Fourteen years ago, my family returned to the city after a hiatus in suburbia. I was no longer working a 9-5 corporate job, but instead freelancing graphic design and art direction, setting my own hours and working in my art studio. I was exhibiting my artwork frequently and had acquired a rented studio on Routh Street in the old Screw Products building. That two-story, brick building is now gone and One Arts Plaza sits in its place, holding down the east end of the glitzy Dallas Arts District. Our decision to move our home to the M-street area caused dominos to fall in many directions, so-to-say, but one priority of mine was to re-educate myself on contemporary art. I’d been away from it while I advanced my graphic design career with the JCPenney Company. With selfish motives, I searched for films about contemporary artists and hosted a monthly event in my home called Art Movie Night. Each month, after finding a film, I’d make (or purchase) a delicious dessert to serve everyone and invite all the artists I knew over to watch it with me. The dessert was created to “match” the artist we’d be learning about. For example, when we watched a film on Cindy Sherman, I had Barbie cakes made to reflect her use, at that time, of staging doll and body parts into her work. After the film, we’d sit around and discuss the ideas and techniques that were presented.
Although the idea was born out of selfishness, it was an idea that appealed to many. Within a few months, my living room was filled with old and new friends, always eager for the show to begin.
It’s hard to believe but back in the late 1990’s, films on contemporary artists were hard to find! There were plenty of films on Picasso and Monet, but that’s not what I wanted. I wanted to learn about artists that were currently working. I would not only search the Dallas Library system, I’d drive to area colleges and universities. It was exhausting to track down this kind of film. But I persevered and month after month the group grew.
Toward the end of the first year, I was desperate to find a film. On the way to my studio I stopped by the now-extinct D-Art on Swiss Avenue and begged then-Executive Director, Katherine Wagner , to allow me to use one of their library films. After she’d listened to my story about how Art Movie Night began, and how desperate I was, she made me an offer I couldn’t refuse…she asked me to move the monthly event there and open it up to the City of Dallas. She also offered to write a grant that would enable me to purchase movies AND purchase food for attendees! Although most of the group hated to give up the homey atmosphere of my living room, we all understood this generous offer and we decided to move the event, knowing the happiness we’d found could be shared with even more people.
This successful event started with a personal desire for personal growth. It ended up bringing intelligent conversation and inspiration to many. Sometimes when we think we are doing something only for ourselves, there’s actually a bigger picture. Our desire is only one thread in the tapestry that is being woven. When you get an urge to do something that will inspire or add happiness, do it! We tend to see one-dimensionally. I know I’ve thought I was “the star of the play” many times, only to find out my seemingly selfish desires were needed to bring change, and happiness, to the world. What I’ve found is that, A) it’s not selfish and, B) whatever change is needed in the world can only happen if you act upon what your heart is telling YOU. You were created for a reason. Go and Do. Bring action to your dreams. No one but you can think the thoughts that you think and the world is waiting for what only you can give it.