Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Going Darke

Robert Boyd

Darke Gallery is closing. Ratio, a group show featuring Jonathan Clark, Tara Conley, Allison Hunter, Catherine Colangelo, Heath Brodie, Nicholas Auger and Sophie Clyde, is the their last. It opens this Friday.

Allison Hunter, still from Honey Bee, 2011, 3D stereoscopic color video with sound, RT 7.5 min

Darke Gallery is closing because gallery owner Linda Darke is having serious health problems which will require two surgeries and lengthy recovery time. She told me, "I wanted to make it clear that the gallery was for the most part a great experience.  And that I wasn't closing because it is too hard to make a commercial gallery operate at a profit in Houston."

Kathryn Kelley's sculpture outside Darke Gallery

Darke  Gallery opened in 2007. It's in a strange location, pretty far from all the other galleries in town. When I started going there, there was a big empty lot across the street that made parking easy. But their neighborhood, Rice Military, has been built up so quickly that empty lots don't last. Parking was a bit of a pain after they filled that lot with townhouses.

Darke Gallery was fairly adventurous for a commercial gallery. "I very much enjoyed being able to create the artist in residence program.  It gave me the chance to put on wonderful exhibitions for Emily Sloan, Kathy Kelley, Joshua Goode and other artists whose work would not normally be shown in commercial spaces," Darke said.  (Most of the photos here are from Kathryn Kelley's show in 2011, which featured an amazing installation. There are few other galleries in town that would exhibit an installation like that.) As a gallery goer, I appreciated Darke Gallery's willingness to take this kind of risk.

Kathryn Kelley wall pieces

By my count, The Great God Pan Is Dead wrote about 11 Darke Gallery shows starting in October 2009, shortly after the blog began. I think my favorite pieces were Dean Liscum's review of Baby Ruth in a Swimming Pool by Emily Sloan and my piece on John Adelman.

Kathryn Kelley installation

I also bought work at Darke Gallery--a wonderful drawing by Rabéa Ballin and a photo printed on fleece by Magsamen + Hillerbrand.

Kathryn Kelley installation

That's Linda, seen from inside a Kathryn Kelley installation. She intends to stick around--"I will continue to be involved in the Houston art scene, once I get this medical stuff resolved I am going to plan my come back.  I may reopen Darke Gallery in a new space, focus on art fairs or pop up exhibitions.  As I said in my note, the art scene is changing so fast, I think there are a lot of exciting possibilities.  And we have an apartment in NYC so we'll be able to spend more time there.  (I threw that in so that you can't feel sorry for me!)" I already look forward to her triumphant return.



  1. So sorry to hear about LInda's health problems and sad to see her gallery close. I wish her a speedy recovery. "And we have an apartment in NYC so we'll be able to spend more time there. (I threw that in so that you can't feel sorry for me!)": So like her. She is a tough cookie!

  2. Of the six years of Darke, I was shown four times, including the first and the last shows. Linda is a jewel. She was creative in her exhibition concepts and in representing the artists. Her installations were always professional. Her active support of the Houston art community is a presence that will be missed.

    I look forward to her recovery and return to the Houston Art community. She is much loved and a tough, resilient cookie.

  3. During the six years of Darke Gallery, Linda Darke showed my work four times including the first and last shows. She is creative in her concepts, the running of the gallery and representation of the artists. Her installations were professional with the last year being museum quality.

    It was an honor to be in Linda's stable. She is resilient and a tough cookie. I look forward to her recovery and return to the Houston art community.