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Arts / Galleries

A Different Type of Art Gallery Celebrates True Experimentation

And this Woman is Leading the Thought-Provoking Fun

BY // 11.08.17
photography Tony Krash

Sofia Bastidas is the third curatorial fellow of the Pollock Gallery at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, all of whom have been women. But her residency is different: A 10-month tenure that began in March last year was extended through December 2018, giving her much more time to wow Pollock visitors with thought-provoking work.

“I’ve heard SMU tour guides refer to the gallery as ‘the space where students get to do whatever they want,’” she says. “They don’t think of the Pollock as traditional, and yes, that is the goal.”

For one of Bastidas’ first exhibits, “The Triple Carbs Society (The Built in Kitchen of Marcel Duchamp),” Berlin artist Marco Bruzzone converted the space into a communal kitchen with a Donald Judd replica table where, every day, students could eat a free spaghetti lunch — a meal the painter Marcel Duchamp is said to have frequently enjoyed while living in New York.

“Radioee.net: Solario” invited solar-energy experts to talk about their work. Each session was broadcast live from the gallery.

This month, Bastidas presents “Wide Open,” which explores free-market visions founded in centuries past that have helped shape today’s landscape in Dallas — for example, the idea formulated in the late 1800s to build a port via the Trinity River.

Born in Ecuador’s port city of Guayaquil and armed with an art history degree from Florida International University, Bastidas has curated contemporary exhibits at museums in Puerto Rico, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.

She also exhibits a penchant for taking risks and a love for nontraditional art forms — she’s passionate about the environmental art movement and London-based research group Forensic Architecture. She’s pursuing a master’s in sustainability and development at SMU. In 2012, she and urban theorist Guillermo León Gómez founded Port to Port, a curatorial research initiative that sparks dialogue about the future of global port cities’ economic development.

She’s also skilled at martial arts, having studied Aikijutsu for six years. In Dallas, she trains three times a week at tai chi master Ka Yeung’s Design District studio.

Recently, she took a three-week road trip to Carrizozo, New Mexico, and White Sands National Monument; to Amarillo, site of artist Robert Smithson’s Amarillo Ramp; and to Puerto Rico to view Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s work “Puerto Rican Light (Cueva Vientos)” inside a limestone cave.

“Art gives me freedom,” she says. “It’s a field of experimentation and permission. I like playing and taking risks along the way.”

Age: 29. Occupation: Pollock Gallery director and curatorial fellow. Tools of the Trade: Skepticism. Flexibility. Curiosity.

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