The last time Dallas Thomas revealed new work to Wilmington art lovers was in fall 2018 when Coworx and encore hosted an exhibition of paintings featuring his favorite things: flamingos, beer, hot dogs and sports figures. Fast forward to spring 2019: The UNCC studio art grad traveled to France to attend an art residency at Chateau d’Orquevaux. Almost a year after his return, he will be displaying work inspired by his sojourn at downtown’s Meow Meow (226 Princess St.), which opened last June.
The new tattoo parlor and fine jewelry studio is the brainchild of tattoo artist Shawn Dougherty and jewelry designer Teri-Lyn Pugliese. Aside from showcasing their own intricate art on a daily basis, the two have dedicated their space to elevating creativity across our port city. Dougherty and Pugliese will host art shows once a month as part of downtown’s Fourth Friday Gallery Night. “Our mission is to create an undefined space for creative professionals,” Dougherty says.
With the help of curator Robbie McKeithen, who worked with Pugliese on the last season of “One Tree Hill” over a decade ago, Meow Meow will showcase media from local and regional artists, as well as pair up with creatives nationwide. They will present Meow Meow’s first exhibit, “Yung Verdurous, Kinda,” works by Dallas Thomas, next Friday night.
McKeithan originally saw Thomas’ work at a show at Wilma B. Daniels Gallery in 2015. He was drawn to his use of color and detail in Thomas’ signature bird-like creatures, featuring human legs.
“I got lost in the beautiful storytelling,” McKeithan says. “Dallas’ work is in tune with the vibe of Meow Meow; it’s thought-provoking and certainly stands apart on its own.”
Thomas—who also works in the film industry, most recently as a graphic designer for Hulu’s “Reprisal”—created half of the Meow Meow exhibit during his residency in France. The other half has been newly fleshed out over the last several months. “It will be about 12 pieces, ranging in size from 24-inches-by-24-inches to 48-inches-by-72-inches,” Thomas tells. The work blends fine art with what looks like a blueprint of drawings.
Textures, lines and patterns reveal themselves through Thomas’ mark-making. The works will be displayed on stretched canvas.
encore interviewed Thomas about the evolution of “Yung Verdurous, Kinda.”
encore (e): What was your favorite aspect of doing the art residency in France? What did you learn from the experience, and how did you surprise yourself as an artist?
Dallas Thomas (DT): It’s wild to have no responsibilities other than creating work. I made a ton of work in that short period of time. I left behind a couple of larger paintings, as well as some small sculptures and a table. That, along with being in rural France for a few weeks and taking hiking breaks in between studio time, was a great experience.
e: Did you land on any new techniques, color palettes, ideas in France that we will see in your show?
DT: I was under a bit of self-limitation in France, using only materials I found or purchased there, and creating smaller work so I could travel home with them.
I think France inspired the colors I used: lots of greens, very lush landscapes out there, black and grey mark-making. I bought acrylics instead of oils, due to the short turnaround. I needed them to be dry before returning stateside.
e: Take me through the process of one piece, from beginning to end.
DT: All of my paintings follow the same pattern: mark-making and looking, mark-making and looking. The process is very organic; I let the painting happen and create itself from what jumps out from the mark-making. I never force myself to work or force the painting.
Some are finished within hours and some take months of observation in between painting sessions. It’s just a matter of when it gets to a point where I am happy is the process completed.
e: Can you give some specifics of the pieces you did in France, per the imagery of the paintings? What inspired them exactly, and how do they differ from your previous series, i.e. feathers and legs, or sports works you did at Coworx? Is there a common theme?
DT: I think all of my work, save the last Coworx show, is related. I don’t like to think too much about a theme or what inspired what. My paintings will always be my paintings. The process is the inspiration. Yes, there are legs; yes, there are sports; yes, there are rap lyrics.
e: The title of the show is “Yung Verdurous, Kinda.” Wanna tell me where you came up with it?
DT: Green France, green paintings. But also pink paintings!