PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Dallas September 2022

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Gowri Sharma She's The Bomb By Billy Fong T his month's Bomb had me at: "I was the pub DJ for three years at Austin College. I would dance in my booth to everything from Echo & The Bunnymen to Violent Femmes." Yes, like me, Gowri Sharma was shaped by the music during her formative years in the 1980s. She listened to Blondie and David Bowie and "was totally into all the UK bands from that era," she says. "Duran Duran was my first concert, and I was definitely a 'Durani' for many years … My cousin and I spent time in London during t h e s u m m e r s at the height of the New Wave movement and would see/stalk musicians like Billy Idol and Big Country around the city and at signings at HMV in Oxford Circus." H e r f a v o r i t e from that era: "The one band that has stood the test of time is U2. Once my seats were in the nosebleed section, so I concocted an elaborate plan to get to the floor standing area at Reunion Arena — and it worked." I forgot to ask for details on that elaborate plan … in case I need to use it in the future. Gowri has lived in a multitude of places but warmly calls Dallas home — perhaps much more so since she was a Hockadaisy. I first crossed paths with her at the inaugural UNICEF Gala in 2018. In 2007, Gowri became a founding board member of UNICEF USA Dallas, where she was an active member until 2018. Now she's taking up the reins as president of the Dallas Museum of Art. This is a wonderful moment in the institution's history, as she will be the first person of color to sit in this role. And when I first heard this via text, I couldn't help but send a dozen hand-clapping emojis. Gowri was born in India and reared in Canada. "I grew up in a home where my mother loved Indian art, classical music, and dance," she says. "In high school, I was introduced to the arts in a more formal setting. I fell in love with art history as the art teacher [the beloved Mr. Long] at Hockaday connected art to everything from geopolitics to the human condition. I understood it to be a vehicle for communication and understanding the world and oneself." Gowri pursued architecture in college, even though that's been a male-dominated world for as long as one can remember. "I always had a sense for spaces and still have memories of the spaces I lived in," she shares. "Growing up, I was expected to be an engineer, lawyer, or doctor so when it came time to decide a field, I picked architecture. I looked at it as 3D art, and my father looked as it as engineering related. It was a good compromise." While at Austin College, she convinced friends to drive to Dallas to the infamous Starck Club. "We were so young and pretty innocent," she says. "A lot of stuff was happening around us, but I was just happy to be there for the music and to people-watch." With a master's degree in architecture, she moved to Dallas and began working at HKS Architects. It was during this time that she met her husband, Alex. "Alex and I had dated other people and were one of the last of our close friends to get married," she says. "We are both first-born independent people, so our friends knew better than to set us up on a blind date. Instead, they invited us to a coed book club. Spirited discussions about books ensued, and we got to know each other. Eventually we both became single, and I invited him to a wedding as my plus- one. Not planned as such, it was technically our first date. We've been together since." Given that September is traditionally our fashion issue, I wanted to feature a woman whose style inspiration comes from a variety of sources. Gowri admits her style is a "little tough to describe, because I continue to dress how I feel and what inspires me. If I were to break it down, the architect in me likes sculptural pieces with a hint of drama. The music side of me like things a little edgy and e x p e r i m e n t a l . The Indian side of me is not afraid of color." Back to the younger years, I asked what influenced her specifically. "I guess when I was younger, my style icons were women in music," she says. "Of course, I had my Madonna phase. Didn't every girl?" Approximate date of the photo. 1971. The occasion. Meeting my newly born cousin for the first time. What you were wearing. A dress my mother stitched for me (with matching ribbon). What price fashion. Priceless. Why this is a picture. It was my favorite childhood dress. Gowri Sharma, 1971

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