The artist Rick Lowe chose the spot for his latest piece when he saw the big oak tree. The tree hangs over a grassy area outside an apartment complex on Ridgecrest Road, in Vickery Meadow. The complex, like much of the housing in this poor neighborhood, is a dilapidated mess. Paint is faded, windows are boarded up. The oak, though, is magnificent. Its canopy shades the entire front of the apartment complex, offering a bit of bucolic serenity in a neighborhood otherwise filled with sagging buildings surrounded by moats of hot concrete and barred fences.
The day I visit the giant oak, a team of artists, volunteers, and neighborhood residents is busying itself with preparations for an event that evening. Lowe’s project, called Vickery Meadow Trans.lation, is part of an initiative called Nasher Xchange, a celebration of the Nasher Sculpture Center’s 10th anniversary. The idea was to commission 10 artists to install 10 pieces of public art throughout Dallas. Lowe’s contribution is to help the residents of Vickery Meadow—a diverse community located less than a mile from NorthPark Center, one that includes 35,000 immigrants and refugees from more than 120 countries—organize a pop-up outdoor marketplace. That is his installation. It’s hard at first to see how anyone could consider it “art.”