On a hot day in May, Monte Laster and I drove an hour and a half out of Dallas to Castle Rock Mountain, a ranch he had purchased just two weeks prior to serve as the American base for his community engagement platform—the French American Creative Exchange (FACE). I was in town for the first edition of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Soluna International Music and Arts Festival, which commissioned Laster to create a new project based on notions of place, identity, and dislocation. Although he was raised in Fort Worth, Laster has lived in France since 1989, primarily in the disenfranchised banlieue of La Courneuve, a fifteen-minute train ride north of Paris. “I’m 100% Texan and 80% French,” the artist said. Castle Rock was a bit of a homecoming.
Sometimes art-fair weeks have an echo-chamber reverb—the same canapés, the same Instagrams, the same Damien Hirst spin paintings. But if you’re lucky, the stars align and bequeath you unique experiences. On Friday, at 10:30, the morning after the opening of the Dallas Art Fair, which is the centerpiece of Dallas Art Week, Christie’s gave me the keys to a 2015 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse—at 255 mph, the fastest car on the road, and at $2.5 million, just about the most expensive. At 11:30, I was in the home of Dallas collector Marguerite Steed Hoffman, watching as she delicately turned the pages of a medieval illuminated manuscript while standing next to one of Gerhard Richter’s candle paintings. And at 12:30, I ate a plate of fried alligator. Dallas made this all seem normal.