Archive for September, 2010

Community Connection: We Heart Volunteers

Meet Deborah Harvey, who is starting her fourth year as a Go van Gogh volunteer.  We can always count on Deborah for her positive and fun attitude and for her willingness to try new things.  For example,  Deborah bravely volunteered for an unknown task during a volunteer training focused on the different ways that people learn.  Little did she know that our guest speaker was a musician, and as part of his demonstration, he taught Deborah to play a song on the guitar in a mere thirty minutes.  You can see a picture of Deborah performing below.

Deborah plays a newly-learned song at volunteer training.

Tell us a little about yourself. 

I’m a former teacher.  Most of my teaching experience is with younger elementary students.  I’m also married and have a sixteen year-old son and a twelve year-old daughter.

What motivated you to join the Go van Gogh volunteer program?

I wanted to stay in the realm of teaching once I retired.  I like the opportunity to have a whole classroom experience as opposed to one-on-one interactions with students. The subject matter among all the Go van Gogh programs is varied, which keeps things interesting for me.

Share a memorable experience from your time as a volunteer.

Just today, I visited a fourth grade classroom at J. Erik Jonsson Community School with a program about Texas art.  The children shared a lot about their vacation experiences and things that felt like Texas to them.  I really enjoyed the wide variety of responses.  One student talked about going to the beach, and another student’s family owns a ranch with longhorn cattle.

Deborah visits a fifth grade classroom at Felix Botello Elementary.

Has anything surprised you about teaching with works of art, visiting classrooms, or student responses to the programs?

At times, I’m surprised that the older children are still very engaged.  Sometimes it can be hard to find a common ground or things that interest them.  The programs are so age-appropriate that the kids get really engaged.

Outside of volunteering with Go van Gogh, how do you spend your time?

I volunteer as a board member at both of my kids’ schools, and I volunteer with Meals on Wheels.  I also like to travel; I’m going to San Francisco tomorrow for my husband’s birthday, and our family is taking a trip to Vail for Christmas.

Thanks to volunteers like Deborah, 430 classrooms throughout Dallas – approximately 8,800 students – experienced Go van Gogh programs during the 2009-2010 school year.  Request a program now for the 2010-2011 school year!

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Finger Painting

Imagine visiting the Dallas Museum of Art to see your favorite painting by Claude Monet or Jackson Pollock. Now imagine how you might experience those works without your vision. How would you “see” them? That’s exactly what I did at a workshop with artist John Bramblitt, and this is what visitors to the Museum’s Center for Creative Connections will have a chance to experience in October when John rejoins us as the Artist of the Month.

John as our guest artist during a summer camp this year.

October is Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month, organized by Art Education for the Blind to make art and culture a part of life for adults and children affected by sight loss. At the DMA, we’re planning some cool programs for kids and adults with vision impairment, but we’ll also repeat a family workshop that I took with John that shows how we can make art using our other senses.

John leading a family workshop last October.

Always passionate about art, John didn’t begin to paint until he lost his sight almost ten years ago while in his late 20s. His work is intensely personal, taken from real people and events in his life. And his art-making workshops are unique, spanning the gap between beginning and professional artists, and including adaptive techniques for people with disabilities.

DMA campers learning more about John's method for sightless painting.

He’s developed a method of sightless painting that centers on the textures of paint in order to distinguish the color of it. When I worked with him, we mixed flour into the red paint, birdseed into the yellow, and sand into the white, and added nothing to the blue. We put on a blindfold and were asked to imagine what we would be painting, to “see” it first in our mind’s eye. Then, touching the colors and using our fingers, we painted.

The texture of the paint lets the families know what color they are using.

This workshop, and many more exciting hands-on activities with John, will be held at the Museum during October. For more information, visit . To learn more about John Bramblitt, visit

Amanda Blake is Manager of Family Experiences and Access Programs at the Dallas Museum of Art

French Art – Vive la France!

Mourning Figure

This fall has many exciting educational opportunities. French Art tours will be offered in conjunction with the upcoming exhibition The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy. These tours focus on the Mourners exhibition as well as French art in the Museum’s collections. Tours will also tie into the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. French art tours begin October 12, 2010.

In addition to this, the Richard R. Brettell Series will highlight French art with a lecture on Thursday, October 28 titled Rodin, His Collectors, and the Gates of Hell. For more information on this program, please visit the Museum web site.

Finally, the European galleries have new and favorite works of art that grace the wall. This reinstallation showcases seventeenth- and eighteenth-century works of art. Don’t miss a chance to see the works of art and see the new galleries at the Museum!

Amy Wolf
Coordinator of Gallery Teaching

Sculpture and the State Fair

Today is the day we’ve been waiting for–it’s opening day for Dallas’s annual State Fair of Texas! Every year millions of people visit Fair Park, the home of the State Fair, for culinary adventures, rides, expositions, and other events. But what many visitors don’t know is that the fairgrounds also boast a number of sculptures and adorned structures created by 20th-century Texas artists who are represented in the DMA’s collections.

Several of the artists featured in our current show Texas Sculpture were commissioned to create sculpture for the fairgrounds in the early 20th century. In 1936 the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in Fair Park (a predecessor of the DMA) prepared a landmark exhibition of works by nationally and internationally recognized sculptors for the Texas centennial celebration. That exhibition, as well as the one currently on view at the DMA, included works by Michael G. Owen, Allie V. Tennant, Dorothy Austin, and Evaline Sellors, among others.

If you’re a fan of the State Fair, many of you have seen this:

It’s by Allie V. Tennant (1898-1971), who was commissioned by the Centennial Committee to create the gold-leaf on bronze Tejas Warrior (1936) at the Hall of State in Fair Park. On view in our Texas Sculpture exhibition are two other works by Tennant, Woman’s Head and Negro Head. In 1940 she created the reliefs Cattle, Oil, and Wheat for the Aquarium at Fair Park under the Federal Works Agency.

Allie V. Tennant, "Woman's Head," n.d., red sandstone, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. and Mrs. Robert W. Webb

Dorothy Austin, "Noggin," c. 1933, white pine, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of an anonymous friend

Dorothy Austin, "Noggin," c. 1933, white pine, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of an anonymous friend

Who says fried Frito pie and art don’t go together?

Encountering Space

One of my favorite things to do is poke around the Museum when exhibitions are being installed.  I like seeing the bare walls pre-installation, and then watching as they get painted, the vitrines begin to appear in the galleries, and objects are brought into the space, bringing it to life.  Usually I only catch glimpses of this process, but I’ve had a fun last few weeks walking through the Center for Creative Connections every day during the construction of the new Encountering Space exhibition.  (My office is at the back of the space–lucky me!). 

Below are pictures from the installation.  They show just a fraction of this incredibly dynamic space, so I hope you’ll come explore it for yourself. 

Opening Day for Encountering Space is tomorrow.  It will be a perfect day to stop by the Museum; performances, art activities, and artist workshops are scheduled throughout the day, and best of all, the Museum will be free.

Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Go van Gogh Outreach 

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Foursquare perks

We adore our visitors and we enjoy connecting with them through Facebook, Twitter, Uncrated, and Foursquare. It is a great way for us to hear directly from you, like on Ask a Curator Day on Twitter, and now, we want YOU to help us pick our special on Foursquare.

Specials can be for the Mayor (the person with the most amount of check-ins at one location, for more info click here), a certain number of total check-ins, and maybe even for a particular badge.

We will accept suggestions for a week on Facebook, Twitter, and our blog, and then we will let you vote on the top four suggestions. It needs to be something special since it is a special, but it also has to adhere to a few guidelines. We encourage you to use your creativity when coming up with specials, but we request that you keep in mind our social media guidelines. Also, we won’t be able to include requests like hanging your art in the Museum galleries or behind-the-scenes passes to our art storage in the running for the special. Some examples of things we would be able to do are discounted admission for certain badge holders (the Warhol badge is pretty cool), discounts at the store after a certain number of check-ins, and Sneak Peeks for the Mayor.

We can’t wait to hear what you come up with!

Spotlight on Denise Ford, DMA Docent

Today is our first day of tours for the 2010-2011 school year, and we are excited to share our collections and our new exhibitions–Arts of Mexico and African Masks: The Art of Disguise–with teachers and students from across the Metroplex.  Our tour calendar is filling up quickly, so if you want to schedule a DMA visit for your students, fill out our Online Visit Request Form soon.

With the start of tours comes the return of our fabulous docents.  This year, we have 108 docents who will give tours to K-12 and Higher Education students, as well as to adults.  I thought I would give you a chance to get to know one of our brand new docents, Denise Ford.*  Denise joined the DMA docent program last year, and this is her first year as a full-time touring docent.  If you bring your students for a tour on a Tuesday afternoon, you just might have Denise as your guide!

Docent Denise Ford in front of Hans Hofmann's Red and Blue Harmony

How long have you been a DMA docent?
I have been a docent for one year.

Why did you become a docent?
I became a docent because of my interest in art, my desire to interact with other people (especially students), and my desire to give back to the Dallas community.

Tell me about your experience in the docent program.
In the short time that I have been a docent, I have learned so much about art and how history and culture are such vital parts of art and artists.  I have met all kinds of people from all walks of life.  I have enjoyed spending time in the Museum with students, many of whom are new to the Museum.  I particularly like to encourage the students to develop ideas about the objects they are looking at.

What is your favorite work of art in the DMA collection?
My favorite work of art in the DMA collection is The Eye by David Altmejd.  The Eye was an object all students loved to see and interpret.  I also enjoy the Reves Collection , especially touring students because it helps them understand art outside of the museum and in someone’s home!

Share your best tour experience.
I had many memorable experiences and am trying to keep a tour journal.  Two experiences stand out from this past year.  The first was a male student who was somewhat quiet and stayed a little distant from the rest of the class.  After fifteen minutes or so, he warmed up and said, ‘You have a nice smile.’  The second was a group who was interested, informed, and welcomed challenging ideas.  One girl in this group latched onto my arm about halfway through the tour and never left my side until it was time to board the bus.  When she left, she said, “Before I came today, I did not think I liked art and museums.  I thought it was boring.  But I loved this, and want to bring my mom back with me.”

Docent Denise Ford with a group of 4th graders

Denise also understands how important teachers are in the lives of their students.  She says: “Although I have never taught school, I really appreciate the teachers who bring their students to the Museum.  Teaching requires a gift of patience and a kind spirit.  It is apparent when there is positive interaction between teachers and their students.”  I couldn’t agree with her more!  We hope to see you and your students at the DMA this year.

Shannon Karol
Coordinator of Museum Visits

*If you would like to learn more about our docents, visit the DMA’s new blog Uncrated, which features an interview with docent Tom Matthews.

From Idea to Exhibition

There are few moments in a curator’s career more thrilling than the realization of a major exhibition project. While more modest exhibitions may take months of development, others require curators to commit years of their professional lives to researching the topic, seeking loans of works of art, and bringing together the necessary participants and funding to craft a touring exhibition and a substantial scholarly catalogue.

Following my organization of the DMA’s last major decorative arts exhibition, Modernism in American Silver: 20th-Century Design, in 2005, I began work in earnest on a topic that I had considered years earlier, that of the work of one of the leading figures of the American Arts and Crafts movement, Gustav Stickley (1858-1942). In recent decades, Stickley’s name had become nearly synonymous with the boldly functional Craftsman furniture more broadly known as “Mission furniture” (a term that he despised), and examples of his factory’s works had been included in major Arts and Crafts survey exhibitions in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. Given this, I found it curious that no museum had yet undertaken a monographic study of Stickley’s production for a major touring exhibition. As I later discovered, some colleagues had pondered the topic but for various reasons were unable to pursue it. It was, for me, and for the DMA, an opportunity to forge another strong link between the Museum’s development of its 20th-century decorative arts and design collections and an exhibition idea that seemed to resonate with possibilities. Stickley, as an orchestrator of design and a proselytizer for the simple life – he even published a magazine, The Craftsman, to promote his progressive ideas – was far more than an owner of a furniture factory. In the first decade of the 20th century, he sought to change the way Americans thought about the home, machine-made goods, craft, and, ultimately, their lifestyle. The subject was about not only furniture as design but the very art of how one could, or in Stickley’s mind, should, live.

An appointment in Manhattan provided me with an opportunity to walk by Stickley’s Craftsman Building, which still stands right off of 5th Avenue and 38th Street (it’s now a restaurant and offices). He leased the entire 12-story structure in 1913 and used it as a headquarters and a department store. Furniture, garden supplies, household equipment, rugs, and a host of goods were sold here; there was even a “Craftsman Restaurant” on the top floor. What exactly was in a Craftsman fruit cocktail anyway?

On the left, one can just barely make out the Stickley mark as a red decal on the back of this desk. A joiner’s compass (an archaic woodworker’s tool used to lay out circles) surrounds his borrowed motto “Als ik kan” (If I can) and below is a copy of his signature. While subtle differences in this mark can tell us what year this piece may have been made (this work is from 1903 or 1904), the paper label to the right is especially interesting to me – it indicates where the piece was originally sold. Surviving retailer tags such as this one are far rarer than Stickley’s own mark. Dallas had two retailers of Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman furniture between 1902 and 1916.

Stickley comes to Newark.

Five years later, on September 15, 2010, we celebrated the public opening of the exhibition Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement at the Newark Museum. Although it is unusual to premiere an exhibition at a museum other than the organizing one, there was a happy synchronicity in that Craftsman Farms, once Stickley’s New Jersey home (and located a mere twenty minutes from Newark), is celebrating their centenary. The night before the public opening, lenders, colleagues, museum members, press, and other guests convened at the museum for the usual slate of honorific speeches, convivial chats, and a sneak peek at what would be revealed when the doors officially opened the following day. Arriving at this point required hundreds of hours of research into Stickley’s career, pouring over surviving business papers at Winterthur, examining original sales catalogues, advertisements, photographs, inventories, and other documents, and, with this information in mind, reviewing the actual pieces of furniture, metalware, textiles, and architectural drawings that are included in the exhibition. This research is the very heart of such exhibitions and associated catalogues and not only allows us to satisfy our curiosity as scholars – the why, when, and how these works were made and for whom – but also provides us with the knowledge for shaping a new and compelling story for our visitors and readers.

The Newark Museum’s staff never slowed down for a moment – preparing for an opening, especially one with large pieces of furniture and a recreation of an entire dining room, is not a simple matter. Each work must be handled with care, its condition well documented, labels written by the curator and placed by the preparation staff. That’s the condensed version. One of Stickley’s rectilinear oak bookcases from 1901 looms in the background, awaiting its public premiere.

DMA registrar Brent Mitchell consults with Newark’s team as we prepare to install Stickley’s own chest of drawers (far left). The best laid plans must always be adjusted to accommodate those unexpected challenges.

After spending nearly two weeks supervising the installation of the exhibition with DMA registrar Brent Mitchell and the dedicated staff at the Newark Museum, including Ulysses Dietz, their curator of decorative arts, I at last felt a sense of relief and exhilaration as the last object was placed. The exhibition is done, at least for now – come February 13, 2011, the doors will open to the DMA’s presentation of Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement.


Opening night.

Kevin W. Tucker is the The Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Friday Photo: Inside Scoop from New Interns


Ashley and Karen: 2010-2011 Education Interns

Hello all!  I am Ashley, the new McDermott intern for Programs and Resources for Teachers.  I graduated from SMU with a B.A. in Art History and Advertising Management.   I have a deep-rooted interest in Asia and a passion for everything French, and my area of focus, Asian influence on European art in the 18th and 19th centuries, allows me to explore both simultaneously.  In pursuit of these interests I’ve worked as an intern at the Crow Collection of Asian Art, studied and researched in France, and lived in China.  My ultimate goal is to obtain a Ph.D. in French art history and become a university professor.  I am thrilled to be at the DMA this year working with the Education Department, where I can both utilize and cultivate my skills.

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The first week in the office has been hectic to say the least, with lots of meetings and an overload of information and little details.  That said, I can already tell this is going to be a fabulous environment in which to work.  Every day I feel that I am learning an immense amount about the collection and special exhibition objects by attending docent trainings, gallery talks and sessions with the curators.  I’ve also already attended my first teacher workshop and am excited to participate and take a more active role in those throughout the school year.  I think this will be a fantastic year and look forward to sharing my experiences through the blog!

Hello Everyone!  I am Karen Colbert and I am excited to be the new McDermott Teaching Programs Intern this year. I enjoy visiting museums, dining with friends, reading, and traveling. The best experience I have had traveling is working with students at the Mahenzo Mission School in Kenya, Africa. 

My first week at the Dallas Museum of Art has been exhilarating.  I have had the opportunity to hear Dr. Roslyn Walker, Senior Curator of the Arts of Africa speak about the current African Masks: The Art of Disguise exhibition during docent training and currently working on a text label project for Gail Davitt, Dallas Museum of Art League Director of Education.  As the year progresses, I will have more opportunities to lead tours in the galleries, teach the Go Van Gogh outreach program with partnering school districts, and participate in many other projects. I look forward to this year of discovery and will keep you posted with “A Day in a Life”.

Ashley Bruckbauer, McDermott Intern for Programs and Resources for Teachers
Karen Colbert, McDermott Intern for Teaching Programs

Late Nights: Celebrating Mexico’s Bicentennial til the Midnight Hour

Late Nights at the Dallas Museum of Art take place on the third Friday of every month (except December) and can bring up to 5,000 visitors to the Museum in just one evening. With eleven Late Nights to plan each year, we are constantly brainstorming program ideas and themes.

The process starts with coming up with a theme for each Late Night month. These are usually decided a year in advance by looking at our upcoming exhibitions, works of art in our collection, or other special events and occasions like the Museum’s annual birthday celebration in January.

We have three Late Nights left in 2010 and each one will celebrate a different exhibition on view this fall. The next one, on September 17, focuses on our México 200 exhibitions: José Guadalupe Posada: The Birth of Mexican Modernism and Tierra y Gente: Modern Mexican Works on Paper. These two exhibits, which showcase Mexico’s long tradition of exquisite artistry, were planned as a way to commemorate the Mexican bicentennial.

Once the themes of each Late Night are chosen, the programming team decides which performers, speakers, and programs to schedule, making sure there is a mix of live music and performances, lectures, tours, films, family activities, Tech Lab programs, and other special events. Through our own research, recommendations from colleagues, and old-fashioned word-of-mouth, we choose the Late Night performers and speakers who we feel tie into the main theme of the evening while also offering something new and interesting for our visitors to experience. These special guests come from all across Texas, often from across the country, and once in a while, from abroad.

We also collaborate with other organizations in our North Texas community to present joint programs at Late Night. In September the acclaimed Mexican poet Homero Aridjis will be at the Museum to give a reading in both English and Spanish. This program is hosted in partnership with the Center for Translation Studies at UT Dallas.

We’ve just finished deciding on our themes for the 2011 Late Nights, and while we’ll keep them a secret for now, we hope to see you at one or maybe even all of them!

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services.


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