Nasher Public: Jeff Gibbons and Gregory Ruppe

at Katy Trail, 2620 Katy Trail @ N. Houston St – Katy Trail @ Harvard Ave

Artists Jeff Gibbons and Gregory Ruppe have created an installation that runs the length of the Katy Trail, from the Thomsen Overlook to just south of where the trail intersects Knox Street. Entitled Borest Forest, Grunting Grasses, the installation comprises a series of vignettes featuring sculptures of squirrels that appear at intervals along the trail. The works may blend naturally into the environment of the trail, distinguished from the real animals only by their fixity, as well as their uncanny human faces, which resemble those of the artists themselves. The various placements of the sculptures along the trail suggest a narrative, a slightly surrealist story, like a fairy tale, that reflects the vaguely otherworldly experience of the trail itself—a thin thread of nature strung along an industrial rail line that runs through the urban environs of Uptown.

The whimsical, surrealist quality of Borest Forest, Grunting Grasses typifies the work of Gibbons and Ruppe, who often experiment with environmental psychology and sound in their installations. The artists have exhibited and performed at the Nasher Sculpture Center on three occasions over the past seven years: in 2015 for the announcement of Nasher Prize, Gibbons, Ruppe, and Danny Skinner performed Dry Again? with their water tank instruments/sculptures; in 2017 for the Nasher Prize gala celebration of Laureate Pierre Huyghe, the trio performed Jane Magnolia Jane, which featured modular synthesis instruments invented by the artists and a Ficus whose biorhythms were translated into musical tones; and in 2018 for the Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family SOLUNA International Music and Arts Festival, Gibbons and Ruppe created Grubnik and Suzanne, an immersive installation in the Nasher Garden which featured installation, video, and sound, including a duet with the buried digital head of Liz Tonne and the biofeedback of a live oak tree translated into English phonetics in an attempt to let the tree learn how to speak. Borest Forest, Grunting Grasses, with the artist’s faces transposed on sculptures of squirrels, continues the artists’ deep consideration of our proximity to nature, both beautiful and unsettling.

For the realization of the project, Gibbons and Ruppe worked with Nick Bontrager to digitally render and 3D-print their faces and Geoffrey Broderick at the Abilene Christian University Foundry for the final castings.

About Jeff Gibbons and Gregory Ruppe

Gibbons and Ruppe are independent artists who periodically work together and in collaboration with others, and whose work incorporates sculpture, installation, video, sound, and performance. In addition to the collaborations at the Nasher Sculpture Center noted above, Gibbons and Ruppe have worked together for nearly ten years on a number of projects, at Centraltrak and Beefhaus in Dallas (2014); at Epitome Institute in San Antonio, gallery HOMELAND in Houston, Carillon Gallery, TCC South in Fort Worth, and The MAC in Dallas (2015); on the set for Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet’s performance Masque of Red Death at the Majestic Theater in Dallas (2016); in Le Sud Bébé, Marseille, France (2018); and the ongoing Culture Hole project with Danny Skinner. Gibbons’s independent work and solo exhibitions have been exhibited nationally, as well as in Germany, France, Japan, Mexico, Denmark, and Switzerland. Gibbons is represented by Conduit Gallery in Dallas, Texas. Ruppe has presented solo exhibitions and performances across Texas, as well as in Miami, San Francisco, France, Switzerland, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Ruppe also serves as Director of Exhibitions for The Power Station in Dallas.

About the Katy Trail

The Katy Trail, as most locals know it, began in 2000, but the history of the Katy Trail stretches back to the age of railroads. The Union Pacific Railroad built the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad and established the network in 1865. The route was also commonly called the K-T, and eventually the Katy. Following the heyday of the railroad, Union Pacific donated the abandoned lines to the City of Dallas in 1993. In the 1990s, a group of passionate neighbors and local businesses proposed that the line be converted into a public trail.  Their idea resulted in the formation in 1997 of Friends of the Katy Trail, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in a private/public partnership with the City of Dallas.  Friends of the Katy Trail is charged with maintaining, enhancing, and advocating for the Katy Trail as the premier trail for recreation, wellness, and alternative transportation in Dallas.  The Friends is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2022. Today, the Katy Trail is a treasured greenbelt destination for Dallas citizens and visitors and has over 1.5 million visits a year.  The Trail is a key quality of life amenity in Dallas and has spurred more than $1 billion in economic development.

About Katy Trail Art

Katy Trail Art partners with Dallas area museums, art collectors, and the community at large to expand the role of contemporary art in public spaces in Dallas. The Initiative borrows, commissions, and produces world-class art projects on and around the Katy Trail to inspire creativity, spark conversation, encourage self-reflection, challenge assumptions, foster community building, and promote civic ownership of the Katy Trail.

Katy Trail Art Founding Donors

We recognize the Katy Trail Art Founding Donors, who have helped bring the work of Jeff Gibbons and Gregory Ruppe to the Trail:

Pat Baudendistel

J. Patrick Collins

Bela and Chase Cooley

Jennifer and John Eagle

Christina and Sal Jafar

Laura and Greg Koonsman 

Ann and Chris Mahowald

Jessica and Dirk Nowitzki

Janelle and Alden Pinnell

Kelli and Allen Questrom

John S. Relton

Sewell Automotive Companies

Lindsay and Blake Shipp

Amanda and Charlie Shufeldt

Amy and Les Ware 

Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora Street
Dallas, Texas 75201
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