Monthly Archives: July 2016

Have a Great Weekend

The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – 17


And so ends another Texas Frightmare Weekend. Please excuse me: I have to get ready for the 2017 show, and that will probably involve an 18-foot truck and possibly air support to bring in enough plants to keep everyone happy. Splash.


The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016- 16

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The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – 15

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The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – 14


Oh, and please note the following. Texas Frightmare Weekend is a place where photobombing comes with the territory. To get photobombed by the one and only Tom Savini, though?



The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – 13

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The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – 12

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The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – 11

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The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016- 10

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The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016- 9

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The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – 8

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The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – 7

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The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – 6

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The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – 5

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The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – 4

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The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – 3


And before we go any further, it’s time to give full credit to the wonderful people who make up the staff at Texas Frightmare Weekend. For the last four years, I’ve made a point of bringing doughnuts on Sunday morning as a pick-me-up for a crew that had been running full-bore since the previous week: when I started, it was a few boxes, but as things have grown, so have the boxes. This time, I brought out seven dozen doughnuts for the crew, and I feel as if I didn’t do enough. Next year, I may have to bring barbecue, too.


Oh, yeah. This guy below is Jeb. Watch out for Jeb: when I asked him for a photo, he immediately turned and posed, and don’t be surprised if we see him auditioning for America’s Next Top Model before too long. I swear, as he got into position, I could hear him murmuring “And I shake my little tush on the catwalk…on the catwalk…”



Seriously, with a crew like this, is there any reason NOT to give them endless grief and abuse in 2017? Besides the fact that if I did give them grief and abuse for real, they’d be completely justified in demonstrating the metaphor “blood aerosol”.


The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – 2

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The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – 1

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The Aftermath: Texas Frightmare Weekend 2016 – Introduction


And where to start on this year’s Texas Frightmare Weekend show?  Well, I could start with Cursed Friday.  The original plan was to have everything packed and ready to go on the Friday morning of the show, and arrive at the hosting hotel around noon. Between a client that showed up at the space at the same time I did and a nagging feeling that I wasn’t bringing out enough plants, the truck left the space at around 3 p.m.. Then, to make matters better, highway construction turned Dallas’s LBJ Freeway into a parking lot, and the logjam broke up just in time for one of North Texas’s famous spring thunderstorms. This culminated with my final approach to DFW Airport, when a flash and a horrible BOOM let me know that the truck had been struck by lightning. I was fine, the truck was fine, and the plants were fine, but combined with rain coming down in sheets wide and thick enough to be distinguished by weather radar, I was a little thunderstruck, literally, by the time I pulled into the hotel parking lot and faced the largest and most enthusiastic crowd Texas Frightmare Weekend had ever seen.


How enthusiastic was the crowd? The photo above is of the aftermath on Sunday afternoon, after the convention had ended. I started with 15 packing crates full of plants and containers, and almost all of that was gone by Friday evening. I started with twice what I normally would have brought to a Frightmare in previous years, and had to double THAT over Saturday and Sunday. Other vendors were complaining but not really complaining about the situation, too: one vendor down the aisle had spent the last year getting ready for what used to be a typical Frightmare crowd, and was glad that she brought a sewing machine with her because all of her inventory was gone by about 9 on Friday night. We weren’t even remotely prepared for the crowd: one of the best compliments that could be paid to the incredible vendors through the rest of the show was that the crowd wasn’t ready for us, either.


After spending most of 2016 reading about “Peak Convention” and how we were seeing far too many big conventions in the US and Canada and not enough fans to keep them going, I humbly submit that anyone wanting to get a better feel for the situation should get their memberships to Frightmare 2017 as quickly as possible. Yes, a lot of conventions are going to crater in the next few years as the initial rush of attendees a decade ago realize that they can’t afford to go to them all. Yes, a lot are going to die as they try to take out competitors by scheduling opposite each other and wondering why nobody’s showing up at all. (I watched this same exact scenario happen repeatedly in the 1980s and 1990s, and that’s a big reason why Dallas was nearly convention-free by 2001.) However, the crew at Frightmare should offer courses for beginning convention organizers as how to do things right: the Security crew was happy, the organizers were happy, the guests were happy, the vendors were happy, and the attendees were absolutely ecstatic.


As for the Triffid Ranch, the highest compliment as to what I’m trying to accomplish at Frightmare arrived on Friday evening. I’ve had the standing offer for the attendees arriving in costume that they qualivy for prizes if they come out in plant-related costumes, and a mother called up on Thursday to ask “are you still doing this? My son and daughter want to know if you’re doing this before they come out.” And this is how, right after getting everything situated (with full credit going to the Frightmare crew in helping me clear out my truck), two Venus Flytraps showed up in front of my tables. I’d better start saving up for a really big prize, because I can’t wait to see what these two do when they’re starting college.

To be continued…

Manchester United Flower Show 2016

And since we’re going through archives this week, it’s about time to bring out the results of the Manchester United Flower Show presented at the Triffid Ranch gallery last April. Since our spring was a bit off, the Sarracenia blooms in particular were about a month late, but they made up in volume what they lost in tardiness. All in all, this was an extremely successful show, judging by the response of first-time ARTwalk visitors, and it’s definitely happening in 2017 no matter where the new space may be located.

The Aftermath: All-Con 2016 – 5


And that wraps it up for All-Con 2016. Next year, we’re back to our old hotel, and things continue. I seriously suspect that this hotel won’t be used for a convention again (as we vendors were packing up, a crew came in to remove the Seventies-era lighting shades from the ballroom ceiling), and I think everyone will be very happy with that decision.

The Aftermath: All-Con 2016 – 4


The Aftermath: All-Con 2016 – 3


Have a Great Weekend

The Aftermath: All-Con 2016 – 2


The Aftermath: All-Con 2016 – 1

When mentioning the hectic situations of the past few months, nothing is more prominent than the lack of updates over here on the site. Sadly, when given an option between caring for plants or posting new pictures, the plants always win. Now that the full summer heat has kicked in and there’s not much else to do but wait for the first Halloween displays at the local Michaels stores (the first hint in Dallas that the heat will eventually break), it’s time to get back to it.

2016 marked the fifth Triffid Ranch show at All-Con, and we had a lot of promise with a new larger hotel. Well, the con staff did what they could, and they went to heroic efforts to do so, but they could only do so much with a hotel that would have been considered shoddily run in the 1980s. Vendors paid for electricity, only to find out that the hotel didn’t bother to set up power cables for lights and other essentials. The hotel abutted a large business tower complex, and informed the convention that attendees would have access to both the hotel parking and the complex’s extensive parking garages. This was a surprise to most of the attendees who arrived on Friday and Saturday after about 6 in the morning, as the parking garages were chained up to prevent that promised access. After a temporary parking lot, literally in the middle of a vacant lot, filled up, a lot of regulars simply gave up after circling for an hour in the hopes of finding anything, and a promised hotel shuttle from the nearest DART train station also turned back into pumpkins and mice. Those of us who could get in (and no thanks to the idiot in charge of the hotel parking garage, who repeatedly waved in vehicles too tall to fit in said garage and then insisted upon tips when they finally got free and escaped) made the best of it, and swore things would be different in 2017.


Driving with the top down

Okay, so the best adjective to describe the last few months is “hectic”. The news this month about the mall coming down led to the start of a search for a new location. The bad news is that thanks to the current hipster explosion in the Oak Cliff area, gallery space is available, if $18 per square foot and up is “affordable”. The good news is that thanks to the expansion of available technology, the huge office parks built throughout the Dallas area at the beginning of the century, in anticipation of a huge sustained dotcom boom dead for fifteen years, are increasingly affordable and open to new uses. We don’t know what the rest of the year is going to bring us, but the plan right now is to stay at Midtown for as long as we can: it’s a central locale, we have great neighbors, and people now come by solely to see what’s in the window this week. (And before you ask, photos will follow soon enough.)

The only problem with the mall involves people being able to find the space. As with most malls, corridor junctions have those huge “You are here” directories: unfortunately, since the mall’s coming down soon enough, the owners can’t justify spending money to update those directory maps as galleries and businesses move in and out. Since those directories list the previous gallery in our location, customers and visitors come in, check out the gallery, don’t see our name, and get confused. The obvious solution was to add signage that gave directions and intrigued passersby. But considering how easily we as a society blank out on incessant advertising, is it possible to make signage that might draw people in merely by its presence, even if it’s for a few rounds of “What the hell is that?

The medium made itself accessible soon enough: an Internet radio station getting situated further down the mall pulled these huge Styrofoam blanks from alcoves in their walls and set them aside. This being an art gallery community, most disappeared as soon as they were offered, propped up on one end, and used as temporary print and photo displays. Thankfully, one remained, and after a few weeks of shaping with heat guns, painting, and augmentation, the new Triffid Ranch sign went up on the main mall floor, within view of the escalator leading to the movie theater. It’s not to the level of a Jay Sherman book promotion cutout, but what is?



So there you have it. Combined with dispensers for promotional postcards, it not only brings in interested bystanders, but it fits in with the general theme and intention. Now let’s see if I can find another foam core in order to put another sign directly in front of the space.

Have a Great ARTwalk Weekend

Another third weekend, another ARTwalk on July 16, and we’re hoping to see all of you there.

Upcoming Events and Developments

Now that the word got out about the upcoming demolition of the mall, you don’t even want to see the fan. After a meeting between the mall owner and the various gallery owners, we know now that the mall will start at least some demolition by the end of the year, but the actual date where we all have to clear out is still unknown. A lot depends upon such issues as asbestos mitigation (don’t forget that the mall was constructed at a time also famous for smoking, leaded gasoline, and mercury in thermostats), so while we’re gunning for remaining at the current location until the end of the year, everything is fluid. Either way, we’ve started looking at new locations, and any recommendations of affordable locales north of LBJ Freeway would be greatly appreciated.

With that news, it’s time to look at the upcoming schedule. Updates here on the blog have taken a lesser priority to gallery maintenance, running shows, and spacehunting (a movie I wasn’t all that fond of the first time around), so let’s see if the shows will make up for it.

Firstly, with this weekend being the third of the month, it’s time for Midtown ARTwalk, which became considerably more lively once word of the mall’s impending destruction got out. Besides the premiere of several new enclosures, look at this one as a prequel to next month’s one-year anniversary. Festivities start at 6:00 on Saturday, July 16, and it only gets better from here.

After ARTwalk, it’s time to get back to shows, with the first August show in several years starting on August 5. Infinicon is a new convention, but it’s run by the same people responsible for March’s All-Con, so that’s a plus right there. We don’t know where we’re going to be located, but as soon as we get word, it gets passed on to you.

And finally, it’s official: the Texas Triffid Ranch returns to Texas Frightmare Weekend in 2017. This is problematic for one reason: this year, I packed up and shipped out nearly three times as many plants as I have for any other convention or show, and only had a handful left when the show ended that weekend. I may have to bypass buying the van I need for shows and just move directly to a 12-foot truck. (As if I’m complaining about this.) Gallery obligations have been in the way of posting photos from the last several shows, but when they’re finally available, you’ll understand why even the 12-footer may not be enough.

And that’s it for now: see you at ARTwalk, and let’s make plans for August.

Have a Great Weekend

Have a Great Weekend

So this happened twenty years ago…

Have a Great Canada Day

We’re now halfway through the year, and now is as good a time to take stock of where to go from here. That applies on a personal level: as far as the gallery is concerned, we now have a much better idea of the plan for the existing mall and the new outdoor mall that will be replacing it. While the new space is intriguing, it won’t be ready for at least another 2 1/2 years, so it’s time to find something in the interim. Details will follow, but rest assured that we’re staying here until the end of the year, with one last big gathering at the ARTwalk on December 21. After that, we’re moving, with the idea of being set up and ready to go by the time show season gets going in March and April.

Anyway, hitting that midpoint means celebrating a very important day at the Triffid Ranch: Canada Day. This isn’t just to celebrate my people’s answer to Doctor Who, but also the man who led directly to popularizing one of the most famed genera of carnivorous plant in the world: Michel Sarrazin. He may not have been the first human to see the first examples of the plant later named after him, but he definitely helped bring it to its current high level of popularity. Even today, the provincial flower of Newfoundland and Labrador is just as fascinating as it was when Nineteenth-Century naturalists confirmed that it could capture and digest insect prey, and it all started because Sarrazin had a keen curiosity for the fauna and flora of his adopted home. We all should be so lucky as this.