Meet the unstoppable Daisha Board. In two short years, she’s gone from a budding gallerist with a modest — albeit respected — West Dallas footprint to one of the state’s boldest dealers on the rise, With an ambitious new Tin District gallery that resembles a kunsthalle, and a jewel-box downtown space adjoining The Joule. Along the way, she’s elevated the concept of what successful BIPOC programming looks like, forging an exciting market for it among seasoned collectors while cultivating a new pool of engaged beginning art buyers.
Daisha Board’s Beginnings
How does one go from a double-decade corporate gig at Fannie Mae as a financial analyst to being the buzziest dealer in Dallas with a gift for branding many museum marketing teams would envy? By being a hard-working maverick. 30 seconds into meeting the charismatic Board, one word comes to mind: fearless. This is not a woman who will sit by the sidelines; she’ll be the Super Bowl MVP or the closer in game seven of the World Series. During our first whirlwind visit to her Sylvan Avenue space — which she will shutter soon to concentrate on her other two locations, including her 7,000-square-foot Tin District mecca — she told us that she always felt like the entrepreneurial black sheep in a family that successfully embraced the corporate world. Rather than fighting that sense of being the outsider, she embraced it, founding Black Sheep Art Culture in March 2017 as a bridge between white cubes and nontraditional gallery spaces. Four years later, her eponymous brick and mortar was born. Board was an early adopter of BIPOC programming, pre-George Floyd’s murder and before COVID, when conversations about diversity and inclusion in the art world were just in their infancy; the term BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), coined in 2013, had not yet spread to the mainstream museum and gallery scene.
She told us about her first venture into visual culture, which runs parallel to her recent role as gallerist.
“I’m a hip-hop head,” she said. “Being from Queens, hip-hop is in my DNA. Black Sheep’s ‘The Choice Is Yours’ is our anthem. Black Sheep is a metaphor for me feeling like an outsider in the art community in Dallas. It’s my desire to carve out my own path in the art world and defy conventional expectations.”
Board’s self-assurance began with her upbringing. Raised in New York in a middle-class family, she moved to Texas for her mom’s corporate job with American Airlines when she was in ninth grade. A star athlete, she went to college at an HBCU, Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida, on a track scholarship. (Her record at the heptathlon still stands, while her university won their conference title twice when she was on the team.) A solid gig at Fannie Mae, a husband in the telecommunications-consulting field, and three children — two sons and a daughter, ages 14 to 23 — followed. In 2016 a layoff happened, and she stepped outside of the box.
We first heard of this on-the-rise Dallas dealer in 2022 from Houston attorney, realtor, and art event producer Vernique Francis, whose husband is artist Mark Francis. When we connected at last over the summer, I was struck by Board’s sense of purpose during our tour of her West Dallas space. With photographer Tramaine Townsend’s Black Cowboy series as the backdrop, we discussed the gallery’s raison d’être to represent BIPOC artists and foster new generations of collectors from communities not usually in the wide white world of contemporary art.
After the gallery did a quarter of a million dollars in sales last year, Headington Companies created space for her at a high-profile location in a building adjoining their luxury downtown hotel, The Joule.
A Tin District Triumph
During our meeting, Board took us on an exclusive preview of her new space, which was being readied for its opening a fast and furious five weeks later. We had a focused 15 minutes before she zoomed off to host a group of Fort Worth collectors at her downtown gallery — they were there to catch works by Ifeanyi Anene, a Nigerian Pop artist and portraitist living now in Dallas whom Board discovered.
The Tin District gallery’s expansive digs, designed by Board, can only be described as heroic, with interiors more redolent of a kunsthalle than a place for conducting art commerce.
“I was inspired by the Dallas Contemporary,” Board said. “Under the leadership of Justine Ludwig and Angela Hall, that is where I hosted the first Black Sheep Art Culture art tours.” Board proudly showed us her new endeavor — there’s even a room for screening videos — which may be one of the most ambitious spaces for showing art in the state.
Flash forward to its big reveal in mid-August in Dallas — not the expected time to roll out a new gallery, but again, there’s little competition from other events. Daisha Board Gallery | The Tin District made a dramatic entrance.
“The grand opening was captivating and immersive celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, with over 400 guests that attended opening night,” she says. “The vibe and energy was absolutely electric, permeating every corner of the space (despite the triple digit heat) and igniting the spirits of all who attended. It was divine! The opening attracted a diverse mix of individuals, all united by their shared love and appreciation for hip-hop and art.”
The night included words from the gallery’s chief curator, Nickolas Gaines.
“Nickolas spoke so eloquently and unapologetically about the influence of all genres through hip hop,” Board says. “We had many guests from The Modern in Fort Worth to our dope DJs Brent and Lena English, and Brent is on the board at the Dallas Museum of Art.”
Also adding to the occasion was the gallery’s partnership with Big Thought, a community organization dedicated to providing equitable access to quality arts education and creative learning experiences for young individuals. “Big Thought’s mission aligns perfectly with our vision of using art, culture, and community engagement as transformative tools,” Board says.
The dealer also brought on Puma, who gifted 50 selected students who visited the exhibition each a pair of sneakers and backpack. Puma’s involvement as a sponsor “added an extra layer of excitement and connection to the students’ experience,” Board says. “It was a powerful affirmation that their voices matter and that they have the ability to make a positive impact on the world, just like the artists they had the privilege of meeting.”
As to programming, Board breaks it down for us.
“The gallery on Main Street, focusing on international artists and conceptual art, attracts a diverse audience interested in contemporary and avant-garde art,” she explains. “Daisha Board Gallery in West Dallas has a more focused mission of supporting BIPOC, LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual) artists, and artists with disabilities, serving as a hub for emerging artists, both locally and internationally, who belong to these marginalized communities.”
The gallerist singles out some of her recent discoveries. “We currently have two remarkable emerging artists, Roscoe Hall [Alabama] and Demarcus McGaughey [Dallas], at our Tin District location and two powerful works by Roscoe Hall at our downtown Dallas location, which were previously exhibited at the Dallas Art Fair and caused quite the stir — of Botham Jean and the Dallas Police officer who shot and killed him in his own apartment.”
What’s next? Immediate plans call for Miami Beach this December. “This year,” Board says, “we are returning to the Prizm Art Fair, which, although smaller, still offers global exposure, networking opportunities, great sales potential, artistic validation, cultural exchange, educational opportunities, media exposure, and a high-quality exhibition presentation for the BIPOC, Queer and African Diasporic artists that I represent.”
Looking ahead to 2024, Board is keeping the deets under wraps. “While I can’t share who we’re exhibiting, what I can share is that at Daisha Board Gallery, the excitement will be palpable as major artists showcase their conceptual art through more performance pieces,” she says. “The boundary-pushing creativity and emotional impact of the artwork will be a transformative experience that elevates the spirit and leaves a lasting impression.”