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AndX art space aims to foster creative collectives

Three years. When Katy Webster bankrolled the gallery brand 10 art space in the spring of last year, she said it was a three-year experiment. Three years were all she and her son Heagan Bayles and the husband-wife team of artists Matthew Clark and Christine Bisetto were willing to commit.

But as the year progressed, their 36-month calendar filled, and soon they realized they didn't have enough time to do all they wanted. And on the first anniversary of brand 10, they celebrated by taking on yet another gallery location in Fort Worth -- andX art space opens Friday.

They made another pact: They are going to give this gallery three years.

"So many artist collectives don't have a place to show," Webster says. "There are a lot of people getting together with musicians and dancers as well as artists, and we wanted to encourage that. We'll have three shows a year, tops. That will give the artists time to work and the public more time to see it."

AndX art space, located off Interstate 30 and Montgomery Street, is for collectives, groups of artists who work together on a single work or presentation. They are "underserved," Webster says.

"We're giving them a chance to make things that may or may not be marketable, but we find a way to show it," says Bisetto. Along with staging the works, Webster and her crew are giving the artists time to work in the gallery.

"It's a testimony to Kathy's willingness to be supportive of artists," Clark says.

Both art spaces are nonprofits; their mission is to showcase art, not sell it. They function as a stage, not a sales floor, and the artists are invited to show off.

"It's like handing over the keys to the gallery and walking away, letting the artists do whatever they want," Clark says. That is a rare treat, as he knows all too well, as he has struggled to find exhibition space in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The new gallery is more flexible than the first, which is limited by the size of the front door and the space within. The new one has a large loading dock-type door in the back for admitting sculpture and installation works, and the space inside is more accommodating. Webster hired architect Richard Wintersole to scrape it clean, paint it white and section off an office, a large room for video exhibitions and a tiny room at the front that can function as an intimate gallery or a gift shop, should any of the collective artists have wares to sell.

The first collective to grace the space is the duo known as Scuba -- Sandra Wang and Crockett Bodelson, from Santa Fe, N.M. -- with their piece Inside the Outside. On a figure-8 track suspended from the ceiling runs a course of translucent paper buildings lit from within by LED lights that change color. The artists painted the outside of the white paper buildings with animals, people and symbols, all in white.

"We often leave white space in our paintings," Wang says. "We've done other installations of thousands of small paintings, so this is that same idea only with a 3-D aspect. They are small paintings that link together."

"It's like this tacky art form of minimalist sculpture with folk-level buildings and paintings that sort of brings it down to earth. There is something for everybody," Bodelson says.

They considered adding a soundtrack but abandoned that idea.

"It might make people feel too rushed. Now, it's a silent loop of narrative," Wang says.

To celebrate the new gallery in a big way, both art spaces will have opening receptions Saturday night. AndX will feature the two-part exhibit "City Zoo" with the Scuba collective, and at brand 10 is a show of five artists' works. The "City Zoo" theme is also apparent at brand 10, where paintings, photography, video installations and sculpture all have animal-themed work.

Frances Bagley's video of her dog, Peggy, is mesmerizing; watch too long and you, too, will begin to twitch, sniff and wiggle your eyebrows like the pug. And when you do, you'll find you aren't nearly as adept as the dog.

Susi Brister's photographs of piles of fake fur in natural settings, Crystal-Studded Shag in Dunes and Spotted Seal in Snow, are funny and spooky. So obviously not real, but maybe not totally fake either. They have a life force; how it manifests itself remains to be seen.

Perfectly rendered drawings by Victor Romão, of odd men with bat heads playing poker, is a riff on bestial card play. The clipped boxwood head that allows for a single eye and the rabbit-eared pugilist are reminiscent of fairy-tale illustrations.

There is a strong desire to hear the narrative, so expect to spend a little time conjuring some self-made fiction.

Gaile Robinson is the Star-Telegram art and design critic, 817-390-7113. Twitter: @gailerobinson

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