reception for the work of Thomas Feulmer and Shelby Cunningham. I had heard the name but couldn’t place it. “What’s the Reading Room?” Was it a bookstore? Was it an extension of a galley where they showed books that had been illustrated by well known artists? “It’s a gallery a few blocks away on Perry.”
Finding the Reading Room was like discovering and being admitted into your childhood friend’s exclusive tree house. If it weren’t for familiar faces inside of the tiny gallery I wouldn’t have known it for a gallery and might have believed it to be the entrance to a private party.
The Reading Room may be tiny but the ideas are big.
On the right hand side as I walked into the space was one work of art, a 48x 96 inch Ink Jet printout on Vinyl.
I interrupted a friend. We had shown together in one of the first openings at CentralTrak and had gotten along very well ever since. It’s always a joy to see her. “Can you point out the artist for me? I was told that he’s brilliant and that I have to meet him.” She quickly spun around and introduced me to Michael Corris “Professor and Chair of the Division of Art, Meadows School of the Arts” who had been standing right behind her.
“Where is the artwork? This is an advertisement for the artwork, right?” I joked. Michael Corris laughed “This is the artwork” he said pointing to the large printout. The artwork was clearly laden deeper then you might understand at first glance. Then he showed me the artist statement. I should have expected being given something to read in a gallery called The Reading Room.
I spoke to Michael Corris briefly about his position at SMU and mutual friends and joked with my friend before stepping outside to read his artist statement, returning only after I had read the work to thank Michael and to let him know that I thought that his writing was “smart.” It certainly is smart.
Through his writing and art Michael Corris asks questions that are relevant and should be addressed. The Artists statement touches on various topics pertaining to the creation of art and the social value of art but Michael Corris describes its purpose in these words: “This latest project – of which Lecture I is the first example – aims to consider afresh the entailments of contemporary artistic freedom.”
Michael Corris is asking relevant, pertinent questions and sometimes treads on sticky ground using historical and political references to create a dialogue about art. Dallas needs artists that can make their audience step back and object or agree and come out of a gallery more knowledgeable then when they went in.
If you love art, don’t stop here. There is a literal lecture/conversation coming up about the issues addressed by Lecture I: It’s All About Tradition! led by Fran Colpitt a specialist in art, theory and criticism as well as the Deedie Potter Rose Chair of Art History at Texas Christian University and corresponding editor for Art in America at 4 pm on Sunday, March 27th at The Reading Room.