The Art of Dialogue: Cappuccino potato chip inventor opens Downtown art gallery

Chad Scott and his wife, Chyllis, in their Rhizome Gallery at Emegency Arts.
Krystal Ramirez

Chad Scott is discussing the near-collapse of society that occurred when his idea for a cappuccino potato chip made him one of four finalists in Lay’s Do Us a Flavor contest last year.

Not only was Scott, an artist working toward his Ph.D. in sociology, told online to kill himself for suggesting such a thing, but also to never invent anything again. Forget the power of art. Apparently all it takes to undo boundaries is messing with the American junk diet.

Melinda Laszczynski's "Fringe" at Rhizome Gallery

But minus the death threats and some initial shock over the polarizing nature of incongruent foods, this was sort of Scott’s thing: discourse, dialogue, the kind of conversation that comes from introducing something new and different.

That’s what his latest project is about, albeit more steeped in his background as an artist (he studied sculpture at the University of Houston). Scott and his wife, Chyllis, opened the new Rhizome Gallery in Emergency Arts, a small space dedicated mostly to works by emerging career artists, including Melinda Laszczynski, an MFA candidate at the University of Houston, whose After Party is the gallery’s first show.

Melinda Laszczynski's "Way Out" at Rhizome Gallery

Folding in thematically with the year’s biggest party (the reception was January 2), After Party sets the tone for the Scotts’ intentions with the space: smart, but fun. Laszczynski’s formal and frosting-esque paintings, placement of paint skins, excitingly jovial yarn garland and deflated sculpture of mylar balloons suggest an imprint of an evening’s immediate aftermath, and the artist’s appreciation of material. The next show, I Hope This Doesn’t Succulent (fixed on the theme of succulents) mixes it up with a group of emerging and established artists from different cities, including Sam Davis, who has shown at Trifecta Gallery over the years.

Rhizome is an artist-run space, but Scott has no plans to show his own work, which focuses on liminal spaces and crossing the boundaries of sociology, art and education, the latter being the approach the couple wants for the gallery. As researchers and teachers they want to encourage dialogue with art that’s accessible. With her focus on education and literacy (she’s an assistant professor at UNLV) and his crossover interest in social behavior and art, the project seems expected—even for two people with not a lot of free time (he’s preparing to defend his dissertation).

But it’s no sweat to them. Though this is their first gallery, they’ve weathered several big moves together for their educations and even survived the chip debacle of 2014.

“We’re just trying to have fun, which is going to be our approach,” Chad Scott says. “We’re creating this as we go.”

Rhizome Gallery520 Fremont St., 702- 907-7526.

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Kristen Peterson

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