Archive for April, 2016



The Golden Age: Dominic Smith

The DMA hosted author Dominic Smith as part of our Arts & Letters Live 25th anniversary season, and this event is also the launch party for his new novel, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos. We are excited to be the first place where book and art enthusiasts can grab a copy of the novel and spend time with the Texas-based author. The book has already received high acclaim, including from author Ben Fountain, who praised it as “quite simply, one of the best novels I have ever read, and as close to perfect as any book I’m likely to encounter in my reading life.” Uncrated was able to chat with Smith prior to his appearance and learn a bit more about his love of art and the focal point of his novel, Sara de Vos.

Photo: Stacy Sodolak

Photo: Stacy Sodolak

DMA: Have you always been drawn to art and in particular Dutch work?
DS: I’ve always loved museums and old paintings. I first experienced the Dutch Golden Age up close about 15 years ago, when I spent a year living in Amsterdam. During my time there, I was struck by the sheer variety and output of the Dutch baroque period. Bawdy genre scenes, delicate floral still lifes, serene landscapes, austere portraits—the subjects run the gamut. And by some estimates, there were about 50,000 Dutch painters plying their trade across the 17th century; if you walked into an Amsterdam butcher shop or bakery in 1630 you might have found floor-to-ceiling paintings. A painting could cost the same as a fish at the market, or it could cost the same as a house. This period endlessly fascinates me, especially the artistic fate of the 25 or so women who were admitted to a Guild of St. Luke, the main professional body for painters. We have surviving works for only a handful of those two dozen baroque women painters.

Johannes Vermeer, Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, c. 1670–1672, oil on canvas, The Leiden Collection, Inv# JVe-100 28.2015.1 © The Leiden Collection, New York

Johannes Vermeer, Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, c. 1670–72, oil on canvas, © The Leiden Collection, New York

DMA: Tell us a bit about your character, Sara de Vos. What do you feel Sara’s response would be to a few of the eight works from her contemporaries on view in the DMA’s exhibition Vermeer Suite: Music in 17th-Century Dutch Painting?
DS: I think Sara de Vos would be very pleased with these paintings. Like the real Judith Leyster, who sometimes painted genre scenes of merrymaking in taverns, Sara de Vos belongs to a moment of Dutch painting that celebrated music as part of everyday life. In the novel, Sara de Vos mostly paints landscapes and still lifes, but she would have greatly admired Vermeer’s Young Woman Seated at a Virginal. The light from the unseen window and the dramatic shadows on the virginal and in the woman’s clothing really capture this as a moment of suspended time. Her hands look as if they’re continuing to play the piece of music, even as she’s looking directly at us. I can’t help wondering what that music sounds like.

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DMA:  Why is it unique that de Vos would have painted landscapes, and how did this shape your story?
DS: There are no known landscapes by Dutch women painters of the Golden Age. So part of the conceit of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos involved working out the circumstances under which a woman might have created a landscape. The traditional explanation for the lack of landscapes by women is that it was a genre that required many hours spent out of doors and this was not the domain of women during the 17th century. I accept this explanation somewhat. But it’s worth remembering that there were women who defied convention during this time period. Maria Sibylla Merian left behind her estranged husband at the end of the 17th century and moved with her daughter to Surinam (a Dutch colony at the time) in South America for two years. She spent her days in the jungle sketching botanical specimens. If a Dutch Golden Age woman can do that, then surely she could spend a day sketching outside by herself, in preparation for a landscape that might be finished in her studio. Maybe a brother, husband, or older son could have accompanied her. My hunch is that the masters who presided over the Guilds of St. Luke decided that landscapes would be the exclusive realm of men. The novel tries to subvert this notion and bring a landscape by a baroque woman to life.

Kimberly Daniell is the Senior Manager of Communications, Public Affairs, and Social Media Strategy at the DMA.

Interviews with Young Masters

It isn’t every day that we’re able to peek into the minds behind the artworks on view at the DMA. Earlier this month, KERA announcer Shelley Kenneavy interviewed some of the teens whose work is currently on display in the concourse as part of the 2016 Young Masters exhibition. The students gave us a bit of insight into their sources of inspiration—ranging from the Star Wars musical score to insecurities about personal appearances—and shared their hopes as future artists, engineers, art historians, and musicians.

This year’s exhibition features sixty works selected from 858 submissions by AP Fine Arts students from ten local area high schools. Sponsored by the O’Donnell Foundation and on view through April 17, the exhibit includes forty-nine 2D and 3D works of art created by AP Studio Art students, five essays analyzing works of art in the DMA’s permanent collections by AP Art History students, and six original compositions by AP Music Theory students. The essays and compositions can be heard through the DMA’s mobile site here.

One of this year’s participating students is Allison Li, whose piece is titled Passing Tranquility. I first met Allison when she began volunteering at the Center for Creative Connections earlier this year, and was thrilled to see her digital photography installed as part of the Young Masters exhibition. To learn a bit more about the exhibition from the student’s perspective, I asked Allison a few questions about her influences, challenges, and takeaways as a 2016 Young Master.

AllisonLi

Allison Li, Passing Tranquility, Coppell High School

Who are some of the artists you admire? What draws you to their work?

I admire many artists, some include Monet, Nguan, Sachin Teng, and many more. Many of the artists I like, I found online through their various social media accounts. I’m mainly drawn to artist’s works because of the color they use in their pieces, especially Monet and Nguan; I really like the pastel and light colors they use for their pieces. Also, the subject matter of what artists portray in their pieces is a big factor.

How would you describe your creative process? What is most challenging about creating work? What is most rewarding? 

My creative process usually starts with a vague idea or concept in which I try to define it more in detail in my own head before I put anything on paper. Drawing ideas or sketches sometimes helps me better visualize what I want in a piece. After coming up with an idea, I will usually figure out what materials I need and how I want to create the artwork. I think the most challenging and most important part of creating art is coming up with the idea. It usually takes me a very long time to come up with ideas that I like and exactly how I want to execute the idea. I think the most rewarding part of this process is either having an idea you feel confident in or the final piece; both feel rewarding depending on the outcome.

What motivated you to submit your artwork for consideration in the Young Masters exhibition?

My art teacher at school informed us of this opportunity and gave us class time to create a piece to submit to the exhibition. My mom also really encouraged me to pursue my passion for art and thought it would be great and an honor if I was in the Young Masters exhibition.

Your work in the exhibition, Passing Tranquility, invites viewers to consider moments of peace in otherwise hectic environments. Where do you find tranquility in today’s fast-paced atmosphere?

I find the most peace when I am at home and don’t have homework to do. Those times are the most relaxing as I don’t have any lingering tasks that need to be done right away, and instead I get to enjoy my free time.

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How does participating in Young Masters change the way you approach other art exhibitions as a visitor?

After going to the DMA and seeing my artwork hung up on the Museum’s walls with other great pieces, I felt very humbled and amazed that my piece was up there. Now seeing other artworks in the Museum makes me have much more respect for all the artists that are in museums.

 

Do you see yourself continuing to make artwork like Passing Tranquility in the future?

I am actually making similar pieces to Passing Tranquility as it is part of my concentration that I am doing for my AP 2D Design class right now. This piece was actually the first piece in a series of twelve works that I am creating for my portfolio.

What advice do you have for other young artists?

I think that the best thing to do as a young artist is to keep practicing and try not to get too discouraged if things don’t always go as planned. I believe practicing will definitely pay off in the future and seeing the improvement you have made over the years will be very rewarding. I also think that seeing other artists and artwork besides your own is important; I look at many artworks online created by various artists that post their work on social media, such as Instagram or Twitter.

If you’re curious about what some of the other Young Masters have to say about their experience, don’t miss the second round of interviews with the teens at the upcoming Late Night on April 15. For a blast from the past, check out the video recordings of previous Young Masters interviews.

We can’t wait to see what Allison and the other Young Masters create next! Cast your ballot in the People’s Choice Award at the April Late Night to vote for your favorite studio art, art history, and music theory work in the Young Masters exhibition.

Paulina Lopez
McDermott Graduate Intern for Visitor Engagement

Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beer Holder

Twist and STOUT! Thursday is National Beer Day, so why not start the celebration early? We’ve got the cure for whatever may ALE you. After all, it’s no coincidence that beer rhymes with cheer! The words may be different, but the meaning is the same, whether you say gān bēi, Sláinte, Gesondheid, or bottoms up, cheers is cheers! So here’s to you and here’s to me—grab a cold one and check out these drinking accessories from around the world.

Julie Henley is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the DMA.

Artful DIY April Fool’s Day

In honor of April Fool’s Day, here is a high-brow idea for pranking the art-lover in your life.

Salvador Dalí, Lobster Telephone (Téléphone – Homard), 1936, steel, plaster, rubber, resin, and paper, Tate Acquisition Purchased 1981 Reference T03257, © Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2016

Tape a toy crustacean to a co-worker’s office phone to imitate Salvador Dali’s Lobster Telephone. It’s guaranteed to be a surreally good joke!

lobster

Happy pranking!

Emily Wiskera is the McDermott Graduate Intern for Family and Access Teaching at the DMA.


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