Sweet Pass Sculpture Park is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization which provides space and support for experimental and large-scale outdoor works by a diverse set of contemporary voices. Founded in 2018 by Tamara Johnson and Trey Burns, as an extension of their own art practices, they envision this project as a permanent space for temporary projects. Geographically located in a one acre lot in west Dallas, Sweet Pass exists in the gaps between ideas of gardens, green spaces, and public spaces while supporting contemporary art dedicated to site, experimentation, and community engagement.
Sweet Pass began on an empty lot in west Dallas, to address a lack of opportunities for artists to show contemporary and experimental outdoor sculpture. Since opening our gates, we’ve produced over two dozen exhibitions and events, worked with over 100 international and local artists, and provided a platform for students from local universities, schools, and youth organizations. We pride ourselves on not only providing logistical support like fabrication, transportation, installation, and documentation–but also financial support in the form of stipends and production budgets. We have received grants from TACA, Nasher Sculpture Center, and City of Dallas Office of Arts & Culture and partnered numerous ogranizations including Ignite/Arts Dallas, Cedars Union, SMU Pollock Gallery, Corsicana Artist & Writer Residency, Oaxaca Interest, and NorthPark Center. Through grassroots fundraising we have provided over $25,000 in support to artists, curators, and artist collectives to date.
In the winter of 2020, Sweet Pass conducted an open call for artists to participate in an experimental program centered on projects which responded more deeply to place. After receiving more than 50 applications, we selected a group of five artists to visit Dallas and participate in a year-long program we called Sweet Pass Sculpture School (SPSS). The inaugural program centered on the Texas Blackland Prairie, the most endangered large ecosystem in North America (currently less than 1% remaining). Over two weeks in June of 2021, artists were guided on a broad survey of this lost prairie, exploring the embedded histories, hidden natures, and infrastructures in the region. The participating artists engaged in site visits, lectures, screenings, readings, and dinners - meeting with local cultural producers, thinkers, and experts to collectively explore the city of Dallas and the surrounding region. Over the subsequent year we collectively developed a culminating exhibition which was debuted at Sweet Pass in May of 2022.
Off-site and Public Projects
Part of Sweet Pass’ mission is to provide financial support, professional development, mentorship, and critical feedback for artists who aspire to work in the public sphere. Leveraging our own experience, we guide artists from proposal to fabrication and installation while providing professional and technical guidance. The development of a new off-site program allows artists to approach their first public project through an educational framework and leave them with a toolkit to use towards future projects. For our first project, we partnered with Oaxaca Interests and the 707 Townhomes in west Dallas. Three local artists (current students and recent graduates) were awarded stipends to propose outdoor public projects to be located in a “parklet” in the courtyard area of the new townhome construction. The selected installation, Chin Chin & Muck Muck by Niva Parajuli, will remain on view for a year. This program will feature an annual rotation of projects, and we are actively looking for additional opportunities to apply this format.
About Tamara & Trey:
Tamara Johnson (b. 1984, Waco, TX) is a sculptor, educator and curator currently living in Dallas, TX. Johnson graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2007 and the Rhode Island School of Design in 2012 with an MFA in Sculpture. Johnson has exhibited her work at the Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas, TX) The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (Salt Lake City, UT), The Blanton Museum of Art (Austin, TX), ex ovo gallery (Dallas, TX), Grand Union Gallery (Birmingham, UK) and various spaces in NY such as Socrates Sculpture Park, The CUE Art Foundation, Wave Hill, Maria Hernandez Park, the SPRING BREAK Art Show, Air Mattress Gallery, Microscope Gallery, NURTUREart, Black Ball Projects, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Wassaic Projects and CR10 Arts. While living in New York (2012-2018) Johnson worked as a project manager for the Robert Gober Studio and public artist Janet Zweig. Johnson received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in conjunction with Wassaic Projects, the Meadows School of Arts at Southern Methodist University, the Santo Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Art, and the Brooklyn Arts Council.
Trey Burns (b. 1984, Goldsboro, NC) is an educator, writer, and artist whose work explores filmmaking, built environments, histories of place, and collective production. Burns currently serves as Multimedia Producer for the Dallas Museum of Art and Documentarian for the Corsicana Artist & Writer Residency. After receiving his MFA from the Savannah College of Art & Design in 2008, Burns has shown his work at the Ecole Nationale d’Architecture Paris, Malaquais Gallery (Paris, France) Pavillion Vendôme (Clichy-la-Garenne, France), the St. Paul’s Cultural Center (Chicago, IL), Wassaic Projects (Wassaic, NY), Tartleton State University (Ft Worth, TX), ex ovo (Dallas, TX), Trestle Gallery (Brooklyn, NY), The May Gallery (New Orleans, LA), The Hand (Queens, NY) and et al Projects (Brooklyn, NY). In 2020 he received an NEA grant with Tamara Johnson in conjunction with Wassaic Projects in New York and an ArtsActivate grant in 2020 and 2021 from the City of Dallas Office of Arts & Culture for Sweet Pass Sculpture School.