500X Alumna Interview: Rosemary Meza-DesPlas
500X: Tell us a little about yourself. What is your artistic background?
RM: I am a native Texan. My formal education consists of a BFA from the University of North Texas and an MFA from Maryland Institute, College of Art. As a professional artist, I have exhibited throughout the United States and abroad. The themes in my artwork exist parallel to my poetry and spoken word performances. For sixteen years, I taught full-time at El Centro College in downtown Dallas. I have written academic papers and presented them at conferences.
500X: What years were you a member of 500X?
RM: 1997 - 2000
500X: Were you ever a 500X officer? If so, what position(s)?
RM: Public Relations officer
Who were some of the other members with you?
RM: Mary Nicolett, Steven Price, Derrick Saunders, Steve Cruz, Jo Ann Mulroy, Tony Schraufnagel, Paul Booker and Luke Sides.
500X: Tell us about your time at 500X. What was it like?
RM: I had rented and exhibited (1993 and 1995) in the upstairs space before becoming a member of 500X Gallery. The year I joined the gallery there was a large turn over in the membership. We were a bunch of newbies running the gallery.
500X: Do you have a favorite moment from your membership?
RM: My commitment to join 500X Gallery coincided with the gallery board’s decision to re-do the walls (upstairs and downstairs) of the gallery. The best time for this project was summer when the gallery was closed; the gallery did not have air conditioning. So, in the middle of July the board members were heavily involved in the renovation of the gallery walls. Despite the blistering heat, there was a comradery established by working as a team on a large gallery project.
500X: What do you think you gained from being a 500X member?
RM: I gained a lot of realistic experience in the practice of being an artist. Since 500X Gallery was a cooperative gallery, we were all involved in the installation and de-installation of exhibitions. In 2014, I went to Shenyang, China with the International Caucus of the Women’s Caucus for the Art as the Exhibition Director for Half the Sky: Intersections in Social Practice Art. The skills I gained while being a member of 500X Gallery helped me obtain this position on the American delegation to China.
500X: How has 500X impacted your career as an artist?
RM: As a member of 500X I gained invaluable insight into gallery operations. Understanding how galleries operate and being able to navigate the art world as a professional artist are critical to my success as an artist. 500X gallery turned out to be great teaching environment for these life skills. My experience at 500X Gallery as the Public Relations board member helped me in my own art practice – to proactively promote my exhibitions, lectures, performances etc.
As an artist, 500X Gallery gave me the opportunity to experiment and stretch as an artist. I created my first wall drawing in 500X Gallery’s project room. It was made with black conte and the line work was reminiscent of hair.
500X: Is there anything you'd like to add about your experience of being a member?
RM: I think 500X Gallery serves a role in Dallas (and Texas)… as an incubator for artist to gain practical skills. Many of these skills are not taught in the university setting.
500X: Do you have any photos you could share from your time at 500X?