Q&A: Director of Ao5 Gallery discusses Salvador Dalí exhibition

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Johnna Krantz | Daily Texan Staff

Attendees won’t have to rely on the “Persistence of Memory” if they decide to take home one of these pieces for themselves. 

From Nov. 9 to Dec. 10, Austin’s Ao5 Gallery is presenting a Salvador Dalí art exhibition. Salvador Dalí, a notoriously prolific surrealist painter from the 20th century, is known best for  his obscure stylistic choices and abstract imagery. Gallery director Todd Gresley spoke to The Daily Texan about the new exhibition and his role as director. 

The Daily Texan: What does your job as the gallery director entail?

Todd Gresley: The job is so much deeper than (just selling and hanging paintings). My job is to discover art people want (and) make sure that the artists are a part of the team too. They have to have good stuff for us to hang up and to make sure the community wants it. We have to curate shows that get people talking and excited. There’s a lot of galleries that do the same thing. I try to have stuff in here that nobody else has. There’s just no comparing (Ao5 Gallery) to anything. People will come from California and New York, and they have never seen anything like this. 

DT: Why did you choose Dalí as the theme for this installation?

TG: Dalí attracts people that may not have been to an art gallery before. They may have been to a museum, but not a gallery. The reason I chose Dalí is, number one, (he was) a complete and utter badass of his day and has proven posthumously that he’s still a badass and held the test of time. But number two is that it’s bringing in people. We had 1,500 RSVP for (opening) night. We had people that have never been here before. We had people buying art for the first time in their lives. So Dalí just kind of brings everybody together. Whether you like his art or not, it’s at least interesting to people. 

DT: How has Dalí influenced modern art?

TG: I think that he led the path of people to be able to get away with stuff. Dalí was one of the last greats to kind of do something where (people) said, “We don’t know where to categorize you.” But he continues this trend of doing things that people had not seen before. I think (he opened) the door for things like “art for art’s sake.” I really think he’s one of the most influential artists of all time. He opened the door for people today to draw something on a napkin and say, “Now this is (art).” There’s interesting things that he did. He used to hide a bowl of water under his chin and he put the paintbrush in his mouth. And he would let himself (roll) off to sleep, and as soon as his head went down, his chin would hit the water. And as soon as he woke up, he would jerk the paintbrush out of his mouth and start painting what he was dreaming about. He just started new boundaries and a new direction, and that’s why I think artists can do anything they want now.