Archive for November, 2010

"Rubbing Elbows" with Artists

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One of my most rewarding professional experiences occurred several years ago during the implementation of an NEA grant project.  Lynda Davis — dancer, professor, and choreographer — was a visiting artist at the Museum.   She flew in from Florida for two separate weeks during the year and led multiple workshops with high school students (dancers, musicians, visual artists, and actors) focused on improvisation and the creative process, with a nod to the interrelationships among the arts.  She liked to refer to this as the “arts rubbing up against each other.”

Each week Lynda visited was an inspiration for everyone who interacted with her.  Each week was also intense and, as the project manager, I wore many different hats: chauffeur, art historian, collaborator, gopher, and documentarian.  In the beginning, I knew nearly nothing about dance, nor had I thought much about the relationship between visual art and dance.  But by the end of the project (and perhaps even now), I hoped to be a dancer and choreographer in my next life.

This experience was my first real opportunity to figuratively “rub elbows” with a living artist.  My training and education was heavily focused on art history.  Most of the artists I studied were in books and in the past.  I welcomed the opportunity to make this experience with Lynda a significant part of my own creative development, observing closely and listening carefully, seeing the world through Lynda’s eyes for a brief time, catching a glimpse of where she drew inspiration, and looking for new connections between things in my world.  I carry this experience with me always, and it impacts my work.

Tell me about a time that you “rubbed elbows” with an artist?

If you’re looking for more opportunities to connect with artists, I invite you to visit the DMA.  Each year we work with hundreds of living artists of all art forms: dance, theater, visual arts, music, and literature, to present, perform, and celebrate the arts.  Consider the following opportunities and make a connection with an artist!

Experience Process
Programs with C3 visiting artists celebrate creativity and the artistic process. Join us for lively conversation and art-making projects during drop-in workshops.   Visiting artists during December and January include Teresa Rafidi, Annette Lawrence, and Brian Fridge.

Enjoy Youth
Annually, the Dallas Museum of Art celebrates the creativity of young artists in our community through the exhibitions Something Beautiful, Young Masters, and the Art Ball Young Artists Program.

Explore Many Art Forms
Artists of diverse disciplines join us for commissions and programming that celebrate the creative process and build bridges among various art forms.  2011 marks the 20th anniversary of Arts and Letters Live, our literary and performing arts series.  This season features over 60 artists and writers including Simon Schama, Annie Proulx, Carlos Fuentes, and more!

Embrace Contemporary Art
Exhibitions highlighting work by established and emerging national and international artists celebrate the art of our time.  At times these artists work with the Museum on the installation of their work, and they often participate in lectures or talks, which are open to the the public.  Big New Field: Artists in the Cowboy Stadium Art Program opens at the DMA in December and includes work by Trenton Doyle Hancock, Annette Lawrence, Olafur Eliasson, and Teresita Fernandez, as well as others.  Visit an exhibition of works by Mark Bradford in fall 2011!

Nicole Stutzman
Director of Teaching Programs and Partnerships

Seldom Scene: Installing Eliasson

Dallas Museum of Art preparators Mike Hill and Lance Lander fine-tune the installation of Olafur Eliasson’s The outside of inside. This work of art, recently acquired by the DMA, is included in the new exhibition Big New Field: Artists in the Cowboys Stadium Art Program, which opens this Sunday, December 5.

Olafur Eliasson, The outside of inside, 2008, projectors, spotlights, color-filter foil, stainless steel, and control unit, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2009.1.a–aa, © 2008 Olafur Eliasson

Photography by Adam Gingrich, DMA Marketing Assistant

Celebrating the Silver: The Reves Collection at Twenty-Five

We just celebrated the silver anniversary of the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection and ever since its opening twenty-five years ago, it has been one of our most visited galleries. Featuring more than 1,400 European artworks and decorative objects, including masterpieces by Renoir, Manet, Degas, and Pissarro, this remarkable gift from the Wendy & Emery Reves Foundation, Inc. on behalf of Wendy’s late husband, Emery, transformed the Museum’s collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century European art and European decorative art.

What’s also amazing is that visitors see this collection in a 16,500-square-foot wing made specifically for it.  Built in 1985, this is not the run-of-the mill gallery space. These rooms are a faithful reproduction of the couple’s villa in the South of France. Named La Pausa, it was built in 1927  for that ultimate fashionista Coco Chanel, who directed its design. For example, the patio and the hall were built specifically to remind “Mademoiselle” of the Romanesque convent outside Paris where she boarded as a child. Many of the furnishings in the Museum’s Reves wing, including a chair in the living room, were part of Chanel’s original décor of the villa.

DMA architect Edward Larrabee Barnes meticulously re-created the library, dining room, salon, bedroom, hall, patio, and central courtyard from this  luxurious—and historically fascinating—Mediterranean retreat.

On this silver anniversary here’s a look back:

Today, visitors to the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection can access a DMA smARTphone tour of highlights from the collection. On it, Wendy Reves shares memories of life at Villa La Pausa and of her and her husband’s passion for collecting art.

Martha MacLeod is the European and American Art Curatorial Administrative Assistant at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Seldom Scene – A Penguin’s Night at the Museum

To help us celebrate our exhibition African Masks: The Art of Disguise, the Dallas Zoo’s Animal Adventure Program made an appearance at Friday’s Late Night with a few animals that call Africa home. Donny, the Black-footed Penguin, was a big hit with the DMA staff (see the BIG smiles) and with visitors too.

An Extraordinary Ten Years

After a decade of working with school programs at the Dallas Museum of Art, I have recently resigned as Head of Teaching Programs in order to continue to develop my two passions – works of art and teaching.

The last ten years have been extraordinary in many ways as I have learned about and taught with the DMA’s encyclopedic collections and special exhibitions.  I’ve met several teachers who share my passion for art and teaching and have spent many meaningful hours in the galleries with them as we explored works of art together.  I’ve directed our docent program and have worked closely with over a hundred dedicated volunteers who give several hours of their time each week to make Museum visits possible for tens of thousands of Dallas-area students each year.

Although I’m looking forward to new adventures, I’m sad to leave behind the wonderful friendships I’ve made – with works of art and with people.  I appreciate all of the time and energy that teachers devote to sharing their love of works of art with their students and the time they commit to scheduling and preparing for art museum visits.  I believe that experiences with works of art can be transformative, and I wish all of you art teachers and my staff and docent colleagues all of the best as you continue to make these experiences possible.


Molly Kysar
Head of Teaching Programs

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

TAEA 2010

This past weekend, my colleague Shannon Karol and I took a trip down I-35 to Austin for the annual Texas Art Education Association (TAEA) conference.   TAEA brings together art educators in K-12 classrooms, universities, and museums.

My favorite part of TAEA has been getting to hear what other museums in the state are doing.  This year, I learned how ArtPace works with community partners in a program called ¿Como Vives?, how the Meadows Museum structures a multiple-visit program with area 6th graders, and how the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston engages audiences with contemporary art.  There was a lot to take in! 

Shannon and I also got a chance to talk about the DMA in presentations we gave.  Shannon shared her expertise in African art with conference-goers in her session, Themes for Teaching with African Art.  The session included themes (including family, proverbs, and royalty) that can be used to engage students of all ages with African art.  If you are interested in integrating African artworks into your classroom, I hope you’ll check out Shannon’s African Art Resources

In my session, Close-Looking, Collaboration, and Creative Response: Interactive Experience with Works of Art, I shared three activities that allow for my favorite kinds of gallery experiences: ones that are open-ended, involve groupwork, and art-making or writing in response to a work of art.  My favorite of the three is Post-It poetry.  I like poetry exercises; I think they’re a great way to get students to distill their ideas about an artwork into brief, meaty responses.  With Post-It poetry, students write words that describe an artwork on individual Post-Its and stick them to a board that serves as a group word bank.  After all group members have contributed responses, the group works together to rearrange Post-Its to create phrases or sentences.  Click here for more detailed Post-It poetry instructions.

What I like most about this activity are the unexpected resonances that happen when students read poems.  Hearing different, fresh combinations of words always enriches the experience of looking at an artwork for me.  Below are some Post-It poetry pictures, and a Post-It poem participants made during my TAEA session.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The two of us also took in the sights in Austin.  We checked out the Blanton Museum of Art, stopped by the capitol, shopped funky stores on South Congress, and had a blast eating out of trucks!  (Not the F-150 kind, but the street-food-vending kind).   All in all, it was quite the weekend.

Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Go van Gogh Outreach

Backstage with Arts & Letters Live

Many people have asked me, “How do you plan Arts & Letters Live?” Here’s a glimpse into the process of how we “produced” this year’s series.

In July DMA colleagues Helen Seslowsky, Katie Hutton, and I spent five days in a very hot and humid New York meeting with nearly forty publicists from all the major publishing houses to learn the scoop about new book releases on the horizon for 2011. When we got back to Dallas, we met for about twelve hours to prioritize our wish list of authors and brainstorm about books whose themes resonate with the Museum’s upcoming exhibitions and collections installations. For example, Mexico’s renowned novelist Carlos Fuentes is coming to speak while the exhibition Tierra y Gente: Modern Mexican Works on Paper is on view. In March two biographers will share new insights into the lives of artists Lee Krasner and Amedeo Modigliani, both of whom have works in the Museum’s collections.

Throughout the year, we also travel to hear authors speak at several prominent book fairs—the Texas Book Festival in Austin, the National Book Festival in D.C., and the New Yorker Festival in Manhattan—to discover which authors speak as beautifully from the stage as they do on the page. I heard Annie Proulx, Simon Schama, Pico Iyer, Gary Shteyngart, and others at a variety of these festivals while planning the 2011 season and knew I wanted to pursue them.

From my front row seat at Steve Carell's interview with Tad Friend at the New Yorker Festival. At the 2010 festival, I also heard authors Tobias Wolff and Mary Karr, E. L. Doctorow, Atul Gawande, Yo-Yo Ma in conversation with Alex Ross, and Simon Schama and Annie Proulx -- both of whom we're bringing to Dallas as part of the 2011 season!

And because we want a season of events that will appeal to many people, we book (pun intended) a balance of fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry, and programs that combine art forms in creative and unexpected ways. In February we’ll feature Eric Siblin, author of The Cello Suites, who will share the story behind Bach’s missing manuscript, its rediscovery, and his own infatuation with this music. To give this evening added flair, we’re partnering with the Dallas Bach Society, and their cellist Gyongy Erody will perform musical excerpts to bring this story to life.

Our next step is to send out proposals to the publishers and anxiously await their responses. The process is like putting together a complex jigsaw puzzle—discerning which authors and performers are available and when. There’s been many a time when a requested author wants to come to Dallas, but he’s scheduled to be on the West Coast at the same time we want him to be here in Texas.

Katie Hutton (Interim Head, Arts & Letters Live) at The Library Hotel's rooftop bar after a long, but fruitful day of meetings with publicists in New York. The team enjoyed "Red Badge of Courage" cocktails!

Throughout the summer and early fall, we also spend at least one day every week vetting short stories for our Texas Bound series, where Texas actors read short fiction by Texas writers. Lone Star State–connected authors from all over the country submitted nearly two hundred stories for consideration. Our team reads them and brings the strongest contenders to read-aloud sessions with our director Raphael Parry, who many people know as the Executive and Artistic Director of Shakespeare Dallas. We debate the merits and potential shortcomings of each story. Does it hook the audience’s attention and follow a cohesive narrative arc, or does it lag in the middle? What actor do we imagine bringing the story to life? Constructing a program of three or four stories is like creating a chef’s tasting menu—a short, funny appetizer followed by a hearty, more serious entrée, and finally, a dessert.

Arts & Letters Live will celebrate its 20th anniversary season in 2011! I’ve been with the series nine of those years. It’s heartwarming to hear vivid recollections from many of you—what an author said to change your perspective or transport you out of the everyday. Or the “aha” moment you had in the middle of a performance combining art, music, and poetry. I hope you’ll share your favorite Arts & Letters Live moments by commenting on this post. Check out our exciting 2011 season lineup here!

Carolyn Bess is the Director of Programming at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Community Connection: Eye-opening, Enlightening, and Fabulous

Some of our devoted Go van Gogh volunteers have participated for many years, so we design special workshops for them with the goal of making connections – with works of art, with fellow volunteers, and with personal teaching experiences – in fun and fresh ways.  These themed workshops often feature guest speakers, such as local artists or our colleagues in the education department.   

Our last workshop focused on the theme “PLAY”; you can view pictures from the workshop in our intern Karen’s photo post.  We invited Leticia Salinas, the 2009-2010 McDermott Intern for Family Experiences, to lead conversations and activities with volunteers in front of works of art entirely in Spanish.  Volunteers commented after the workshop that their experience with Leticia was “eye-opening”, “very valuable”, “helpful”, “enlightening”, and “fabulous”.

Leticia leads the Paint the Town DMA Summer Art Camp.

Tell us about your connection with the DMA.

I’ve been in Dallas for about ten years, and during college I visited the DMA every now and then and attended Late Nights.  Last year, I was the McDermott Intern in the Family Experiences department.  I continue to help during Late Nights and other special Family Experiences programs. 

What are you doing now?

I am a Special Education Bilingual Teaching Assistant at Thomas Elementary in Plano ISD.  I help teachers in classrooms with special education and/or bilingual students, primarily kindergarten through second grade. 

Describe your session with Go van Gogh volunteers.

I gave two tours in Spanish focusing on Jackson Pollock’s Cathedral and three hats in the African collection.  This helped volunteers put themselves in the position of ESL students and also showed them effective ways of teaching these learners.  Hopefully, the volunteers were able to gauge how these students feel and will be able to use that knowledge as a tool when they teach.  It was a really great experience, and I enjoyed it.  The volunteers were all very willing to participate even though it was a different language and they may have felt uncomfortable.

What do you consider important when working with ESL students, and how does this apply to teaching with works of art?

When working with ESL students, there has to be something more than language.  You have to be really creative and think of different ways to teach a subject.  This applies to all subjects.  I think art is a great way to teach ESL learners because they have a visual picture of what you’re talking about.  You can get creative and lead activities that are more hands-on and fun, playing with color and lines and movement.  All of those concepts are easy to teach to students who don’t speak English fluently.

Finish this sentence: In ten years, I’d like to be…

I hope to be at a place where I’m happy with my job and I love what I do, whether it be working in a museum or with kids or doing something totally different that I never thought I would do.  Hopefully, in ten years I’ll have it all figured out.

Behind the Video

Check out this behind-the-scenes look at DMA staff filming the inspirational art-making videos that can be seen at the Center for Creative Connections Space Bar.

Go van Gogh Stays to Play

Last Friday, Go van Gogh staff  led a “play” workshop for our volunteers. This session led volunteers into the galleries to discuss and interact with works of art in a creative and fun way. Volunteers  posed as the objects, created a yarn painting similar to Jackson Pollock’s Cathedral, as well as experience several discussions led in Spanish. A former McDermott Intern, Leticia Salinas, who facilitated the discussions, demonstrated various hand gestures and other techniques that could be utilized when facilitating programs with students who speak languages other than English.

The fun did not stop there! Volunteers used materials from the space bar in the Center for Creative Connections to create art, then continued their play session in the Tech Lab. Go van Gogh is an outreach program that brings the Dallas Museum of Art to 1st through 6th grade students in schools throughout North Texas.   Allowing the volunteers to play was a unique approach of seeing the artworks in a new way and re-igniting the volunteers’ energy, enthusiam, and  passion for teaching. 

Karen A. Colbert
Teaching Programs Intern

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Flickr Photo Stream