If the maxim that a theory of things is a theory of the psychological is true,

Talley Dunn Gallery offers immediate insight into the woman behind the guiding force of what can easily be termed an exhilarating center of Dallas’ art scene.

The space reliably offers ambitious and captivating shows in an elegant space devoid of excess showbiz or sheen,

and it does so with a seeming effortlessness that’s deceptive.

Ms. Dunn is intensely private (“I like to keep the focus on my artists, not on me.”)

Thus, on the eve of her gallery’s 20th anniversary, it was interesting to meet her there one afternoon and learn more about her.

Dunn took time to share ideas that have shaped her and the space she curates with intelligence and a finely honed international sensibility.

The conversation was instructive,

and the first thing to know is that her gallery—which operates as a solace-inducing retreat when you’re ready to bolt from

the urban fray—didn’t come into being without incredible acuity and “a willingness to risk everything for important issues.”

She adds, “On three occasions I put all my chips, every cent I had, on one number and gambled. All of it.”

She cupped her hands and gestured as if she were pushing heaping chips toward a croupier.

I hope I will be forgiven for articulating the obvious in observing that this was uttered by an attractive scholarly type who would fit in nicely at boarding schools in Switzerland.

She has thick dark hair and trendy glasses that thoroughly sync up with her education at Hockaday and Smith College. For ambient pizzazz, her mother owned an Arabian horse farm.

“My family was very entrepreneurial,” she explains. Her grandparents were involved in the oil and gas business, and she quips that “Grandfather would never have driven a Cadillac into the oil fields.

He knew that would have sent the wrong signal because the idea is to work with people.”

This is an ethos Dunn carried into her own professional life, and she cultivates long relationships with artists and colleagues.

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