So that’s it. 15 years of shows, 7 1/2 years of gallery events, and it’s all wrapped up, other than the remaining pieces. I’d like to thank everyone who came out to the gallery and the Porch Sales over the better part of a decade, the people who had to crawl over the entourage up front to get to the plants, the folks who came by shows all over Texas, and everyone who just came by because they wanted to know more about carnivorous plants. You were and are appreciated and remembered, and I’ll see you when I see you.
As for blatant and shameless plugs, it’s also time to note that for those who only now came across the gallery and want to know more about carnivorous plants, the book The Savage Garden by Peter D’Amato is still essential reading, and both the original and revised editions will remain beloved and valued components of my library. I may be getting out of carnivorous plant sales, but those books give a lot of inspiration for a new project to be announced later.
As mentioned before, this is the first time I have shut down a business, and it’s going remarkably well. No investors means no phone calls, no debt means no phone calls, and now I can be very vocal as to exactly why I’m not switching the gallery wifi service to Spectrum. (I have to admit that I’ll miss Spectrum for one reason: the incessant mailings are all on a very stout plastic card stock, which both paints up well and works nicely for paneling and armor in enclosures. Fir the first time, those cards see use other than as lining recycling bins.) The only calls right now are for the last vestiges of plants and fixtures, and all of that should end by the weekend.
The only issue so far with the move is discovering how many items purchased for the gallery are duplicated at home. Glasses, refrigerators, microwaves, spare towels…a lot of the items that could have been salvaged from the gallery’s closing are ones I had to purchase in the last year. Well, the local thrift stores, and friends who frequent them, are going to be happy.
To date, I have never run a business before the Triffid Ranch started back in 2008, and this is the first time I’ve had to shut one down. For the record, there’s nothing wrong with shutting down a business when conditions make keeping it open impossible: far too many businesses drag on when the person or people in charge attach too much of their identity to its continued operation. If it’s at all possible, it’s much better to shut down at a good time, rather than when forced to do so, and this couldn’t have been a better time. The weather was wonderful, the parking not too crowded out by the obnoxious neighbors at the end of the block, and the event itself wasn’t opposite some major Dallas event. Just imagine the fun of trying to do all of this in the middle of July in Dallas.
As mentioned before, there’s still a little left (and currently available for purchase), but the best liquidation sales are the ones where everyone goes home happy. Yes, it’s a bit sad watching the last bit of 15 years of work go out the door, but that just frees things for the next project, and you’re going to love it when it gets announced.
6 years after moving to the current location, and now it’s time to leave. Aside from the fixtures and a few remaining plants (and everything remaining is for sale), the Texas Triffid Ranch has finished its run. Considering the general life expectancy of art galleries in Dallas, it was an extraordinary run, but all things end, and it’s time for Dallas’s pretty much only carnivorous plant gallery to close the door forever.
The good news with the last liquidation sale is that the Triffid Ranch will be missed by many, but I promise that their aim will improve. The weekend was a nearly-neverending parade of longtime regulars, old cohorts and friends from Texas Frightmare Weekend, and a lot of folks who had no idea the gallery existed a week earlier. (So much for all of the advertising efforts over the last three-quarters of a decade.) It was an absolute blast and something that I wish could have run for a lot longer, but time’s run out and it’s time to move on.
Posted onFebruary 23, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Liquidation Sale and Sarracenia Roulette – 3
One of the things that will be missed the most about shutting down the gallery will be all of the interesting people who came by, including a fascinating cross-section of Dallas’s reporters and journalists. (To date, the only publication without at least some mention of the Triffid Ranch over the years is D magazine: since I neither went to SMU or assisted its efforts to find a cure for levamisole necrosis, have no connections to local real estate developers needing to flip their blue-sky projects to bigger suckers, nor promoted workfare for refugees from the long-dead Dallas weekly The Met, this wasn’t likely to happen, either. I’d have been worried if its advertisers and bulk recipients could read instead of just looking at the pictures when skimming each issue before tossing it in the recycling.) In particular, I have to thank Eva Raggio, Kendall Morgan, and Danny Gallagher of the Dallas Observer and Jackson King at Community Impact for their efforts in letting people know about the little places in the Dallas area, and Jackson’s plug for the gallery’s close is probably the best sendoff I could get. At ave vale, and I hope to remain friends with all of you long after the Triffid Ranch fades from memory.
As for the gallery itself, now we’re down to brass tacks. The Sarracenia Roulette game mentioned earlier keeps bringing in friendly troublemakers in love with their fascinating pendulous blooms due in April, and we’re now down to roughly half of the enclosures that were in place at the beginning of January. There’s still a lot that needs to go home, though, so the final liquidation sale and Irish wake on February 25 and 26 are where the rubber meets the road. (This is also a great time to buy up fixtures, so if you’re needing large quantities of Lundia shelving or particularly hirstute kitchen tables, everything has to go.) This includes the contents of the propagation area and tubs and tubs of dormant Sarracenia, so you might want to bring tubs and other containers to hold all of your prizes.
For everyone coming out on Saturday and Sunday, I look forward to seeing all of you. For everyone who has been here already and can’t make it, you will be missed. One more weekend, and it’s done.
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Posted onFebruary 22, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Liquidation Sale and Sarracenia Roulette – 2
To explain the whole concept of “Sarracenia Roulette,” it requires a bit of backstory. Most temperate carnivorous plants, which include Venus flytraps and North American pitcher plants, go dormant over the winter. In the Dallas area, they slow down and stop growing in mid-November as the days get shorter and the temperatures go down, usually going fully dormant by the end of December. If things get particularly cold, as they did last December, the tops of pitcher plant pitchers burn and brown, but the pitchers still photosynthesize if they’re still green. With flytraps, the longer summer traps die off and shrivel, but a rosette of shorter traps remain to catch every photon of light they can over the winter. As days grow longer in mid-March, the plants start waking up again: Sarracenia pitcher plants first throw off flowers and then pitchers, as their pollinators and their prey are often the same insects. With flytraps, they start stretching out new traps in the middle of March, and if they got enough light during the winter, they produce long straight flower scapes toward the middle to end of April, each topped with tiny translucent white flowers.
This need for dormancy is one of the reasons why the Triffid Ranch traditionally didn’t sell flytraps and Sarracenia until the beginning of April. While most customers paid attention to the need for dormancy, there were always the people who assume they can ignore the instructions, fight to keep their plants active all winter long, and then throw tantrums when their plants died. Well, that and both flytraps and Sarracenia look rather scraggly and decrepit before they reemerge in spring. Most years, it was easier to wait and show plants in their best spring finery.
Since the gallery is shutting down, though, this was a perfect time for carnivorous plant enthusiasts willing to take a risk. Last December’s week-long deep freeze both left all of the Sarracenia in deep dormancy and freeze-dried most of their diagnostic pitchers, leaving them extremely hard to identify in this state. Since winter is the perfect time to repot Sarracenia anyway, so as to minimize root disturbance, the idea is that for $25 a pot, visitors to the Triffid Ranch liquidation sales get plants that have already gone through the worst of winter weather, and are ready to be put into container gardens or large pots full of sphagnum peat.
With this backdrop, should you come by this coming weekend for the final liquidation sale on Saturday or Sunday, February 25 and 26, and note that the Sarracenia look a little worse for wear, rest assured that they aren’t dead. They really ARE pining for the fjords.
To be continued…
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The breakdown of the gallery continues apace, including finding homes for remaining enclosures. (You know that big aquarium in the back gallery full of Brocchinia reducta? It definitely needs a home.) A lot of smaller plants, purchased and potted up when the plan was for expansion and not shutdown, also need homes, so it’s time to announce the first and last Texas Triffid Ranch Carnivorous Plant Liquidation Sale and Superb Owl Party, running from noon until 6:00 pm on both Saturday, February 11 AND Sunday, February 12. Admission is obviously free, and yes, you can touch its little beak. Feel free to spread the word, and the liquidation sales continue until everything’s gone or February 28, whichever comes first.
Posted onFebruary 3, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Last Triffid Ranch Open House – 2
Just as with the opening, the closing of an event tends to sneak up on you. One minute, the place is packed to the gills with customers asking questions, relating anecdotes, and asking “So what’s next?”, and the next, everyone has gone home and you look at what’s left and marvel. This is usually about the time I realize I’ve been talking nonstop for the last six hours and haven’t eaten or drank anything in at least that long, so any comments about the crowd come after getting a good stout glass of ice water. For the last 7 1/2 years, that was the story at least once per month, starting with the old Valley View Artwalks, but it started a long time earlier, with the innumerable big and small shows attended over the last 15 years, where the crowds were sometimes so thick that the breakfast burger started at 9:00 am was still mostly untouched at 8:00 that evening. Even with the shows with minor crowds, which happened a lot in the early days, there was always the satisfaction of putting away everything, loading up the truck or van, and exclaiming “WHOA” before going home.
If there’s anything particularly bittersweet about the gallery shutting down, it’s that there’s no show on the horizon, There’s no rush to get new enclosures ready for the next open house, or getting plants potted for the next Porch Sale, or planning the next road trip. By the end of February, it’s a matter of packing up the cleaning supplies, giving the space one last look-over, handing the keys to the property manager, and that’s it. Six eventful, wild, sometimes joyous, sometimes aggravating years in 405 Business Parkway, and then time to see what happens next.
While this was the last open house at the Texas Triffid Ranch, this isn’t the last event. The weekend of February 4 is concentrated on appointments to move remaining enclosures (if you have your eye on a particular enclosure, now is the time to say something), and then the liquidation sales start on Saturday, February 11 at noon. Looking for show gear, such as a tent, weights, and a heavy-duty battery for lights? How about shelving units and tables, both folding and nonfolding? One way or another, it all has to go, along with plants, containers, and gallery decorations. Details will follow soon.
And so it goes.
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Posted onFebruary 2, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Last Triffid Ranch Open House – 1
When starting a venue, there’s all of the work needed to open it to the world, and then the hours and minutes run out and it’s either open the door or stay closed forever. Time’s up, you’re ready, start letting everybody in. This is also true of shutting down a venue: eventually, for all of the preparation for the end, it’s here. You can hope for a last-minute reprieve, or you can just go forward, assured that it’s the right decision for the right time, and make sure everyone remembers the party long after the space is cleared out and readied for someone else.
As far as wakes go, the last-ever Triffid Ranch open house was an outstanding success. We should all have a funeral where people are lined up a half-hour before opening, hoping to get a good view and share the memories. We should also be so lucky as to have a funeral where everyone remembers you at your height, where you went out because it was time and not dragging it out until there’s nothing but sadness and regret. Yeah, there was sadness from both longtime customers, some of whom had been customers back when this little gig started in May 2008, and new visitors who had no idea that Dallas had its own carnivorous plant gallery until that day. As Kurt Vonnegut used to put it, “And so it goes.”
To be continued…
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“Welcome back to 2023. Please do not leave your seat until the chronohopper has completed all temporal motion and the time-anchors engage, unless you like losing your last four lunches and your last three haircuts. Please surrender all contraband before leaving the vehicle: we already know what you brought on board before you knew it, and we’re only really checking for honesty. If traveling from more than 10,000 years post-present, surrender all animal and plant specimens as well, as they’re likely to go invasive if/when you get bored and let them outside. Due to chrono-stabilization, you may feel a tingling in your extremities for more than 24 hours. If you find you can pass your hand or foot through solid objects, contact your doctor immediately. On behalf of Brothern Timelines, we thank you for choosing us, and we will contact you with your itinerary and reservations before you decide to make a future trip. Until then, please keep the paradoxes small and humorous.”
Oh, You came back. I guess the gorgonopsids out front didn’t discourage you. Well, come on in, and try to stay on the plastic runners. You have no idea how badly gorgonopsid saliva stains everything.
New month in a new year, and it’s time to make a few announcements. Last month, the idea of a Lunar New Year open house was floated as running around January 28, and it’s been expanded. This month, expect open houses on Saturdays January 14, 21, and 28: the gallery and house cleanup after January 1 turned out to be more productive than expected. It’s much of the same schedule: noon until 5:00 pm on January 14, noon until 6:00 pm on the 21st and 28th. (The January 14 event ends early in an effort to send visitors and interested bystanders to the BBBevCo Dry January Pop-Up, run by two longtime Triffid Ranch boosters and for those of us in desperate need of a venue in which to socialize without being pushed into blackout drinking.) Otherwise, they’re all the same: admission is free, enclosures are for sale, and children are welcome.
Secondly, if you haven’t been out to the gallery before now, make plans to do so by January 28, because barring a financial miracle, this will be the last-ever Triffid Ranch event in the gallery’s current form. The current lease expires at the end of February, and the new lease offer has so much of a jump in rent, deposit, and insurance (a situation faced also by Dallas stalwarts the Green Room and Fish & Fizz) that it honestly makes more fiscal sense to shut everything down for the duration. After January 28, all remaining enclosures, plants, and equipment are going to be sold off in mid-February, which still gives a month to clean the place out, get it ready to be empty for the next few years, and move on. What’s going to happen next is anybody’s guess, and the Triffid Ranch may come back in a different form in a few years. Right now, though, it’s time to take everything down, close up, and take a very long rest. If you can’t make it, thank you very much for 7 1/2 years of Dallas’s pretty much only carnivorous plant gallery, and you’ll love what happens next.
Posted onDecember 12, 2022|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas 2022 – The Second
I’m regularly asked about “average Texas winter weather,” and some don’t seem to understand the completely rational and logical answer “There isn’t any.” Oh, there might have been a time in the early Pliocene when keeping records for a few decades could give a mean on temperature, precipitation, and wind speed, but that’s been a folly since the Laurentide Ice Sheet started receding along with the risk of Columbian mammoths climbing through your cat door. As of this year, I mark a total of 40 years in North Texas, and I have stories of severe ice storms and stories of spending Christmas Eve in shorts and sandals. Oh, and there’s a lot between, too.
The weekend of the second Nightmare Weekend Before Christmas open house of 2022 was remarkably similar to that of 1982. It should be noted that the weekend in question 40 years ago was spent pulling weeds in a rainstorm, leading to the first of several bouts of pneumonia through the first half of the 1980s. The gallery itself was warm and dry, but it’s getting there that’s problematic. Maybe I should stop renovating the gallery and develop cheap and effective teleportation, thereby removing the obstacle. Suggestions and recommendations are very welcome.
Even with all that, the continued updates to the gallery were gladly appreciated by both new and returning visitors, and the plan is to surprise them with more over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, it’s time to finish up a series of enclosures, especially thanks to an old and dear friend finding a batch of essential components for the first-ever cojoining enclosures to be presented at the gallery. It may stop, but it NEVER ends.
And for those planning to come out to the next Nightmare Weekend Before Christmas? Expect more surprises, depending upon the weather. Right now, everything depends upon the weather holding up at the beginning of the week, at least enough to use spray guns for a serious addition to the gallery facade. If it doesn’t, well, that’s what new enclosures are for. Either way, make your plans before the plants are all gone.
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Posted onNovember 29, 2022|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Last Triffid Ranch Open House of November
As 2022 drags toward its inevitable conclusion, the main focus at the gallery, even during open houses, is on the ongoing renovation and revision. That process leads to significantly increased gallery space as compared to last year, and all of that space needs to be filled. Old container inventory, locked away in storage since lockdown, is coming out, and new enclosures are ready or nearly ready. Sure, it’s a matter of “Sleep? What’s that?”, but this way the upcoming Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas hold lots of surprises.
And if previous visitors think they’ve seen everything so far, they’re going to be in for a shock. The plan is that by the end of the year, visitors will barely recognize the gallery if their only experiences preceded last summer, and the further plan is to make it completely unrecognizable in its old form by the end of January. More painting, more building, more propagating: it may stop, but it never ends.
As previously mentioned, the Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas open houses start for their fifth year on December 3, running from noon until 5:00 pm. If you can’t make that, then make plans for December 10, 17, and 24, and feel free to spread word as far and wide as you want. 2022 is a year many of us never want to repeat, so let’s send it off with an appropriate kick in the butt.
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We’re now on the final approach on the end of 2022, with all this entails. Combine last week’s weather’s repeated flirtations with freezing temperatures with this week’s blatant PDAs, and the flytraps and pitcher plants are now nicely on their way to their needed dormancy. What this means is that the early morning hours previously dedicated to watering and weeding can be put toward other productive efforts, as well as having an excellent excuse for staying indoors. Yep, it’s time to get back to the gallery renovation.
Besides the ongoing buildup in the front area and hallway, the back and main gallery continues with its creative reconstruction, including a massive expansion of display space. This, of course, means a comparable expansion of new enclosures to fill said space. The plan is to have the whole gallery filled by mid-February, with the hope for at least one new unique enclosure every other week. Naturally, this is dependent upon how badly the various celestial and infernal forces that run the universe want to mess with the schedule, but that’s the hope.
As for shows and events away from the gallery, the last show outside of Dallas for 2022 comes in next week, when the Triffid Ranch heads out for its sixth Blood Over Texas Horror for the Holidays show, out at the Palmer Events Center in downtown Austin. After coming back, there’s a very good likelihood of other one-evening shows throughout the rest of the year, and I’m just awaiting word. Obviously, they’re at times that don’t conflict with the return of the Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas open houses through December, because those are now practically a tradition around here, and I have a sneaking suspicion that we’re going to need a good dose of green on Saturday afternoons this December.
In related developments, the gallery had one more visitor than the usual open house logs showed: client appointments occasionally bring up all sorts of surprises. In this case, the critter above showed up while waiting for a client, saw the “SUCKER” neon sign on my forehead, and moved right in. All efforts to find who he belongs to (he’s been chipped and declawed, although the chip apparently gives the contact info for a pet rescue shut down since lockdown and never updated) have been for naught, so now his name is “Parker,” because from the moment I wake up in the morning, he’s wanting to talk about the bonus situation. Please come by the gallery at the next event (including the open house on November 19) and buy lots of plants, because what spare funds that aren’t going into the pet deposit are going into food, and he eats a LOT.
Finally, after the concern earlier this year about having to move or shut down the gallery based on the purchase of the industrial park in which it sits, there may be some interesting and much appreciated developments in 2023. Let’s get through the holiday season before worrying about that, though. December is going to be weird enough.
Posted onOctober 27, 2022|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The (Presumably) Last Porch Sale of 2022
For what was originally intended to be a temporary drive-up event deep in the throes of Dallas COVID lockdown, the Triffid Ranch Porch Sales have turned out to be remarkably popular and successful. A quarter of a decade after the first, not only are they going strong, but new visitors courtesy of Atlas Obscura and the Dallas Observer keep coming. In a better world, the Porch Sales would continue all year, but two factors keep getting in the way. The first is that the temperate carnivores, particularly the Venus flytraps and North American pitcher plants, have to go into dormancy over the winter, which means they’re usually looking pretty scraggly by New Year’s Eve. The second is the reason they’re looking scraggly: we may not get below freezing in the Dallas area until the end of the year, but it gets cold enough, and setting up and tearing down a tent in near-freezing torrential rains is entertainment for a certain type of person I hope never to meet. Thus, with great regret, future Triffid Ranch events move inside for the year and into 2023, because visitors would prefer to get out from the torrential rains, too.
With that said, I wish to express the greatest thanks to everyone coming out for Porch Sales in 2023, from the families wanting to see live carnivorous plants for the first time to the regulars who just wanted to see what I was up to THIS time. A lot of plans were delayed this year due to circumstances, but the idea is to bring a whole new level to the Porch Sales next year, and I hope we can all have a blast with it when they restart next March or April. Since the Deep Ellum Arts Festival isn’t coming back, somebody has to step in and fill the niche.
Now, this isn’t the last Triffid Ranch event of 2022, and it may not even be the absolute last Porch Sale. The Triffid Ranch moves to the Dallas Arboretum on October 28 through 30, with a Learn to Grow presentation at 11:00 am Friday and then an ongoing plant show all weekend, and then we hop over to the famed Dallas goth club Panoptikon for the return of the Panoptikon Flea Market/Cookout/Cocktails on November 5. Thanks to a big upcoming development (of which you’ll hear much on Halloween), the gallery will probably open on November 6 for folks who couldn’t make the Panoptikon Flea Market. After that? Sleep. Blessed sleep, alongside the Sarracenia if I can help it.
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Posted onOctober 3, 2022|Comments Off on The Aftermath: October 2022 Triffid Ranch Open House
And now we’re getting into the homestretch. 89 days until the beginning of 2023 in the Gregorian calendar, 80 days until Christmas Eve, and precisely four weeks until Halloween. This is when things start getting busy at the Triffid Ranch, between the understandable interest in spooky plants, the Texas heat finally letting up, and the realization that we only have about a month before we have to pull out jackets and turn on the heat in the mornings. Heck, a month after that, we might see the first frost since last March.
In the interim, because the next four weekends are going to be just too nice to be trapped inside, the Triffid Ranch opened up for one big open house on October 1, because it’s going to be a while before the next one. Everything is moving outside, either for the last Porch Sales of the season or for other outside shows, giving a chance to get in some further updates to the gallery renovations and move in a slew of new enclosures. The idea is that by the end of November, if you thought the first stages of the gallery renovation were nicely surprising, you’ll be in shock as to what can get done in two months. Besides, the Porch Sales keep me off the streets and out of trouble.
North Texas may be drier than a Dorothy Parker insult, but that just makes getting out and doing things that much sweeter. Our famously flexible weather makes most of us meteorological experts, if only so we don’t have to discuss politics, and most of that is in a desperate need to know “If I go out today, will I die?” Well, the heat finally broke, with the odds being pretty good that we won’t have any more of our typical summer weather until next May, with stunningly blue skies during the day and unusually clear and crisp skies all night. In other words, we can go outside without bursting into flame, and that’s what happened at the Triffid Ranch last weekend.
For those who haven’t been to Dallas, or who haven’t been here long, it’s time for caveats. Generally, the rainier things get in October and November, the less likely we’ll get severe cold weather December through February. That’s not an absolute, as February 2021 proved, but it’s true more often than not. Right now, the immediate Triffid Ranch area hasn’t received a drop of rain since the big Labor Day Weekend storm on September 4, and the last fall this dry was back in 2012, leading to the famed Christmas Day 2012 blizzard. Now, five minutes after I type this, we could get another 20 centimeters of rain, but right now, it’s dry and crisp, and autumn in Texas doesn’t get better than this.
This coming weekend, partly because of vague chances of downpours and the opportunity to show off new developments, the party moves inside, with a traditional Triffid Ranch open house running on October 1 from noon until 5:00 pm. Don’t worry: the Porch Sales are coming back, and they’ll be running again on October 8 and 22. It’s just that the Triffid Ranch hits the road in October, with a Crow’s Alley Flea Market event at Outfit Brewing in Dallas on October 15, running from 5:00 to 10:00 pm, and the big Dallas Arboretum Halloween lecture and sale running from October 28 to 30. Please come out to buy lots of plants: I don’t have the time to develop my own safe and effective vaccine for sleep, so I need to hire someone to do the work for me.
Comments Off on The Porch Sales Continue: September 24, 2022
Well, word of the Triffid Ranch’s renovation is getting out, starting with this very nice writeup in the Dallas Observer from writer Kendall Morgan. Now to complete said renovation and validate others’ trust in making the Triffid Ranch a Dallas-area destination. (The current plan is to open the gallery for a major open house on October 1 from noon until 5:00 pm to debut new enclosures and the renovation work so far, with a Porch Sale on September 24 to give everyone their carnivorous plant fixes in the interim, and then another major open house on Halloween weekend. I hope this works to everyone’s satisfaction.)
(For those coming in late, the following is a regular feature highlighting developments involving the Texas Triffid Ranch, including new features, events, and general strangeness. For more of this delivered directly to your mailbox, please consider the newsletter.)
The end of summer 2022 isn’t confirmed yet, and based on previous Dallas weather trends, we can’t confirm it until the end of November. It sure feels like it, though. The convection oven heat faced by the Dallas area all November finally broke on August 22, when we got a full summer of rain in the space of about two hours. The hits kept coming, too, including a surprise storm on September 4 that hit the area with hurricane-force winds. If we can trust standard Texas weather trends, this means that the next couple of months will be comprised of cool and very dry days, with spectacular night skies and a relaxed need for air conditioning, and that’s what the National Weather Service is predicting as of this writing. However, as anyone who has lived in Texas for more than three weeks already knows, we could go to an autumn where we won’t see a drop of rain until Christmas Day, and we could also go to an autumn with torrential rains and even subfreezing temperatures around Halloween. It’s happened before.
Based on the current forecast, though, we’re looking at mild temperatures with gentle nights and no appreciable precipitation until the end of the month, so that means one thing. This means that it’s time to get to work on the gallery. Weather like this is perfect for painting, and there’s a LOT of painting to be done over the rest of the season.
Firstly, because the brain-frying heat of summer is gone, the regular Triffid Ranch events are now outdoors, with lots of opportunities between now and Halloween. For September, the Porch Sales return on Saturdays, running on September 17 and 24 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on both days. Since the current weather means that the Sarracenia and flytraps are making up for lost time, it’s a perfect time to come out, look around, and figure out which plants you really need to take home.
While the Porch Sales are going on, the gallery interior continues its renovation, with work starting on the main area toward the back of the space. That’s another reason why I continue to focus on the weather, because autumns in Texas produce the right weather for bulk painting, where it’s not so hot that the paint starts drying as it leaves the sprayer and not so cold that it takes forever to dry. If anything, painting in the evening means a particularly strong and durable paint, as the paint dries slowly under cooler temps overnight and then bakes on in the afternoon. This means that a whole load of enclosures forced to wait because of summer heat are finishing up right now, and the plan is to have an evening open house to show them off on October 1.
(In that vein, because of the gallery’s expansion, it’s actually possible to create multiple enclosure series, which can be shown both collectively and individually. I’m finishing working on the concept for one such series that should be available for viewing at the October 1 open house, that should be as odd as anything else that’s ever come out of the Triffid Ranch before. Keep checking back.)
In ongoing developments, I also want to thank everyone who voted for the Triffid Ranch in both the Dallas Morning News Best of DFW Awards and the Dallas Observer Best of Dallas Awards nominations. The Best of DFW results won’t be available until November, but the Best of Dallas awards will be announced on September 22, with a video discussion of both critics’ choice and readers’ choice winners that evening. The real fun will be watching friends and cohorts win their own awards: there’s a lot going on in this town, and every little boost helps out.
Seeing as how just having weekly Porch Sales and obsessively painting and cutting foam all week isn’t stimulating enough, there’s always more. To start out, the Triffid Ranch is a proud vendor at the Angel Stakes charity benefit from the Vampire Court of Dallas on Sunday, September 18 from 6:00 am to midnight. This is just the start of non-gallery events over the rest of the year, including a Halloween weekend lecture at the Dallas Arboretum, so keep checking back for details as I get them.
And along that line, a prompt for the near future. This Halloween, since the day itself falls on a Monday this year, promises an extra-long weekend, and since I no longer have any family obligations for Halloween, either by blood or marriage, it’s time to try a blowout for the end of the season. Again, details will follow, but it just might include the black-light carnivorous plant show I’ve been promising at the gallery since its Valley View Center days, as well as a celebration of my grandmother’s 99th birthday. The gallery has the room now, and testing commences.
And in long-term plans, there’s always the risk of making major plans and having extenuating circumstances interfere, but expect a lot of news about 2023 events in the next month. The move by Texas Frightmare Weekend to run at the end of May instead of the usual first weekend frees up that first weekend, and it’s time to get more involved in local art events. Even more importantly, the official announcement for the Oddities & Curiosities Expo 2023 schedule comes out on Halloween Day, and this may – MAY – involve new cities on the schedule. I don’t know about anybody else, but I can’t wait.
I sure know how to pick an open house date. Labor Day Weekend 2022 started out beautifully: moderate temperatures, sunny skies, and a general feeling of relaxation,. Friday night moved into Saturday, and the weather was just perfect. Sunday can’t be even better than this, could it? Well, the morning was…
…and then the storm hit that afternoon. For those outside of the Dallas area, things went sideways in the space of about ten minutes, as a massive storm roared out of the north. I mean “roar” literally: most of the Dallas area was hit with hurricane-force winds, followed by heavy rain, with downed trees and power lines all over. The gallery was relatively unscathed, although it was touch and go for a while, but the original plan to move everything outside for a Porch Sale would have been a disaster. It wasn’t much better going home, as a whole series of power poles went down in the storm and took out power for about 9 hours, and internet access only came back today. Let’s just say that I’m very glad that Sarracenia are adapted to life in hurricane zones, because they got a little touch of home that Sunday.
With that, I have to thank everyone who came out for the open house, because a lot rushed out to get home before the storm hit and discovered the storm was faster. This definitely qualified as the worst weather the gallery has faced since October 2019, and that involved a literal tornado that hopped over the gallery and took out a subdivision just due east, thereby taking out power for the whole area for nearly a week. It can always be worse.
Comments Off on The Aftermath: Labor Day 2022 Open House
(Dedicated to the memory of Nancy Crawford, whose 90th birthday would have been today. Without her gentle encouragement for 20 years, the Triffid Ranch probably never would have happened.)
Ever been in an amusement park and got in line for a new rollercoaster, and right when you get strapped into the car and sent on your way, the earth gives way and all of you go barreling into an abyss that lay beneath the whole park? And when you gently hit bottom, you find yourself cornered in a city full of vampires that have been feeding on humans above them for centuries? And you manage to take on the vampires with a spare boba tea straw that fell from above, organize the various servant races the vampires have been breeding for menial labor and midnight snacks, relay light from the surface via spare fiber optic cables buried by the CIA, and burn the vampires to ash? And then when you get back to the surface, you discover that the vampires were the only thing keeping a species of sentient exoparasite from the rim of the galaxy and a species of hyperintelligent dinosaur from taking over Earth themselves, and your chainsaw is in the shop? And when you lock them all in stasis tombs deep below the surface of Ganymede, you find artifacts from an indescribably ancient civilization that lead you to their perfectly preserved home inside a series of nested Dyson spheres, and you get exclusive real estate rights to the equivalent living area of three billion Earths?
That’s what August 2022 has been like, but with carnivorous plants.
The best part? 2022 has been this wild, and we still have four months left.
Folks outside of the Dallas area might have heard or read about the bit of rain we got on August 22. The Tallahassee-level deluge wasn’t enough to get us out of severe drought yet, nor will the expected rains through the beginning of September, arriving about a month early compared to most years. However, every bit helps, as do the delightfully cool temperatures right now as compared to three weeks ago. The last time I experienced an August that ended like this was in 1987 (I spent my 21st birthday slogging through rainwater so high that it came up to the axles on my bicycle, and I was having the time of my life doing so), and considering how 1987 went, I’m packing a spare parachute just in case somebody else needs it.
The gallery itself continues to undergo its ongoing renovation and metamorphosis, with the front area, now mercifully entourage-free so that visitors can actually get into the place, pretty much finished and ready for new enclosures. The renovation and remodeling of the back area begins in September, although new lighting and shelves are already there. Considering how well the last open house in August went, the first open house of September attempts to continue the tradition, only moving from Saturday to Sunday, September 4 in order to allow folks who couldn’t get to the gallery on Saturdays to have a chance. Keep coming back through the year and take one picture each time, and you’ll get a view worthy of George Pal and Wah Chang.
One of the other benefits of the ongoing cool and wet outside is that the Sarracenia and flytraps, long semi-dormant in the extreme heat of July and August, are now simply exploding with new growth. as things cool off, the regular Triffid Ranch events move outside for a return of the Porch Sales. Depending upon the weather, expect Porch Sales every weekend until Halloween (in case of rain, everything moves inside) every weekend where the Triffid Ranch isn’t attending a show elsewhere. In addition, the new Porch Sales will feature also guest vendors, the number to be announced in the future.
And speaking of shows, it’s time for a range of local and out-of-town shows in the next couple of months. Unfortunately, the Triffid Ranch can’t be out for this weekend’s Plantopia in Arlington, but I’m signed up for the Crow’s Alley Flea Market in Bedford on October 15 and 29, and then there’s the long-running Blood Over Texas Horror for the Holidays two-day event at the Palmer Events Center in Austin on November 26 and 27. After THAT, it’s all local events at the gallery for the rest of 2022. Since the Day Job offers the whole last week of 2022 as additional vacation time, there may be one last big event before New Year’s Day 2023, but that’s still being discussed.
(On the subject of 2023, things got very interesting with Texas Frightmare Weekend, moving for next year to the Irving Convention Center for Memorial Day weekend. As brought up before, TFW moved to the Irving Convention Center next year due to massive upgrades to the whole of Terminal C at DFW Airport, and one of the upshots was the ability to upgrade to 10×10 spaces as opposed to the smaller spaces in which the Triffid Ranch had been presenting plants since 2009. This means a LOT more plants, enclosures, and other possibilities, and the next eight months are dedicated to stretching the limits of enclosure design and technology specifically to take advantage of the increased space.)
Finally, there’s still a bit over a week to vote in the Dallas Observer Best of Dallas Awards, and the Triffid Ranch was nominated for “Best Garden Center,” so give love to all of the other things that make Dallas such a fun city when we put our minds to it. Me, I’m happy to be nominated, but if the Triffid Ranch should win, the afterparty open house is going to be the stuff of legends.
In the interim, it’s back to the linen mines: as mentioned, the renovations continue, and with them comes a ridiculous amount of room for new enclosures. Again, come out to the gallery on September 4 to get a view now, and be amazed at how much gets put in between then and the end of the year, especially compared to last year. You’ll boogie ’til you puke.
Well, the gallery renovation continues, and last weekend’s open house gave a wonderful opportunity for both regular visitors and new patrons to view the progress. The next few weeks continue the progress, with hope that everything will be in a decent place by the time of the seventh anniversary open house on August 27
Posted onJuly 18, 2022|Comments Off on 2022 Open Houses: July 9 and 16
It finally happened. Not only did the summer heat ride in like a Komodo dragon with a mouth full of pinworms and candiru, but we’re looking at the worst heat the state of Texas has seen since the last drought in 2012. We’re not talking about “oh, this is a minor inconvenience” heat: we’re talking about “this could KILL you” heat. Minus-40 may be a gosh number, in that it has the same value in Fahrenheit and Celsius, but that’s not true of positive-40. For Americans, we’re now hitting 107F, and for everyone else, we’re hitting 40C. Either way, it’s completely understandable that nobody wants to get out in this, especially with the repeated warnings about rolling blackouts through Texas if our antiquated and mismaintained electrical grid should conk out due to record use.
This is why I have to thank everyone who chose to come out to the last two open houses, because you didn’t have to. You could have been at a water park, or in a mall, or safely in a bottle of liquid nitrogen, or any place where the temperatures don’t turn unprotected victims into Near Dark cosplayers. instead, you came out to view carnivorous plant enclosures and check out the ongoing renovations to the gallery, and for that, I can’t thank you enough. It gives extra incentive to keep going, and going I shall.
For those who missed out on previous attempts, the gallery is open for one more open house on July 23, and then it’s going quiet for two weeks to get prepared for Aquashella Dallas on August 6 and 7. As always, admission is free and masks are recommended. After that, keep checking back, because the open houses return in August, with a very special evening open house on August 27. See you then.
Posted onJuly 14, 2022|Comments Off on State of the Gallery: July 2022
So…what about this weather, huh?
The first half of 2022 was more than a bit of a tribulation: even with everything happening this year, the end of that first half still counted as the best year the Triffid Ranch had ever seen. The first stages of the gallery renovation were complete and accessible to clients and visitors, shows and events were even more successful than in previous years, and people loved the new changes. The plan for the second half of 2022 was more of the same: build upon everything done so far, go wild with new enclosures, and end 2022 with the biggest party possible. I mean, New Year’s Eve falls on a Saturday this year, so why not hold one last big showing and party to celebrate everything that had come before, right?
Yeah. Things may get even more interesting than before, including the possibility of moving.
The news about the fate of the gallery’s location and the surrounding industrial park hasn’t really been news for a while: according to several people working for the company, the property owner started a six-year plan to tear everything down and build a retail/apartment block, very much like the block across Spring Valley Road, about four years ago, and COVID-19 only delayed the situation. As of last March, when getting the locks changed, I first learned of both this six-year plan and the possibility that things could change sooner if another company bought the property. The first hints that something was happening when the property manager asked for verification that every tenant on the property had their certificates of occupancy in order and inspected the fire alarm systems over the July 4 weekend. I just learned yesterday that the second option happened, and that a new company just bought the whole complex. I’m fully expecting a complete announcement in the next couple of days.
And what does this mean for the gallery? Well, the current lease expires in March 2023, so there are several paths in which things could go over the next seven months. The first is that absolutely nothing changes other than where the rent payments go: the new owner may decide to just keep things going the way they are and wait until the general world financial situation stabilizes. Another possibility is a massive update and improvement: a big strip plaza just east of the gallery was purchased by new owners and massively renovated, and it’s now turning into quite the hangout for those looking for barbecue, pizza, and Middle Eastern cuisine. A third is that things will continue but without renewing leases until everyone moves out: this happened to a big medical office building due west, and it was quickly and efficiently demolished immediately after the last tenant left. The fourth, and it’s always a possibility at any time, is that the new owners decide that the land is more valuable than the rents they’re receiving, give everyone 60 days’ notice, and tear everything out by Halloween. (A medical office facility due east was stripped out that way about four years ago. In that time, the property remains stripped, as a succession of companies have bought the property, started digging trenches for storm drains and water and power inlets, shut down, and sold to someone else. At this point, having seen this happen so many times in Dallas and the surrounding suburbs in the last 40 years, eventually someone will finally build something on this spot, but it may take decades before anything other than weeks actually come up.)
The good news is that, unlike the surprise announcement of the Valley View gallery location being shut down, this has been on the horizon for a while. Right now, not only is the city of Richardson pushing to diversify tenants at a huge block of industrial park spaces just north of the gallery, but Richardson is working toward making these spaces friendlier for artists and others: while checking out the area last night, I discovered where all of the escape rooms and axe tournament spaces had gone over the last few years. Moving to a new location is on the table, and so is staying at the current location for another two years, and I’m already taking advice on good locations if the lease ends early and I have to clear out before the bulldozers start. Right now, it’s all up in the air, and if I get to stay until after the beginning of 2023, that’s longer than I expected.
In the meantime, it’s time to get back to work. If you haven’t had the chance to see the gallery under State 1 of the renovation, feel free to come out to the open houses on July 16 and July 23. (The gallery will be closed on July 30 in order to get ready for the big Aquashella Dallas show at Dallas Market Hall on August 6 and 7.) One way or another, August is going to be a blowout month, with both noon-to-5-pm open houses through the month and a big evening show on August 27. After that, who knows?
As quite a few artists have impressed upon me in the past, there’s “finished” and there’s complete. In the past seven years since signing the original lease on the old space, the Triffid Ranch gallery has never been complete, as it’s always in flux and always being built upon, especially as existing enclosures move out and new ones debut. The important aspect is at least the hope for change, and the Triffid Ranch 3.0 is now live. With no need to make room for the entourage up front, the Entourage Table is gone, and with it the horrible 1980s gold wallpaper that encompassed the whole room. Weeks of painting, finishing, and assembly tied up by the beginning of July, and now the plan is to continue said revamping and updating through the whole of the gallery. It may be done about the time the building owners decide to shut everything down and demolish the whole block, but that’s how it is.
Even in the front, the renovation continues. The gallery redesign intended from the beginning for the front room to hold the larger enclosures, with significantly more room for those than in the past. Between this and moving the old workspace out of the gallery entirely, this frees up a truly impressive amount of room for smaller enclosures, and now the challenge is to fill up said space over the summer. Now that the front room is getting under control, though, that’s not as much of a problem as before.
Another aspect of the reboot: for those outside of North Texas, the Dallas area amped up the heat quite quickly this year. We’re already desperately short on rain, facilitating the purchase of a reverse osmosis filter in order to take care of water needs, and what promised storms coming through just evaporate once passing Fort Worth and Arlington. Because the whole of July and August are just going to get worse, everything is moving inside until September, so no Porch Sales until then. Sorry about that, but if you’re horrified by the idea of standing outside on a parking lot surface that’s burning the soles of your shoes, think how the plants feel.
Now that the front area is done, everyone is welcome to come by to view the work in progress, with Saturday open houses running from noon until 5:00 pm in July. See you then.
Posted onJune 28, 2022|Comments Off on State of the Gallery: June 2022
Well. It’s not understating things to say that June was an excellent month in the best quarter in the history of the Triffid Ranch, in what’s already the Triffid Ranch’s best year since it opened. Between open houses, Porch Sales, and outside events, 2022 has been a spectacular year so far, all the personal tribulations aside, and the plan is to make it even bigger for the rest of the year. At the rate things are going, I may have to rent space at Dallas Market Hall to have enough room for plants during the holiday season.
(And speaking of Dallas Market Hall, here’s the friendly reminder that the next big Triffid Ranch show is at Aquashella Dallas at Market Hall, on August 6 and 7. If things go quiet in July, it’s only in order to get those things ready. This may be even bigger than this month’s Austin Oddities & Curiosities Expo and Texas Frightmare Weekend combined, and that’s saying something. I’m definitely going to need a vaccine for sleep until mid-August.)
Aside from that, the big news involves the gallery renovation and reboot. For the moment, the back of the gallery is going to stay (mostly) unchanged, although with a lot more room as the working area gets cleared out and moved. The front, though, will be unrecognizable. The Entourage Table is gone since there’s no longer any need to seat a now-moved entourage, freeing up a truly amazing amount of room for larger enclosures. Both front and back are undergoing massive changes between now and the end of the year, but the front needed it the most, so removing the sigils and covering over the awful 1980s-era gold wallpaper that was in the place on move-in were the priority. This also gives folks who haven’t been to the gallery in a while an extra incentive to see what’s inside. (Incidentally, this gives further opportunities to expand into contemporary museum design: the Triffid Ranch obviously isn’t a typical art gallery, and moving from an art museum look toward more of a natural history museum motif makes more sense.)
Another reason for the gallery revamp has everything to do with the outdoor temperature. Based on last year, holding Porch Sales outside until Halloween made perfect sense, but this summer is already overly hot and sticky, even by Dallas standards, so moving things back inside for July and August is going to be necessary for both visitors and plants. The Porch Sales will probably make a return in September, depending upon the weather, and they’re definitely returning for October to show off Sarracenia colors, but if the rest of the summer is like June, impersonating a Gila monster and moving underground is both safe and sane. (Discovering what was going on with the new AC unit installed in 2020 made a big difference, too, and the back is now considerably more comfortable in the summer heat than it was last year. I might even try another Nepenthes edwardsiana enclosure this year, now that I know the AC can keep it sufficiently chilly.)
Otherwise, once the gallery reboot is complete, it’s time to get back to debuting new enclosures, which now can be designed and assembled without taking up valuable display space. New materials, new techniques, new references…the first half of the year was rough, but that just set up opportunities for the second half, and everything will focus on a whole extravaganza for the Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas shows in December. We have four available weekends then, including Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday, and getting started early never hurt anybody. In fact, it might be necessary.
Posted onMay 31, 2022|Comments Off on 2022 Porch Sales: May 28
The first month of Triffid Ranch Porch Sales are done, two years after the whole concept started in the literal corner of the gallery porchway, and they’re now becoming a regular event in the Richardson area. This weekend was an opportunity not just for new folks to come by to view carnivorous plants (and the occasional fly or wasp getting a little too close), but for local artists to come by and discuss plans and options for the rest of the year. By the time the tent had to come down, the grand discussions and tentative strategies were still coming strong, and there may be time in the near future to discuss the ones nearing completion.