Cory Dugan has been told that he began drawing at a very early age, a mere babe at his mother's side on the pew in a Southern Baptist church, scrawling savantishly detailed portraits on the church bulletin… no doubt in an attempt to divert his childish imagination away from the even more childish biblical imaginings of the minister and his unimaginative sheeplike flock. Dugan was henceforth excommunicated and exiled to the hellish netherworld of scribblers who are condemned to draw and/or otherwise document their fevered truth-like hallucinations.
In early adulthood, he managed to foist his drawings, paintings, and other less-than-tangible artistic efforts on unsuspecting publics, earning a BFA from the University of Memphis and actively exhibiting these efforts during the latter decades of the previous century at various established/alternative/guerrilla galleries (most of which are now historical curiosities) including:
- Trix Gallery (which was located at the corner of Cooper and Young where Strano! Sicilian Kitchen & Bar currently resides)
- Brad McMillan Gallery (which was located on Front Street on the second floor of one of those former cotton warehouse buildings that is most likely an expensive condo today)
- Turner Clark Gallery (which was located in the former site of the main Memphis Public Library at Peabody and McLean; actual geographic location is probably where someone's garage or master bath is now)
- Memphis Center for Contemporary Art (which was located on South Main Street in the current home of Dugan's good friend [and fellow artist] Terri Jones)
- Art Museum at the University of Memphis (same place it's always been)
- Various temporary spaces, mostly downtown, in guerilla exhibits curated by luminaries such as LD Beghtol, Elise Juraschek, and (yes) Cory Dugan
During this same time period, Dugan was actively involved in attempting to revitalize art journalism in Memphis and the Mid-South area. In 1987, he was among the creators of the regional arts journal Number: and served as its founding editor until 1991. He was approached by the fledgling Memphis Flyer in 1989 to become part of the original editorial staff as its art critic, a position which he held off-and-on into the early years of the current century. His writings about art have also appeared over the years locally in The Commercial Appeal and Memphis magazine, and nationally in publications such as Art News, Sculpture, Art Papers, and New Art Examiner. (Some of those will be "reprinted" on this site in the blog section called ephemera, as time allows.)
For almost a decade (2004-2013), Dugan neither exhibited his artwork nor published his opinion, and most cognizant souls gratefully accepted his apparent demise as logical and justified and probably past-due. In 2013, he came out of hiding and exhibited some of the scribblings found on this website at Material Gallery and Crosstown Arts. An exhibition of works from his recent series, Hapax Legomena, was shown at the Beverly & Sam Ross Gallery at Christian Brothers University in 2016.