Arts / Galleries

Art Prostitute — Brian Gibb Defies Convention, Builds Public Trust in Dallas

15 Years of Art Daring and Innovation

BY // 06.25.19

Art Prostitute, now The Public Trust, is celebrating it’s 15th anniversary this Saturday, June 29. It’s the perfect time to take a closer look at Public Trust founder Brian Gibb and his unconventional legacy.

The concept of the renegade artist is a long-held tenet, from Picasso and his abstracted figures to today’s Marina Abramović, who forms content simply with her body and the space surrounding it. However, the institutionalized art world, which supports, critiques, and exposes artists to the greater world, has largely remained mired in stuffy, conventional models.

It wasn’t until the last 20 years that museums opened for evening hours, with edgier programs scheduled to attract younger and diverse audiences. It was also during the last two decades that old-guard magazines, including ArtNews and Art In America, found new competition from provocative publications such as Giant Robot and Juxtapoz. This is where we meet gallery owner and artist Brian Gibb, who in 2003 co-founded the biannual avant-garde art publication Art Prostitute with friend Mark Searcy.

Art Prostitute’s heyday was the early 2000s, when it was sold nationally at Tower Records and alternative bookstores. It never followed conventional rules regarding style and format. Rather, the content of each issue informed the look and feel.

It was known for offset printing, its random typeface, and limited-edition posters sewn within, making Art Prostitute a work of art itself. With their art publication thriving, in 2004 Gibb and Searcy opened a gallery in Denton, about an hour’s drive north of Dallas.

Two years later, the gallery moved to edgier Deep Ellum, where it would eventually become The Public Trust, with Gibb taking over the gallery entirely. The Public Trust remained an anchor of Deep Ellum’s cultural resurgence until Gibb departed to the burgeoning Dallas Design District in 2015, and recently to another new space, also in the Design District.

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The Public Trust exhibits work in all media, publishing significant artist monographs through Archon Projects, which Gibb co-founded, along with producing affordable prints and other artist-driven products and multiples. Since its inception, the variety of artists shown at The Public Trust has been vast, including Dave Kinsey, Misty Keasler, Arthur Peña, Trenton Doyle Hancock, and Ryan McGinness.

The Kinsey exhibition opening — the first in the Deep Ellum location — drew more than 600 artsy people, who eventually poured out of the space and onto the adjacent street. Rarely, if ever, does Dallas’ gallery scene (then and now) see that type of response.

Cut to today: Brian Gibb and I sip coffee in the center of a large white room at the new iteration of The Public Trust. Its wall space is occupied by the work of contemporary artist Shelter Serra (sculptor Richard Serra’s nephew). While Gibb’s lumbersexual look doesn’t scream art world, he is a mainstay on the gallery scene, credited with steering one of the city’s most innovative art spaces.

During our conversation, Gibb theorizes about the future: How can he expose the community to new artists and new ideas, and how can his gallery’s new location and new format allow him to further push artistic boundaries?

The Shelter Serra opening last fall — the first event and exhibition in The Public Trust’s new space — was a testament to Gibb’s approach to the function and purpose of an art gallery. Gibb reached out to YouTube phenom Billie Eilish, who was scheduled to perform at a much larger venue in Dallas later that week. Interested in the prospect of performing in a nontraditional space filled with work from a cutting-edge contemporary artist, Eilish accepted the invitation to perform.

Billie Eilish performing at The Public Trust.
Billie Eilish performing at The Public Trust.

Much like the David Kinsey opening, this night was a buzzing success, with innovative art and engaging unconventional entertainment. A who’s who of local art world luminaries surveyed the work and then experienced a beyond intimate performance from the poignant and pensive songstress.

Gibb hopes to expand on the format of Shelter Serra’s opening by pairing live performances with artists’ work. Upcoming exhibitions showcase creative talent ranging from iconic portrait photographer Dan Winters to the debut of Misty Keasler’s “Low Lands” series, which she has been working on for several years in Las Vegas.

In addition, Gibb plans to host a salon-style dinner series. The goal is to mix guests of various backgrounds and spark conversations on contemporary art and the cultural zeitgeist. Call it the in-person iteration of Art Prostitute — and the continuation of Gibb’s decades-long invigoration of the Dallas art scene.

Art Prostitute Pop Up Shop and Anniversary Exhibition takes place on Saturday, June 29 from 6 to 9pm at The Public Trust. All eight issues of Art Prostitute will be available for purchase. There will be a few OBEY Art Prostitute limited edition boxed sets with issue 02 signed by Shepard Fairey on sale for $325.

The Public Trust, Thursdays through Saturdays from 12 to 6 pm and by appointment, 2042 Irving Blvd. Suite. 130, trustthepublic.com.

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