Words by Sarah Odum/Images by Alyssa Stevenson 


You don’t have to look around very long to stumble upon great art in Denton. It’s blossoming all around us, all the time. An abundance of new art is just one of the reasons why we love this town. Sometimes finding great art just takes putting on pants and leaving the house.

Last Friday evening a few of us did just that and walked down to the Greater Denton Arts Council (GDAC) to check out the opening of their latest exhibition: Materials: Hard + Soft (National Contemporary Craft Competition and Exhibition). If you’ve got the gallery itch and are curious to see what the GDAC has brought in, this stop is worth your time. Read on to learn more, to catch a glimpse of our favorites, and to find out how you can see it for yourself!


Materials: Hard + Soft is an annual exhibition featuring artists from cities nationwide (including Denton!) who are showing innovation in the field of contemporary craft. Need to get your bearings on the “contemporary craft” genre before you go? Here are a few things to keep in mind: While the word “craft” may make you daydream about macaroni necklaces and pipe cleaners (hey, we love those crafts too!), here it’s more about creatively working with a material by hand, making something that can be functional (think chair, ladle, ring), ornamental (wall hanging, sculpture) or both. Still thinking macaroni jewelry applies? That's on you. 

The “contemporary” part is what makes these pieces doubly interesting. Because much of what we see these days is commercially made, the presence of something hand-made is so much more precious and intentional. And because there’s no absolute demand for craft today (although many of us look for it), this frees the artist up to use a lot of innovation in their design and material choice. Think new interpretations of traditional techniques.


Whew, ok! Now that we’ve got that straightened out, here are some of the things we saw and loved.

From the beautiful ring made from coal and concrete to the bracelet that appears to be exploding to the graceful steel arc with a stretch of embroidered thread so tightly woven that it looks like ink, all of the metalwork in the room is truly something special. We also loved the collection of hydrangea petals, displayed in a structure reminiscent of our fourth grade bug projects, except way more beautiful and way less disgusting. Another piece of interest is a suspended, cascading trail of pine needles, bundled together and guided by waxed linen. We recommend looking at this one from multiple angles.

We’d rather not give it all away, but we will say this: If you go, take the time to really look at each piece. Imagine the time and skill it took to construct that giant embroidered wall hanging of a unicorn, that brass vessel with a surface so smooth and uniform it almost looks like it’s in motion. Then, after you’ve looked, come back here and let us know what you think!

Materials: Hard + Soft runs February 5th through April 1st in the Meadows Gallery at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center

The gallery hours are Tuesday - Friday, 11am - 5pm, and Saturdays from 1 - 5pm. The gallery is closed Sunday and Monday. Admission is $5 and free for GDAC members, children under 12 and students with ID.