Archive for September, 2012

Re-visiting Anytown USA

Last month, I shared teacher responses to the following prompt for the artwork Anytown USA by Jack Pierson:

The letters that make up this sculpture come from a variety of places. Imagine that each of the letters came from signage on buildings in Anytown USA.  Select one letter and write a description of the business you think used that letter in its signage.  Remember, your response must be inspired by the look and feel of the font/letter you select.

Anytown USA, Jack Pierson, 2000, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Junior Associates, 2004.10.a-i, © Jack Pierson

I repeated this same exercise with our docents this week, and their responses were equally as clever and creative.  Below are descriptions for some of the businesses that the DMA docents think populate Anytown USA.

A is for Nan’s Diner, which has been around since the 1950s.  The booths and stools are covered in yellow vinyl, and the diner is known for their breakfast menu.  The A may also be from a sign for Carvel’s Ice Cream Shop, whose interior is decorated in primary colors.  The whole store smells like hot fudge and cotton candy.
NY is for New York Bagels, a shop that’s open all night and is a favorite late night hangout.  NY may also represent the New York Pantyhose Company, because the NY in this work of art comes in a pair–just like pantyhose!
T is for the Small Town News, a local newspaper that reports on weddings, births, and everything that’s happening at the schools.  It might also stand for the Texaco gas station, which is still a full-service station.
O is from the sign of the John Silk Feed Store, which caters to farmers and ranchers.  The employees are “good ol’ boys” and the store smells like hay, fertilizer, and cedar shavings.  The O might also be from the sign of the Apothecary Shoppe, which had served the town for 60 years until it was forced to close because of a big chain store.
W may be from the sign of the family-owned Main Street Hardware Store.  The store is cluttered, but they carry specialized products that you can’t find at other stores.  The W might also belong to the Washateria, which is filled with the whir of washers and dryers.

U is for the Final Rest Undertakers, a quiet space decorated with muted colors.  Past customers might say, “He looks so natural, but it costs so much.”  On the other end of the spectrum, U might also be from the sign of a saloon/boarding house.  A loud and crude place, there’s a player piano in the corner and women wander the lobby wearing only their petticoats.
S is for the General Store, whose owners know everyone in town.  The stores sells everything you could ever need, and there’s also a large pickle barrel in the corner.  The S could also be part of the sign for a soda fountain, which is the favorite hangout of all of the teenagers in Anytown USA.
A is part of the sign for the local baseball stadium, which houses a minor league team.  It gives the town a sense of sophistication and makes it feel like maybe it’s a larger town than it actually is.  The A could also be from the local Anheuser-Busch distributor, the town’s largest employer.

Without a doubt, the answers for that final A were unanimous in all four groups of docents who participated in this exercise.  What is it about that font that screams baseball and/or beer?

Many of the docents commented on the sense of nostalgia that their responses held.  I’m looking forward to trying this activity with students to find out if Anytown becomes more modern when it’s examined from their point-of-view.

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

Back Where It Started: Dallas Video Festival

Coming up in just ten short days, the Dallas Video Festival will launch its 25th Anniversary Festival here at the DMA. The festival will include screenings of feature-length works as well as shorts, animation, and other new media, “The Texas Show,” workshops, and more!

Recently, I spoke with Bart Weiss, DVF Artistic Director and all around “ video guy,” about the history of the festival.

So, the Video Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, back at its original home venue, the DMA. How did the Video Festival start and how did it happen to start at the DMA?

A dear and longtime friend of mine, John Held, Jr., was working on a program that was going to take place at the DMA called Video as a Creative Medium. It was a two-evening program; the first evening featured local video artists and the second evening featured video art from around the world, including works from Michael Smith and other up-and-coming video artists. It was a very successful program. Afterwards, I was chatting with John and Melissa Berry, the program manager at the DMA at the time, and just blurted out, “We should do this again next year, and for four days!” Thus the idea of the Video Festival was born.

I should also mention that on the first evening of the Video as a Creative Medium program, I met a lovely woman named Susan Teegarden, who is now my wife!

The Video Festival ran the first few years basically out of the DMA’s programming office and was not its own organization. Two of the founding board members of the official new organization, The Video Association of Dallas, were those very helpful and supportive DMA staffers–Melissa Berry and Sue Graze (the DMA’s contemporary art curator at the time).

What are a couple of your fondest memories of video festivals over the years?

Of course, I have many, many fond memories of past festivals, but one that really sticks out to me was one I could have never planned for. I cannot recall the exact year, but we had John Wylie Price participating in the festival. We were doing a program that included showing clips of the television show Amos ’n’ Andy. John was part of a conversation that debated whether this show was beneficial or damaging to the African American community since it often played upon stereotypes in the story lines.

We also had Steve Allen in town and he was going to be leading the program that was to follow Price’s. Allen attended Price’s program and instead of doing the schedule program, he ended up continuing the conversation with Price about how many communities–Jewish, African American, and others–often use humor to deal with the pain they experience as part of their history.

An absolutely incredible dialogue erupted and this moment is one that I think of often.

What can we expect at this year’s festival?

There are so many great things planned for this year’s festival–to pick out just a couple would be like looking down at your hands and deciding which finger on your hand was your favorite!

In general though, this year’s festival will feature many incredible Dallas filmmakers, who this year have made some of the greatest work of their lives. Some of these major local players whose work will be featured include (but are not limited to) Julia Dyer, Alan Govenar, Mark Birnbaum, and of course Allen and Cynthia Salzman Mondell, for whom we will hold a great tribute. All of this programming coming together so wonderfully is a statement to how important video art is, and doing the festival at the Museum makes it all the more powerful.

We hope to see you at the festival, September 27-30. For more details and to buy tickets and passes, visit the Dallas Video Festival’s website.

If you need further convincing to come check out the festival, here are a few pictures from Video Fests over the years.

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Denise Helbing is the Manager of Partner Programs at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Visit the Museum Without Leaving Your Classroom!


Self-portrait collages created by 2nd grade students at Green Elementary during a Searching for Faces Go van Gogh program

Calling all teachers!  Do your students like experimenting with art materials and exploring artworks from other times and places?  As you begin to plan your school year, we hope you’ll consider inviting the Dallas Museum of Art to your classroom for a Go van Gogh outreach program.  Here are some reasons we think Go van Gogh is a great way to spend a morning:

You can…

  • Visit the Museum without leaving your classroom!  Go van Gogh brings images of artworks from the Museum for interactive conversations.
  • Make an artwork to take home.  Go van Gogh brings all the supplies your class will need to make a take-home art project.
  • Connect to your curriculum.  Go van Gogh programs are geared for specific grade levels, and often dove-tail with subjects students are already learning.
  • Travel around the world.  Go van Gogh programs feature art from Africa, Mexico, Japan, and other far-off places.
  • Get a free pass.  Each student who participates in the Go van Gogh program receives a free family pass to visit the Museum.

Some quick facts about Go van Gogh:

  • Programs are offered to 1st-6th grade classrooms at schools within Dallas city limits.
  • Go van Gogh is free-of-charge!
  • Scheduling is first-come, first-served.  There is no limit to the number of programs you can schedule.

Visit our website to learn more about Go van Gogh program offerings and to schedule a program for your classroom.

We hope to visit your classrooms this school year!

Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Go van Gogh Outreach

Meet the 2012-2013 McDermott Interns

Each year we welcome a new group of McDermott interns working in the curatorial and education departments. The 2012-2013 group started at the beginning of the month and include Emily Brown, Emily Schiller, Alex Vargo, Andrea Lesovsky, Alec Unkovic, Hannah Fullgraf, Pilar Wong, and Danielle Schulz. You will hear from each of the interns on Uncrated throughout their nine months at the DMA. Learn more about the McDermott Internships on the DMA’s website; you can apply for your chance to be a 2013-2014 McDermott intern in January.

Friday Photos: Plumed Serpent Teacher Workshop

Last Saturday we kicked off the first teacher workshop of the fall: Cacao, Codices, and Cross-Cultural Connections. We explored  The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico and considered the complex trade networks and the shared artistic styles between the multilingual societies in Post-Classic Mesoamerica. We also spent quality time with the Codex Nuttall, the Mixtec picture book that tells a story without the use of a written language.

Groups of workshop participants created their own codices of popular or historical events. Groups had to guess each other’s narrative, testing the difficulty of communicating without words. Would you have been able to guess what stories their codices were telling?

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Join us for a Saturday teacher workshop on October 6 or November 17!

Until next time,

Andrea V. Severin
Coordinator of Teaching Programs

Fresh New Faces

Our Museum offices are abuzz with a group of new McDermott Interns, who began working with our Curatorial and Education Divisions last week. Two new faces who will be blogging with us over the next nine months are Alex Vargo, McDermott Education Intern for Gallery Teaching, and Pilar Wong, McDermott Education Intern for Community Teaching. In addition to the blog, they will also contribute their talent to our docent and tour programs, teacher programs, and Go van Go outreach.

Welcome to the DMA ladies! Why don’t you share with us a bit of your background.

Alex exploring Big Bend National Park

Pilar on the Mediterranean coast in Split, Croatia

Alex: I graduated in 2011 from Oberlin College in Ohio, where I studied Art History. I’m originally from a suburb of Philadelphia, where, in high school, I rowed out of boathouse row by the art museum and, yes, ran the famous Rocky steps. After college, I returned to Philly, where I worked in the Family Programs Departments of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation. Before this internship, I had never been to Dallas, but I’m not totally new to Texas. I had been living in Marfa since February working at the Chinati Foundation. This is my first time living in a Texas city and I’m excited to explore more of the state!

Pilar: I was raised throughout the beautiful southwest in New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado—Texas is the farthest east I’ve ever lived! I received my BA from Stanford University in Comparative Studies of Race and Ethnicity with a minor in Education. During my time at Stanford, I worked at the Cantor Arts Center which hosts the 2nd largest collection of Rodin sculptures in the world! After moving to Dallas, I volunteered at the Dallas Holocaust Museum and worked at the Dallas Heritage Village.

Now that you’ve been introduced to our collection, which artwork would be your BFF and why?

Alex: Donald Judd’s Untitled (1988). Coming from Marfa, where Judd lived and worked when he wasn’t in New York, I feel like we are old friends.

Pilar: I absolutely love Maurice de Vlaminck’s Bougival.  The vivid colors make me smile every time I see it, but the depth of the painting ensures that I would never get tired of seeing it day after day and imagining myself in the landscape.

If you could spend the night in one of our galleries, which one would you choose?

Alex: If I could spend the night in a gallery and I could touch the works of art, I would love to be on level 4 in the Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to the Present show. The Fernando and Humberto Campana Banquete Chair with Pandas calls to me!

Pilar: I would definitely want to spend the night on level 4 with American Decorative Arts so I could test out the fantastic four-poster bed from the 1840’s!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Alex: Tripe. I love pho!

Pilar: I attended the State Fair of Texas last year and tried several deep fried treats including bubblegum, lemonade, beer, cheese curds, and pickles. I’m looking forward to this year’s offerings!

You might see these lovely ladies around the next time you visit the Museum or one of our programs, so be sure to give them a warm Texas welcome!

Artworks shown:

  • Donald Judd, Untitled, 1988, Dallas Museum of Art, Museum League Purchase Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, H. Harold Wineburgh Fund and gift of an anonymous donor
  • Maurice de Vlaminck, Bougival, c. 1905, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection
  • Fernando Campana and Humberto Campana, Banquete chair with pandas, designed 2006, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit
  • Crawford Riddell, Bed, c. 1844, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of three anonymous donors, Friends of the Decorative Arts Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, Discretionary Decorative Arts Fund, and the Boshell Family Foundation

Sarah Coffey
Assistant to the Chair of Learning Initiatives

iMuseum: iCame, iSaw, iDid

Next week our September Late Night will be our “iMuseum 2.0” event, where visitors can use technology to explore the DMA and participate in new, interactive programs. You will be able to text a work of art with your questions, listen to the winner of our Be Our Main Stage Act contest, go on a Choose Your Own Adventure tour, have conversations with our curators in the galleries, go on our Twitter Treasure Hunts, and more!

Here are just a few of the new programs we will be offering on September 21:

Text a Work of Art
Do you sometimes wonder what a work of art is thinking or feeling? Well now you can find out when you text a work of art your question and get a response! There will be three works of art answering your questions throughout the night, including Cornelis Saftleven’s College of Animals, so start thinking of your questions.

Cornelis Saftleven, “College of Animals,” 1655, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation

Silent Soundtrack
Visitors will be able to check out a pair of headphones, provided by Austin Silent Disco, se -up with three different music channels. Each channel will have a soundtrack picked by DMA staff for a specific gallery. After you listen to our choices, we invite you to share your own ideas about the music you would choose to accompany a gallery or work of art.

Personal Tours
Check out a docent for a personal thirty-minute tour of two to three works in the DMA’s collection. Choose from themes like Love & Lust, Big & Small, Land & Sea, Work & Play, Secrets & Stories, Gods & Heroes, or Good & Bad. Docents will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

One of the works you will hear about on your personal tour.
Mask, Mexico, state of Veracruz, Rio Pesquero, Gulf Coast Olmec culture c. 900-500 B.C., jadeite, 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, Incorporated

Art Trivia
Do you know how many paintings by Gerald Murphy are in the DMA’s collection? If so, participate on your own or bring a group of friends and play as a team, in our Art Trivia contest. There will be several rounds and the winners of each round will win great prizes!

Gerald Murphy, “Razor,” 1924, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the artist

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services at the Dallas Museum of Art.

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