Art Notes

For the Road: Fans of the classic American road trip and/or the inimitable West Coast painter Ed Ruscha convene this month at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth for the %26ldquo;Road Tested%26rdquo; retrospective, which can only described as sublime. Organized by The Modern%26rsquo;s astute Michael Auping, surprisingly it%26rsquo;s the first time ever that the highway as a theme has been explored in the Oklahoma-raised Ruscha%26rsquo;s output. Highlights are grand classics %26mdash;%26nbsp;Standard Stations and the looming Hollywood sign %26mdash; as well as obsessive photo books that delight in quantifying the vernacular and banally beautiful: Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations, Real Estate Opportunities, Some Los Angeles Apartments, Thirty-Four Parking Lots and the panoramic Every Building on the Sunset Strip (through April 17). Collectors, take note: Acquire a limited-edition pair of prints displaying the gear shots of a Chevy and a Ford through The Modern Shop ($3,500 for the set; $3,000 for members).

Not Sour Grapes: Our favorite show outside of a museum has to be Dallas Contemporary%26rsquo;s graffiti fest starring the collective Sour Grapes, which pumps up the aerosol action in this town with two epic murals that honor fallen graffiti artists and Dallas ice cream vendors slain during a series of 2005 robberies and memorialized in four giant paletas (Mexican popsicles) painted on the side of the DC (through August) ... There%26rsquo;s more important nonprofit action at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary with the group show %26ldquo;Nobody Knows My Name: The African American Experience in American Culture,%26rdquo; organized by Phillip E. Collins, retired chief curator of the African American Museum in Dallas. The three artists all have Texas ties and an ardent collector base: Angelbert Metoyer, Whitney Biennial%26ndash;exhibited Robert Pruitt and Laura Jean Lacy (through April 9).

Gallery-Rama: We love Austin-ite Virginia Fleck%26rsquo;s popish mandelas formed from recycled plastic bags at Holly Johnson Gallery (through March 26) ... Just in: Houston%26rsquo;s Colton %26amp; Farb Gallery gets a Dallas associate director: Ellie Lemak, a St. Edward%26rsquo;s graduate and emerging photographer, is the daughter of stylish art patrons Muffin and John Lemak ... Gallop over to Hotel ZaZa%26rsquo;s handsome new Art House %26amp; Social Gallery for Ashley Collins%26rsquo; latest, insightful take on horse and rider, curated by notable Santa Fe dealer Turner Carroll Gallery (through March). Collins%26rsquo; collector base includes Hollywood types Robert Redford, Kate Capshaw, Holly Hunter and Blythe Danner. The artist is donating a percentage of proceeds towards Dallas after-school soccer and poetry programs for elementary kids.

Top Ten: Congrats to Dallas Art Fair co-founder Chris Byrne, whose curatorial tour de force/tightly focused retrospective of painter Peter Saul at Haunch of Venison last November was anointed by the Village Voice as one of the top ten NYC exhibitions for 2010. After April%26rsquo;s Dallas Art Fair takes place, Byrne will be on to his next initiative, a graphic novel he%26rsquo;s writing and drawing that will be published by Marquand Books. Stay tuned.

Image above: Virginia Fleck%26rsquo;s Pink Paris Mandala, 2010-2011, at Holly Johnson Gallery.

Happy Birthday, Amon Carter

The Museum of American Art celebrates a half century while adding %26ldquo;American%26rdquo; to its moniker. And what grander way to commemorate 50 years than by mounting a show for the movement that represents one of the most glorious chapters in American art:%26nbsp;the 19th-century landscape. See canvases by Thomas Cole (1801 %26ndash; 1848) and other members of the Hudson River School, including Cole%26rsquo;s extraordinary five-canvas cycle The Course of Empire, which joins 40 other offerings by towering figures Frederic Edwin Church, Asher B. Durand, John Frederick Kensett, Jasper Francis Cropsey and George Inness, all traveling to Fort Worth from the rich holdings of the New-York Historical Society (through June 19).

Image below: Thomas Cole%26rsquo;s The Course of Empire: The Consummation of Empire, 1836, at Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Courtesy New-York Historical Society.

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