Archive for July, 2011

Designing Women (and the Cure for Mad Men Withdrawal)

In summers past, our reward for coping with insufferably hot temperatures and an endless parade of reruns on TV has been the return of a new season of Mad Men – the exploits of Don Draper and his cohorts at Sterling Cooper Draper Price Ad Agency offer an escape to the chic and sophisticated world of 1960s New York. Alas, this year the return of Don, Joan, Peggy, Roger, and company has been delayed until later this fall.

Never fear! The DMA has a cure for your Mad Men withdrawal. On Thursday we will kick off our summer film series, Pictureshow, with the classic 1959 romantic comedy Pillow Talk. Like Mad Men, the film takes place in Manhattan and is filled with stylish apartments and gorgeous clothes that would make Betty Draper swoon. The film is especially well known for its set design and is considered so “aesthetically significant” that it was added to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress in 2009.

Cathy Whitlock will join us to introduce the film. Cathy is a Nashville-based interior designer, a journalist, and the author of Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction. Her blog Cinema Style explores the world of interior design and style in the movies. In preparation for her visit to Dallas, we asked Cathy about some of her favorite films and her own creative process.

You write about the intersection of design and film on your blog Cinema Style and in your most recent book, Designs on Film. What inspired your love of the movies? 

Ironically my first movie experience as a child was Pillow Talk and I was mesmerized with the interiors, fashion, and life in Manhattan. Apparently, the die was cast as I moved there years later and became an interior designer. I grew up in the sixties, which was such a ripe time for film – the Doris Day-Rock Hudson comedy “romps,” Cleopatra, 2001, The Graduate, and the James Bond franchise – and it left a huge imprint. Movies provide such an inspiration in so many areas as well as the ultimate two-hour escape!

Your blog and book cover films made recently as well as throughout the 20th century. Do you have a favorite era in the history of Hollywood?

Besides the sixties, I love the films of the thirties, as it was the time of big musicals (Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) and the “Big White Set” (such as Dinner at Eight). The decade ended with two of the biggest films of the century, The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind.

The cast of Gone with the Wind on the grand staircase of Tara

Jean Harlow's bedroom in Dinner at Eight


 How can moviegoers be inspired by the sets they see on screen? How can we translate what we see on screen to our own homes?

Often it can be something as simple as a color or a feel that inspires us. I have literally had clients pull out a DVD where they marked a certain scene and wanted to get the look. Thanks to technology, we can do that. What audiences need to remember is the rooms are almost always shot on a soundstage and on a budget and often we are responding to the overall “feel” of the scene. That being said, it’s pretty easy to pick out a few elements of a movie interior for use in our own homes.

Doris Day's apartment in Pillow Talk

 Pillow Talk is a classic romantic comedy that stars Doris Day as an interior designer.  What makes this film so iconic from a design standpoint?

I think it’s the overall design of the film – the interiors, Doris Day’s wardrobe, and Manhattan is very clean and carefree. From a design standpoint, the film literally gave birth to the “bachelor pad” and I am not even sure the set decorators got credit for that. They introduced the first electronic apartment complete with buttons that turn on the stereo, turn the sofa into a bed, and dim the lights. Now we call that a “smart house” but in the sixties it was pretty radical!

Where do you find inspiration for your interior design work?

 I am a huge student of pop culture and find inspiration through a variety of places – music, museums, magazines, books – but, most importantly, film!

Join Cathy for Pillow Talk this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. She will sign copies of Designs on Film before the screening. Don’t miss the Museum’s collection of objects from the era of Mad Men and Pillow Talk – visit Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to the Present in the Tower Gallery on Level 4.

Lisa Kays is the Manager of Adult Programming at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Cruisin' in the Go van Gogh Van

You may have noticed the colorful Go van Gogh® van driving around town and wondered to yourself, “Is that van as fun to ride in as it looks?”  The answer is “Yes!”  Catching a ride in our van is easy: just sign up to be a Go van Gogh volunteer.  Volunteers are trained by Museum staff to lead interactive conversations and art activities based on works of art in the DMA’s collections and special exhibitions.  Taking these programs into classrooms throughout Dallas is a fun and rewarding experience for everyone involved, including the students, teachers, and volunteers.

A volunteer teaches fourth graders in a Dallas ISD classroom.

But you don’t have to take it from us that volunteering with Go van Gogh is a wonderful experience.  Kari Laehr, who just completed her first year as a volunteer, recently shared this with us:

“Working with the Dallas Museum of Art’s Go van Gogh Outreach Program has been a great pleasure.  Every program that I have taught has been not only exciting for the students, but for me as well.  There is something extremely special about sharing my passion for art with youngsters, and I consider it a great honor to represent the museum in this way. I was very nervous during my first teaching session; however, having that one “light bulb” moment with a student during the art-making process makes everything worthwhile in the end. In fact, I have heard numerous times in my class, “This is the best day ever! When are you coming back?” I feel that what I am doing with the Go van Gogh Program is making an impact in Dallas classrooms and would highly recommend this experience to others.”

Volunteers discuss a work of art during training.

Afterward, they perform a short skit inspired by the work of art.

Do volunteers need to have teaching experience?  No.  Do they need to be art history experts?  Not at all.  The two primary requirements for our Go van Gogh volunteers are (1) an interest in sharing works of art with students in grades 1-6, and (2) a commitment to attend volunteer training at the Museum and present programs in Dallas schools during weekday mornings.

If you are interested in volunteering, please complete and return the volunteer application by Friday, August 5, 2011.  Help us spread the word to any friends who may be interested as well.  You can also contact me with questions about the programs at 214.922.1230 or

I look forward to hearing from you!

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Expect the Unexpected!

Well, we’re getting close now: 9×9 is nearly upon us. Everyone at the Museum has been hard at work to make sure that our visitors have plenty of wonderful experiences at the DMA this July. To help you prepare for the nine nights when we will stay open until 9:00 p.m., I thought I would share some insight into the preparation.

9×9—What is that?
9×9 is simply this: nine days in July when the Museum will be open until 9 p.m. (or later!), beginning this Thursday, July 14. On these Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, we will bring you all kinds of new activities, tours, and performances to experience with your friends and family members. Expect the unexpected!

Planning this month’s programs at the DMA has been a huge collaborative effort between everyone at the Museum. One of my favorite alliances is between Seventeen Seventeen and the Education Department. The Education team designed several “Provocative Comparisons” tours to show us some interesting connections between works of art in our collection. Chef Coulter followed suit and created three new menus for the 9×9 evenings that were “provocatively” inspired by the collection as well. The mouth-watering offerings are inspired by American and European art and the arts of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Visit the Dine page on the website for more information.

Chef James Coulter showcases three of the 9x9 small plates.

Antelope Sliders inspired by the Arts of the Americas collection.

Something I’ve been working on is the new DMAzing Race. If you love scavenger hunts and problem solving, this is something you don’t want to miss! The race will take place on Friday, July 22 and July 29. Teams of two will compete in a race through the Museum’s collection, completing challenges along the way. Racers will be given a packet with clue cards and materials to complete the tasks. Along the way, they will document their race experience through photography (so after it’s all over check Facebook).

This sounds like fun! What should I expect?
Each team will be given a race packet filled with clues and materials to complete the challenges. Each clue card includes a clue in the form of pictures and riddles to guide you to a work of art in the Museum and then a challenge, which could be as simple as taking a picture of what you found to something more elaborate, like re-creating the work of art using people in the galleries. Some challenges will ask you to create something using the materials in your bag. Along the way, you and your partner will document your discoveries through photography.

My DMAzing Race Clue Book.

How do I sign up? Do I need to bring anything?
The night of the race, come by our check-in table in the Concourse anytime between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m. to sign up your team. Space is limited, so come by sooner rather than later. If you have one, you’ll want to bring your smartphone or camera so you can document the race. The race will begin at 6:30 p.m. You may take as long as you like to finish the race, but our top finishers will receive a prize. Someone’s got to win, and it might as well be you!

Two racers fighting for the win! If you join the race you too will recieve your own set of headbands and wrist bands in DMA colors.

I look forward to seeing you at the DMAzing Race and at many other programs during 9×9!

Hayley Dyer is the Audience Relations Coordinator at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Beginning a New Chapter

After four years of working at the Dallas Museum of Art, I have decided to continue my museum career working with docents at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. At the DMA, I worked with docents, teachers, and students.  I have also researched works of art, written materials for special exhibitions, and taught with works of art. These experiences have been invaluable, and they allowed me to grow as an educator, work with a wide range of audiences, and learn about the Museum’s collection.

One of the highlights of my job has been working with wonderful friends and colleagues at the DMA. Their ideas, support, and creativity impacted me greatly; I am fortunate to have worked with an amazing team.

Before I go, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite works of art. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

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Signing Off,

Amy Wolf
Coordinator of Gallery Teaching

Two for the Road

Uncrated recently took a “field trip” to Fort Worth to visit the Kimbell Art Museum’s  presentation of Picasso and Braque: The Cubist Experiment, 1910–1912, for which the DMA loaned its 1912 Braque painting Still Life with Bottles and Glasses. Before the exhibition opened, the Kimbell’s director of conservation, Claire Barry, took a look at our “gem of a painting” and offered us this guest post on the experience.

Georges Braque, "Still Life with Bottles and Glasses", 1912, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., given in honor of Deedie Rose and J. E. R. Chilton

X-ray of George Braque's "Still Life with Bottles and Glasses"

I was delighted to have the opportunity to examine Braque’s Still Life with Bottles and Glasses from the DMA in the Kimbell conservation studio. Fortunately, this gem of a painting is unlined, which is rare for a cubist painting from this period. As a result, the impastoed (thickly textured) surface has never been flattened through lining. As one of my teachers wisely advised, think about a painting as a sculpture in low relief. If you look at the Braque in this way, you quickly begin to appreciate the rich variety in the artist’s application of paint—from thin areas where the paint is more fluid to thicker areas of impasto where he applied paint with a heavily loaded brush. Then, in the upper left, you might notice that the paint has a crusty texture that seems totally unrelated to the composition. With the permission of the DMA curators, I x-rayed the painting, which quickly revealed that Braque completely reworked the composition of Still Life with Bottles and Glasses during the course of painting. The texture of the underlying paint layers, later covered over, can still be seen on the surface. I was fascinated to discover this, because between Picasso and Braque, I always believed that Picasso had a greater tendency to radically rework his paintings (as he did with the Kimbell’s Man with a Pipe). Braque painted the Kimbell’s Girl with a Cross without making a single revision.

Pablo Picasso, Man with a Pipe, 1911, oil on canvas, Kimbell Art Museum. Photo © MegaVision. © 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Georges Braque, Girl with a Cross, 1911, oil on canvas, Kimbell Art Museum. Photo © MegaVision. © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

I was fortunate to be able to examine the two Braques, the DMA’s and the Kimbell’s, side by side in the conservation studio. Like the DMA painting, the Kimbell’s Girl with a Cross is unlined and preserved in pristine condition. In fact, it has never been varnished and retains the matte surface that the cubists intended. Both Picasso and Braque were adamant that their paintings should never be varnished. The DMA’s Braque, however, had been varnished at some point, and the varnish layer imparted a glossier surface than Braque had in mind. The unifying effect of the varnish also masked the subtle differences in surface gloss and texture that Braque created. In preparation for the exhibition, the DMA gave me permission to remove the varnish layer from Still Life with Bottles and Glasses. The fact that visitors to the exhibition can now see two unlined, unvarnished cubist paintings by Braque is really something exceptional. When you see the surfaces of these paintings, you can feel confident that this is very close to how they appeared when they left Braque’s easel some one hundred years ago.

Braque’s Still Life with Bottles and Glasses (1912) was sent to the Kimbell for spectral-image photography during the early stages of planning the exhibition Picasso and Braque: The Cubist Experiment, 1910–1912. These photographs are among the many incredible high-resolution digital images that can be explored with the iPad application iCubist in the Kimbell exhibition. If you want to experience the details in cubist paintings, brushstroke for brushstroke (the way I examine paintings in my job as a paintings conservator), I really recommend that you check out the iPads at the Kimbell. To my knowledge, this is the first time such images have been made available to the public in such an interactive way in a museum exhibition. The goal is to enrich the experience of seeing the real paintings, for which there is absolutely no substitute. My hope is that the iPad application may encourage visitors to spend even more time in the exhibition. Unlike the Acoustiguide, you cannot look at a painting and the iPad app simultaneously. So perhaps this will encourage visitors to look at the paintings first, then explore the iPad, and then return to the paintings for a second look, with greater understanding and appreciation.

Guest blogger Claire Barry is the director of conservation at the Kimbell Art Museum.


Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, July 14–30, the Museum will stay open until 9 p.m.  We are excited to use these extra evening hours to experiment with new programs for families and adults.  Below are just a few of the many programs you can experience during 9×9.  View the full 9×9 program schedule on our website.

Art Personality Quiz
Which famous artist are you most like? Take our Art Personality Quiz to find out. Then, wear that artist’s button and find other visitors in the galleries who share the same traits.

Artistic Encounters: Sky High
What does the Eiffel Tower look like from high above? Drop in and help us create a bird’s-eye view of Paris and then make your own picture of it.

StoryART Walk
Take a stroll through the galleries with our resident storyteller, Ann Marie Newman, as she makes works of art in the collection come to life through a storytelling performance.

Artful Tastings
Join Chef James Coulter in Seventeen Seventeen as he takes you on a culinary journey inspired by art from around the world. But don’t travel alone—join a friend and indulge in a tasting supper designed for two to share. Nine tastes gathered from Asia, North Africa, Europe, and the Americas will tease your “palette,” while a perfectly married cocktail will enhance your perfect summer evening at the DMA.

Artistic Encounters: Not-Your-Average Musical Chairs
Put your ears and eyes to the test and play this special edition, C3-style musical chairs with a special guest DJ.

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We hope you’ll join us!

Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Go van Gogh Outreach

The Dallas Museum of Art offers Dallas kids’ activities

The Dallas Museum of Art is a wonderful place for families to share experiences together and offers more than 700 programs for children and their families every year.  From a 2-year-old visiting the museum for the first time, or a 75-year-old showing his grandkids his favorite work of art, to a visitor with autism learning that she too can appreciate the Museum – we have something for everyone at the DMA. And if you’re under 12, you can always visit the Museum for Free! Watch the video below to see all of the different ways you can experience the DMA as a family.

Living the Dream

Uncrated tracked down the DMA’s Chair of Collections and Exhibitions, Tamara Wootton-Bonner, to talk about her job at the Museum. Tamara has the large responsibility of overseeing the Museum’s exhibitions, publications, collections, libraries, archives, and digital imaging departments, and as you will read below, she knew early on that she wanted to work in a museum.

Describe your job in fifty words or less.
I’m the Chair of Collections and Exhibitions and I oversee the exhibitions, publications, collections management, libraries, archives, and digital imaging departments. My main job is to make sure that our exhibitions, publications, and other key projects happen successfully (and are on time and within budget) and to keep everyone happy.

What might an average day entail?
Meetings and e-mails! Besides that, I have to take on a variety of roles: in a single day I might have to be a cheerleader, mom, taskmaster, accountant, lawyer, writer, editor, project manager, critic, negotiator, facilitator, logistician, bad guy, and, if I’m lucky, I get to look at art. The greatest days are working with designers and artists . . . on exhibitions, publications, building projects, etc. But I also have fun managing budgets, negotiating contracts, solving problems, and planning for the future.

How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges?
The best part of my job is working with lots of wonderful, creative people. It’s exciting to see ideas come to life and to know that you’ve been a part of it—whether it’s an exhibition, a publication, or something else. I love to watch an exhibition come together or smell a new book hot off the press.

The biggest challenge can be trying to do too much with too little. We are an ambitious bunch around here and almost everyone is a perfectionist.

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum?
As a child I wanted to be an artist. I used to draw and paint all the time. But by the time I graduated from high school I knew I wanted to work in a museum. I started as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and now . . . here I am.

What is your favorite work in the Museum’s collection?
I have several—Franz Kline’s Slate Cross, the Indonesian tau tau, and the Olmec jade mask are among my absolute favorites. But it changes every day. Tatsuo Miyajima’s Counter Ground and the James Lee Byars works in the Silence and Time exhibition, on view now, are amazing.

Is there a past exhibition that stands out in your mind as a favorite, or is there a particular upcoming show you’re looking forward to seeing?
That’s easy—The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier! It’s going to be phenomenal. We’ve never done a fashion exhibition, so it’s going to be a challenge. But it’s going to be an exciting challenge.

Staff Spotlight: Loryn Leonard

Last month, I introduced you to Loryn Leonard through a Friday Photo Post.  Today, Loryn will introduce herself in more detail.  You’ll have a chance to correspond with Loryn beginning on August 1st, when we start taking reservations for Museum visits for the 2011-2012 school year.

Name and Title: Loryn Leonard, Coordinator of Museum Visits

Years employed at the Dallas Museum of Art: Zero – this is my first month at the Museum!

Describe your job here at the Museum: I consider myself as the tour match-maker.  I work directly with educators to schedule visits and provide logistic to prepare for their tours.  Correspondingly, I manage docent availability and assign docents to scheduled tours.

What part of your new job are you most looking forward to doing? Definitely giving tours.  I enjoy interacting with students and learning new perspectives about works of art.

What is a challenge you face in your job? Organizing.  It can be a bit of a challenge to keep everyone up-to-date with tour information and making sure docents are lined up so everyone has a wonderful experience at the Museum.

One of Loryn's metal artworks

How did you decide you wanted to work in a museum? Actually, it was this Museum.  Growing up in Waxahachie and going to college in Denton, the Dallas Museum of Art was an invaluable resource for research and inspiration.

If you weren’t working in a museum, what is something else you would be doing? Even though this is my dream job, I think I would go back to my metalsmithing roots and be a full-time artist.

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

Dallas Museum of Art Points of Access

Through Access Programs at the Dallas Museum of Art, visitors of all ages with special needs and their families can experience the Museum and spend time together. For instance, we host Art Beyond Sight programs in October that celebrate visual awareness, and four times a year we have Autism Awareness Family Celebrations.

Meaningful Moments is a monthly program at the DMA designed for someone with Alzheimer’s disease and a care partner–a devoted wife bringing her husband, a loving daughter attending with her mother, or an admiring husband bringing his wife, like John Rath, who brings his wife, Sue.

John and Sue attend the DMA program every month, including last week’s Storytelling in Art Meaningful Moments event. At every visit, they enjoy the gallery discussion and the opportunity to reminisce and share stories about their lives. Sue had a career with Susan Crane Packaging, where she designed wrapping paper that was sold at many stores, including Neiman Marcus, and John worked for thirty-seven years at Texas Instruments. Sue collects pins (always wearing a different one when she visits the Museum) and loves taking care of her plants in a back porch greenroom that her handyman husband John built just for her.

When the program moves to the studio for art-making, Sue’s artistic abilities shine as she is usually one of the last to finish her work of art. Many couples create art together during the studio time, but John prefers to admire Sue’s creations while providing support and encouragement. Clearly best friends, John and Sue have a love for one another that many dream about having.

I have been lucky to get to know this wonderful couple during Meaningful Moments throughout the year, and here is a bit more insight into the lives of John and Sue:

John and Sue, what three words would you use to describe one another?
Sue is loving, considerate, and creative. John is kind, friendly, and multitalented.

John, you and Sue have known each other for a long time (since childhood!). Will you share some favorite moments that you have had together over the years?
Riding our bicycles to Confirmation class at church together, our first date (a Boy Scout Christmas party), our wedding day, and honeymoon. Living in a number of different states and countries, some of them more than once, when I was traveling on military/government contracts for Texas Instruments. The birth of our daughter and son and their development through the years; both were achievers and kept us extremely busy with their activities. Everywhere we have lived, we’ve enjoyed the people we met and have taken advantage of the–if I may borrow a phrase–meaningful moments that were available.

What types of things do the two of you enjoy doing together?
We enjoy the Meaningful Moments program at the Dallas Museum of Art; spending quality time with family, extended family, and friends; camping, fishing, and most outdoor activities; playing games (cards, dominoes, Yahtzee, etc., especially with grandchildren); and working on creative projects together.

Why do you attend the Meaningful Moments program?
The Meaningful Moments program is an excellent extension of the informational and learning opportunities we have always enjoyed and try to take advantage of when possible. We always look forward to the monthly programs.

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


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