Archive for January, 2010

Woven Records Sneak Peek!

Lesli Robertson returned to the DMA this week to aid in the installation of Woven Recordsthe Museum’s first community partner response art project designed and executed by a single artist.  Last fall, Lesli guided sixteen community groups in the creation of small concrete collages.  She then wove over 500 concrete collages into strips that form a larger textile-based art installation that will be on view in the Center for Creative Connections February 7-May 23, 2010.

Each section is laid out on a table before it is mounted to the exhibition wall.

John Lendvay, a DMA preparator, aligns each section as it is mounted.

A covered opening allows interior access to the wall, which is hollow.

Lance Lander, another DMA preparator, has the lucky job of securing the mounts inside the wall.

Lesli is interviewed for footage that will be available to CW 33, Fox 4, and NBC 5.

Close-up view of installation.
Melissa Nelson
Manager of Learning Partnerships with the Community


Contemporary Art Teacher Workshop

Last weekend teachers attended the second half of a two-part teacher workshop about contemporary art offered by the Dallas Museum of Art and The Rachofsky House. During the first session, held at the DMA on January 9th, teachers interacted with works of art in the special exhibitions All the World’s a Stage and Performance/Art, as well as in the newest installation in the Hoffman galleries.

Teacher Workshop in the Hoffman Galleries

During our three and a half hours together that day, Molly Kysar and I led interactive experiences, discussion and writing while looking at a variety of works of art. This past Saturday, January 23rd, we met at The Rachofsky House where Thomas Feulmer introduced teachers to the current installation, Presence.

Thomas began our morning together by offering teachers the opportunity to experience works by artists they had seen during our first session at the Museum, including Glenn Ligon, David Altmejd, Thomas Struth, and Gregory Crewdson. In each case the work on view at the DMA and that at The Rachofsky House were quite different in scale and their subject matter was approached through different means. The Altmejd sculpture on view at the Museum, for instance, is titled “The Eye” and fills one of the quadrant galleries in Performance/Art with its energetically rising mirrored staircases, obelisks, and punctured surfaces in a spectacular reference to the creation of the atom bomb. At The Rachofsky House, on the other hand, Altmejd’s “The Quail,” though still constructed with mirrors and towering above the viewer, includes a number of quail eggs encased in glass and is more evocative of Stonehenge than it is of explosions.

The Eye, 2008, David Altmejd

Wood and mirrors
Overall: 129 1/2 x 216 1/2 x 144 1/2 in. (3 m 28.931 cm x 5 m 49.911 cm x 3 m 67.031 cm)

The Rachofsky Collection and the Dallas Museum of Art through The Rachofsky Collection Fund and the DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

© David Altmejd, courtesy the artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery

The workshop provided a great chance to explore a few works by Gregory Crewdson, who will be speaking at the DMA this Wednesday, February 3rd, as part of a lecture series hosted by The University of Texas at Dallas’ new Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology. We will host a teacher workshop that evening, including two hours discussing Crewdson’s work and contemporary photography before attending the public lecture.

The DMA and The Rachofsky House will again join, along with the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Fort Worth Modern, and the Kimbell Art Museum, for this year’s Museum Forum for Teachers, taking place July 19-23. Applications are now being accepted.

Logan Acton
McDermott Graduate Teaching Programs Intern

I Can't Help Lovin' That Emaciated Cow of Mine

This cow stole my heart back in 2002 and I have been in love ever since.   Although not many people would say that an image of an animal in desperate need of food, water, and attention is something to be excited about, my adoration is based upon what this cow represents.  The sickly bovine is a small detail in a painting that is a response to the economic challenges that plagued the United States during the 1930s.   The artist, Alexandre Hogue, is one of many artists, authors, playwrights, and musicians that approached the social, political, and economic subject matter of the Depression era head on.   

Alexandre Hogue (American, 1899 – 1994), Drouth Stricken Area, 1934, Oil on canvas

Alexandre Hogue’s Drouth Stricken Area purposefully exaggerates the conditions of the dry Texas landscape in order to gain the viewer’s attention and to elicit a strong emotion.  He believed that the over-cultivation of fields and the thoughtlessness of man were the causes of the region’s demise.  The erosive state of the Dust Bowl is the focus of Drouth Stricken Area, one of six paintings in Hogue’s Erosion Series.

I was raised on a ranch in the Dust Bowl and I was there when the dust storm hit….I saw lush grazing land turned into sand dunes. Thistles blew in and fences would be covered in just a few hours. Railroads had plows fighting it just like they fought snow….To me, as an artist, it was beautiful in a terrifying way. I painted it for that terrifying beauty.         Alexandre Hogue

Drouth Stricken Area captures a prophetic scene of unusable farmland and the effects of the Dust Bowl that were later captured in photographs by Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, and other photographers working with the Farm Security Administration between 1935 – 1942.  

 As I stated at the beginning of this blog, I love Alexandre Hogue’s emaciated cow and the terrifying beauty of the landscape.   I am now in the mood to listen to Woody Guthrie’s Dustbowl Ballads

Drouth Stricken Area is currently up on the 4th floor in the American Galleries.   Let me know what you think about this work of art and say hello to my cow for me!

Until next time….

Jenny Marvel
Manager of Learning Partnerships with Schools

A Day in the Life of the Tour Coordinator

Today’s “Photo Post” gives you a behind the scenes look at a typical day for me.  I spend a lot of time at my desk communicating with teachers (and docents) over the phone and email.  But I also like to greet students as they come into the Museum–nothing beats hearing their “oohs” and “aahs” as they see the Barrel Vault for the first time!   Happy Friday, everyone! 

Shannon Karol
Tour Coordinator

Buses lined up on Harwood Street--it was a busy day for tours!

Some of our wonderful docents waiting for their group to arrive

Thanks for visiting, Pearson Elementary!

My desk--I like to call this Tour Schedule Still Life

February Programs for Teachers

February is going to be a busy month that includes several programs for teachers that range from an Artist Talk to an Evening for Educators.

Gregory Crewdson, (Untitled) House in the Road, 2002, The Rachofsky Collection

First up is a teacher workshop on the evening of Wednesday, February 3 from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.  Artist Gregory Crewdson will be at the Museum to give a public lecture as part of the “Creativity in the Age of Technology” lecture series through The University of Texas at Dallas.  Three of Crewdson’s photographs are currently on view in our galleries, and teachers can register to join Logan Acton and me for a conversation about these works of art before joining the public talk at 7:30.  Register online to earn CPE hours while connecting with an artist who is working today.

Jacob Lawrence, The Opener, 1997, collection of Curtis P. Ransom

Our next teacher workshop will be on Saturday, February 6.  Shannon Karol will lead this workshop on the exhibition Jacob Lawrence: The Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture, which includes fifteen silkscreen prints about the life of this leader during the Haitian Revolution.

Teachers at Evening for Educators

Our big spring exhibition, The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850-1874, opens on Sunday, February 21.  On Tuesday, February 23, teachers can enjoy the exhibition on an evening when it is open exclusively for educators.  Register online to join us on this evening for a talk about the exhibiton and related programs and resources for students and teachers and to see the show when education staff will be available to answer your questions.  We hope to see you there!

Molly Kysar
Head of Teaching Programs

Community Connection: How to Live Life Creatively in Every Way

 If you have attended a Late Night, Family Celebration, or First Tuesday in the past two years, it is likely you have experienced the magical storytelling of Ann Marie Newman.  Audiences of all ages are captivated by the enchanting worlds Ann Marie creates with her animated voices and expressions, colorful costumes, and playful props.  Likewise, DMA staff enjoy the creative ideas that Ann Marie brings as a collaborator to both new and established programs.  It was my pleasure to sit down and talk with Ann Marie, whose personal definition of “Creative Bliss” is when she is merging her traditional and classical art skills into unique works of art. 

Ann Marie often includes the audience in her storytelling.

 Please describe your creative process.

I start my day by waking up and allowing myself to have ten minutes to let my imagination flow.  I often think about a storytelling idea or creative project that I’m working on.  I also take a bath and try to soak in the water for twenty minutes.  I do some major brainstorming in the water and allow myself to daydream.  Afterward, I might sketch or take notes to capture my ideas.  I nurture my creativity, like some people might do yoga or run on the treadmill to start their day.  My creative process is extremely intuitive.  I don’t have an end in sight; I start in the middle and work outward. 

To what other aspects of your life do you apply a creative thinking approach?

Creativity is a part of how I present myself every day:  I’m always changing my
I’ve applied creativity to every job I’ve ever had.  I used to be a hairdresser, and
     I viewed my work as sculpture.
I never take the same route, whether driving somewhere or shopping in a
     grocery store.
I explore.
I take things that already exist, like stories or artworks, and add my own voice.
I go on walks and notice colors of houses and what people do with their yard.  I
     might come home with sticks or other things I’ve picked up and include them
     in an artwork.
I go to the mall and look at window designs and come home with ideas.
I carry a notebook in my purse at all times and write down ideas as they come to

Ann Marie and a young summer camper make a 3-D version of Jackson Pollock's Cathedral.


What most inspires you? 

All creative people inspire me; I am a reader of biographies.  The last biography I read was about Andrew Wyeth, and his story had a huge impact on me.   When I was a teenager, I read everything I could about Andy Warhol.  He showed me how to live life creatively in every way: his life was like art, like a crazy novel.  Laurie Anderson also inspires me.  I’ve been watching YouTube videos of her and reading everything I can about her.   

Tell us your idea of a perfect day.  

To wake up and have my dreaming time, and then to move from one medium to another and keep moving around.  For instance, I might start with creative writing, then move on to a recycled wool project, then on to a recycled bottle-cap project, and then come back and re-read my writing.  I like to work on multiple projects, so my ideal environment is a warehouse (I’ve taken over three rooms in our house).   

Have you made any resolutions for 2010?  

Yes, to develop as a performance artist, not just a storyteller.  Performance art is first and foremost experimental, and performance artists are true pioneers.  They are risk-takers.  They mix the visual with sound with storytelling with conceptual ideas and movement.  It is so open-ended, and I like the freedom of it.  

Become immersed in Ann Marie’s imaginary worlds at upcoming Late Nights and Family Celebrations.  On January 30, Anne Marie will co-teach a family workshop in the Tech Lab.  She will also be featured in programs during March as the Center for Creative Connections visiting artist.  In addition, Ann Marie will teach several summer art camps in 2010.  

Literary Connections to the DMA Collection

Back in October, I blogged about the Beat Generation and Abstract Expressionism.  Since then, I have continued to explore connections between great works of literature and works of art in the DMA collection.  The number of literary connections in our collection is amazing, and I’m excited to share some of them with you.

For example, did you know that the characters of Dick and Nicole Diver in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night were inspired by the artist Gerald Murphy and his wife Sara?  Fitzgerald even dedicated the novel to them: “To Gerald and Sara–Many fêtes.”  Gerald and Sara Murphy were Americans who made their home on the French Riviera, which is where Part I of Tender is the Night takes place.  The Murphys were also great friends with authors like Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway and with artists like Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger.  The DMA owns two paintings by Gerald Murphy: Watch and Razor.  These are two of only seven paintings by Murphy still known to exist today. 

Gerald and Sara Murphy

Connections can also be made between works of art in our European galleries and literature from Antiquity.  Jacques-Louis David’s Apollo and Diana Attacking the Children of Niobe shows a scene from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  Niobe was a woman who boasted about how wonderful her fourteen children were.  The goddess Latona was offended by this and sent her own children–Apollo and Diana–to murder Niobe’s sons and daughters.  David fills his canvas with the attack, and we see thirteen of Niobe’s children lying murdered on the ground (Niobe’s youngest daughter is still alive, shielded by her mother’s cloak).  Ovid’s description of the deaths, especially of Niobe’s sons, are so precise that you can identify which male figure is which son based on the wounds David has included. 

Jacques-Louis David, Apollo and Diana Attacking the Children of Niobe, 1772

My favorite literary connection is between Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s Ugolino and His Children and Dante’s Inferno.  Count Ugolino resides in the lowest circle of Hell.  During his lifetime, Ugolino was jailed for treachery and was locked away with nothing to eat.  Eventually, his sons and grandsons began to die, and they pleaded with Ugolino to eat their flesh so he would stay nourished.  Carpeaux’s sculpture shows Ugolino gnawing at his own fingers, and we get a sense of the agony he must be feeling as he tries to decide whether or not to devour his own family members.  

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Ugolino and His Children, 1860 (cast c. 1871)

If you love literature and the Dallas Museum of Art as much as I do, you should attend the Late Night celebration on January 15th.  Arts and Letters Live will kick off their 2010 season with a “Literary Deathmatch.”  Four authors representing different Texas cities  will compete to be named the Literary Deathmatch Champion.  It sounds like an event not to be missed!

Shannon Karol
Tour Coordinator 

Words are Art!: Concrete Poetry at the DMA

The DMA is partnering with Joanna Henry and students from the Exploratory Arts Academy at Greiner Middle School to investigate how words and images can be integrated in works of art.  During their visit to the museum on December 15th, students participated in a ninety-minute tour featuring works of art that involve both images and text.  By suggesting that “words are art,” and talking about artists as “visual storytellers,” students realized that the artistic gap between words and images isn’t as wide as they might have imagined.  Students created concrete poems (poems in which the words are arranged to produce a composition with visual, as well as poetic, meaning), sketched, wrote captions, and composed written responses in an “accidental,” automatic style.  The Greiner students have plans to come back to the museum, but here are some of the works they saw during their first visit, and their own visual/textual responses: 

Piet Mondrian, "Place de la Concorde," 1943-1948: After looking at this painting and reading John Grandit's poem "Mondrian," students responded by creating their own concrete poems based on works of art in the museum galleries.

John Grandits' poem "Mondrian," about a teenage girl's visit to a museum with her father.

Piet Mondrian, "Self-Portrait," 1942


Robert Delaunay, "Eiffel Tower," 1924 Rene Magritte, "Persian Letters," 1958


Dorothea Tanning, "Pincushion to Serve as a Fetish," 1979

If you’d like to compose some concrete poetry of your own, Arts and Letters Live will be sponsoring a series of events with John Grandits: 

DIY at the DMA: Thursday, March 18th, 6:30-8:30PM in the DMA Tech Lab —“Try your own hand at concrete poetry inspired by works of art”  

Late Nights at the Dallas Museum of Art: Friday, March 19th, 8:30-10:00PM, C3 Theater—“John Grandits will share insights into his creative process and information about the history of concrete poetry from A.D. 800 to the present (including one from Alice and Wonderland).  Then you will write and design your own concrete poems inspired by works in the collection!”

Young Writers Workshop: Saturday, March 20th, 1:00-4:00PM, in the DMA Tech Lab—“Teens 13-18 years old who love to write and design can explore the Museum’s collections with John Grandits and then create their own concrete poems either by hand or in the Tech Lab”

Justin Greenlee

McDermott Intern with the Learning Partnerships Department

A Dream Come True

Last year, the DMA marked its 25th year in the Arts District, and the 30th anniversary of the successful bond election that brought it here.  Today’s photo post includes images from A Dream Come True: the Dallas Arts District, an exhibition of images and ephemera (from the Museum’s Archives) that documents both the DMA’s journey from bond campaign to building construction, and the recent growth of the Arts District.  A Dream Come True is on view in the Museum’s concourse until January 31st.

Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Learning Partnerships with Schools and the Community

Clockwise from top left: Advertisement for Bond Election Campaign, 1979;  View of Barrel Vault during construction, c. 1982;  View of DMA during construction, c. 1983;  Aerial view of DMA, 2004.       

Arts and Letters Live Spring Season

Carolyn Bess, Director of Arts and Letters Live, has kindly taken time to respond to questions related to her job and the upcoming spring season of Arts and Letters Live. To find out about Carolyn and her role here at  the Museum, read below!

Teaching Programs Coordinator

  1. Name and Title: Carolyn Bess, Director, Arts & Letters Live
  2. Years Employed at the Dallas Museum of Art: 13
  3. Describe your job at the art museum: I oversee Arts & Letters Live, the literary and performing arts series at the Museum, which is now entering its 19th season. We bring in high profile authors, actors, and musicians for special events. On many occasions, we connect themes in authors’ books with the Museum’s exhibitions and collections or create

    Carolyn Bess, Director, Arts and Letters Live

    unique performances combining art forms such as song, art, and poetry.

  4. What is your favorite part of your job? Creating the artistic vision for Arts & Letters Live and the opportunity to meet and talk with the authors and performers in person.
  5. What is a challenge that you face in your job? Like all non-profits in today’s economic times, cutting the budget and still breaking even financially is the largest challenge we face and one that requires constant monitoring. But I’m proud to say that we’ve done that successfully in these uncertain times and still maintained the high quality programs our audience has come to expect.
  6. Tell me about a memorable experience you had with someone who was participating in an Arts and Letters Live event. Last year I drove Elizabeth Gilbert to the Apple store at Willowbend after her event because she was getting error messages on her new laptop indicating that she might have lost the results of a productive day of writing. But the Apple guru saved it, and it’s now part of her newest book, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage (released January 5). I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations on the drive there and back, learning more about her life, new business venture, and travel tips for the future. I feel I connected with her personally.
  7. What are some of the highlights for Arts and Letters Live this spring? I’m so excited about many of the authors featured this January through June.

Some of the highlights include:

January 21      David Wroblewski (author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle)

January 29      Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver

February 9      Vocal Colors: A Vibrant Collage of Arts on Stage (a multidisciplinary song-based performance inspired by exhibitions All the World’s A Stage and Performance/Art)

February 22    The first of five Texas Bound programs featuring Texas actors reading short fiction by Texas authors (this year at the Wyly Theatre!)

March 23         Pulitzer Prize-winning non-fiction author Tracy Kidder (Strength in What Remains)

March 28         Author-illustrator Jan Brett (author of The Mitten and many other books)

April 16            Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian and The Swan Thieves (connections to Lens of Impressionism exhibition)

April 18            Jeff Kinney, author of the bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series

May 7              Laura Bush discussing her forthcoming memoir

May 13            Isabel Allende on her newest book Island Beneath the Sea (connections to the Coastlines exhibition)

May 25            Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi, will discuss his highly anticipated second novel, Beatrice & Virgil

June 12           Ira Glass, host of the ever-popular radio and television series,This American Life

Did you know that DISD teachers can book tickets free of charge to Arts & Letters Live’s BooksmART events (featuring award-winning authors for the young and young-at-heart) through Dallas ArtsPartners? Go to or call 214-520-0023 for details. BooksmART flyer. Please help us spread the word about these programs!

For more details on Arts & Letters Live’s 2010 season, visit I look forward to seeing many of you at our events!



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