Collector’s Conversation Brought to You by the Dallas Art Fair

The Menil Collection%26rsquo;s curator of modern and contemporary art, Toby Kamps, poses questions to gallerist Christine Nichols, owner and director of L.A.-based c. nichols project.

Why are your exhibiting at the Dallas Art Fair 2014? I don%26rsquo;t do many fairs, but Dallas puts me close to terrific friends and almost all of my family.

What connections do you have in Texas already? And what and who are on your itinerary when you come to the Fair? I am a fourth-generation Texan, born in Abilene and raised in South Texas. After the Dallas Art Fair, my schedule is about visiting loads of family between seeing all goings on at the various fine venues in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. As far as connections, I am sometimes able to talk my way out of a speeding ticket outside of Palo Pinto; politeness and respect counts. I am really excited to see all the new architecture downtown in the Arts District, in addition to an Arlington trip to see the art at AT%26amp;T Stadium. (I%26rsquo;m sorry y%26rsquo;all, I still cannot help calling it %26ldquo;Texas Stadium%26rdquo;). I need popovers from the Zodiac Room at Neiman Marcus Downtown.

How will you curate your booth? Can you let us in on any surprises planned? Thaddeus Strode paintings, Alison Frey Andersson furniture and a sculpture by Vincent Szarek. If I told you about my surprises, you would not be very surprised, right?

What%26rsquo;s your trajectory as a gallerist? How did you plunge into the L.A. art scene? I attended NYU in the 1980s and worked for a variety of galleries in Manhattan. Thomas Solomon, a fellow Dallas Art Fair exhibitor offered me a terrific job in L.A. in the 1990s. I then stayed in beautiful, sunny L.A. and opened up a gallery specializing in drawings called works on paper, inc. at 6150 Wilshire in 1998.

Biggest break as a gallerist so far? Honestly there have been so many, the latest is finding a cozy and affordable space on the Westside in Mar Vista for c. nichols project.

What's the vibe in L.A. and Venice at the moment? Where does your gallery fit in the L.A. ecosystem? In L.A., there is a true excitement generated by a range of projects that are truly artist centered and often collaborative. This brings a diverse set of people to any given event and provides a forum in which artists of all media and ages participate. There is a lot of crossover between disciplines and a variety of spaces to make that happen. It is an exciting time to be working on behalf of the arts in L.A. Venice has been home to many artists over the years, but not many galleries have been able to survive gentrification. Many have moved east for larger spaces.

Do you sense any similarities between the California and Texas scenes? Vast distances and excitement about the journey. Delight when you arrive.

Describe your aesthetic. Are there any qualities artists in your stable share? I guess my aesthetic is often defined by true physical space. I enjoy intimate spaces for art and I think my attention to drawings is a way to share that with collectors and artists. I have expanded my attention to other media, but still like to find pathways of one interacting with art in an elemental fashion. I like to push the envelope of what I can do in a smaller space, draw viewers even closer to enjoying an art experience.

Where do you find new talent? With a few exceptions, are your artists mostly West Coast based? Most of my artists might live here on the West Coast, but have international careers. It seems my roster of artists are from L.A., NY, Berlin and London. New talent comes mainly to me from suggestions by other artists.

What are you most excited about this spring? Mike Kelley at MOCA in May. We at c. nichols project have designated April as "dance month" at the gallery and Flora Wiegmann is choreographing a piece titled Dyslexicon, for presentation on April 30. With several dancers and a different section of text changing daily, she will be building the dance notation throughout the month. To visit the gallery before the performance would be to part of building that "notation," which usually remains unseen until the piece is performed. I am also looking forward to sundowner surfs while wearing my spring wetsuit.

In terms of art jaunts, films, exhibitions? I am really thrilled about coming to Dallas and seeing all y'all!

Will you be traveling to London for Jane and Louise Wilson's "Ruin Lust" exhibition at the Tate Britain? Why, yes I will! They will be showing collages at c.nichols project in late June through July.

What's on your nightstand at the moment? Well, I spend as much time as I can in my bedroom designed and built by Jorge Pardo, so my nightstand always has a lot on it. Lately a Greta Grossman Cobra lamp to illuminate my current read, The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner. Then there are the various books I dip into from time to time like The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard. There is a photo by Chris Wilder, UFO over a beach road and a stalk of fragrant freesia that I pinched from a neighbor's garden.

Dallas Art Fair

April 11%26ndash;13, 2014; Preview Gala April 10, 2014

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