Archive for October, 2012

Urban Armor: Elements of Art and Skateboard

The DMA’s tween/teen program Urban Armor seeks to integrate works of art, rich group discussion, and art making with an over-arching theme of identity so that students can find relevance and practical application to their lives. This exclusive tween/teen program kicked off the new school year with an awesome class, led by art educator and artist Mark Gutting. The workshop emphasized the elements of art and principles of design in our contemporary collection in order to inspire ideas for students to use in their work—their very own skate deck! The students created custom designs, symbols, and logos and were able to screenprint these designs on the back of a skateboard. While working with him, I gained some great insight on who he is as a teacher and a student. Check out my interview with Mr. Gutting below:

What is your background and why did you decide to become a teacher?

Mark Gutting: “Drawing fills my heart with joy.  I think it started with a doodle in childhood and has kept growing since.  Ten years ago, teaching became a logical direction. Teaching art presents a daily opportunity to share that joy.”

What were you like as a teen?

MG: “I’m sure that I was like any other teen–trying to stand out while fitting in. High school is when I first began to develop a style of my own. The funny thing is, I kept it hidden, like it was some big secret.  I didn’t want anyone to steal my style before I fully developed it!”

What about working with our Urban Armor teen group appeals to you?

MG: “The program’s focus on identity.  I’m not sure there is a more apt theme to being a teenager.  Creativity in any form is a wonderful avenue to discovering one’s identity.”

Is there a difference between teaching students in the museum and in the classroom?

MG: “In my experience, students are students; however, the museum presents a situation that can never be duplicated in the classroom–the gallery walk.  To wind through the galleries, sketching a pattern from a textile, a bead from a necklace, a tool mark from a sculpture, and a brush stroke from a painting, is to mainline inspiration.”

What was the goal of the program on Sunday?

MG: “As an educator, teaching the fundamentals of any subject is vital to building a base of knowledge.  Getting students inspired to learn–while having fun–is no easy task.  There are a multitude of art fundamentals found in skateboard deck art: line, shape, form, pattern, balance, positive and negative space, spatial organization, an endless list really.  I wanted to present the Urban Armor group with a unique project–screen printing a skateboard–while incorporating those fundamental concepts.”

Why skate decks?

MG: “I loved skateboarding as a teen.  The movement–the freedom of it–mesmerized me.  Since I was never good at skating, the deck art became my focus.  I spent many hours drawing my last name into some skull-infested graphics.  Back then, the concept of screen printing was future talk–complete science fiction to me.  I simply wanted to present the Urban Armor group with an opportunity I never had–to screen print an actual skateboard deck.”

What was your fondest memory of this class?

MG: “Getting to see the Urban Armor group experience the process of printing actual skateboard decks was a joy.  Hopefully, some of them will want to build their own screen printing rigs in their parents’ garages and crank out original works of art.  Everyone has to start somewhere!”

Why do you like working at the DMA?

MG: “The programs offered to students at the DMA are instilling a deep love for art and creating a new generation of museum patrons.  Who knows?  Maybe even the next Picasso.”

To find out more about Urban Armor and upcoming workshops please visit the website.

Amanda Batson
Program Coordinator for the Center for Creative Connections

Fourteen Years of TWO x TWO

TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art is an annual contemporary art auction held in the Richard Meier-designed Rachofsky House in Dallas and benefiting two organizations—the Dallas Museum of Art and amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. The event has raised over $34 million in the past thirteen years, enabling the Museum to acquire more than 125  works of art. October 20 marks the fourteenth annual gala and auction, which features Richard Phillips as amfAR’s 2012 Honored Artist. To learn more about the history of TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art, and this year’s events, including the First Look preview party tomorrow evening, visit the TWO x TWO website. Explore past TWO x TWO events below with guests such as Barry Manilow, Alan Cumming, Patti LaBelle, and more.

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Reading the Cards: Part 1

On a recent trip to New York, I finally had my cards read by a psychic–something that I’ve always wanted to have done!  As she was telling me about a tall, dark, stranger in my future I couldn’t help but notice the vibrant, graphic nature of her card deck. With their flat color planes, Romanesque figures, and dramatic styling, the cards each told a specific portion of the larger tale.

While tarot cards were originally used throughout Europe to play card games, they have become associated in modern culture with mysticism and magic. The deck is divided into two sections: the minor arcana and major arcana. The former is very similar to a modern deck of cards with four suits consisting of ten pip (numbered 2 through 10) and four court cards. The major arcana cards are those most often associated with tarot divination.

This post is my first in a series that will make connections between individual tarot cards and artworks in the DMA’s collection. I’ll share works from our collection that are reminiscent of a card’s imagery or of the card’s meaning in divination practices.

The Chariot is the seventh trump or major arcana card. The card normally depicts a royal figure in a chariot being pulled by horses or sphinxes–one black and one white. A sign of an external battle of wills, the white and black horses often pull in different directions. In a tarot spread, the card can refer to current obstacles or successes in overcoming life’s challenges.

Théodore Géricault, Horse-drawn Cart Full of Wounded Soldiers (Chariot Chargé de Soldats Blessés), 1818, Dallas Museum of Art, Juanity K. Bromberg Memorial Fund and gift of an anonymous donor

This lithograph not only depicts a horse-drawn carriage, but it also exemplifies many of the qualities of the chariot card. Fatigued and wounded soldiers are clearly returning from battle, perhaps even a losing battle. The horses are pulling in so many directions that they are tangling their harnesses and fighting with each other.

Death is the thirteenth major arcana card in a tarot deck. Death is depicted by a skeleton riding a horse and is often shown surrounded by dead and dying people. Despite its name, the card does not represent actual death. Instead, it usually signifies an ending of an era or relationship.

Dakini Vajravarahi, c. A.D. 1600, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the Virginia C. and Flyd C. Ramsey Fund of Communities Foundation of Texas, Inc.

Adorned with a necklace of skulls and carrying an executioner’s ax, this dakini, a Buddhist female deity, represents the violent aspects of existence. She also embodies the cycle of life, death, and rebirth which celebrates death as a bringer of life.

The Devil is the fifteenth major arcana card. Tarot images of the Devil show him as a satyr-like creature sitting above or on two humans. If selected during a card reading, the Devil represents self-bondage or barriers to leading a full life. Often, these obstacles are interpreted as vices such as materialism, lust, egotism, etc.

Ferdinand Hodler, The Halberdier, 1895, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund and gift of Nona and Richard Barrett

While Ferdinand Hodler’s The Halberdier actually depicts a Swiss soldier, this image seemed like the perfect choice to represent the Devil. Clothed in a traditional red costume and holding a spiked battle-axe, the soldier evokes several connotations we hold concerning the Devil.

Stay tuned for my next post, which will look at the Emperor, the Empress, the Fool, the Hanged Man, and the Hermit.

Pilar Wong
McDermott Intern for Community Teaching

Seldom Scene: Karla Black at the DMA

Scottish artist Karla Black will open her first solo project at a U.S. museum this Friday at the DMA. For Karla Black: Concentrations 55, the artist has created two sculptures for the DMA’s Hoffman Gallery and South Concourse. See images from the installation process below, and meet Black and see her work at our Late Night this Friday. She will discuss her exhibition at 7:00 p.m. in the Hoffman Gallery.

Fall is (finally) in the air!

It has technically been fall for almost three weeks, and it is just now starting to feel like it. Temperatures in the 70s, presidential debates, brisk winds, sweaters, switching from iced coffee back to regular, lovely fall colors and, of course, a smattering of new DMA exhibitions.

Here are some works from the collection to get you in the autumnal spirit.

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Works featured:

  • Florence E. McClung, Autumn, 1959, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Florence E. McClung
  • Lynda Benglis, Odalisque (Hey, Hey Frankenthaler), 1969, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund
  • Philip Russell, Autumn Landscape, 1957, Dallas Museum of Art, Leon A. Harris, Sr. Memorial Purchase Prize, 9th Southwestern Exhibition of Prints and Drawings, 1958
  • Marsden Hartley, Mountains, No. 19, 1930, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.
  • Zaha Hadid, Tea and Coffee Set, Designed 1996, Executed 2002, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Deedie and Rusty Rose in honor of Lela Rose and Catherine Rose
  • Mark Rothko, Orange, Red and Red, 1962, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated
  • Everett Spruce, Autumn Landscape, 1955, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association purchase, The Seventeenth Annual Exhibition of Texas Painting and Sculpture, 1955
  • John T. Curran (designer), Tiffany and Company (manufacturer), “Aztec” tête-à-tête coffee service, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift and Discretionary Decorative Arts Fund
  • Myron Stout, Untitled, 1950, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund
  • Henri Fantin-Latour, Fall Flowers, 1863, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark
  • Navajo people, Eye-Dazzler Blanket, c. 1880-1900, Dallas Museum of Art, Textile Purchase Fund

Alex Vargo

McDermott Intern for Gallery Teaching

The Personal Response Tour

Last spring, I learned about something called the “Personal Response” tour while attending the NAEA convention.  One of my colleagues at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art said that they use the Personal Response tour as a team-building exercise with staff.  It also provides opportunities to slow down, look closely, and reflect.  We used the Personal Response tour during docent training this week to get our docents to slow down and reflect on their own relationships to works of art in the DMA collection. Docents tour with the same group of people each week, so they were divided into groups based on their touring day.  In this way, it helped them get to know each other a bit better, too.

The Personal Response tour was formulated by Ray Williams, who is now at the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas.  During this tour, docents were asked to select a card that contained an open-ended prompt to guide their time in the galleries.  I took some of the prompts from an article written by Ray Williams* and composed ten additional prompts for docents.  They were given time to explore the galleries and select the work of art that, for them, was the best response to their prompt.  After selecting a work of art, docents spent ten minutes jotting down their thoughts and reactions to their prompt.  After ten minutes had passed, we came back together and everyone shared their response with the group.  I was amazed by how open our docents were to this experience, and also how thoughtful their responses were.  Below are just a few of their selections:

Prompt: Find a work of art that reminds you of something from your past…What are the connections?
One docent had to take piano lessons when she was little and did not enjoy them.  She felt that the young person in At the Piano is obviously disinterested in playing the piano, and that was her attitude when she had to practice, too.  But now she wishes that she had spent more time practicing and had really learned to play the piano.  She has a piano in her home today and still wishes she knew how to play it.

Cecilia Beaux, At the Piano, c. 1890, Graham Williford Foundation for American Art, 145.1994.3

Prompt: Find a work of art that embodies some aspect of peace.
One of the docents selected a shroud or ceremonial hanging (sekomandi) from Indonesia.  The shroud was owned throughout someone’s life and was then used to bury them following their death.  The docent felt that the shroud conveyed a message that “everything will be okay, because you’re joining all of your ancestors.”

Shroud or ceremonial hanging (sekomandi), Toraja people, Indonesia, probably late 19th century, Dallas Museum of Art, the Steven G. Alpert Collection of Indonesian Textiles, gift of the McDermott Foundation, 1983.126

Prompt: Find a work of art that reminds you of childhood.  What resonates with you?  What elements of childhood do you wish were still a part of your life?
The Beach at Trouville reminded one docent of spending her summer vacations at a family home in Ogunquit, Maine, visiting her grandmother. She fondly remembers the beautiful beaches, like the one in the painting. She and her husband still have a house in Maine, but it is not near a beautiful beach like the one from her childhood.

Albert Marquet, The Beach at Trouville, c. 1906, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation Incorporated, 1981.121, © Albert Marquet Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

Prompt: Select a work of art to take on a date.  Where would you go?  What would you do?  What would you discuss?
Andrea’s Response: I would like to go on a date with The Bugler because 1) his ability to play the bugle so well indicates at least some level of intelligence; 2) he is decently attractive and well-dressed; and 3) if the dinner conversation starts to wane, he can just play me some tunes.

Edouard Manet, The Bugler (Le Clarion), 1882, Lent by the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation, 57.2006.8

Prompt: Select a work of art that you would like to hang above your sofa.  Why?  What would visitors to your home learn about you?
My Response: I would select the sword ornament in the form of a lion.  I’m a Leo, so I associate with the lion in that we’re proud and protective of those we love. But I also think this lion has a huge smile on his face, and I like to laugh and be playful, too.

Sword ornament in the form of a lion, Asante people, Ghana, c. mid-20th century, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 2010.2.McD

I’m going to pose one final prompt for all of you–what work of art from the DMA collection embodies, for you, pure joy?  Why?  I can’t wait to read your responses!

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

*Ray Williams, “Honoring the Personal Response: A Strategy for Serving the Public Hunger for Connection,” Journal of Museum Education, Volume 35, Number 1, Spring 2010, pp. 93-101.

Texas Art in a Texas Museum

I first joined the DMA team in July 2010 as an intern for the Curatorial Department of European and American art. In May 2011 I was hired as the research project coordinator for early Texas art, a two-summer position sponsored by the Texas Fund for Curatorial Research. As an art history graduate student specializing in 18th-century British art, I enjoy switching gears when I am in Dallas for the summer and learning about the history of the local art scene in my hometown. The culmination of my research is an addition to the DMA website that includes both a timeline of all Texas-related exhibitions and a historical text about the evolution of the Dallas art community over the years.

The most valuable resource for my project has been the DMA Archives. When I first started researching the relationship between Dallas art clubs, local artists, and the Museum, I spent many hours perusing exhibition catalogues and photographs from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. I was surprised to learn that women played a central role in the early history of the Museum, and that support for local artists was strong and consistent throughout the decades. I quickly realized that most of my attention would be devoted to the period spanning the 1930s to the 1960s. During this time, the Museum sponsored between five and twenty exhibitions each year that exclusively showcased the work of Texas artists.

Most of these exhibitions were sponsored by local art clubs and were held annually. Examples include the Dallas Allied Arts exhibitions, the Dallas Print and Drawing Society exhibitions, and the Texas Watercolor Society exhibitions. For each exhibition, local artists submitted works for entry, which were then judged by a three-person jury prior to the opening of the show. Top works of art were awarded purchase prizes, which were monetary awards provided by art clubs, private donors, and local businesses. All works that received purchase prizes automatically entered the Museum’s permanent collection.

Here are some of my favorites:

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What surprised me most as I was researching the Museum’s collection of Texas art, and specifically the purchase prizes, is the variety of subject matter, techniques, and artistic styles. As you can see, Texas art is not restricted to panoramic views of the desert or scenes of cowboys at work on the ranch. There is much to be learned about the Museum’s vast and incredibly varied collection of regional art. I think it’s time we all took a closer look. Explore the Texas Art section of the Dallas Museum of Art’s website for additional images and information.

Alexandra Wellington is the former Research Project Coordinator for Early Texas Art at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Teaching for Creativity: Exquisite Corpse

At last week’s Go van Gogh training session, we decided to get everyone’s creative juices flowing with a fun warm-up exercise.  Volunteers got the chance to spend some time exploring works of art they had never seen before through a group writing exercise. During this experience, volunteers each contributed one line of a poem without knowing what the others had written. This collaborative technique was originally created by Surrealist artists interested in incorporating elements of chance into artistic expression. Known by the Surrealists as Exquisite Corpse, this activity can be done as a narrative or drawing game with several people contributing to one poem or artwork. After participating in a written version of this exercise, the volunteers were eager to learn more about the artworks they had written about. Their genuine enthusiasm and sense of wonder made me think that this could be a great way for students to get excited by works of art as well. I hope you will try it out with your students! Here’s how:

1.  Create at least one template with five lines of writing prompts. These are the prompts that we used for three different templates:

  • Noun, two adjectives, three words ending in “ing,” phrase, noun
  • One word, two words, three words, four words, one word
  • Two syllables, four syllables, six syllables, eight syllables, two syllables

2.  Divide into groups of four or five and take a few moments to look closely at a work of art (each group should look at a different artwork)

3.  Provide each participant with one template and a pencil to start

4.  Fill in the first line and then fold it so that your written response is hidden from view

5.  Pass the template to your neighbor

6.  Fill in the next line on the template passed to you, fold it, and pass again

7.  Continue these steps until all the templates have been filled out. At the end of this exercise, each participant should have a completed narrative that they can unfold and read aloud to the other writers. After reading all the templates, each small group should choose one to share with the larger group.

Here are some collaborative narratives that Go van Gogh volunteers wrote:

Starry Crown, John Thomas Biggers, 1987, Dallas Museum of Art, Museum League Purchase Fund



Ladies talking quilt

Stars, hats, hands, feet, toes, fingers, shine



Bougival, Maurice de Vlaminck, 1905, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

A fall day in Europe

Landscape of a village


Sunflowers and seawater



That Gentleman, Andrew Wyeth, 1960, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase


Serious, somber

Sitting, relaxing, contemplating

Why is he so sad?



June Night, Henry Koerner, 1948-1949, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Joshua L. Logan


Everyday, wedding

Marrying, dreaming, loving

A busy art building


I hope you all have as much fun with this as we did!

Hannah Burney
Community Teaching Programs Assistant

Installing the Boulevards of 19th-Century Paris

Paris arrives this Sunday at the DMA with the opening of Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec and His Contemporaries. We are excited to be one of only two venues presenting the exhibition and wanted to share with you some of the installation process. Join Dr. Heather MacDonald, The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art and curator of the DMA presentation, at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday for an Opening Day Exhibition Tour. Check out all of our upcoming related programming here.

Friday Photos: Bovine Bonanza

As a new Texas transplant, I have been trying to immerse myself in Dallas culture as much as possible.  I went to the State Fair and tried every fried food imaginable; I experienced the Ft. Worth Stockyards and the weekly rodeo (not a fan of calf roping); and I have already developed an obsession for sweet tea!

Luckily for me, the Dallas Museum of Art has an excellent collection of artwork by local Texan artists—a great opportunity for both newbies like me and old hats in the community to learn more about Dallas and the broader Texas art scene.

One prominent theme in Texan artworks is the ever-presence of cows! Cattle driving and trailing played a huge role in the history of north Texas and the animals remain an important cultural marker for the entire state.

Cows are not only prominent in Texan art, but bovines can also be found aplenty in our Asian collection reflecting the place of honor they hold in Hinduism.  Nandi, the bull often seen in Hindu art, serves as the mount of one of the principle Hindu deities, Shiva.  Not simply a means of transportation for Shiva, Nandi is also a primary god on his own and Shiva’s foremost disciple.

While Texans and Hindus revere cows in extremely different manners, each has found them important enough to include in their artwork, which, to me, illustrates an exciting cross-cultural connection!

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Artworks shown:

  • George Grosz, Cattle, 1952-1953, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of A. Harris and Company in memory of Leon A. Harris, Sr.
  • Clara McDonald Williamson, Get Along Little Dogies, 1945, Dallas Museum of Art, Ted Dealey Purchase Prize, Seventeenth Annual Dallas Allied Arts Exhibition, 1946
  • Otis Dozier, Wild Cow Milking Contest, 1941, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Dozier Foundation
  • Tom Lea, Wild Cattle of South Texas: Ancestors of the Longhorns, 1945-1946, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Life Magazine
  • Shiva Nataraja, Chola dynasty, 11th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Eugene McDermott, the Hamon Charitable Foundation, and an anonymous donor in honor of David T. Owsley, with additional funding from The Cecil and Ida Green Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund
  • Nandi bull, c. 13th century, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund and gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation
  • Humped bull (zebu, or Bos Indicus), 3rd millennium B.C., Dallas Museum of art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation

Pilar Wong
McDermott Intern for Community Teaching


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