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In West Dallas, Artist Arthur Peña Finds A Haven

Jerome Weeks
West Dallas might be the "Wild West," but the rent is cheap, artist Arthur Peña says."

Dallas Contemporary opened four shows over the weekend, including one by Dallas artist Arthur Peña.

The show caps off what has been a productive period for the young painter who works in West Dallas, KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports on Art&Seek.

At Dallas Contemporary, Peña is explaining that painting isn’t just about colors on a canvas. Peña will scavenge anything he finds in his West Dallas studio, anything that gets him experimenting. Dead insects, razor blades, foam insulation board — “if it’s in here, it’s fair game,” he says.

He’ll cut them, paint them, layer them until they extend off the wall. Some of his paintings will be three feet thick. “Painting can take it,” he argues. “Painting can handle whatever you throw at it. Painting is going to be painting no matter what.”

Jerome visited Peña's West Dallas studio: “Peña describes the area as ‘pretty Wild West out here.’ Which explains the razor-wire fence around the warehouse and the locked, 20-pound steel pipe blocking the door. Hence, the name: Deadbolt Studio.”

Another space is dubbed Ware: Wolf: Haus.

“Since the summer, Peña’s staged seven events there, a full season of gallery shows and garage-punk-alternative concerts including Thrwd Fest. Next: setting up George Quartz as the Haus’s ‘band-in-residence.’ ‘I was just really trying to open a space that collapses art and music and fashion into one space,’ Peña says. ‘Kinda underground stuff, stuff you wouldn’t see anywhere else.’”

Peña’s paintings will be at the Dallas Contemporary through March 9.

Read more about Peña at KERA's Art&Seek.

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.