Sometimes art-fair weeks have an echo-chamber reverb—the same canapés, the same Instagrams, the same Damien Hirst spin paintings. But if you’re lucky, the stars align and bequeath you unique experiences. On Friday, at 10:30, the morning after the opening of the Dallas Art Fair, which is the centerpiece of Dallas Art Week, Christie’s gave me the keys to a 2015 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse—at 255 mph, the fastest car on the road, and at $2.5 million, just about the most expensive. At 11:30, I was in the home of Dallas collector Marguerite Steed Hoffman, watching as she delicately turned the pages of a medieval illuminated manuscript while standing next to one of Gerhard Richter’s candle paintings. And at 12:30, I ate a plate of fried alligator. Dallas made this all seem normal.
My week began at the Power Station for an installation of scarecrow effigies by Belgian artists Jos De Gruyter and Harald Thys. The sculptures wore thrift-store clothes, the polar opposite of the crowd. From there, it was on to Dallas Contemporary for David Salle and Nate Lowman’s opening, as well as installations by Friends With You and Anila Quayyum Agha.
The fair opened Thursday. While some out-of-town collectors came down for the event, most of the work went to locals. Maccarone moved a Ryan Sullivan painting to a Dallas collector in a deal brokered by local curator and dealer John Runyon. At Bortolami, four Piero Golia sculpture, priced at $35,000 each, went to Dallas collectors. Golia will show at the Nasher Sculpture Center in October.
Friday night brought the annual MTV Re:Define Gala Dinner & Art Auction at the Goss-Michael Foundation, the arts organization founded by former lovers George Michael and Kenny Goss. It benefits the MTV Staying Alive Foundation and the Dallas Contemporary, and raised $2.2 million, a 10-percent jump from last year.
The next evening, I bumped into Goss. For him, the auction’s success is a no-brainer. “Knowing that the collectors are helping people,” he said, “well, it makes spending the money a whole lot easier.” We were standing in a giant tent pitched on the grounds of the Dallas Museum of Art for the 50th anniversary of its fundraising gala, where there was a bit more gray hair than at the MTV party.
Also present at the DMA was Marguerite Steed Hoffman, who has promised her formidable art collection to the museum in a triple-play with local collectors Roses and the Rachofskys. She built her collection first on an installment plan, and then, when her late husband Robert sold his bottling business to Coca-Cola, by “spending money like drunken sailors.” In addition to works by Beuys, Richter, Twombly, and de Kooning, she has shelves full of different volumes of In Search of Lost Time, including an original galley with the author’s famously detailed notes. For their 50th birthdays, the Hoffmans took the year to read the novel.
By the time Sunday rolled around, my minibar was empty and my email filled with Uber receipts. Arts week ended with The Eye Ball, a party across from the Joule hotel which featured vitrines filled with Halloween candy, a wall of donuts, and bartenders in wigs and corpse paint. With Tony Tasset’s three-story sculpture of an eyeball on one side, and a giant Baz Luhrmann-esque sign on the other—the p and y on the fritz, blinking between “party” and “art”— you had pain for tired eyes. But then Leon Bridges came on stage.
The 25-year-old Fort Worth native wore his black slacks up to his belly button and his guitar strapped high across his chest. He looked like a happier character in an R. Crumb drawing. When he began to soul bass-lines and a burst levy of saxophone, he sounded like Sam Cooke. “I’m gonna take y’all to church on this next one,” he said. I’d have loved to ride along, but it was time to head to the airport.