Archive for January, 2011

Where are we meeting…?

There are lots of us here at the DMA (230 staffers, at last count!), and with the highly collaborative nature of our jobs, we are always in need of places to gather and hold meetings. Some of our meeting rooms are great spaces to think out loud (with dry-erase boards from floor to ceiling), some spaces are homes to artworks from the collection, some spaces are like giant bulletin boards with images and ideas covering the walls, and one space (my favorite) showcases an artist from the collection. 

Today’s Friday photo post is a behind-the-scenes look at a few spaces you’ll likely find us when we’re not at our desks or in the galleries.  Enjoy!

Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Go van Gogh Outreach

Artist Encounters: Brian Fridge

Brian Fridge is an artist working primarily in video whose recorded explorations of time and space feel at once both physical and psychological. Brian is January’s Visiting Artist in the Center for Creative Connections (C3), where you can interact with him during Thursday Night Live’s Artist Encounters, a great way to spend a weekday evening. But first, here’s a little more about what inspires Brian.


1.      Why do you love art?
Art gives you the chance to be free from the purposes of everyday life
and to sometimes even relate to nature in a different way. And while
 nature has a predictable structure, there’s a kind of purposelessness in

2.      What is your favorite space to create in?
I usually like solitude when working and for me the best size space is not too big and not too small. I’ve often worked on art in whatever
living space I’ve had, and I think my artwork has benefited from that.

3.      How many years have you been an artist?
I guess since I was a kid, but after a year or so into college I changed my degree from advertising art to fine art. It was an easy decision to 
make, but it still seemed risky.

4.      Which artist or movement inspires you?
The work of American artist Edward Ruscha inspired me a lot early on. I really like the dry humor in his very simple paintings, but they are
 serious at the same time. He leaves so much to the viewer’s imagination.

5.      What are some of the exciting activities you have planned for January at the DMA?
I’m really looking forward to all of the activities of the month. One activity, which we will be doing tonight, will be to invent some apparatus or process that is meant to do the actual art making. The
artist sets things in motion, but chance will play a big part in the results.

Visitors participating in an Artist Encounters program during Thursday Night Live.

Explore the world through a lens with Brian. Bring your own digital camera, or borrow one from us (quantities limited) at Thursday Night Live. Who knows? Maybe you’ll unleash your creative side and become one of our future visiting artists. Hurry up though, as Brian only has two more Thursday Night Live appearances this month!

The Center for Creative Connections

Teaching with Modern American Art

Last week, Amy W. blogged about a training session on Colonial American art that she and Jenny led for our docents.  Melissa and I recently led a follow-up session for the docents on teaching with Modern American art.  

Arts of the Americas and Colonial to Modern American Art are two of the most popular topics for docent-guided visits at the DMA.  Melissa and I deliberately selected artworks from the first half of the 20th century that docents don’t typically use on their tours.  It was our hope that by learning more about these paintings and artists, docents will have even more flexibility in selecting stops for their tours.

I started off training by looking at two American artists who were influenced by the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian: Leon Polk Smith and Ilya Bolotowsky

  • We discussed what “Boogie Woogie” means and how boogie woogie music might sound.  I even played a short clip of boogie woogie music for the docents and had them dancing in the galleries!
  • Leon Polk Smith’s painting Homage to Victory Boogie Woogie #1 is a direct reference to Mondrian’s final painting (Victory Boogie Woogie). There is an Homage to Victory Boogie Woogie #2, which is in the collection of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
  • Ilya Bolotowsky knew Piet Mondrian.  They were both members of American Abstract Artists, which was founded in New York City in 1936.  In fact, Bolotowsky was one of the founding members of the group.

Melissa invited the docents to complete a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting two still life paintings: Survival of the Fittest by Fred Darge and On the Ranch by Jerry Bywaters.

  • This is an easy exercise to do in the Museum or in your classroom.  Encourage your students to look closely at images of these paintings and make notes about what they see in a Venn Diagram.  This resulted in a great conversation with our docents, and we think the same thing can happen in your classroom.
  • There are many similarities in the lives of Fred Darge and Jerry Bywaters as well.  Both artists lived and worked in Dallas most of their lives.  They also both took sketching trips to West Texas, where they were inspired by the vast landscape.
  • Jerry Bywaters was actually the director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts when Fred Darge’s Survival of the Fittest came into the collection in 1944.

We hope you’ll visit the Museum this spring to see these paintings in person.

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

Stay Up Late – Late Nights Turn 8!

Back in 2003, when the Museum was turning 100 years old, a team of staff members came up with the idea to keep the Museum open for 100 hours straight to celebrate the occasion. No closing of the doors, no sleep for staff, all hours access for our visitors.

Our 100 Hour Celebration saw over 45,000 visitors in the Museum, and they came at all hours. We were excited to see people in the galleries at 4:30 a.m. looking at works of art, or dancing in our Atrium to DJs at 1:00 a.m. This showed us that people would come to the Museum if we kept our doors open after “normal” operating hours. Throughout the rest of the year, we experimented with after-hour events called Impressionist Evenings, where we worked out the types of programs offered, the best day of the week to hold the event, and how late we should stay open.

After a year of experimenting, Late Nights were born in January 2004. Now, on the third Friday of every month (except December), the Museum is open until midnight, and visitors can explore our galleries, participate in family experiences, go on tours, enjoy concerts, meet artists, and so much more.

This Friday, January 21, will kick off the 8th year of Late Nights. To celebrate, I have put together Late Nights by the Numbers:

77 – Number of Late Nights since 2004
323,989 – Total attendance for all Late Nights
35,557 – Number of visitors at our best-attended Late Night, in June 2007, featuring a concert by Erykah Badu
2 – Number of Arturo puppets we have (one is dressed in PJs and bunny slippers for Late Nights)
203 – Number of tours given during Late Nights
4 – Number of Best of Dallas awards Late Nights have received from the Dallas Observer
298 – Number of cases of water we have supplied for performers
95 – Number of films we have screened during Late Nights
19 – Number of different DJs who have spun at a Late Night, some more than once
8 – Number of times our visitors have done the Chicken Dance during a Late Night, which is every time Brave Combo performs

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services.

Community Connection: 1 month, 56 tours, and 4,300 fifth-graders

For the past four years, Garland ISD has committed to bringing every fifth-grade student to the DMA for a one-hour docent-guided visit.  Such an endeavor requires an extensive amount of time, resources, and coordination of staff, teachers, students, and docents.  This impressive undertaking is possible thanks to Brenda Hass, Fine Arts Coordinator for Garland ISD.

What is your role with Garland ISD?

I am the Fine Arts Coordinator; I work with our K-12 art and theater program and our elementary music program.

Describe your relationship with the DMA.

I began working with the DMA when I was in another school district and learned about the tour program.  When I came to Garland, one of the things I set in motion right away was to make an arrangement for all fifth-graders to come to the DMA for tours that align with social studies TEKS.  It’s been a great relationship.

How, and why, do you manage such a large task?

We do it because we feel it’s important.  Many children wouldn’t have the experience of coming to an art museum if we didn’t provide it.  The majority of our forty-seven elementary schools are considered Title 1 and are located in lower socioeconomic areas.  Whatever the students’ backgrounds are, we want to them have the opportunity to visit.  We choose to put our money and our time here.


Brenda is also a talented piano player.

What is the most memorable thing that has happened during these tours?

Every year after our DMA tours in January, I always receive an email from a classroom teacher who had never visited before, wanting me to know what an amazing experience it was for his/her children and thanking me for providing the transportation.  I think a lot of people who didn’t get to visit museums as a child don’t go to museums as adults.  But once they have an opportunity, they don’t want to miss it.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Being with children.  If it’s theater, watching them perform in a show.  With art, I may be helping them organize exhibitions of their work.  In music, I’m watching a program or working with our children’s chorus.  Whatever role we have in administration, we have to continue being around the children.  That’s what keeps us fresh and keeps us on the cutting edge of education. 

Also, I am passionate about making sure our students have a museum experience.  I think that everybody, child or adult, should do the same.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Friday Photos: Jumping in the DMA

Amy C. recently discovered the blog Jumping in Art Museums.  Over the holidays, we spent time in the Center for Creative Connections and in the Sculpture Garden jumping for joy with works of art.   

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

Artworks in this slideshow include:
  • Jacques Lipchitz, The Bather, 1923-1925, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation Incorporated
  • Robert Delaunay, Eiffel Tower, 1924, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated
  • Ellsworth Kelly, Untitled, 1982-1983, Dallas Museum of Art, commission made possible through funds donated by Michael J. Collins and matching grants from The 500, Inc., and the 1982 Tiffany & Company benefit opening
  • Barbara Hepworth, Figure for Landscape, 1960, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation Incorporated
  • Mark Handforth, Dallas Snake, 2007, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund and Lay Family Acquisition Fund
  • Mark Di Suvero, Ave, 1973, Dallas Museum of Art, Irvin L. and Meryl P. Levy Endowment Fund

Teaching with Colonial American Art

Desk and Bookcase, Nathaniel Gould, 1760-1780, Dallas Museum of Art, The Faith P. and Charles L. Bybee Collection, gift of the Tri Delta Charity Antiques Show

Every Monday throughout the school year our docents are trained on the DMA’s collection and special exhibitions. Morning sessions consist of art historical training related to special exhibitions, new acquisitions, and the collection. Afternoon sessions focus on how to teach K-12 student groups with works of art.

On January 3, Jenny Marvel and I led docent training in the Colonial American galleries. We focused on methods of teaching K- 12 students with portraits and furniture from the collection.  These objects were chosen to make connections between the past and present. When studying Colonial American art, it is important to remember that works of art tell stories and have history behind them. Colonial American art shows how some people lived during the beginning of our nation. It also displays eighteenth century artistic capabilities.

First, Jenny read excerpts from George Washington’s Breakfast, by Jean Fritz, and made connections  in front of Rembrandt Peale’s portrait of our first President. We learned the following information about Washington:

  • George Washington was 6’4″ tall. He was a tall man!
  • George Washington was the leader of the Continental Army, which defeated the British army in 1787. Shortly after, George became the first President of the United States. He held this position from 1789-1797. 
  • George Washington wore dentures. By time he took the oath of office as President at age 57, he was wearing full dentures. Washington’s dentures represented the latest advancements in dental technology. Contrary to popular myth, his false teeth were not made of wood but of human and cow teeth as well as elephant and walrus ivory. They required frequent adjusting to function naturally, and he repeatedly sent them to John Greenwood, his dentist in New York City, for repairs.
  • George Washington lived at Mt. Vernon with his wife, Martha. Mount Vernon was home to Washington for more than 45 years.

For the other half of training, I focused on the Desk and Bookcase. Some questions I asked docents to think about while looking at the piece include:

  • Look closely at the furniture’s feet. Do you see other objects with similar feet throughout the rest of the gallery?
  • Flat columns appear on the exterior of the object. What other architectural elements do you see? Why do you think these are incorporated into the piece?
  • The object cost $31.00 in the eighteenth century, making this an expensive object! What design elements make you think this is an expensive piece?
  • The desk and bookcase stored important papers, receipts, and other items for its merchant owner. If you owned this object what would you put in it?

Amy Wolf
Coordinator of Gallery Teaching

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