I read a NYTimes article today titled Artists Feel the Squeeze in a Midwest SoHo…it was the title that hooked me. A SOHO in the midwest? Apparently St. Louis is building up their art’s district and it’s getting some buzz. Their methods over there seem grand. Artist/Entrepreneurs are dumping their savings into buildings and lofts, and are deciding to build an art center for themselves.
The art scene here in Dallas is so scattered. There’s been buzz about a couple of different areas in town hoping to be crowned with the label of “the Dallas SOHO.” You’ve got the “design district,” a string of galleries off Dragon Street. Then there’s the South Side, also known as “the cedars.” And of course the museums in the “arts district” off Pearl and Ross. Already the “arts district” is not set up to become the dallas SOHO. There’s no place for artists to reside anywhere near the museums, nor are there any adjacent buildings within blocks of there that could be turned into a gallery or two. The closest buildings to the arts district are down Ross, but they are sparce, most old mechanic shops. The “design district” has the clout of a higher real-estate value that is found throughout the north side of Dallas, but that also cancels out any struggling artists looking to live and work there. Unless the real-estate is cheap, and somewhat livable, then starving artists won’t be able to commune there. This takes us to the South Side. This area is cheap, industrial, and boasts lots of potential for old wharehouses and mills to be turned into galleries and artist living spaces. Already SouthSide on Lamar is doing just that, although it’s a bit pricy to live there under starving artist standards. The only thing about this area is that it’s sketchy. No one would like to walk around there at night for fear of their lives, much less want to park, or leave their house unattended without double-locks and bars on their windows. But it does seem to be that the most sketchy places tend to sometimes harbor good soil for a starving artist community to grow, and potentiallly blossom. The question is whether the risk is woth it in the beginning.
As a person debating on where to move an art gallery in dallas, these questions are becoming more important. Where is the SOHO of Dallas going to be? Maybe instead we should ask a select few with a little pull, where do we want to put the SOHO of Dallas? It’s just a matter of convincing a few, and before we know it, there will be a art commuity worth labeling in Dallas…at least that’s the hope.