Archive for September, 2011

Friday Photos: Art in October

Next month, the Dallas Arts District is celebrating Art in October for the third year in a row. Stop by the Museum all month long for a plethora of unique artful activities for all ages (and species).

Oxen and cart, Turkey: northern Syria, 2000–1800 B.C., Irvin L. and Meryl P. Levy Endowment Fund.

Saturday, October 1st kicks off with Art in Motion, a public parade of decorated bikes and vehicles. Leave your oxen at home, only human-powered vehicles qualify for this procession!

Kids making Sightless Studio Creations in October 2010.

The month of October is also Art Beyond Sight Awareness month.  Celebrate visual awareness with Sightless Studio Creations on October 1st.

Dog with human mask, Mexico, state of Colima, c. 100 B.C.-A.D. 250, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene McDermott and the Eugene McDermott Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Inc.

End the month with your canine companion during the Closing Celebration Sunday, October 30th.  Come in costume (pooches too!) and create art with your four-legged friend for Doggies in the District.

We hope you’ll stop by in October and discover fresh ways to connect with art!

Sarah Coffey
Assistant to the Chair of Learning Initiatives

At the Texas State Fair

From 1936 to 1983 the Dallas Museum of Art was located in Fair Park and usually saw its highest attendance during the State Fair.

Here, with museum guard Teddy Farrell, are two of the more than 90,000 people who visited the Museum during  the 1953 Texas State Fair.

Hillary Bober is the Digital Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Community Connection: Why Is This Art?

Over the past five years, the DMA has collaborated with area arts institutions in a weeklong program called Museum Forum for Teachers: Modern and Contemporary Art.  Participants spend an entire day at a different institution throughout the week, including the Kimbell Art Museum, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Nasher Sculpture Center, and The Rachofsky House.  In the process, they become familiar with the Modern and Contemporary art currently on view in these spaces, as well as the programs, resources, and Education staff at each institution.  I had the pleasure of leading the discussions and activities at the DMA this past summer, which was also my first opportunity to work with Erin Starr White from the Modern (you may recognize her from an earlier blog post).

Describe your role at the Modern.

I am one of three Assistant Curators of Education.  My role is to work with the academic community.  My youngest audience is 3-4th graders, but I predominantly work with middle school and high school students as well as graduate students.  I also work with all the educators for those populations by leading workshops, speaking at career days, and speaking to teacher groups.

Erin working with educators in the galleries during this year’s Museum Forum for Teachers

What are some advantages to working in a museum that only collects Modern and Contemporary art?

It’s what I love;  it’s what I studied in grad school.  I focused on really Conceptual art from the late 60’s and early 70’s with a focus on New York artists.  I’m interested in the pluralism that occurs in Contemporary art – art is no longer just one thing; it takes a multitude of different shapes. Talking about the ideas and forms of Modern and Contemporary Art with students and teachers can bring about the very simple question, “Why is this art?”  This question often opens up a really great dialogue: “The Museum says it is; why do you think it is or is not art?”

Trace how you got to your current position at the Modern.

I studied Art History as an undergraduate student at University of Texas at Arlington. During my time there, I worked as an intern at the Dallas Contemporary.  I took over a position there as Program Coordinator for a little over a year to gain hands-on experience before going to graduate  school, and to determine if working in a museum setting was really what I wanted to do.  I then studied Art History in graduate school at Texas Christian University, while I worked as a part-time Curatorial Research Assistant at the Modern, tracking down paintings, talking to galleries, and securing loans.

After a year as a full-time Curatorial Research Assistant, I decided I wanted to do something more involved with people, more hands-on, and more fulfilling for me personally.  I wanted to work more with the public and with the art.  This job came up a little over two years ago, and it’s worked out really well so far.  I had a limited background working with kids, and I hadn’t worked with teachers at all, but it’s been a nice fit getting to work with educators of all levels and students of all ages.  Since my background is in Art History, I hire artists to come in and lead studio art projects.  I hire about twenty artists a year to come in and work with different groups, so I go on studio visits and get to know local artists to see if their work would fit well with certain exhibition.  For example, I am currently working with Michelle Mackey, an abstract painter heavily influenced by Richard Diebenkorn in conjunction with Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series.

Erin working with educators in the galleries during this year’s Museum Forum for Teachers

What has been the most inspirational artist or exhibition for you?

We have a great lecture series called Tuesday Evenings at the Modern; for me, the most fulfilling lecture was by Lawrence Weiner.  I’ve always been a really big fan of his work – he was one of the
pioneers of Conceptual art – and he was here at the Modern!”

Also, Declaring Space: Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein (September 2007–January 2008) was one of the most fulfilling exhibitions for me.  It was wonderful to see works that don’t travel very often, all in one place.  This show was one I revisited as often as I could, taking in a room full of Rothkos hung the way he wanted, lit the way he wanted them to be lit; instances of Newman’s sculptures along with his paintings; roomfuls of Fontana’s work – canvases that have been slashed, metals that have been slashed; and  Klein’s enormous monochromatic blue  paintings.

What is your favorite work of art at the Modern, and why?

I can’t choose one favorite, but there is a gallery installed right now that is breathtaking.  It has three of Agnes Martin’s paintings and a little suite of her prints.  What I appreciate about her work, and about these in particular, is that they show her process.  They show her solution for artmaking – the grid – and all the different permutations that takes.  These works have a handmade “look” and have such expressivity and feeling.   Initially, you don’t get that sense; you have to look closely to pick it up.  These works are installed with our permanent collection and are nice to compare and contrast with other Abstract Expressionists on  view, as she considered herself an Abstract Expressionist.

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Guiding Us Along

The existing Dallas Museum of Art collections handbook was published in 1997. Considering all of the stellar acquisitions that have taken place in the last fifteen years, we felt the time was right to publish a new one. The process took months of preparation and many meetings to create the new guide, which will be available in the Museum Store early next year.

In a series of conversations, DMA curators and former DMA Director Bonnie Pitman came up with a timeline, and  agonized over the book’s structure (for example, does Romare Bearden’s Soul Three belong in the Contemporary or the Modern section? Should European and American art be combined?). The group also came up with an “A” and a “B” list of objects to be considered for inclusion in each of the sections.

The process for paring these lists down was grueling for all concerned. Sacrifices and compromises were made. As a biased participant, I had my own favorite objects, and anxiously awaited the outcome of each meeting. My beloved College of Animals by Cornelis Saftleven was out of the running early on, owing to urgent conservation needs, but I had the pleasure of seeing this work restored to the European and American section late in the process.

Cornelius Saftleven, "College of Animals," n.d., oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation, 1987.32

I worked on the entries with the curators, interns, and freelance contributors. This catalogue has given me a newfound appreciation for the many works of art I had always admired in passing but never really focused on. Immersing myself in object files or staring at the objects in the galleries, I added many new discoveries to my list of personal favorites.

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the process was the ordering and grouping of objects within their sections. We plastered the walls of our “Classroom B” conference room with color printouts of all four hundred-plus objects, taped or pinned in constantly migrating clusters. It was ultimately quite satisfying to see the groupings crystallize; every invidious or inept grouping eventually led us to the final fortuitous solution. This was a creative process, appealing to the artist in me.

Eric Zeidler is the Publications Manager at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Friday Photos: Mystery Artwork

Last Friday, I posted a scrambled image and a clue in the form of a rhyme.  The final Mystery Artwork is…Cylindrical vessel with ritual ball game scene.

Cylinder vessel with ritual ball game scene, Guatamala, c. 700-850 A.D., Gift of Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher

This Maya vessel depicts a ceremonial ball game, in which the players hit a rubber ball with their hips, not with their hands or feet.  Who would have thought fusing art and games would be fun?  Tom Russotti, that’s who.  Tom is a visiting artist who is  designing and leading a hands-on teacher workshop in November called Art & Games.

As all good things must come to an end, I hope that you have enjoyed this series of Friday Photos: Mystery Artwork.  Thank you to those who participated!

One last visual before I sign off.   Another great reason to visit the Museum is that the art is always changing.  I was surprised to find this John Sennhauser hanging next to Gerald Murphy’s Watch on the fourth floor, and it has recently been added into my top five favorite works of art at the Museum.

John Sennhauser, Colorforms in Colorspace #1, 1947, Dallas Museum of Art Acquisitions Fund, Anonymous Gift

Wishing you a fantastic Friday,

Loryn Leonard
Coordinator of Museum Visits

Meet Our New Go van Gogh Volunteers

So far this month, we have introduced you to our new docents and our new interns.  I am happy to feature another group of friendly faces this week – our new Go van Gogh volunteers.  We have fifteen new volunteers this year, which may be our largest class in the past ten years.  I am excited about the range of backgrounds, experiences, and interests this enthusiastic group brings with them.

The volunteers show off their creations during their training for the African Masks and Headwear program .

Below are some fun facts about our volunteers starting with the bottom row, left to right:

  • In addition to having a Nursing degree, Gio also loves to paint and has produced more than 100 drawings and paintings in his free time.
  • Stephen’s passion for art and design, as well as his belief that volunteering makes a positive impact on the community, inspired him to volunteer along with his girlfriend…
  • …Dorly, who comes to us with a degree in Art and Performance, which will definitely come in handy in the classroom.
  • Mary is currently pursuing a PhD in Art Education at UNT and was also an education intern at the Rachofsky House this past summer (where I met her, and recruited her after she kindly encouraged me during a challenging studio art activity).
  • Michele also has a Nursing degree, and has pursued a great many other things including designing jewelry that has been sold nationwide, making a teaching video for developing countries, and writing a feature article for a major magazine.

Top row, from left to right:

  • Pam owned a window treatment business in the NYC tri-state area before recently moving a stone’s-throw distance to the DMA.
  • Sarah is part of a ceramics co-op that provides opportunities to join other artists in creative pursuits.  She originally became interested in Go van Gogh ten years ago and decided this was the year to join the program!
  • Sandy recently moved to Dallas from the Houston area after teaching language arts for fifteen years, during which she often incorporated works of art into her students’ assignments.
  • Jennie was recruited by two friends who are Go van Gogh volunteers and told her how much they loved the program.
  • Doris also recently moved from Houston, where she gained extensive art education experience in Houston ISD and museum education experience as a docent at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
  • Barbara retired earlier this year after a career in Occupational Therapy, and one of her three goals for post-retirement is “finding ways to give back to the local, national, and/or world communities through volunteerism”.

Not pictured here:

  • Cristina is fortunate to work at a company that encourages volunteering, and will adjust her work schedule to accommodate her love of children and desire to “share with them the joy and excitement of art”.
  • Recently retired from Dealey Montessori, Dennis is finding his schedule to be full of his favorite pursuits, which include acting and playing chess.
  • Erin earned a degree in Studio Art and has experience in painting, sculpture, printmaking, pottery, and graphic design.  Like Cristina, Erin works full time and is adapting her schedule to volunteer with Go van Gogh.
  • Jane served as a docent at the Milwaukee Art Museum and Baltimore Museum of Art, and also led art appreciation classes in her children’s classrooms as a parent volunteer.
  • Laura has a degree in fibers and printmaking and has worked with homeschool students to make costumes and stage props.

Be on the lookout for these volunteers as they begin teaching in Dallas classrooms over the coming months!

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Posting the Past: Our ECO Project

So you had a Behind the Scenes peek in the Archives last month. Curious about what’s actually in some of those boxes?  The Archives’ Exhibition Catalogs Online (ECO) project will allow you to see some of the most interesting things from the DMA’s exhibition archive online.

The ECO project is generously funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Access to Artistic Excellence program. Through the project, we are digitizing DMA-published exhibition catalogues and related unpublished material for exhibitions held between 1903 and 1983. The archives have partnered with the University of North Texas’s Digital Projects Unit to scan the published items and make them available on the Portal to Texas History. They will begin appearing in the Portal later this fall. The unpublished material is being scanned in-house and will also be added to the Portal.

All of the exhibition material digitized through the ECO project will be available on the DMA website beginning Fall 2012 via an interface that is being developed through another NEA grant-funded project, Access to Archival Exhibition Resources Online (AAERO). There will be more on AAERO to come, but you can read the press release now.

Below is just a sample of the kinds of things that will soon be available digitally.

Checklist – Texas Panorama, October 10–November 28, 1943

Advertisement – Famous American Paintings, October 9–November 7, 1948

Catalog Cover – Signposts of Twentieth Century Art, October 28–December 7, 1959 (DMCA)

Entry Requirements – 11th Southwestern Exhibition of Prints and Drawings, January 22–February 19, 1961

Poster – The Arts of Man, October 6–January 1, 1963

Invitation – Art of the Congo, October 5–November 3, 1968

Press release – Dallas Collects: Impressionist and Early Modern Masters, January 25–February 26, 1978

Installation diagram – Visions: James Surls, 1974–1984, December 2, 1984–January 13, 1985

Hillary Bober is the Digital Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Celebrating Five Years of 4th Grade Visits

Today marks the first day of student tours for the 2011-2012 school year.  And with the new school year comes a new year of partnerships with schools and school districts from across the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.  I am especially excited because it also marks the fifth year of our partnership with the Dallas Independent School District.  As a result of this relationship, every 4th grade student in Dallas ISD visits the museum for a docent-guided A Looking Journey tour.

DISD students wait to enter the DMA

It’s always gratifying to receive notes from teachers about their visits to the Museum.  Below are just a couple of quotes from DISD art teachers who visited the DMA last year with their students.

  • Please pass my appreciation on to your entire team and let them know that we are ever thankful for what you do so our students can experience art. I just really can’t fully express how grateful I am.  Going to the DMA is one of the biggest highlights of my students’ year!
  • I want to thank you for a very successful, enjoyable, and educational visit to the DMA for our 4th grade yearly visit this year.  It was the best visit and one in which all of the docents were well-informed, very well-prepared, and there for the groups.  My students couldn’t stop talking about the trip, and they want to return to the DMA.

Students explore the Lokapala in the Museum's Asian galleries

Since September 2007, we have welcomed over 45,000 DISD 4th graders to the Museum for docent-guided tours.  It’s crazy to think that the 4th graders who visited us in 2007 are in 8th grade this year!  I often wonder what sort of impact their DMA visit has had on them.  Have they visited the Museum again?  Do they still think about their favorite work of art from the DMA?

Docent Kelly Breazeale with students from Stonewall Jackson Elementary

All of us at the Dallas Museum of Art value our partnership with Dallas ISD, but it’s really the docents who benefit most from this relationship.  They’re the ones who get to spend each day in the galleries, experiencing works of art with these students.  And in a time when budget cuts and questions about the importance of the arts in education are in the headlines, all of the docents are thrilled that Dallas ISD values our partnership enough to ensure that these visits continue to happen.

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

Opening Up: A Staff Profile of Our Operations Manager

Uncrated tracked down Tara Eaden, the DMA’s Operations Manager, to talk about her job at the Museum.

Describe your job in fifty words or less.
As Operations Manager, my basic duties are to manage the Museum’s daily operations. These duties include, but are not limited to, coordinating with the operations supervisors to organize office moves, set up/break down special events, and to make sure that the museum remains pristine.

What might an average day entail?
There really is no average day for anyone in operations, however the basic portion of my day may consist of various meetings, scheduling for different activities/projects, problem solving and/or fulfilling certain needs of staff, visitors and vendors that fall within my jurisdiction.

How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges?
The best part of my job is the daily knowledge I gain through departmental and peer interactions, as well as meeting the most influential and unique people—colleagues and visitors. I am very fortunate to work with a team of people who make the most challenging days seem effortless. I am doubly fortunate to work in an environment who embraces and caters to all cultures from all demographics.

One of the biggest challenges I might face would be the overlapping of events on the same day. There have been some days where the operations crew is spread thin because of the need to take care of their daily housekeeping needs, as well as multiple events scheduled for the same day at either the same time, or overlapping times. This puts a strain on the crew, thus placing me in the position to be creative with scheduling and employee placement so that the needs are met for not only the client, but for the best interest of the employee.

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum?
I always thought I would be a teacher growing up. Even though I do have the opportunity to teach now from time to time in other capacities, I always thought I’d be in a classroom filled with a group of tots eager to learn. I never thought I would work in an art museum. But now that I’m here, it has been one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve ever encountered.

What is your favorite work in the Museum’s collections?
While I have several favorite works in the museum, my favorite is by far the Untitled (big/small figure) by Tom Friedman. Works of art may say different things to different people, but this work speaks to me in a manner of symbolism. The big blue man (I’ll call him the blues) for me represents problems that we all face sometimes that seem so much bigger than we are. The small figure represents us. The big blue man is looking down on the small man as if he can defeat him or get the best of him. It is in that moment that we could either decide to allow our problems to give us the blues, or we can overtake them. Or simply stated, sometimes our problems seem bigger to us than they really are. My second favorite is The Icebergs by Frederic Edwin Church.

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?
While we have had a number of beautiful and intriguing exhibits, such as Dale Chihuly (1994), Animals in African Art: From the Familiar to the Marvelous (1997), Splendors of China’s Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong (2004), Gordon Parks- Half Past Autumn (2005), my favorite by far is the Across Continents and Cultures: The Art of Henry Ossawa Tanner exhibition from 1995.

Friday Photos: Mystery Artwork Series

Are you tired of pulling your hair out and biting your nails in order to know this week’s Mystery Artwork?  Never fear, for I have the answer!  Last week’s Mystery Artwork is…Mantle with condors

Mantle with Condors, Peru, c. 300-100 B.C., The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

Interested in multicultural fashion?  Check out Art and Fashion, a teacher workshop in conjunction with The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.

Now, for the third puzzler.  Just as before, I have given you a rhyme and an altered image of the mystery object.  You have one week to search through our online collection, or go gallivanting through the galleries.  Next Friday, I will reveal the mystery object and present the final Mystery Artwork.

Brilliant colors of red and yellow,
I depict a scene of an active fellow.
A rubber ball he hits,
With the swing of his hips,
This game is an ancient Mayan ritual.

Come out tonight for a Late Night at the DMA and see if you can locate this object.  Here is a helpful hint: you can find this object on the fourth floor.

Wishing you a playful perusing,

Loryn Leonard
Coordinator of Museum Visits


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