New Artist-in-Residency at Dallas Fairmont

by Michael Westfried

Last week I walked into the downtown Dallas Fairmont Hotel wet from the rain with no pretension of knowing anything about what I was getting into or who exactly I would end up meeting. A friend of mine had called and told me to drive up to the hotel and investigate the residency program and so I went.

Searching, I asked a young man outside of the hotel if he knew where the artist residency event was going on and he pointed me to a stairway to the left of the entrance that led down to a fishbowl style studio where I quickly walked by to see a few people chatting and then headed back to the lobby to dry off.

I noticed artwork in a display case. Large wooden slats with printed photographed hung behind the glass and in the middle of the lobby stood a large sculpture of a stag with an open midsection and little figures that appeared as if they were constructing the stag. As I examined the sculpture a man in a hotel uniform introduced himself. “Is this plaster?” I asked. “I think it is” he responded. “The little figures here can’t be plaster… they must be some sort of plastic” I said. “I think your right. It’s on loan from the Dallas Museum.”

The man turned out to be an artist. A painter, worried that I might be getting too close to the art. I understood his concern. I had seen a young man reach out a rub one of the earliest paintings painted by Picasso at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona.

“Are those the work of the new artist” I asked, pointing at the display case that held the wooden photographs.” They were. He was graceful enough to tell me about the event.

Two new artists had moved into the residency program. They would be staying for three months in a room provided by the hotel and would be showing at a gallery inside of the hotel. He showed me to the gallery and pointed out the current show and told me that the large paintings inside of the closed space were made with real blood. They were gorgeous. He told me that the crowd that was attending the event had gone to the lounge and I went up to investigate. A group of about twenty men and women, well dressed, lounged, drank wine and ate as they chatted. I felt a little out of place in jeans and a button up shirt, soaking wet so I left quickly and went downstairs to visit the studio.

Hugo Garcia Urrutia greeted me as I walked into the studio. Higo and his wife MK Semos had already set up shop, completed a new print and were working on a second. Hugo and MK turned out the be the owners of the Decorazon Gallery, which I had become familiar with at the Suite Dallas Art Fair. Their series of printed photographs on vertical wooden slats, connected to make a hangable sculpture is called Wooden Postcards and features taken by Hugos partner by M.K. Semos of different cities around the world. They will be staying at the Fairmont hotel for three months before showing their work at the connected gallery.

The world is small and I was thrilled to learn that Hugo had gone to the same school as I had in Spain, although he had studied architecture as an exchange student so we weren’t in the same building but it was a joy to be asked if I spoke Valenciano and we had several friends in common. Few people know that they speak a language similar to Catalan in Valencia. He told me about his work. An upcoming artwork at the MAC and one at the University of Texas at Dallas the deals with the violence that has been going on in Mexico where his brother had recently been killed by stray gunfire.

Soon, the crowd that had been lounging upstairs came through the gallery all at once and I took leave of the space. Before I left, I thanked him, told him that it was nice to meet him and expressed how I felt. “El mundo es un pañuelo.” It mean literally means, the world is a handkerchief and is a Spanish expression the means that the Disney corporation is right about one thing. It’s a small world.

Working primarily in recycled substrates and materials, Hugo Garcia Urrutia and MK Semos do what they do best, unifying image and form along with celebrating Western world capitals, in their current body of work, “Wooden Postcards.”

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Filed under Arts, Downtown, Events, Gallery, Michael Westfried

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