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SMU’s Pollock Gallery Presents "Driving Lessons: Thirteen Stories"

by Dallas artist Tim Coursey, December 12, 2020 – March 13, 2021

Driving lessons chest
Hope Chest, part of Driving Lessons exhibit at Pollock Gallery
DALLAS (SMU) -- The Pollock Gallery of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts will present Driving Lessons: Thirteen Stories, a solo exhibition by Dallas artist and Meadows alumnus Tim Coursey, from December 12, 2020 through March 13, 2021. The exhibition was created in collaboration with the RISO BAR collective and its concurrent exhibit at the Pollock and is curated by Pollock Gallery Director Sofia Bastidas Vivar. Due to the pandemic, the gallery, now located in the east campus of SMU, is open by appointment only; to arrange a visit, email Pollock Assistant Curator Everton Melo at emelo@smu.edu.
 
The exhibition draws its name from Coursey’s newly released artist’s book, Driving Lessons: Thirteen Stories. Composed of the artist’s original short fiction and drawings, it was created on the risograph machine that is part of the Pollock Gallery’s RISO BAR display. The exhibition includes a new sculpture by Coursey, Hope Chest, as well as 70 copies of the book and a series of quotations from the text that have been printed and hung throughout the space. Original pencil illustrations that appear in the book are included as well. The exhibition conjures a pre-modern era, emphasizing the craft and time necessary to form the hand-printed books and the delicately carved wooden chest. His writing is made to live sculpturally, in various forms, as Coursey explores his interest in the two mediums and the ways in which they intertwine in his practice.
 
Hope Chest, a box made of poplar with bronze fittings, looks like an early 19th-century take on a Beowulf-era dowry chest. The chest and its contents weave a web of association with the book’s content: A similar box is described in the stories, and appears in certain drawings. The contents of the chest are of uncertain origin, with some appearing to have been crafted by the artist while others seem to be found objects. Some, including a taxidermy coyote head, fig leaves and a carnival barker’s cane, are referenced within the text or appear in illustrations on the walls.
 
Driving Lessons: Thirteen Stories similarly invokes questions of provenance and a sense of being lost in a different era. Despite being so beautifully produced, the text of the stories is far from final; Coursey points out that these texts have yet to see a copy editor, and he “takes no offense at being read with a red pencil in hand.”  The stories almost harken back to those by newspaper writers of the 19th century, tossed off as quick amusements to submit for the next day’s paper. Likewise, the illustrations that make up the book refer stylistically to the work of commercial illustrators who excelled at producing a narrative picture in minutes. This sense of the slapdash is deliberate, and is foundational to Coursey’s practice: Both writing and drawings are the product of steady work over the last few years. 
 
In creating his book for the exhibition, Coursey worked with RISO BAR, the risograph printing collective behind the concurrent exhibition at the Pollock. RISO BAR’s mission is to empower artists to experiment in self-publishing, and push the bounds of their practice through this liberating technology. Coursey designed his artist book with the riso process in mind, making use of the technique’s lo-fi aesthetic that is similar to screenprinting. The resulting manuscript suggests a newsstand edition for an 8 x 5½-inch, digest-size pulp magazine.
 
Tim Coursey has lived in Dallas, Texas, since 1948. He studied art under Roger Winter at Dallas College and later at SMU Meadows School of the Arts, where his teachers included Otis Dozier, Jerry Bywaters, Mary Vernon, Larry Scholder and James Surls. Coursey’s practice is influenced by his connection with fellow writers, machinists, teachers and past day jobs. These have included janitor, bus driver, professional jeweler, foundry hand pourer of enormous one-piece bronzes, antique Japanese sword fitting replicator, and producer of tiny furniture.

The Pollock Gallery is located in Suite 101 in Expressway Tower, 6116 North Central Expressway, Dallas 75206. Due to the current pandemic, the gallery is open only by appointment. Parking and admission are free. To arrange a visit, email Pollock Assistant Curator Everton Melo at emelo@smu.edu. For more information, call 214.768.4439.

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