500X Alumnus Interview: Jim Burton

Jim Burton, “LaTour in Virginia,” Hand built federal period table, flocking, fabric, Marine Foam, books, 2018

Jim Burton, “LaTour in Virginia,” Hand built federal period table, flocking, fabric, Marine Foam, books, 2018

500X: Tell us a little about yourself. What is your artistic background?

JB: I am originally from Georgia. I received my BFA in Fine Art from Valdosta State University in 2000, and my MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of North Texas in 2005. I am trained as a painter, but my work now primarily consists of sculpture and installation. I have taught painting, drawing, sculpture, hybrid forms, and critical theory at UNT since 2005, and have been a Senior Lecturer since 2012. I have shown work nationally and internationally.

500X: What years were you a member of 500X? 

JB: I was a member of 500X from 2004-2007

500X: Were you ever a 500X officer? If so, what position(s)? 

JB: I was PR officer my first year, then created the Gallery Tech position, which I occupied until 2007.

500X: Who were some of the other members with you? 

JB: Erik Tosten, Veronica DeAnda, Sarah Maxwell, Tina Medina, CJ Davis, Jen Rose, Brad Wehring, Natalie Macelleio, David Willburn, Jessica McCambly, John Oliver Lewis, Thomas Feulmer, Garland Fielder, Jennifer Pepper, Leslie Robertson…too many to remember!

500X: Tell us about your time at 500X. What was it like? 

JB: I was there for a very active group of members. After each opening, all of the members would go to Meridian Room and have celebratory drinks. We were incredibly close knit, and our group often had social outings together not related to 500X. Jennifer Pepper and her husband lived on a prominent Trick or Treat street in Dallas, and all of the members would come out to help hand out candy and scare the crap out of kids. 

My group also organized the first reunion/anniversary show…the 30th. I served as preparator for some amazing work from Nic Nicosia, Vincent Falsetta, Tom Orr, Francis Bagley…too many amazing artists to name. 

We also survived a potential hostile takeover by Central Trak.  At the time, Central Trak was looking for a new home (circa 2006). They approached the members about a possible merge. The merge sounded, at the time, like a blessing to us. We badly needed income for new lights, equipment, repairs, and general business.  We met several times with Rick Brettel and others from UTD who were in charge of the Central Trak residency, and it quickly became apparent that if we allowed the merge to go through, 500X would quickly cease to exist, and would NOT be in the spirit of its founders’ vision. We rallied past members and had a massive letter writing campaign to stop this. David Gibson (owner of the building) was swayed to our side, and the merger was blocked. (Jessica McCambly would have a better memory of the specifics of this than I would, FYI)

500X: Do you have a favorite moment from your membership? 

JB: I can’t recall a favorite moment exactly…but there were many fun times. John Lewis and I made the unilateral decision to destroy the old, janky built-in bar that had been there for years, and I built the current rolling one you guys use to this day. We used to have roof access, and we would often have beers on the roof after a long installation, and look out over the lights of Dallas. We once had a hilariously well attended show during the Cotton Bowl…more people than I’ve ever seen in the gallery, and ZERO parking. It was an amazing good time. 

500X: What do you think you gained from being a 500X member? 

500X was essential for me in gaining knowledge of how the art world worked. I had so many shows based on what people saw at 500X. I gained life-long friends and passed on a tremendous and amazing legacy that I am still very proud of.

500X: How has 500X impacted your career as an artist?

JB: As I said above, every success I’ve had since 500X could be directly linked back to 500X. From before I was a member and won the 2003 Expo, to now when an invitation to participate in co|action got my new body of work out to a receptive audience.

500X: Is there anything you'd like to add about your experience of being a member? 

JB: Just my gratitude.