How fabled indie Dallas artwork house Oliver Francis Gallery was reborn, with a twist

The Dallas artwork scene appeared to be flourishing in the early 2010s. Showrooms flocked to the Style and design District, influential galleries commenced attending the newly minted Dallas Art Good, establishments like the Nasher Sculpture Middle appeared to be hitting new heights, and there was a crop of younger artists building operate and opening Diy areas all above the metropolis. At the heart of this younger, awesome art crowd was Oliver Francis Gallery, which experienced develop into the stuff of Dallas artwork lore.

Even for people who had been there, who had seen its left-of-center artwork displays, who experienced sweated by means of incredibly hot summer evenings on the uneven sidewalks out front while sipping Dos Equis — and it was generally Dos Equis — even for them, the story of its existence could possibly audio apocryphal.

The story would go anything like this: In July 2011, a rebellious college pupil opened an art place in the arterial edge of East Dallas. The storefront’s rapid neighbors ended up auto restore retailers and an ironworks lawn. He showed unfamiliar artists who would go on to exhibit in the Whitney Biennial and other vaunted institutions. He invited a selection of artist friends to dwell and do the job in the apartments in and around the developing. And for a number of many years, it turned an not likely beacon for the city’s art scene, drawing consideration and readers from close to the planet.

The Oliver Francis Gallery in East Dallas in 2012.
The Oliver Francis Gallery in East Dallas in 2012. (NAN COULTER/Contributor / Exclusive Contributor)

And then, the young curator shut the gallery and still left to travel the planet. In 2015, as quickly as he experienced injected vitality into the town, that electricity seemed to evaporate.

For practically 6 yrs, it seemed the tale would conclusion there. But 10 yrs after the inaugural exhibition, Kevin Rubén Jacobs reincarnated Oliver Francis Gallery, this time underneath the moniker Olivier François Galerie, a playful nod to his a lot more sophisticated method. In early July, he opened “Demons,” an exhibition by Dallas-dependent artist Francisco Moreno. The gallery is now housed in Exposition Park with an eye on more industrial results.

Trial and mistake

When Jacobs opened a gallery in 2011, it was just happenstance. He was on the lookout for a studio space through his senior yr at the College of Texas at Arlington, in which he was working on a bachelor of fantastic arts degree in studio artwork, following earning a diploma in philosophy. The most inexpensive commercial place he could find was element of a smaller compound on Peak Road just two blocks from Interstate 30. He moved into the condominium above the storefront and determined that as a substitute of making use of it as a studio, he would curate exhibitions. He attained out to a buddy from college or university, Moreno, who was finding out at the Rhode Island University of Design.

Within just months, he opened “Seven Times in The usa,” in which Moreno painted the partitions of the gallery and parked a motorbike in the house. It was the very first glimpse of a youthful painter Dallas artwork patrons would become acquainted with in excess of the subsequent 10 years. Moreno would go on to be demonstrated for a handful of several years by Erin Cluley Gallery, where he experienced a collection of solo exhibitions. In 2018, the Dallas Museum of Art obtained his immersive piece Chapel.

In Moreno’s view, the results of OFG has a large amount to do with Jacobs’ curatorial tendencies, but in the early times they did not know what they have been undertaking.

“We’re center-class, Latinx kids from the suburbs of Arlington,” Moreno says. “We actually had no thought what the artwork environment was, but through demo and mistake and passion, we were able to arrive with each other to produce OFG and set the momentum to go and immerse ourselves in the artwork planet. We both equally realized a lot.”

When Moreno returned to Dallas in 2012, he moved into the house upcoming door to the gallery. In brief buy, Moreno’s grad faculty close friends Arthur Peña and Michelle Rawlings, equally Dallas natives, moved into two of the other residences on the compound. They would both equally obtain their 1st Dallas exhibitions at OFG. Designer and artist Travis LaMothe at some point claimed the final residing house.

Artist Arthur Pena and gallery owner Kevin Rubén Jacobs installed a work by Pena titled "attempt 36 / everything you ever wanted" at Oliver Francis Gallery in June 2012.
Artist Arthur Pena and gallery owner Kevin Rubén Jacobs mounted a do the job by Pena titled “try 36 / all the things you at any time preferred” at Oliver Francis Gallery in June 2012.(Nan Coulter / Particular Contributor)

With Oliver Francis Gallery, a title impressed by artists Oliver Rafferty and Francis Upritchard, Jacobs developed an remarkable roster of displays. He exhibited function by Ludwig Schwarz, Keith Allyn Spencer, Josh Reames, Puppies Puppies, Kristin Oppenheim and Morehshin Allahyari, amongst other individuals.

When working OFG, Jacobs worked as a curator for the nonprofit Goss-Michael Basis, which at the time sat the place the Virgin Resort is now. There, he carved in-roads for nearby artists, exhibiting them along with functions by intercontinental art stars like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.

Back then, the Layout District west of downtown was bustling with galleries. There have been younger, hip spaces opening like Circuit 12 Modern day and Zhulong Gallery (now both shuttered), alongside mainstays like Galleri Urbane, Cris Worley, Holly Johnson and Conduit Gallery. Meanwhile, East Dallas performed host to far more experimental spaces and initiatives, like Two Bronze Doors, Beefhaus, OFG, Deep Ellum Windows and the artist residency plan Central Trak, all of which had been closed by 2018. Numerous of them closed extended prior to that.

The existence of OFG and its contemporaries stood in a form of defiance to the Dallas gallery scene. These areas were being gritty and fascinating. The art and songs they confirmed felt dangerous, which captivated crowds but did not translate into a sustainable business enterprise model.

Although Jacobs dabbled in representing local artists, he sugge
sts he could depend on his arms how lots of functions of artwork he marketed. In 2015, he was burned out. He shut down the gallery, which by then he experienced rebranded OFG.XXX, and turned the space into a powerlifting gymnasium for his mates.

“I was seriously depressed at the time and experienced some well being issues, so I genuinely commenced to perform out,” Jacobs says. “I’ve always experienced this conflict concerning intellectual pursuits and seeking to be energetic.”

He received a desk position at a nonprofit devoid of any ties to the art entire world so that he could help save more than enough money to vacation for a pair of several years. In 2017, he left, uncertain if he would at any time return to Dallas.

Living overseas

That 12 months, he acknowledged a curatorial residency in Germany at Egill Sæbjörnsson’s studio. Within weeks, he observed himself when all over again dealing with a authentic estate windfall. For a regular 300 euros, he rented two spaces in preferred Berlin neighborhoods, Charlottenburg and Kreuzberg, and started Pushkin & Gogol, a gallery with two locations. That slide, he exhibited Dallas-based Jesse Morgan Barnett, just one of the first artists he showed at OFG, and Berlin-dependent Maren Karlson.

“People ended up intrigued to see what this child from Texas was heading to do,” Jacobs states. “I experienced seriously good turnouts.”

Then, his father experienced a coronary heart attack, so he arrived residence.

In Dallas, he turned Pushkin & Gogol into an art handling enterprise. He builds crates and pedestals, installs work at museums and in homes, and transports art throughout the country. When COVID-19 hit, he threw himself into disc golfing, doing work his way up to the leaderboard of innovative amateur tournaments.

Artist and collector Ludwig Schwarz (center) speaks with gallery owner Kevin Rubén Jacobs (left) and artist Francisco Moreno about a piece titled "Three Amigos," which will be on view at Olivier François Galerie through Sept. 4.
Artist and collector Ludwig Schwarz (heart) speaks with gallery proprietor Kevin Rubén Jacobs (still left) and artist Francisco Moreno about a piece titled “Three Amigos,” which will be on check out at Olivier François Galerie through Sept. 4.(Ben Torres / Exclusive Contributor)

In February 2021, he was looking for a spot to reside and as soon as all over again, serendipity struck. Moreno had moved to Exposition Park and related Jacobs with his landlord, who had a 400-square-foot are living/perform house. That area was the not too long ago shuttered Examining Home gallery, which curator Karen Weiner experienced shut down after a 10 years-extensive run as 1 of the city’s most refined, stimulating art spaces. (Coincidentally, she had opened the Reading through Place in July of 2011, the very same month that OFG opened.) It appeared Jacobs would be opening, or in this circumstance re-opening, a gallery.

His is not the only art area bringing existence to the neighborhood. Previously this 12 months, PAO Tasks, a gallery with an experimental curatorial point of view, opened close to the corner. He’s just a several blocks from the artist-run cooperative 500X and the Energy Station, wherever Gregory Ruppe manages the underground (virtually) house Culture Gap. Across city, spaces like Sweet Pass Sculpture Park, Browder Street and PRP are bringing some of that power from 10 many years back back to Dallas.

“OFG has constantly had the electricity of an artist-run place simply because Kevin was an artist initial,” Moreno suggests. “I honestly sense like it is heading to stick this time. We’ve the two matured a lot, and we comprehend how factors operate.”

Jacobs has exhibitions for the relaxation of the year planned out with is effective from Dallas-dependent artist River Shell, Iranian artist Morehshin Allahyari and Cypriot artist Lito Kattou.

“I’m fired up to target on the act of selling, the act of giving a particular variety of buyer services. I consider I was entitled again in the day. I didn’t have the income or the drive to keep people’s hand or clarify the artwork to them,” Jacobs says. “People skipped out on amassing truly incredible artists early in their vocation, but you know, some of that is on me. I’m ready to be a lot more responsible.”

Ten a long time afterwards, the perspective may possibly be distinct, but a large amount of the particulars are the same: Jacobs opens a gallery with an exhibition of do the job by his good friend from faculty. But this time, with a VIP reception and a valet stand out front.

“I adjusted the identify as a way to signify some modify, some evolution,” Jacobs claims. “But it is even now OFG it is just French now.”

Kevin Rubén Jacobs outside of his ivy-clad Olivier François Galerie in Dallas' Exposition Park in July 2021.
Kevin Rubén Jacobs outside of his ivy-clad Olivier François Galerie in Dallas’ Exposition Park in July 2021. (Ben Torres / Exclusive Contributor)

The debut exhibition at Olivier François Galerie is a solo exhibition, “Francisco Moreno: Demons,” featuring new paintings by the artist. Moreno continues a careerlong fascination in bringing the masters into conversation with present-day portray. This exhibition facilities on 1 large perform, The Allegory of Weed Gummy and Alcoholic beverages Induced Stress, in which you’ll obtain references to Renaissance painters.

Moreno claims this work can take immediate inspiration from the earliest known portray by Michelangelo, The Torment of Saint Anthony, which he saw when it was acquired by the Kimbell Artwork Museum in 2009. In it, the ascendant saint is tormented by 8 traveling demons. Just like its 15th-century inspiration, Moreno’s graphic is wild and the demons are mythical, scary beasts. But in 2021, you’ll discover the saintly figure in entrance of a privacy fence, surrounded by a collection of crushed beer cans and a vial of cannabis edibles.

A detail of the painting 'The Allegory of Weed Gummy and Alcohol
Induced Anxiety,' by Francisco Moreno.
A detail of the portray ‘The Allegory of Weed Gummy and Alcohol Induced Anxiety,’ by Francisco Moreno.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

“I think I’ve generally favored the strategy of history portray: The skill to communicate tips by way of elaborate compositions,” Moreno states. “The demon that’s usually been haunting me is that I always wanted to make a heritage portray but under no circumstances really understood how.”

For him, this large get the job done is about the anxieties of connection and networking essential in the artwork environment, usually produced easier by material abuse. That, and a especially disagreeable encounter on edibles.

The other will work on show keep the themes of demonic torment but are scaled-down, much more intimate is effective.


By means of Sept. 4, Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. and by appointment, 3715 Parry Ave., Dallas. For a lot more information and facts, go to

Artist Francisco Moreno with one of his pieces of art work titled "The Allegory of Weed Gummy and Alcohol Induced Anxiety," on display at the Oliver Francis Gallery in Dallas.
Artist Francisco Moreno with one particular of his items of artwork get the job done titled “The Allegory of Weed Gummy and Liquor Induced Anxiety,” on screen at the Oliver Francis Gallery in Dallas.(Ben Torres / Unique Contributor)
Artist Francisco Moreno, with a detail at his barrel-vaulted chapel at Erin Cluley Gallery in Dallas on April 3, 2018. "Francisco Moreno: The Chapel and Accompanying Works" opens on Saturday April 7 and runs through May 19, 2018.
The “Factory Settings” exhibition at the Power Station features 15 Asian American artists.
Two 2021 abstract works by artist Joji Nakamura, whose first solo show in the United States is called "Popcorn," are on display at the new Dallas gallery P.A.O. Projects.
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