Alden Pinnell: Powering Up the Dallas Art Scene

Founder of the Power Station, Alden Pinnell supports emerging artists and collects across the spectrum

Dallas-based collector Alden Pinnell wasn’t interested in building a private museum to showcase his impressive art holdings, which include works by artists ranging from Donald Judd and Richard Tuttle to Ryan Trecartin, Mark Bradford, and Pietro Roccasalva. Instead, he envisioned a space where artists could create projects that directly engage with a reborn industrial site. So, in 2011, he opened the Power Station, an experimental kunsthalle in a former Dallas Power & Light building that brings new life to his hometown’s museum-driven art scene.

Artist Oscar Tuazon inaugurated the space with his installation Die, a monumental wood, concrete, and steel structure slated to be demolished at the end of the show. More recently, the Power Station was flooded repeatedly over three months, just to record audio of dripping water for a sound piece by the trio Tobias Madison, Emanuel Rossetti, and Stefan Tcherepnin. “We want to bring the most fascinating, generally emerging artists and let them work in this environment,” Pinnell says. New York-based art adviser Rob Teeters is the artistic director and Pinnell consults with him weekly on future projects that can take as much as a year to realize.

Alden and Janelle Pinnell with paintings by Israel Lund. GREGORY RUPPE

Alden and Janelle Pinnell with paintings by Israel Lund.GREGORY RUPPE

Pinnell, who made his fortune with SkinCeuticals, a line of high-end skin-care products, lived in New York from 2005 to 2010, serving on the board of Dia and living across the street from Storefront for Art and Architecture, two institutions that he credits with inspiring his vision for the Power Station. He and his wife, Janelle, have been collecting seriously for the past 15 years, frequenting fairs but more regularly visiting galleries worldwide from Norway’s STANDARD (Oslo) and Antwerp’s Zeno X to David Lewis and Miguel Abreu on the Lower East Side.

“In terms of emerging art, I am looking for someone who has real ideas with some connection to art history, doing something in their own way but with a complete understanding of what’s come before them,” says Pinnell. “I am not interested in things that just look good, because I don’t think that holds up over time.” One artist he has collected over the years is Lucas Samaras. “He is the kind of artist who can’t help but produce art. It wouldn’t matter if there was a market or a demand,” Pinnell says. He has also bought major works by Trecartin, including the video that put the artist on the map, I-Be Area (2007).

The 44-year-old collector also supports local museums. He owns work in partnership with and has loaned to the Dallas Museum of Art, where he is a board member, and is on the advisory board of the Nasher Sculpture Center. Nevertheless, he notes that the Power Station brings an avant-garde energy that was sorely needed in Dallas. “There wasn’t anything like this. I mean if I did this in Brooklyn, would anyone really care?”

A version of this story originally appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of ARTnews on page 76 under the title “Alden Pinnell .”

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