The Reading Room in Dallas, a 550-square-foot art space that faces the east entrance to Fair Park in Dallas, has closed after 10 years of exhibitions, readings, performances, and book swap events. It was founded and operated by Karen Weiner, artist, and the director of the early iteration of UT Dallas’ artist residency program CentralTrak [RIP]. Since the Reading Room’s inception in July of 2011, the space at 3715 Parry Avenue hosted dozens of artists and writers.
“My goal was always 10 years and that decision was reinforced by the things that happened as that time approached: being in the path of the tornado of 2019, the pandemic, etc. … not sure what is next,” Weiner writes in an email conversation with Glasstire. “The enormous change that has just occurred/that is still in progress (with culture, with technology, with health, with racial equity, the economy), with new definitions of what art is and how it is presented … it’s a lot to digest and respond to. So I’m spending a lot of time in my garden, thinking, reading.”
The self-described “frustrated artist/curator” delves a little more into the early years of The Reading Room, as well as her desire to create a space “where conversations about art could happen and experiments could take place.” She continues: “I wanted artists to respond to the space and to take risks with their work. The focus from the beginning was on text-based work (although it was not always literal).”
Some of the programs at The Reading Room included a mushroom demonstration by Tom Spicer, an exhibition about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail by Matthew Whitenack, Arthur Peña’s three musical evenings with local musicians and poets when Weiner locked the doors and turned off the A/C, and dozens of others. Weiner writes, “Most artists did not have gallery representation, so this was a place for them to be seen. Most artists were local, some from Texas at large, and a few from other locales (New York, California, Chicago, London). The audience was artists. By artists for artists.”
The long list of artists participating in events and exhibitions in the one-room space over the past decade include the following: Lanie DeLay, Madeline Djerejian, Candace Hicks, Andrew Douglas Underwood, Tom Spicer, Anna Badkhen, Kristen Cochran, Cassandra Emswiler, Kevin Todora and Anna Smith, Richie Budd, David Wilburn, Iris Bechtol, Matthew Whitenack, Amy Revier, Michael Corris, Jenny Vogel, Ann Glazer, Jennie Ottinger, Keri Oldham, Douglas MacWithey, Rebecca Carter, Vincent Falsetta, Andrea Goldman, Shane Mecklenberger, Andrew Miller, Jonathan Jackson, Matthew Cusick, Oil and Cotton, Erick Zimmerman, Brandon Kennedy, Kris Pierce, Maury Gortemiller, Terri Thornton, Janeil Engelstad (Make Art with Purpose), Jesse Morgan Barnett, Ryder Richards, The Art Foundation, Travis LaMothe, (w)omanorial (Jessica I Garcia, Courtney Brown, Alison Starr, Hailey Allen, Gabriela Ochoa, LauraLee Brott, Tori Whitehead), Nicolas G Miller, Kenneth Goldsmith, Chris Byrne, Paho Mann, Carolyn Sortor, Noah Simblist, Randy Guthmiller, Aaron Krach, Lucia Simek, Sherwin R Tibayan, Colette Copeland, Jeff Ferrell, Kate Yoland, Arthur Peña (Poppy Xander, Ariel Saldivar, Drew Chapa, Fatima Malika Hirsi, Samantha Rios, Francine Thirteen), Darren Jones, Mason Bryant, Deb Sokolow, Olivia Divecchia, Casey Leone, Carlos Ranc, Angela Kallus, Iva Kinnaird, Marjorie Schwarz, Erika Duque, Trevor Davis, Michael Dean, Ian Hamilton Findlay, Myron Stout, Thomas Feulmer, Nida Bangash, Francis Almendarez, Samuel Jablon, Kendra Greene, and Linda and Ed Blackburn.
Guest curators included Kristen Cochran, Erin Starr White, Danielle Avram and Kevin Todora, Danette Dufhilo with Anne Lawrence and Oil and Cotton, Lilia Kudelia with Daria Prydballo and Jessica I Garcia, Randy Guthmiller, Gavin Morrison and Fraser Stables, Arthur Peña, Charles Dee Mitchell, Temple Shipley, Lucia Simek, Gregory Ruppe and Jeff Gibbons, Caroline Elbaor, and Caleb Bell.