African American

Deep in the Heart of Dallas with Darryl Ratcliff

Darryl Ratcliff dishes on the city's art scene and highlights local gems.

Dalila Brent
Posted on Apr 29, 2021

Welcome to Deep in the Heart of Dallas! Our latest series, focused on sharing the stories of the Dallas Black community, follows local creatives through the city to learn about favorite spots, must-taste foodie finds and how the city inspires their work. Today, we're featuring Darryl Ratcliff. 

Dallas-born and DeSoto-raised, Ratcliff's world is immersed in art – from poetry and covering art stories for the Dallas Morning News (DMN), to co-founding Ash Studios, and more recently co-founding Gossypion Investments, a company specializing in a diverse array of specialties like artist management, cultural consulting and investments and real estate development. Let's take a deep dive into Darryl's story!


Tell us about your journey into the arts. 

I'm really fortunate because I was able to access the arts at a young age, which unfortunately is not the case for everyone. I like to joke that I've been doing the same thing since eighth grade. I was 14 years old the first time I wrote about art for a publication; now I get to write about art for the DMN. Securing this role with the DMN was a huge step up for me and has empowered me to take writing about the arts more seriously. And I've been writing poetry since the first grade –poetry is my first love in the arts.


What makes Dallas home?

So many things. This is going to sound cliché, but the people. There's something about going to your neighborhood spots and people knowing who you are, even as time passes. You collect memories in different spaces that become markers of who you are on the journey. There's also something about the Dallas skyline that's great.



Describe your perfect day in Dallas.

On a Saturday - with good weather - I'll wake up and do brunch. Lately I've been doing brunch at Ten Bells because of their outdoor situation. They have a crab cake benedict that's really good. Then, we're going to look at art. Some galleries I frequent are South Dallas Cultural Center, Oak Cliff Cultural Center, Conduit Gallery, Galleri Urbane and Erin Cluley to name a few. At night, there's live music; maybe Dezi 5 is performing at The Free Man in Deep Ellum, then I'd go for a nightcap at Mike's Gemini.



What are your favorite places to eat in Dallas?

Pepe and Mito's, which has been around for decades in Deep Ellum, is a family-owned restaurant. The son now owns the business and we're good friends. I love their chipotle chicken enchiladas and street tacos. A similar institution is Bangkok Inn in East Dallas; it just got turned over completely to my friend Daisy. It's interesting and cool watching the generational transfer of my favorite restaurants. 



Where can we find you on a weekend afternoon?

At an art gallery or probably at someone's event, like a pop-up market or trunk show. I've haven't been there, but in my head – a casual stroll at the Dallas Farmer's Market sounds nice as well.


Tell us about a neighborhood you love.

Vickery Meadow – I lived there for a couple of years and I love it. It has the largest concentration of immigrants and refugees in our city from over 100 different countries. The dress, the vibe, the languages – there's a cultural diversity in Vickery Meadow that's super unique. And there's still a lot of folks in the city who don't know about the neighborhood.


What is your favorite Dallas memory?

It was nice to be out when the Dallas Mavericks won the championship. Being a lifelong Mavs fan, it was a great moment to experience - everyone was so happy.  Or when the Adolphus Hotel lights up their Christmas tree. But nothing can top this one - my favorite, favorite memory is when Travis Scott released his single, 'Antidote', in our art studio. That was in 2015 when JMBLYA was here. That was a wild night –the art, the streets, everyone.


What are you looking forward to in 2021?

I'm really looking forward to being able to get back to what humans are designed to do, which is to be in the community with each other.  Also, I think now is the best time in the city for the Black visual arts scene. There are so many talented Black artists that are becoming so successful – not just here, but nationally, and I've never seen such an abundance of talent. I really think Dallas has the chance to be one of the new Black art meccas in the country.


To learn more about Darryl, Gossypion and see what he's up to in Dallas, follow him on Instagram: @thekingfish08