By Scott Gensch
Denton Live Fall/Winter 2005
On a lazy, blue-sky Friday afternoon, I made my way to Denton. It was my first excursion to this hidden jewel of Texas. After stopping for lunch at the much-hyped Denton County Independent Hamburger Co., I headed towards the true purpose of my visit.
Save for the sign out front, you’d barely notice the non-descript, two-story building. But the Center for the Visual Arts is built on more than just bricks and mortar. It’s also the main home of the Greater Denton Arts Council (GDAC), which is comprised of 900 contributing members, 125 business members, 45 organizations and partners with more than 45 non-profit/educational entities, as well as several area Chambers of Commerce. The council also owns the Campus Theatre, which underwent a $2 million renovation 10 years ago. In all, the council plays host to permanent and traveling collections, workshops for children and adults, summer art and music camps, and helps fund countless activities and festivals the city is famous for.
“The council brings a diversity of the arts to a community that might not otherwise experience them,” according to former Executive Director, Herbert Holl. Suffice it to say, the GDAC is the creative cornerstone of the Denton community.
Now, to be perfectly honest, I normally don’t get most art. So when I spied a more than 8-foot-wide, tangle of bubble gum pink pipes inside the front door, I thought, “Please don’t be one of the exhibits.” Thankfully, it wasn’t.
However, the first exhibit I did view was extraordinary. The primary colors leapt right off the walls. Upon closer inspection, I realized these were the unrestrained creations of Denton-area children. The esteem with which the works were displayed spoke volumes about the reverence GDAC has for all art.
As I turned to explore further, I was educated about the all-but-forgotten city maintenance and repair-shop history of the building and then set off to view an exhibit entitled Materials: Hard & Soft, now in its 18th year. Think the Guggenheim — Texas style. Surrounded by a cacophony of colors, textures, and deep artistic thoughts, Holl explained the works in detail. Each piece displayed rich purpose and style. Once again, I was amazed. “These two exhibits take you from one extreme of talent to the other, from local to national, from children to accomplished adult artists. And you can see that broad range of talent here any given time of the year,” Holl explained. From Children’s Art on the American Indian Reservation to their Permanent Collection featuring notable North Texas area artists, the GDAC will entertain the eye and challenge the mind.
Upon leaving, I passed back by the bubble gum pipes. But somehow that pink entanglement seemed markedly different. It was in that moment I realized my transformation. Thanks to the tutelage during my visit, for the first time in my life, I actually understood the message each piece of art was trying to communicate. In other words, I got it.
For more information on the GDAC, log on to dentonarts.com.