Ro2 Art Gallery’s Surreal Display in the Dallas Tin District

Pulling through the gates at the Ro2 Art Gallery compound in Dallas’ Tin District, one’s eye is immediately drawn to a large sculptural steel awning moonlighting as the gallery’s entrance vestibule. Designed by renowned architect Gary Cunningham, the structure is designed to start the visitor’s artistic adventure even before stepping foot inside.

The cavernous building, with its distinctive angular facade, was once a drywall manufacturing factory. It underwent an extensive remodel before opening last year and now takes full advantage of soaring ceilings usually only found in an industrial neighborhood. The new floor plan features moveable walls which allow for endless configurations of installation options, and an intimate room dedicated to video and multimedia.

Currently on view at Dallas’ Ro2 Art Gallery are three very different exhibitions woven together through the artists’ Texas roots.

Ro2 Art Gallery in Dallas
Installation view of the three exhibitions at Ro2 Art Gallery (Photo by Ro2 Gallery)

The Wheeler Brothers

West Texas natives Jeff F. Wheeler and Bryan Wheeler (known as the Wheeler Brothers) join forces to present a body of work titled “Novel Toys, Tricks, and Games.” While each artist has a distinct artistic practice, the exhibition showcases the brothers’ shared proficiency in employing subtle humor and wit in their art.

In addition to a well-curated selection of individual works, the show includes three mixed-media works created out of a unique brotherly collaboration. Neither artist had a specific theme in mind, and they had little to no communication during the process. It’s a fascinating way to work together, and the siblings themselves described it best:

“There are no rules, no directions. We work one at a time, passing them back and forth (sometimes only a couple of times, sometimes several), reacting to what each other has done until they feel ‘finished.’”

The Wheeler Brothers in Dallas' Ro2 Art Gallery
The Wheeler Brothers’ Novel Toys, Tricks, and Games, 2023. This piece is part of the Wheeler Brothers’ “Novel Toys, Tricks, and Games,” on view at Ro2 Art Gallery. (Photo by Ro2 Gallery)

Bill Haveron

The center gallery features Bryan, Texas-based artist Bill Haveron’s show “Resurrection” — a fitting title, as this is the artist’s first exhibition following a decade-long hiatus from the commercial art world.

On view is Haveron’s fantastical world of personified creatures, including vegetables, inanimate objects, and animals. While entertaining to look at, the show comes together and reads as a picture book, complete with familiar characters from history and contemporary culture. Of particular interest is a floating gallery wall covered with the artist’s color pencil and gouache works on paper.

Installation view of Bill Haveron's exhibition "Resurrection" at Ro2 Art Gallery in Dallas
Installation view of Bill Haveron’s exhibition “Resurrection” at Ro2 Art Gallery. (Photo by Ro2 Gallery)

Ron English

Completing our stroll through Ro2, we find “Texas: Naturally Surreal” by noted street artist and University of North Texas alum Ron English. The exhibition’s standout piece is English’s Cathy Cowgirl’s Pink Barn (2011), an oil on canvas work that showcases the artist’s signature use of vivid color and surreal subject matter.

In addition to a display of his collectible designer toys, there is a striking series of “propaganda” posters with a familiar face: the Texas Temper Tot, a character which can be found on English’s mural in Deep Ellum.

1c (Photo by Ro2 Gallery)
Ron English’s Cathy Cowgirl’s Pink Barn, 2011. This piece is part of English’s “Texas: Naturally Surreal,” on view at Ro2 Art Gallery. (Photo by Ro2 Gallery)

English was also granted use of the video room. On view is a trippy one-hour compilation of music videos by the artist and his band, The Rabbbits. It begins with a disco-inspired work called “We Are Here,” which introduces several characters often seen in the artist’s work.

Be sure to check out Ro2 this weekend, June 22 ­– 23, for the closing activities which include an artist talk and reception where Bryan Wheeler will intermittently sing with an acoustic guitar in the gallery.

Ro2 Art Gallery, 2606 Baatan St. The Wheeler Brothers Art Talk will be held Saturday, June 22, 2 – 4 pm. The closing reception for all three exhibitions takes place Sunday, June 23, 2 – 6 pm. Learn more here.

Peter Augustus Owen is a Dallas native and former gallerist who now runs the Augustus Owen Foundation, focusing on bringing international artists to Dallas for a residency program.

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