500X Alumnus Interview: Brian Spolans
500X: Tell us a little about yourself. What is your artistic background?
BS: I have always been interested in drawing and painting. I ended up going to the Alabama School of Fine Arts for visual arts, then just continued studying it in college. I got a job after receiving my undergraduate degree at a t-shirt printing shop in Austin printing UT gear. I disliked that so much that I quickly went to grad school at UNT.
500X: What years were you a member of 500X?
500X: Were you ever a 500X officer? If so, what position(s)?
BS: I don’t recall the title, but I had to patch and paint.
500X: Who were some of the other members with you?
BS: David Wilburn, Jessica McCambly, John Oliver Lewis, Natalie Macellaio, Lesli Robertson, Keri Oldham, Tina Medina, Nancy Brown, Garland Fielder, Jim Burton, Veronica DeAnda Tosten, Sara Maxwell-English, Rebecca Carter, Mark Collop, Aqsa Shakil, Shannon Sullivan, OMG I’m forgetting some…
500X: Tell us about your time at 500X. What was it like?
BS: It was inspiring to be a part of a group of artist professionals that were also creative, experimental, passionate, and responsible.
500X: Do you have a favorite moment from your membership?
BS: I had been a member long enough to get a small group show in the downstairs area with Lesli Robertson and Natalie Macellaio. After scheduling that, I soon found out my wife was also pregnant with our first child. As the show approached, I spent my time making as much work as possible and preparing myself to becoming a dad. The night of the opening I was so excited to be sharing all this work I made. My wife, friends, 500X members and everyone important to me at the time was there for the opening. Unfortunately, my wife tired from standing on the hard concrete floors and being pregnant left a few hours into the opening. I was sad to see her go but talked to so many people at the opening I wasn’t able to make it over to the keg until it floated. I still stayed late after closing time, chatting and having a hard time coming down from a thrilling event.
Eventually I made it home and to sleep for a few hours before my wife woke me. It was 4 in the morning and she had just started going into labor. A few after that my son was born.
The past months had been filled with me preparing for these two huge moments, only to have them both happen within hours of each other. I was transitioning from a grad student to the beginnings of an art career, and from what felt like being a kid to having one. Looking back now, 500X represents the physical space for this transformation, and is more than just a space to exhibit art.
500X: What do you think you gained from being a 500X member?
BS: One important lesson I learned at 500X was how to do openings. Before 500X, I would pop-in and pop-out of a reception as quick as I could. I don’t know if it was the awkwardness of the situation or feeling like an impostor, but I could never be at an opening for very long. I didn’t have that option at 500X, and being needed to work the keg or help close, made that “flight” option disappear. The openings were long, and tiring. My legs would feel sore afterwards.
After being present for multiple receptions, I found out how much I enjoyed being there, and became more comfortable. Since then having reception legs has introduced me to so many interesting opportunities, artists, and discussions. I never knew how useful the skill of standing around uncomfortably would be.
500X: How has 500X impacted your career as an artist?
BS: I’m very proud of my time at 500X. I learned so much about exhibiting and working within the Dallas Art community. Because of 500X, I had other opportunities come my way, like doing drawing workshops at the DMA and other exhibitions in the area.
500X: Is there anything you'd like to add about your experience of being a member?
BS: When I left the Dallas area to pursue my teaching career, I never knew how difficult it would be to find community. I’ve been a part of other artist groups, and galleries, but never experienced the collaborative thrill that 500x offered. Don’t get me wrong. I hated paying dues. I hated gallery sitting in the heat. I didn’t like all the work we exhibited. I don’t like all of the work I exhibited. But overall, the connections I’ve made and the experience I gained at 500X makes these complaints seem trivial.