Just as a recap, the gallery is shut down. The keys went back to the leasing manager on March 9, and as of now , there is no plan to revive the Texas Triffid Ranch in any capacity. The site will remain live until March 2024, with decisions made about its status at that time. Likewise, all touring events have been cancelled as well. If you want to see Triffid Ranch plants, I highly recommend the carnivorous plant bog at the Dallas Arboretum: all of the remaining Sarracenia and Venus flytraps went there to live out their lives as educational plants, and I plan to visit them quite often, especially in March and April when they’re blooming. Other than that, the Texas Triffid Ranch is no more.
As for future plans, right now the biggest concern is organizing the remaining items that don’t have room in the house, and then it’s on to new projects. Anybody wanting a heads-up when these are ready might want to subscribe to the old Triffid Ranch newsletter for the update when they’re ready for public consumption. Other than that, be seeing you.
Posted onMarch 3, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Final Texas Triffid Ranch Liquidation Sale – Finale
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.
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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.
To be continued…
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Posted onMarch 2, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Final Texas Triffid Ranch Liquidation Sale – 3
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 be continued…
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Posted onMarch 1, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Final Texas Triffid Ranch Liquidation Sale – 2
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.
To be continued…
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Posted onMarch 1, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Final Texas Triffid Ranch Liquidation Sale – 1
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.
To be continued…
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It’s almost done: the last-ever Triffid Ranch Liquidation Sale and Wake runs this weekend from noon until 6:00 pm on both Saturday and Sunday. If you’ve never been out, or if you haven’t been out in years, you’re cordially invited to come out; if you’re looking for Lundia shelving, tables, chairs, and workbenches, then do we have a deal for you. After that, all that’s left is the sweeping out, because the keys get handed over on February 28. See you on the flipside.
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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Posted onFebruary 21, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Liquidation Sale and Sarracenia Roulette – 1
The last week was interesting. The propagation area in the back of the gallery came down last Thursday, and all of the pitcher plants held for future enclosures were cleaned up and put on racks for sale. The last of the sundews and butterworts went into jars and bottles, and the bladderwort propagation containers came out. Normally, you’d never see North American pitcher plants and Venus flytraps at a Triffid Ranch event until they started growing traps, usually in mid-April, but this last holiday season hit Dallas hard enough with freezing weather and sleet that they were in deep dormancy. Yes, they were scraggly and appeared half-dead, but that was half of the fun. That meant playing a game of Sarracenia roulette, where nobody knew exactly what they were getting until the plants come out of dormancy in spring, at very good prices for large rhizomes and colonies.
All said, the penultimate Texas Triffid Ranch show was the largest event ever held in the company’s history, and certainly the largest at the gallery. The place was packed with enclosures, individual containers, and free-range temperate carnivores, with a lot of new and longtime visitors coming by to take them home. It’s remarkably bittersweet, as I’m going to miss so many people when everything closes for good on February 28, but it’s shutting down at the right time for the right reasons.
To be continued…
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For those who thought that last weekend’s liquidation sale was big, you’ll want to come out this weekend to see everything that came from the propagation area. If you haven’t been to the gallery in a while, this is the absolute last chance to see the gallery renovation before everything has to come down next week. If you’ve never been out here, you’ll have exactly one more weekend before the gallery closes forever to move what’s left. February 18 and 19, noon until 6:00 pm each day. (And if you’re interested in one of the larger enclosures, just make sure you bring a vehicle with at least one meter clearance in its cargo area. I learned this from hard experience.)
Posted onFebruary 16, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Liquidation Sale and Superb Owl Party – 3
As if the Saturday liquidation sale wasn’t lively enough, then came Sunday and the Superb Owl party. For those unfamiliar with the great state, nation, and planet of Texas, the Superb Owl is an annual event where a majority of citizens celebrate the new year with excessive drunkenness, overconsumption of incredibly unhealthy foods, screams, fights in the streets, and a final celebration involving overturned cars and random gunfire. The difference between this and pretty much any other Sunday, though, is that all of this is a sacrifice for the Owl. If the Owl rises from its roost and sees any signs of humanity’s progress, we get six more weeks of winter.
Normally, the sane response to the Superb Owl passing overhead is to stay as far away from supermarkets and bars as possible, find a place to hole up until the next Monday, and very loudly ask co-workers if they need aspirin or something stronger for their hangovers. This weekend, though, the Triffid Ranch held its first liquidation sale in preparation for shutting down at the end of February, and that meant an escape from the Owl. True, it wasn’t a Kurosawa film festival or a chess tournament, but it had its moments. Next year, though, we’re on our own.
If you weren’t able to make this weekend’s show because of Superb Owl droppings (and the way people were weaving, they were especially bad on local highways, thoroughfares, and sidewalks), there’s still a chance to come by before the gallery closes forever on February 28. The liquidation sales really get going on February 18 and 19, with a lot of propagation plants pulled out of the back growing area: they’re looking a little scraggly because they weren’t intended for immediate sale, but this is an excellent opportunity to snag uncommon species, hybrids, and cultivars, already potted up and ready to be taken home. The fun starts at noon on Saturday and runs until 6:00 pm, with everything repeating on Sunday. For those seeking specifics, I’ll be at the gallery the whole week of February 20 for appointments in between packing and dismantling, so if you’ve had an eye on a particular enclosure, snag it now before someone else does. If there’s anything left, it and furniture, fixtures, and accessories are all going to be available at one last sale on February 25 and 26. After that, it’s all over and done. And so it goes.
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Posted onFebruary 15, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Liquidation Sale and Superb Owl Party – 2
One of the stranger sensations involved with shutting down the gallery involves habits. After a year or so in a new location, there’s a routine: you turn so to get into the driveway, you avoid a particular parking spot when hauling items because a particular overhanging tree gets in the way, or you go to a particular place for the space heaters in case the weather gets particularly cold. Logically, you tell yourself “in two weeks, none of this information won’t matter, because you’ll be gone, never to return.” Emotionally, though, the brain still runs through those habits: the old Valley View space has been gone for six years, and it physically doesn’t exist any longer, but the habits of unlocking and opening the gate, turning on the lights, and getting to work still show up in dreams.
This time, it’s a bit stronger, partly because the Triffid Ranch has existed in one form or another for fifteen years as of this coming April. It’s the realization that ordering new glass jars is no longer a priority, or that the back yard won’t be covered with Sarracenia pools, or that the need for rainwater containment is drastically reduced. Oh, there’s going to be new projects and new plans, but the anxiety dreams of “Do I have enough containers for next week’s show?” won’t apply to carnivorous plants any longer.
To be continued…
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Posted onFebruary 14, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Liquidation Sale and Superb Owl Party – 1
It’s getting closer, and a lot of back inventory, in the form of plants kept in propagation containers in preparation for 2023 shows that aren’t going to happen, came out for the Superb Owl’s approval. Apparently a lot of people came to see the Superb Owl in its native habitat, and most stayed to view carnivores, purchase enclosures, and ask about the future.
Very seriously, the first actual Triffid Ranch liquidation sale was an absolute blowout, with crowds normally seen at events such as Aquashella and Texas Frightmare Weekend. More than a few folks first came across the Triffid Ranch via these events, and were hoping that even as the gallery is closing, possibly the shows would continue. Sadly, that’s not the case, but the sentiment was greatly appreciated.
To be continued…
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We’re getting down to titanium tacks: this weekend is the Texas Triffid Ranch Carnivorous Plant Liquidation Sale and Superb Owl Party, running both Saturday and Sunday, February 11 and 12, from noon until 6:00, pulling out lots and lots of plants from the reserves and some additional surprises. As always, the gallery is open by appointment if you can’t make it out this weekend for a particular enclosure, and the liquidation sale continues on February 18 to move dormant temperate carnivores such as North American pitcher plants and Venus flytraps. (The only reason why these aren’t available this weekend is available space, so please come out to clear out what’s already here.) Flytraps and Sarracenia are also available via appointment, sold ready to go into outdoor container gardens before they start blooming, so feel free to ask about availability. See you this weekend.
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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Back when this little experiment in Dallas art started in its old location in 2015, I told myself and others “If it lasts 18 months, I’ll be thrilled.” The fact that the Triffid Ranch lasted five times that, in an area and market where most galleries of any sort are lucky to last a year, is a testament to the residents, visitors, and unindicted coconspirators of the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area wanting something a bit weirder, and I thank you all.
The problem with every party, of course, is that eventually the party has to end. Hence, it’s time to turn on the lights, send everyone home with leftovers, and sweep up. 7 1/2 years is a great run, but now it’s time to get out the pushbrooms. January 28 is the date for the last official Triffid Ranch open house, and I’m currently clearing out the extra inventory, both plants and containers, in order to go out in style.
Now, some of you may have questions as to “why,” and in this case, here’s a handy guide to explain what’s going on. Anyone with further questions is welcome to come out to this weekend’s open house to ask more: it’s not as if I’m going anywhere that day.
Why is the Triffid Ranch shutting down?
Over the last two years, the Triffid Ranch became more and more self-sufficient, but it was never a venue that that did more than come a little ahead of even. When the lease was up for renewal in February, the new owners included a one-third rent increase, a significant new deposit, and demands for additional insurance, and the increased costs of new plants, containers, and show expenses added to it. The gallery could have muddled through for another two years, but with the very real risk in this area of the industrial park being demolished, scraped, and turned into apartment buildings. Two medical parks on either side have already been stripped to the soil line in preparation for development, and the costs of a move later, particularly with only 30 to 60 days’ notice, just made shutting down a saner idea.
Are you still going to do shows and events?
As much as I would like to keep going, the shows are ending as well. I love the organizers of several shows much more than I do any living member of my biological family, and I will gladly move heaven and earth to help them in any way possible. A lot of those big shows were really only possible with the gallery as a base of operations, though, and so if you see me at Texas Frightmare Weekend or the Oddities & Curiosities Expos, it’ll only be as a spectator.
Another factor with this decision to stop doing Triffid Ranch shows has nothing to do with them, but with the current increase in events and shows elsewhere. Thanks to scheduling issues, were I to continue, three of my biggest shows, ones that normally take about a month of preparation, are now within a week to two weeks of each other, with the very good likelihood that one particularly successful show could leave one or two with nothing left, and I won’t do that to either the show staffs or attendees. It’s not their fault or anybody’s fault: it’s just that other organizations and groups want the same facilities at the old times, and my blessing and curse was having something really unique that could be shown at a wide range of events. In 2023, that came back to bite me in the face.
(I will say, though, that one thing I won’t miss about shows is a particular type of participant that became especially common in 2022 shows. This is the person who saw the plants from way off, shoved people out of the way to get to the booth, shoved others out of the way to get right up next to the plants, looked down at them, and told me, repeatedly, “I can’t keep plants alive! Every plant I ever get DIES!” This isn’t the person who can’t figure out what’s happening with their Venus flytrap or jade plant and asks for advice: this type is almost proud that they’ve made no concessions for plant care or efforts in learning more. After the show last year that broke me, I wanted to start yelling back “Do you walk into pet shops and brag ‘I can’t keep a dog alive! Every dog I get dies!’? Worse, do you do that in maternity wards and nursing homes?” They’re almost as annoying and soul-killing as the people demanding that I bring plants out to Texas Master Gardener events, and lower than that I can’t get.)
What about the plants that don’t sell at the last open house?
After the open house, it’ll be time to break everything down and have a liquidation sale. Keep an eye on the Web site for details. Plants, shelving units, decorations, supplies, remaining glassware, and show gear: it’s all going. Anybody need a 10×10 tent and weights for outdoor shows? I won’t need it any more.
As for the outdoor plants currently in winter dormancy, plans are already underway to find them homes as well. I have an idea for a really fun gathering to say goodbye for good, and I’m just waiting for word in order to start with plans.
Will you restart the Triffid Ranch at a later time?
THAT is a really good question. The current plan right now is that if I do, it’s after going back to school for a serious regimen of art and museum design courses, including a lot of set design. If the Triffid Ranch comes back, with some financial miracle letting it happen, it’ll only be after getting the skills necessary to bring it to a whole new level, and that’s going to take a little while.
What will you do now?
You know, that’s a really good question. Several big projects eating at my brain have had to sit for years because the gallery and the day job took so much time, and one is practically extruding from my ear like brain toothpaste. Let’s just say that if you liked the backstories on the enclosures, you might get some further elaboration on the mysteries hinted at with those. I turn 57 with my next birthday on February 30, though, so I have to get going while I still have time.
Posted onJanuary 26, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Penultimate Triffid Ranch Open House
And then there was one left. After years and years of wondering “are people not showing up to open houses because they don’t know about the open house or the existence of the gallery?”, I got the answer. Quite a few longtimers came out on January 21, including several friends from Texas Frightmare Weekend, but a lot of folks came out who had only heard about the Triffid Ranch from friends that weekend, and wanted to see everything before the gallery closed. They were all very much appreciated, and my only regret with everybody is that they won’t be able to come out in the future.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about the Triffid Ranch’s run was that there was no telling who was going to come through the door and what questions they were going to ask. I loved letting visitors know, when they would start with “This may sound like a dumb question, but…” that not only were they NOT asking dumb carnivorous plant questions, but they were asking questions that I had asked when I first started twenty years ago. Better, many, and I let them know this, were asking questions that had been bouncing around since the acknowledgement that these plants could attract, capture, and digest insect and other animal prey, and sometimes I had answers that only became available in the latest research. You ever see someone’s face when they asked about pitcher plant digestive fluids or Venus flytrap stimulation when told “If you’d come in a week ago, I wouldn’t have had an answer, but there was this great paper in Nature last Tuesday…” That’s something I’m going to miss.
And that’s nearly it. If you want to see the gallery in its current reasonably complete form, the last-ever Triffid Ranch open house opens at noon on January 28, and the doors closing at 6:00 pm or whenever everyone clears out. After that, it’s a matter of liquidating what’s left before moving out forever on February 28, so get out Saturday or ask someone else to get photos and video. You won’t want to miss this.
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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.
A little tip to beginning gallery owners: unless you own the building, don’t get too comfortable. Even if everyone involved swears up and down that tenants get 60 days’ notice before they have to vacate the premises, that promise is generally worth the paper it’s written on when the owner decides otherwise. I say this not out of bitterness but as a friendly warning: For those not already prepared, 30 days to find a new space, take care of occupancy permits and fire inspections, get the keys, and move everything is problematic even if everything works perfectly. Here in Dallas, where often the only way to get a retail leasing agent to return phone calls is to call the CEO of his company and ask if he’s unavailable because he’s hurt himself from masturbating all day, 30 days just simply enough. It’s possible, barely, but it requires starting packing and searching pretty much the moment the notice came through. We were lucky: as we were leaving the day before everyone had to be gone, we had neighbors who were just starting to look because they’d assumed that this notice would be the same false alarm as it had been for the previous five years. As we pulled the last items out of our space, others were openly wondering what they were going to do, and you do NOT want to be in that position when the doors are being boarded up and the demolition crews start rolling in.
After eighteen months, it was strange to realize that we were the last-ever tenants in a particular venue, especially since that venue had been around for almost as long as we had been alive. We moved out on the last weekend of February thanks to the Herculean efforts of friends and cohorts who didn’t need to waste a weekend helping to pack and lug multiple truckloads of detritus, and when it was done, the place was strangely smaller for being empty. The only echoes of past tenants were little touches of urban archaeology: the number for Mall Security on a piece of masking tape (with no area code because most of the area was under only one area code until 1997) on the front counter, the tags for long-removed paintings from the previous gallery, and the strange assemblage of clothes displays from the next-door Foot Locker, apparently scavenged after a rebranding, in a Home Depot box over the fire escape door. The move wasn’t something we’d planned, but it was done, and now it was time to leave with a bit of dignity and grace. Trying to stay only would have made the memories sour.
And in the end, that was it. The last truck was loaded, and we waited for the sole security guard to inspect the space, ensure that we weren’t trying to prise fixtures out of the ceiling, and sign the all-clear on what was called the “sweep-out form.” We handed over our keys and turned off the circuit breakers in the back for the last time, and the guard rolled down the gate. 20 months since we first viewed the space and contemplated moving the Triffid Ranch to a semipermanent location, it was all over. We no longer had any connection to the mall, and with the impending demolition, we knew we’d never see it again. And so it goes.
One of the aspects of a gallery setup and expansion that nobody considers, until they have to do it, is working with the space as is available. The old Triffid Ranch space was apparently used since its construction as a men’s clothing store, so it had all sorts of vagaries that you’d never find in other locales. A lack of electrical outlets, for instance: in the main space, we had a couple in the main register island permanently affixed to the west side of the room, two along the back wall, and two on each side of the front gate. Of course, those ones by the front gate were on the ceiling in order the power the ridiculous halogen lighting so popular in the 1980s for store displays. This meant that extension cords were our friends, and we were incredibly happy to live in a future where compact fluorescent and LED lighting took a significant load off the electrical system while still supplying enough light for the plants. Getting the cords to the lights, though…that was fun.
One of the problems with working in a mall after hours is the ridiculous quiet. With the exception of the occasional security guard doing his rounds, most nights were accompanied acoustically only by tintinitis unless you brought sonic or visual stimulation. Hence, because the big register island couldn’t be moved, and Square point-of-sale apps made having a distinct register area as quaint as daily milk delivery, it became the de facto worktable. Also, since the mall was built at a time when wifi and cell phone reception were science fiction but tornadoes weren’t, phone reception cut out about three meters from the front gate and radio reception of most sorts after about five. Combine that with a mall wifi installed around 2005 that wasn’t going to be expanded or updated, said entertainment consisted of lots and lots of DVDs and a rather old flatscreen that got the job done. This even expanded into formal events such as the ARTwalks: considering the outside crowds coming to the mall during its final months, it might have made more sense to turn our openings into Babylon 5 viewing parties, because everyone was glued to episodes playing in the background.
Because the space was intended to be work area and showroom, we at least tried to separate the two with curtains, but naturally that meant that everyone wanted to see what was in the back. Those same people strangely had issues with workspaces that had everything I needed, combined with a “Hunter S. Thompson crashing in your living room for a month” vibe that should have said “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” Silly me: that was just encouragement, because this was where the magic happened.And then there was the actual back growing area, intended for plants that weren’t ready for general dissemination. The spacescape painted over the entire area was there when we moved in, a legacy of the art gallery that had been there until early 2015. Combine that with the reflective film on the growing racks to reflect light back onto the plants, and it was as if the1980s never ended.
Finally, one of the biggest challenges was letting new visitors know where the space was located. By the time we moved in, the mall’s owner had no intention of updating the various “You Are Here” maps throughout the mall, but he had no problem with our putting up signs to steer customers. This was when we learned the extent to which most Americans have learned to block out advertising as a matter of mental survival. Multiple signs on the upper and lower levels, the big Styrofoam pillar covered with posters and fitted with postcard holders, and an extensive online presence that included maps, and wise still got calls asking “So where are you? I’ve been looking for you in the mall for an hour!” And so it goes.
Now that the new gallery is getting to the point where it isn’t a horrible post–apocalyptic accumulation of dead tech and cultural detritus, it may be time for a few last looks at the old. When we got word that most of the remaining tenants at Valley View Center had to move, we’d finally managed to beat our space into something approximating a real gallery. One whole wall covered in shelving, separate aisles set up and clear, and ready visibility of both finished plant enclosures and in-progress projects to anybody who came in. Naturally, getting everything under control meant that it was time to move, but at least we’d worked out most of the logistics issues by the time it happened. Oh, and what a space it was.
In addition to the plants, the old gallery was the home of Tawanda Jewelry, and it became a vital meeting locale for new and longtime clients. Just as with shows and events, it made sense: why couldn’t you mix plants and carnivorous plants in the same space?
And there it ended, right after our January ARTwalk. It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely getting there, and it gave us plenty of experience with setting up a more permanent gallery. And so it goes.
As of last Monday, the old Triffid Ranch space is back to where it was when we moved in. Well, maybe a lot cleaner, with fewer burst sweet and sour sauce packets in the counter drawers and about $1.35 less in pennies all over the floor of the back room. (Seriously, the way bad pennies kept turning up, I started having dreams that they bred like cockroaches.) The space will never see another tenant, as the fixture recycling and dismantling started March 1 in preparation for Valley View Center’s eventual demolition. However, we were there to see it off, and we were the last to see it as a retail space.What happens next is up to the property owners, but at least we had the time we had. Selah.
Well, we’re at the end of the time at the Galleries at Midtown space. 18 months ago, we opened with wide eyes and no idea of what the future would bring. By February 28, most of the art galleries will be moved out, the last of the stores on the lower level vacated, and the inevitable demolition started. Valley View Center will be replaced with a new collection of apartments, office buildings, and retail space, but without ARTwalks, without random passersby, and without a lot of strange memories. Valley View deserves a final sendoff, but the move this weekend takes precedence. The new gallery awaits, and with it come new schemes and new stories, all of which wouldn’t have been possible if not for the last year and a half out here. And so it goes.
Current gallery status: we received the official moveout form this week for the existing space, and so has everyone else. We’re two weeks away from the last-ever ARTwalk on February 18, and while a couple of the galleries will remain at least until May, the majority of us are already getting packed and moved. After that, one last weekend before the official cutoff date of February 28 to move, and that’s it for the Triffid Ranch at the Galleries at Midtown. After that, the mall comes down bit by bit, and then it’s a matter of watching the new Midtown rise. As to all of that, we know exactly as much as everyone else, which is precious little, and the energy needed to ascertain the mall’s final death date is better spent on finding a new locale.
Future gallery status: everything is still tentative, but we think we have a new gallery space, with more than suitable parking, a more accessible location off Central Expressway, and more usable gallery area than the current one. (It isn’t until you’ve done so for a year or more that you realize how much an immovable counter island gets in the way of, well, everything.) We’ve already had a discussion on how the new location, wherever it may be, won’t have regular monthly ARTwalk-type events, but that’s mitigated by trying to get more shows in other galleries in the Dallas area. As much as we’ve loved the ARTwalks, they still meant that an entire weekend per month was pretty much shot as far as work on new enclosures was concerned, so quarterly openings makes much more sense for everybody. This way, we have more surprises when we do have an opening.
Show status: outside shows are problematic, if only because many of the previous science fiction convention venues are themselves in serious trouble. That said, expect a few announcements as to other venues over the rest of the year. It’s not surprising that the con circuit is imploding: this happens about every twenty years, and they start to come back after the ground has been fallow for a decade or so. This makes setting up a more permanent gallery more important, though, as well as attending more unorthodox shows outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Again, expect a few announcements.
Music: a particularly appropriate theme for tonight.
We’ve been waiting for word, and dreading the word, and now receiving the word: today, we received notice from the owners of Valley View Center that the Triffid Ranch lease expires on February 28. From the beginning, we knew that the wonderful chance we had would be limited: I told people from the start that if we had 18 months here, I’d be absolutely thrilled. Well, word came 18 months after we signed the lease, and we’ll be moving out (leaving it “broom-ready,” as the parlance has it) a week over 18 months after our opening. And so it goes.
Not that this ends the saga of the Triffid Ranch: we’re still committed to shows in March and May, and we’ve been searching for a similar space for about a year to restart the gallery. However, the crew at both the Galleries at Midtown (particularly Carmen Kelley, who has had an incredible amount of patience with such an unorthodox space as ours) and the Valley View staff have become family, and we’re truly going to miss them when we leave. I’m going to miss people peeking in after-hours, when I’m frantically working on enclosures and they’re wandering back to the parking lot after catching a late-night movie. Oh, and I’m going to miss the great people who came out and supported us at ARTwalks, or came inside and asked interesting questions, or even just exclaimed outside “Carnivorous plants? COOL!” All of you made it worthwhile.
And just because we’re moving doesn’t mean that we’re not open. We’re still having our ARTwalk event for February 18, now ominously titled “The Last ARTwalk,” and we’re inviting past, present, and future visitors to come out to gaze upon the space one last time. As an added incentive, Shirt Price will apply to everyone on that Saturday, so if you’ve been itching to get a particular enclosure but wasn’t sure about having a space to put it, get that space set up NOW
In the interim, the real work starts up. Packing and sorting begins this week, interspersed with checking with realtors who were just waiting for the word to move forward. I have no idea what’s going to happen between now and the end of 2017, but the universe definitely chucked us into the deep end of the pool. Now watch us swim.