We've suggested that the universities should move their art departments downtown, perhaps expanding the role and presence of the Universities Center that sits across from Main Street Garden. Now that space is getting an art gallery.

The University of North Texas Will Open an Art Gallery in Downtown Dallas

If you have been following our ongoing series on “Art Cities,” you’ll remember that one of my complaints about Dallas is that the region’s universities are too spread out, which tends to diffuse their effect on the community, and in particularly the cultural energy universities typically bring to a city. I’ve even suggested that the universities should move their art departments downtown, perhaps expanding the role and presence of the Universities Center that sits across from Main Street Garden.

Well here’s a move in that general direction: The University of North Texas will open a gallery space in downtown Dallas in early December. UNT Artspace Dallas will be located in the space on Main St. (on the ground floor of the Universities Center) where the university exhibited its large fashion collection. The grand opening of the new space will come in February, and it sounds like it will retain some interest in fashion. The opening event will be accompanied by “works from famous alumni, including a Project Runway alum and artists who have exhibited internationally.”

It’s a positive development for Dallas and downtown. The university galleries often host some of the better exhibitions locally, though sometimes traipsing out to UTD or Denton can be difficult on a night when all the other openings are scattered around the core of the city. My hope is that this new space will follow the lead of spaces like TCU’s Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, which has done a good job branding its own identity as a serious contemporary art space with a program that not only transcends the university, but often spans the globe. A space like that in downtown Dallas will be a huge addition.

Here’s the full release:

DENTON (UNT), Texas — The University of North Texas and College of Visual Arts and Design will next month open ArtSpace Dallas, a gallery that will showcase works of CVAD’s students, faculty and renowned alumni, as well as exhibitions from the internationally acclaimed Texas Fashion Collection.

Located in downtown Dallas, the new gallery will connect the UNT and Dallas arts and civic communities, while providing a venue to promote acclaimed artists who have worked or studied at the university. Innovative in outlook, UNT Artspace Dallas will present experimental, pivotal and breakthrough projects.

The gallery opens to the public Dec. 5, with a grand opening in February.

“We envision this gallery becoming part of the downtown Dallas experience,” said Tracee Robertson, director of UNT Galleries. “Art brings us together and gives us so much to think about. We grow and learn through encounters with art, and this gallery will allow us to serve those who live and work in downtown.”

Formerly, the UNT Artspace Dallas facility housed Fashion on Main, which was the exhibit space for UNT’s Texas Fashion Collection. Officials from CVAD decided to expand the mission of the gallery and renovate the space, which will continue to feature pieces from the Texas Fashion Collection. The collection includes 18,000 pieces of historic fashion and accessories.

The inaugural exhibition of UNT Artspace Dallas will feature works created by four faculty fellows of the UNT Institute for the Advancement of the Arts. The program grants UNT faculty one semester off from teaching to focus on research and to work on projects that are capturing national attention, further raising the profile of UNT as a center for artistic excellence, research and education.

Featured artists will be: Dornith Doherty, photography professor; Vincent Falsetta, painting professor; Robert Jessup, painting professor; and Lesli Robertson, fibers senior lecturer.

The exhibition will run Dec. 5 through Jan. 11, 2014.

Robert Milnes, dean of the College of Visual Arts and Design, said UNT Artspace Dallas will host innovative and groundbreaking pieces, reflecting the work being produced at UNT. Gallery openings will be coordinated with the openings of the Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas (CADD) galleries in nearby Deep Ellum.

“UNT Artspace Dallas will provide our artists and designers with a prime location in the flourishing Main Street area of downtown Dallas,” Milnes said. “And it will complement the offerings of CVAD’s four galleries and UNT on the Square in Denton, which already feature more than 100 exhibitions a year.”

UNT Artspace Dallas is on the first floor of University Center Building, 1901 Main Street. Hours are 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Free parking is available in the Elm Street Garage or in metered spots along Main Street.

Image at top: Study for DS 13-3, 2013 oil on museum board, 7 x 7 inches, courtesy of the artist, UNT Professor of Studio Arts Vincent Falsetta, and Conduit Gallery, Dallas.