ATYPICAL ART

BY CHASE WADE

Gone are the bleach-white walls and minimal presentation that we’ve come to expect from most operations. Instead, CINQ Gallery feels like stepping into the home of one of your most fabulous friends. Scattered throughout the expansive space, which sits just on the edge of the Design District, is a diverse collection of distinctive art that showcases the bounties of Texas’ burgeoning artist community.

It’s all the vision of Scott Dawson, a New Zealander who traveled the world as a painter before landing in Dallas, a city that he’s come to call home. “Dallas has an incredibly dynamic art scene,” Dawson says. “I think there’s a great community of galleries that really support the artists. I find it very exciting to be a part of it.”

Dawson’s discerning eye comes in handy when unearthing the ideal artist to fill CINQ Gallery’s walls. Discovering new talent means thumbing through pages of submissions and artist websites all while taking cues from friends and colleagues about which artist he should show next. Considering that the average piece stays on display for just five weeks, the gallery is always on the hunt.

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“A typical CINQ artist is an intermediate or emerging talent,” Dawson says. “We really like to foster talent from all over, but a majority of our talent comes from Texas. We’re looking for artists that aren’t doing what everyone else is. We want our gallery to be distinct from others and that all starts with what artists we find.”

If you’re really observant, you might catch a few works by Dawson himself. After all, painting is his life’s passion. Just like the artists he champions, Dawson’s work is varied and unique. His featured pieces can range anywhere from a sultry painting to a monotype octopus.

“There are times that I can get sucked into a piece and work on it for weeks,” Dawson says. “But the gallery’s become a new passion, and I’ve really put a lot of my efforts into it. A happy life for me would mean to continue evolving the gallery while producing my own work.”

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The fruit of Dawson’s labor is undeniable, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more diverse collection of artists in any Dallas gallery. Simply seeing the abstract work of Steven Tye Culbert playing neighbor to the mixed-media efforts of Robert Oltarzewski keeps your eye on edge and continuously entertained.

An assemblage of CINQ’s most intriguing new works comes from Austin artist John Peralta. Peralta’s pieces stem from the deconstruction of off-kilter items, ranging from a saxophone to a handgun. His meticulous craftsmanship magically brings life to once-lifeless goods.

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“I don’t think of my work as deconstruction, although that’s the word commonly used by others to describe it,” says Peralta. “Rather, I think of these objects almost as living (or formerly living) organisms. My work is more a study of the object—a dissection of sorts. Their inner most secrets exposed—beautiful in their precision and yet vulnerable. I choose subjects that are iconic and complicated. I usually contemplate an object for quite a while before I take it on. But essentially, I choose pieces that I find interesting. That doesn’t mean they will always appeal to others.”

The artist’s most striking piece, To Save Time Is to Lengthen Life, is an undertaking that dismantles a Remington portable typewriter. The end result, which seems perfectly suited for an executive editor’s office, somehow calls back to the formal rigidity of journalism’s yesteryear.

“I love what John does; it’s so lively,” Dawson says. “We had someone viewing his saxophone piece and they said they could literally see the music, that’s how kinetic John’s work is. It really moves.”

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CINQ is slated to add even more of Peralta’s work into the mix, culminating with a solo show from the artist in early summer. If summer seems too far away, a simple stop by CINQ Gallery may be in order.

Chase Wade is a Texas-based freelance writer. Drop him a note at chasewadewrites.com.