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On the Art Circuit

Dallas Gallery Opens Up a Clever New Store — With Reasonable Prices

BY // 09.15.15
photography Stephen Dux

Circuit 12 Contemporary is off to a totally fresh start for fall. Owners Dustin and Gina Orlando not only relocated their Dallas gallery from Dragon Street to a new 3,000-square-foot location off Riverfront in late July, but they’ve totally rethought their concept. Along with the gallery’s core group of artists, Circuit 12’s new blood includes emerging and established artists from New York, Los Angeles, Miami and London.

“We’re putting Texas artists right alongside these new international artists. It’s a way for the area to see artists they might not otherwise,” Dustin says. For the first time, the gallery is presenting large-scale site-specific installations, such as “The Story with No Ending,” a solo exhibition by Quebec artist Simon Bilodeau, which runs September 12 through October 12.

The Orlandos also found a way to bring in more art-loving customers — not just the small percentage who buy expensive art. “Maybe 5 percent of the people who attend a gallery opening will actually buy a work of art,” Dustin says. “We needed to give the rest of the people who’ve come something to buy, and a way for them to feel a part of things.”

The result is Primer, a clever design-concept store located in a separate space within the gallery. The Orlandos hired friends and retail branding consultants Joseph Steffen and Dan Rodriguez of Dan & Joseph to get Primer off the ground and run the day-to-day business. The former Neiman Marcus visual designers have provided their signature, smartly curated spin with an array of hard-to find art-related gifts, fashion accessories and children’s educational toys. Look for sculptural plants such as small succulents and jade trees, carefully sourced design and art books from Assouline and small imprints, niche magazines such as Dallas-based Theorie and Dan & Joseph’s own handmade crazy leather hats, crowns, fascinators, purses, pillows and small accessories, which range from $150 to $645. The children’s selection is so much fun you’ll want to buy things for yourself, such as the multicolor wood slingshots handmade by a San Francisco artist, and teaching robots from Vex Robotics, including a robotic dinosaur you assemble using supplied mathematical equations. Separated from the main gallery by sleek iron and glass doors, Primer provides entrée into the rarified world of art, without draining your pocketbook.

“We are self-publishing books and producing small objects in-house with our own artists to sell at the store,” Dustin says. “It gives the artists a platform to reach more people they didn’t have before.” Dustin is also working with artists to design limited-edition pieces for Primer, such as a coloring book or small objects, such as a knife. “I had a space in Miami eight years ago with this kind of idea,” he says. “But I don’t know of any galleries here doing what we’re doing.” Circuit 12 Contemporary, 1811 E. Levee St., 214.760.1212.

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