At the Dallas Museum of Art, a bespoke culture in the hall

In the Dallas Museum of Art there is a huge room that shakes with the footsteps of the visitors. The hall is the heart of the museum. Visitors walk through, and when they do, even if it’s just turning their heads, they can’t help but pause to engage with the artworks on display.

Most recently, red, pink, orange, yellow and silver covered the lustrous 153-foot wall. Spots of light emanate from a hanging disco ball that adorns the floor, walls and ceiling. Viewers look into light boxes to decipher the phenomena behind their mirror effect.

Neon lights run across the floor, paving a path for visitors. This has been the scene at the center of the museum since December. The Lowrider wall installation, disco balls, pinstripes and all is up until July.

The DMA invited Guadalupe Rosales, a multidisciplinary artist from East Los Angeles, to redesign the hall. When she first visited the site, the long hall reminded her of a tunnel and that memory works like nothing. Her mural, Drifting on a Memory, recalls her memories of cruising as a teenager with her friends and family in the 1990s.

“Memory and the materiality of memory were so important to her,” said Dr. Vivian Li, Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMA. “The photos she has in the two lightboxes are pictures from lowrider cruises she took in East LA last summer also to the lowriding families in Dallas.”

In the glass light boxes – one engraved with the words “Smile Now” and the other with “Cry Later” – the multiple exposure photography acknowledges the continuity and ambiguity of memory. The lightboxes house infinity mirrors that make photographs, images of Lowrider magazine covers and ephemera—like a Homies character—seem to return forever.

“In a way, this Concourse mural is a platform for each of the artists she’s collaborated with to showcase their artwork as well,” Li said to do this work and to gain experience. You are up to (the) opportunity.”

Rosales worked with local artists to create a mural intended for the Dallas community.

Lokey Calderon, a Dallas pinstripe painter recognized locally and nationally for his work, created the pinstripes surrounding the installation. He invited Forth Worth muralist Sarah Ayala to help paint those precise lines. His brother Oscar Calderon designed the lush velvet interior displayed in the window alcove.

The window niche that overlooks the adjacent gallery expands the wall space.

Unlike many artists in the past, Rosales incorporated it into her installation. Upholstery activates the room. Stitched buttons, lush velvet, a disco ball and fluffy dice are presented as if through the rear window of a lowrider.

The hall is a big canvas, unimaginable for many artists. The mural enlarges the surfaces of individual lowriders. Increasing the scrollwork, pinstripes and a silver leaf required ingenuity. A large rear-view mirror is mounted over one end of the hall, reflecting the title of the installation.

A rotating disco ball, recycled from a previous project, hovers directly overhead. Its placement was random, but it complements the smaller one hanging in the window alcove.

It’s all mostly handcrafted improvisation and adaptation at the core.

“Lowriding art hasn’t really been celebrated on an institutional level like it’s in museums,” Li said. “It’s always been there, but I don’t think it was as centralized. It’s literally in the middle, in the main pillar of the museum.”

‘Inclusive’, ‘ambitious’ and ‘collaborative’ are just a few attempts to describe the immersive space that houses Rosales’ work. “Drifting on a Memory” is a rendition of a lowrider, inside and out. Memories of the joys of cruising overwhelm the installation and are shared with those who pass by.

On view until July 10th. Dallas Museum of Art

Leave a Comment