Every other year, sometime in the spring, the Fort Worth Community Arts Center holds the Biennial show, in which every piece of artwork that comes through the door and meets a size requirement is put on display. It's a wonderfully democratic gesture. Pieces are mounted on the walls or on display stands pretty much as they arrive. Works by area professionals hang next to naive first attempts -- and this is what makes the show so visually rich.
The continued support of accomplished artists such as Carol Benson, Daniel Blagg, Dennis Blagg, Rachel Bounds, Debra Brown, Ann Ekstrom, Tosca Engisch, David Gappa, Cindi Holt, Carol Ivey, Leslie Lanzotti, James Lassen, Rebecca Low, Jim Malone, Stormie Parker, Jo Rutledge, Joe Self and Soon Y. Warren shows a commitment to local artists.
The Community Arts Center spreads inspiration through the ranks of young strivers and older wannabes who still cling to the day job. The established artists' participation gives the show a high-water mark that floats the rest of the entries by its presence.
The Saturday of the Biennial lands on Gallery Night, and a reception for the 405 artists who participated will be held at the FWCAC from 6 to 9 p.m. There is also a show in progress at the FWCAC of Tarrant County College art students, so their works will be in the large lower-level galleries. The two large shows should infuse the evening with literally hundreds more Gallery Night revelers.
Here's our guide to some of what you should see on Gallery Night:
Begin the Gallery Night crawl at the Community Arts Center. There you can see the breadth of artistic talent in town, and it is quite impressive. Most of the works are for sale, and prices begin below $100. There are unusual pieces that don't often command their own shows, such as the three-dimensional fiber artwork by Laurie Mahoney titled Kit(sch)en Floor that is lusciously colorful and tactile. A sculpture of two busts made entirely of wood rulers by Steven Deo, Objects of Desire, is quite interesting, as the bent wood looks technically contemporary but the ruler markings suggest a schoolroom of long ago.
Another three-dimensional work, Mixed Box Construction by Kelli Holmes, separates itself from the two-dimensional work that surrounds it on the wall. Her use of objects with old photos and postcards presents a charming narrative.
Throughout the center are fortuitous groupings that enhance each other, such as the contributions by two young artists, Chapman Hercules and Remington Hercules, whose work is next to that of more experienced artists Andrew Boatright and Lois Way. This kind of chance hanging is the reason the Biennial is so delightful. Coming across two lovingly framed works by youngsters next to mature artists' work with a carefully painted skull then crowned with an assemblage of hearts defies all logic, but it looks great. Kudos to all the volunteers who help hang this monster show.
Hitting the galleries
After leaving the FWCAC, it's time to visit the galleries.
William Campbell Contemporary at 4935 Byers Ave. is hosting a solo show of work by Cecil Touchon, "The New Beautiful."
Edmund Craig Gallery at 3550 W. Seventh St. is showing "Sky and Landscapes" by Nancy Bandy.
Gallery 414 at 414 Templeton Drive has a six-artist show in progress, "Blue-ing Blowbonnets."
Artspace 111 at 111 Hampton St. is hosting a two-woman show, Linda Guy and Jo-Ann Mulroy's "Time, Process, and Perception."
All of these great Fort Worth galleries will have maps to the other venues and supporting restaurants.
Two new venues for Gallery Night are the HSC Atrium Gallery at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, 3500 Camp Bowie Blvd., and the gallery at Casa Mañana, 3101 W. Lancaster Ave. Don't forget to check out the retail establishments that carry local artists' work, such as the Artful Hand, 3408 W. Seventh St., and Art on the Boulevard, 4319-A Camp Bowie Blvd.; they also participate in Gallery Night.
If you live in Arlington or are heading that direction, the Gallery at UTA has a fascinating show of two contemporary artists who collect outsider art, and the show pairs work by the artists with pieces from their collection. This exhibit, "Outside Influences: Mike Noland & Fred Stonehouse," is worth a side trip to 502 S. Cooper St. Also in Arlington is the Upstairs Gallery at 1038 W. Abram St., with a group show of gallery artists.
There are more places than you can visit in a single day open for Gallery Night, but if you plan your route ahead of time, working in a few stops for libations, food and shopping ops, you should have a wonderful outing.
Gaile Robinson is the Star-Telegram art and design critic, 817-390-7113