Everything about gallery owner Brandy Michele Adams is refreshing and unique. She’s unapologetically herself. She’s a bright beam of creative light in the Dallas art scene.
I’ve had several run-ins with the eccentric gallery owner in the last few years, once when she was sporting rhinestone eyebrows, another when she was speeding away from a Deep Ellum nightclub comfortably seated in a friend’s motorcycle sidecar. She’s not afraid to kick it with the kids; in fact she admits she’d rather spend time with teens and young 20-somethings – they get her and she gets them.
“No one thinks I’m 37,” she said with a smile. “So why not hang with all of the 20-year-olds.” Adams isn’t who comes to mind when you think of a Dallas gallery owner. She’s on a different wave length. She may even be in a different galaxy. Her offbeat, odd personality is magnetic to visual artists and has been the source of her success with her Dallas-based W.A.A.S. Gallery (an acronym for We Are All Stars after all) located at 2722 Logan St.
Though Adams showcases local DFW talent in the space, her real passion is to expose Dallas to a wide array of international contemporary art. She travels constantly, seeking out new and interesting artists across the globe. She purposefully throws herself into new environments, locally and internationally, waiting for the right artist to find her. That’s right, she doesn’t intentionally travel to snag up artists in different markets to showcase at W.A.A.S., and it’s all an organic process.
“We actually find each other,” she claimed. “Me being a star means the universe kind of synchronizes us into alignment.”
A troubled past riddled with sexual abuse, drugs and drinking led her to where she is now. As we talked, Adams opened up about her past life as a 20-year-old celebrity makeup artist, struggling with the temptations of working with a slew of A-list celebrities in L.A.
She had made it, but couldn’t handle the Hollywood success at such a young age. When she moved back to Dallas kicking and screaming, she didn’t see the same opportunities for a young makeup artist here.
“Hair and makeup don’t exist in Dallas like they do out there,” she said. “I didn’t want to be a part of the Neiman Marcus/J.C. Penney’s loop.”
She admits she first rented the gallery space south of downtown Dallas because of her grandfather and father, two strong male figures in her life. They own the building right beside her and are in fact her landlords, but she was intent on making the entrepreneurial leap all her own.
“I don’t want people thinking that I’m a rich kid from Dallas,” she said. “I want people to buy art from me because I did it. I started W.A.A.S. and I’m hustling.”
Adams wasn’t fed from a silver spoon; she had to work for what is now hers. After taking out the money to build the gallery, she and five friends (fellow “stars”) had to renovate the gallery themselves due to budget constraints. She admits she’s a workaholic, someone who pours heart and soul into her work.
“I almost died for the arts instead of thriving for them,” she admitted to me during our interview. “I lost 40 pounds. It’s a lot of work…everyone thought I was crazy.”
When asked about the non-traditional gallery location, Adams candidly stated that “they do pop-ups in crack areas all the time elsewhere. That’s where art is happening now in L.A. and New York.”
She was the first to take a chance on the “other side of the tracks,” and others are finally noticing she had the right idea. Her goal was to sell remarkable works of art, exposing our city to new and different artists that we would never have been exposed to at more traditional gallery spaces. She wanted to truly support emerging artists and do it her own way.
“I can’t wait on Dallas,” she stated. “The art market here is run by interior designers. I don’t see artists as just dollars.”
Adams works as a confidant and teacher to emerging artists, helping them fine-tune their craft.
” ‘How do we sell it here?’ I ask them. ‘Don’t paint to paint. Paint to sell,’ ” she claimed as she explained to me how she works closely with all artists to help them understand what buyers in Dallas want, while still allowing them to flex their creative muscles. She’s a mentor and a wealth of knowledge.
Adams has been able to use her hardships and early-life trauma as a catalyst toward substantial creative growth. She encourages emerging artists she’s working with, like her, to fail repeatedly until they find something that sticks. The beautifully-odd art advocate covered in tattoos and piercings is encouraging people to be themselves without even realizing the full impact she’s making.
She and her gallery are a fresh of breath air to the Dallas art scene and we can’t wait to see what she does next. You can visit her gallery and see emerging art alongside successful contemporary artists such as Mr. Brainwash and Hit + Run.
You can check out W.A.A.S. Gallery (waasgallery.com) and say hello to Adams in person during the next exhibition featuring neo-abstract expressionist “JMR” (AKA JM Rizzi). The Brooklyn, N.Y.,-based artist will be showcasing contemporary art influenced by hybrid street style and graffiti he grew up surrounded by in his youth. The exhibition will run from Jan. 31-March 14.