Archive for December, 2011



The Dancing Pants

I recently became really inspired by one of my favorite Go van Gogh programs in which we discuss an abstract painting that we have paired with a Shel Silverstein poem. I really loved the new associations and meanings this juxtaposition brought to light. I decided to find more connections between Silverstein and the collection. Below you will find the original pairing that inspired me, followed by my own couplings.

1.

The Dancing Pants

And now for the Dancing Pants,
Doing their fabulous dance.
From the seat to the pleat
They will bounce to the beat,
With no legs inside them
And no feet beneath.
They’ll whirl, and twirl, and jiggle and prance,
So just start the music
And give them a chance –
Let’s have a big hand for the wonderful, marvelous,
Super sensational, utterly fabulous,
Talented Dancing Pants!

The Reveler

2.

Where the Sidewalk Ends

There is a place where the sidewalk ends,
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Clouds (Wolken) 

3.

Hug O’War

I will not play at tug o’ war
I’d rather play at hug o’ war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses
And everyone grins
And everyone cuddles
And everyone wins.

The Divers

4.

My Guitar

Oh, wouldn’t it be a most wondrous thing
To have a guitar that could play and could sing
By itself – what an absolute joy it would be
To have a guitar…that didn’t need me.

The Guitarist

6.

The Deadly Eye

It’s the deadly eye
Of Poogley-Pie.
Look away, look away,
As you walk by,
‘Cause whoever looks right at it
Surely will die
It’s a good thing you didn’t
You did? …
Good-bye.

Black-figure kylix

Space
And last but certainly not least, a very special quote from Shel Silverstein…

Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-gumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
‘Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain’t been there before.

Legal Pad Sheet

Space
These are some of the artworks I associate with Shel Silverstein’s poems. What comes to mind when you read them? Are there other artworks that they could be paired with?

Want to explore more literary connections to art? Check out Arts and Letters Live. See what this year has in store for music, film, and performance at the DMA when the 2012 season is announced on December 8th. Programs fun for all ages!

SPACE

Hope you enjoy,

Hannah Burney

McDermott Intern for Teaching Programs and Partnerships

space

Images used:

The Reveler, Jean Dubuffet, 1964, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark

Clouds (Wolken), Sigmar Polke, 1989, mixed media on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund and the Contemporary Art Fund:  Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon E. Faulconer, Mr. and Mrs. Bryant M. Hanley, Jr., Marguerite and Robert K. Hoffman, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, Deedie and Rusty Rose, Gayle and Paul Stoffel, and two anonymous donors

The Divers, Fernand Leger, 1942, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the James H. and Lillian Clark Foundation

The Guitarist, Pablo Picasso, 1965, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Art Museum League Fund

Legal Pad Sheet, Alex Hay, 1967, spray lacquer and stencil on linen, Dallas Museum of Art, Ruth and Clarence Roy Fund and DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

Black-figure kylix, Greek; Attic, last quarter 6th century B.C., ceramic, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Cecil H. Green

Seldom Scene: Hodges, Albers, and Lawrence. Oh My!

You may have noticed something shiny and new in the entrance to the Center for Creative Connections (C3). In November, the C3’s Encountering Space exhibition experienced a few art rotations, including the installation of Jim Hodges’ Great Event, three works by Josef Albers, and Annette Lawrence’s Accumulation Project. See the new works, and the new film in the C3 Theater by Frank & Kristin Lee Dufour, for free tomorrow during First Tuesday, when general admission is free from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Fashion Sale for Our Followers

To celebrate you, our more than 50,000 combined Facebook and Twitter followers, we are offering our fans two days to experience one of “the hottest tickets in town,”  The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, at the general admission price of $10! Head down to the DMA on either Tuesday, December 6, or Wednesday, December 7, and show the Visitor Services Desk that you follow us on Facebook or Twitter* on your phone to receive the $6 discount.

*One discount per person; discount may not be applied for both Twitter and Facebook.

Friday Photos: Holidays in the District

There’s something about little sparkling lights that can transform a tree into something magical.  Come down to the Dallas Arts District tonight to see the lighting of this beautiful tree during Holidays in the District.  Activities start at 5:30 p.m. and include horse and carriage rides, art activities, pictures with Santa, live music and dance performances, and the unveiling of an original work of art created specially for the evening.  Food trucks will provide delicious treats, with the grand tree lighting ceremony at 7:03 p.m.  Make sure you visit the DMA booth and create a holiday print!

Cheers,

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community

Sail On: A New Interpretation of an Ancient Peruvian Object

This wooden object, which has been at the DMA since 1975, was misinterpreted as a “ceremonial digging board.” Walking through the galleries of Peruvian art, I was struck by the large size and stark, seemingly utilitarian design of this object and was encouraged to research it.

Ceremonial digging board, Peru, Ica Valley, Ica, 1476–1532, wood and paint, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 1975.24.McD

The figures are beautifully painted and remarkably well preserved. At the very top stand nine small, enigmatic figures. Underneath those are four rows of geometric designs, while six small water birds line the side. But other than the carvings at the top, it is a plain board. Because most “art objects” of the Americas are often practical as well, I wondered what functions this could have had. Investigations into similar objects of this type yielded an interesting new interpretation. We now know that it is a steering centerboard, and represents a fascinating and extremely useful sailing tradition.

From Lothrop, Aboriginal Navigation off the West Coast of South America. Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute Volume LXII, 1932.

Boards with the exact same shape and similar carving have been found in graves of the very rich on the south coast of Peru. The associated grave goods and the fine quality of these carvings (some were even found covered with gold foil!), indicate that these were high status objects.

The Ica
These boards were associated with the Ica culture of Peru, who preceded the Inca Empire and were located in the very dry desert on the south coast. The Ica culture flourished from about 1100-1300, before being taken over by the Inca Empire.

From Benzoni, History of the New World, 1546.

How Was It Used?
When archaeologists started finding these wooden boards in the early 1900s, they classified them as ceremonial agricultural implements or ceremonial digging sticks. Through the research of anthropologists, we now know that this type of object had a very different function.

This object is a centerboard used for navigating large balsa wood rafts on the Pacific Ocean. Though not exactly a rudder, it functions in a similar way, steering the craft. Through the interplay of sails and the movements of several of these centerboards, balsa wood rafts carrying up to twenty tons of cargo and as many as fifty people could travel all along the coast of Peru and Ecuador. We have some evidence that they traveled as far as the Pacific Islands, a distance of over four thousand miles!

From Juan and Ulloa, A Voyage to South America, 1748.

How Do We Know?
Anthropologists in the 1940s were interested in the maritime techniques and capabilities of the ancient Peruvians. Most objects associated with sailing did not survive, since they were made of perishable materials like wood and cotton. The wooden paddles and centerboards (like ours) do survive, because they were purposefully buried in the graves of high-status people. The dry desert conditions on the south coast of Peru allowed them to remain intact, and archaeologists started finding them in the early 20th century.

One important scholar, Thor Heyerdahl, spent years researching Peruvian navigation and sailing. He actually built a balsa log raft modeled on ancient vessels, and named it Kon-Tiki. Heyerdahl and five companions tested the sea-worthiness of their vessel and several of their other theories on trans-Pacific contact between native peoples. They sailed for 101 days over 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean, ending August 7, 1947. A documentary called Kon-Tiki detailing their voyage—with all its challenges and successes—was made in 1950. It went on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1951 and is being remade in Norway to be released in 2012.

You can watch the movie online here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGooopCTmpg

Many Uses
Some of the rafts seen by the earliest Europeans off the Andean coast carried merchants and tons of cargo on board. Others were used for army transportation and the conquest and control of warlike islanders off the empire coast. Still others were used by fishermen who went on extensive expeditions. The Spaniards even recorded Inca memories of individual merchant rafts and large, organized raft flotillas that set out on exploring expeditions to remote islands.

Diagram of a large Balsa-Log Raft. From Lothrop, Aboriginal Navigation off the West Coast of South America. Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute Volume LXII, 1932.

Raftsmen in north Peru were great mariners who played fatal tricks on Spaniards who voyaged as passengers on their balsa rafts. The natives simply detached the ropes holding the log raft together, and the Spaniards fell through and drowned while the sailors survived because they were outstanding swimmers. Other early chroniclers state that even before the arrival of the Spaniards the coastal Peruvians, who “swam as well as fishes,” lured the highland Incas into the open ocean on balsa rafts, only to undo the lashings of the logs and drown their less sea-minded passengers.

Wendy Earle is the McDermott Graduate Curatorial Intern for Arts of the Americas and the Pacific.

The Best Gift Ever

Thanksgiving is the perfect kick-off to the Holiday Season.  It gives us time to visit with our loved ones, which in turn, reminds us that we need to start thinking about what gifts we plan to get them.  Here we are in the beginning of December, and the joy of finding the perfect gift has begun.  Wouldn’t it be fun to give your special someone a gift from the Museum?

Let us pretend that money is no object, and we can purchase any artwork in the Museum’s collection.  Now, the artwork you plan to buy should be intended as a gift. Which artwork would you choose, and who would you give it to?  Let’s make this an open-ended poll where you can post your gift idea in the comment section below.  I’ll go first:

I would give this Moche stirrup-spout vessel to my husband, Joe.  Last year, we had the privilege of visiting Peru, and we became enamored with Andean cultures.

Stirrup-spout vessel depicting a clustered pepino fruit, Moche culture, c. A.D. 1-3000, The Nora and John Wise Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon, the Eugene McDermott Family, Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Murchison

Happy Shopping!
 
Coordinator of Museum Visits

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