‘It’s a vibe’: Daisha Board Gallery helps solidify black arts movement in Dallas – The Dallas Morning News | Candle Made Easy

The Daisha Board Gallery, an eponymous black-owned contemporary art gallery in West Dallas, creates not only a place to view and buy art, but also a welcoming space for people who may be new to contemporary art spaces.

“The gallery is for everyone and I want black people in particular to feel comfortable here. It’s a mood; It’s about community and making people feel comfortable,” says Board.

There’s something cinematic about walking into an opening at Daisha Board Gallery. Hip-hop, R&B and classics are played by a DJ. Complimentary drinks are served by a Black-owned bartender service.

There are people of all ages, of all shades, but flashy and cheerful there are blacks – colorful, patterned, cool and proud – all looking at art, talking about art and buying art.

Daisha Board, the founder and curator of Daisha Board Gallery, aims to create a welcoming space for black artists.(Nan Coulter / Featured Contributor)

That wasn’t always the case with gallery openings in Dallas. For over a decade, this writer was one of a handful of black people involved in the contemporary art scene.

However, with the opening of their gallery, Board now offers a space where everyone from celebrities like DL Hughley to politicians to everyday Black Dallasites can enjoy and celebrate artists who share unique and heretofore underrepresented visions of the world.

44-year-old Daisha Board was born in Queens, New York but grew up in Arlington, where she graduated from Lamar High School. Board attended historic Black Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida on a full-time track and field scholarship.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and African American Studies, is married with three children and has been in the finance/mortgage industry for over 15 years.

But art has always been a part of Board’s life. She credits her Harlem grandmother, Carmen “Tiny” Pinckney, with introducing her to fashion, theater and the arts. “She traveled the world collecting jewelry and art,” says Board. “She is my eternal inspiration.”

After Board quit her job in 2016, she began taking her daughter to museums and art galleries, where they both noticed that few artists who looked like them were represented in such spaces. In 2017, after visiting Dallas Contemporary, Board decided to try to get more Black people involved in contemporary art. This led to the creation of Black Sheep Art Culture, an art consultancy firm founded by Board.

Through Black Sheep, Board began meeting and managing artists and cultivating a diverse collector base. She also began to master her use of social media to connect and amplify the artists and shows she loved, curated, or organized.

The Daisha Board Gallery was buzzing with enthusiasm for local art enthusiasts on the artist's opening night...
The Daisha Board Gallery was packed with local art enthusiasts on the opening night of artist Jennifer Monet Cowley’s ‘Patchwork’ exhibition on February 12.(Nan Coulter / Featured Contributor)

Board partnered with local galleries and art fairs and became an advocate for greater representation and consistent opportunities for BIPOC artists. After a few years, Board was ready to take the next step and open her own gallery.

After a year of being turned down by various developers, Erin Cluley, director of the Erin Cluley Gallery and friend and supporter of Black Sheep, told Board that commercial space was becoming available next to their own second location, Cluley Projects.

“Daisha is bringing fresh energy to the Dallas art scene with exciting exhibitions and an eager collecting community,” says Cluley. “When she decided to move her gallery down the road from Cluley Projects, we welcomed her with open arms.”

Within months, Board had signed a lease and launched her first exhibition with artist Gerald Bell. Next would be a show by Sharidyn Barnes, exactly the kind of show — an aspiring black artist from Savannah College of Art and Design’s Master of Fine Arts program — that Dallas would normally skip. Barnes’ work, created primarily for her graduation exhibition, consists of drawings and paintings, including several self-portraits.

Barnes’ colored ink portraits on paper are particularly striking. The intricate swirls and layers that create markings make her subjects’ textured hair, in particular, appear alive and vibrant. A lot of video game developers could learn a lesson from that.

The artist Jennifer Monet Cowley can be seen in the current exhibition, "Patchwork," at Daisha...
Artist Jennifer Monet Cowley features in the current exhibition, Patchwork, at Daisha Board Gallery.(Nan Coulter / Featured Contributor)

Some of the portraits have stark white shapes on the faces, as if parts are missing. It suggests that life has sucked away significant parts of these people — that perhaps interacting with white people in particular can make a black person not feel fully there.

Smaller black-and-white ink portraits show the same people in full form, helping the viewer to better appreciate not only the artist’s draftsmanship but also the conceptual leap of the larger drawings.

The gallery is currently hosting the Patchwork exhibition by Jennifer Monet Cowley, a veteran artist and curator who has created many powerful exhibitions for the African American Museum at Fair Park in recent years. Her work unfolds as colorful quilts, collages with visible threads, prints of breasts, torsos, hands and feet on painted canvas. The show is bright, cheerful and full of life.

Daisha Board Gallery’s vision comes into focus with these shows, offering a space for Black women artists to shine and be their full authentic selves. It’s not the same sterile white-cube gallery that has dominated the format for decades.

Visitors to the gallery will find warmth, scents and community. It acts as both a real-world destination and a social media hub that can bring together interested and like-minded artists, collectors, and enthusiasts.

Daisha Board Gallery feels like coming home – and that’s quite an achievement for both the gallery and the gallerist herself.

As the gallery and the artists it exhibits and represents continue to gain momentum, the Daisha Board Gallery is loud and bold in asserting itself as the must-attend contemporary art venue in Dallas.

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Jennifer Monet Cowley’s Patchwork is on view through March 19 at Daisha Board Gallery, 2111 Sylvan Ave., Dallas. Tuesday to Friday from 12pm to 6pm and Saturday from 1pm to 6pm daishaboardgallery.com.

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