Archive for October, 2016

Pumpkin Perfect

Our Education Department is always up for a creative challenge, so we celebrated today’s holiday by dressing up our pumpkins in their DMA finest for our annual Great Pumpkin Contest. Competition was fierce, but the winning, Linus-approved trophy was awarded to Emily and Jennifer, for their take on everyone’s favorite, somewhat creepy, DMA toddler, Dorothy. Check out all the terrific submissions below. Happy Halloween!

Sarah Coffey is the Education Coordinator at the DMA.

Friday Photos: A Better World Is…

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Claire Nilson’s vision for a better world.

What does a better world look like to you? Yesterday I joined my friends from The Stewpot Art Program for an afternoon of music, art, and fun at The Stewpot’s annual talent show in beautiful Encore Park Dallas. And to top it all, my mom is visiting from Charleston and had the opportunity to meet some of the amazing artists who participate in our Stewpot partnership here at the DMA.

The theme of this year’s talent show was “A Better World Is…” Members of the Stewpot community used their outstanding talents to explore their vision for a better world – categories encompassed fine art, spoken word, essays and poetry, voice, and instrumentals. We certainly did not envy the judges! The afternoon included original compositions, powerful meditations on the role each of us plays in creating a better world, and a rocking version of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.”

Suffice to say, we have some amazingly talented members of our North Texas community at The Stewpot! Please be sure to mark your calendar for The Stewpot Art Program’s upcoming show at the Dallas Public Library and check out other opportunities to support this wonderful community outreach program. As one participant observed, “A better world starts when we realize we’re here to learn to be better and make the world a better place.”

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Lindsay O’Connor
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs

A Fête to Remember

Tomorrow evening the DMA will kick off an Annual Fête celebrating 18th-century French masterpieces from the Michael L. Rosenberg Collection and the release of a new publication, French Art of the Eighteenth Century: The Michael L. Rosenberg Lecture Series at the Dallas Museum of Art. Join us for performances, talks, art making, and a tres magnifique menu.

Before we step back in time and party like it’s 1799, I asked each of the past and present curators of the Rosenberg Collection to share a favorite work of art or a fond memory of working with this group of objects. Catch up with them at the Annual Fête, where they will be available to answer questions about your favorite Rosenberg artworks.

Nicky Myers, The Lillian and James H. Clark Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, DMA

“It is truly a privilege to be able to display and study such an important collection of 18th-century French artwork. Beyond its art historical significance, beyond its extraordinary quality and condition, the Rosenberg Collection is simply stunning. Lush colors, sumptuous costumes, and elegant figures welcome you to the Michael L. Rosenberg Galleries of 18th-Century Art, some of my favorite rooms in the Museum. When we enter these spaces, we are instantly transported back in time to a rare moment when the decorative and fine arts shared the same aesthetic, and when patrons and artists shared similar sensibilities. It is hard for me to choose a favorite work within the Rosenberg Collection, but I’m particularly drawn to the Greuze, Boilly, and Largillière paintings.”

Jean-Baptiste Greuze, The Dreamer, 1765–1769, 29.2004.10, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation

Jean-Baptiste Greuze, The Dreamer, 1765–69, oil on canvas, lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation, 29.2004.10

Heather MacDonald, Program Officer, Getty Foundation

“What I enjoyed most about working with the Michael L. Rosenberg Collection and its annual lecture series was the opportunity to invite amazing scholars, whose work I’ve admired for years, to come to Dallas and share their research. They’re like historical detectives, piecing together bits of evidence gathered over a lifetime of research and close looking.

I don’t like to choose favorites among works of art in the galleries, but I will confess to an adoration of François-André Vincent’s portrait of the playwright Desforges. It’s such a modern, informal portrait: Desforges is shown in his (beautifully painted) shirtsleeves, with a five-o’clock shadow, looking off in the distance as if caught in a moment of creative inspiration. Vincent painted Desforges on the cusp of the Revolution, which offered new kinds of individual freedoms to French citizens, but this portrait also says so much about how the modern individual had been reimagined by the Enlightenment. There is a whole story about the 18th century contained in this image!”

François André Vincent, Portrait of Pierre-Jean-Baptiste Choudard (called Desforges), 1789, 29.2004.1, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation

François André Vincent, Portrait of Pierre-Jean-Baptiste Choudard (called Desforges), 1789, oil on canvas, lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation, 29.2004.1

Eik Kahng, Assistant Director and Chief Curator, Santa Barbara Museum of Art

“What I remember most fondly about Michael was his sincere love for the works of art that he collected. Before it came to the DMA, the collection was installed at Michael’s house. He very kindly allowed for private tours from time to time, which everyone greatly enjoyed. Michael would routinely ask me to lead the tours, starting in the living room, where the great Lemoyne Bather and the wonderful Oudry animal painting of a water spaniel confronting a heron were on view. However, about five minutes into my talk, Michael would invariably interrupt and start adding his own, detailed commentary. He was so passionate about each and every object and could speak eloquently and informatively about each one. I always teased him that he didn’t need me to be there at all, since he was more than capable of providing his own overview of the collection. It’s always such a pleasure to listen to collectors who really love their art.”

Jean–Baptiste Oudry, Water Spaniel Confronting a Heron, 1722, 29.2004.8, Lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation

Jean–Baptiste Oudry, Water Spaniel Confronting a Heron, 1722, oil on canvas, lent by the Michael L. Rosenberg Foundation, 29.2004.8

 

Jessie Frazier is the Manager of Adult Programming at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Treasures of the Dead: Burial Art of Ancient China

Today’s post comes from Mo Gyeong Seong, a DMA Teen Advisory Council member with a serious passion for history. He currently attends Carroll Senior High School in Southlake, Texas, where he has taken several classes in world history, humanities, and global languages. Enjoy his bite-sized tour of Chinese burial sculpture from the DMA’s permanent collection!

China’s Tang Dynasty was marked as a time of prosperity and discovery that fostered a distinctive cultural sphere lasting down to the modern day. Religion and spirituality played an important part in Tang life, and great thought was put into what would happen after an individual’s last breath. With Halloween fast approaching, I wanted to share a bite-sized tour of some of the burial art made by the Tang Dynasty.

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Pair of Lokapalas (Heavenly Guardians), early 8th century C.E., Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., in honor of Ellen and Harry S. Parker III

The Lokapala are guardians of the world in Buddhism, introduced to Tang China by the preceding Sui Dynasty. According to legend, the Lokapala were originally protector gods in Ancient India, called the Four Great Heavenly Kings. After witnessing the enlightenment of the Buddha, they chose to lead an army of ghosts to defend the worshippers of the Buddha from demons. The Four Kings would slowly integrate into Chinese burial traditions, guarding the four cardinal directions. Their fierce faces reflect their foreign origins. However, their armor is of a mystical Chinese style and a feng huang–an East Asian mythological King of Birds and symbol of harmony and royalty–is sculpted into their helmets.

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Polo horse tomb figure, 618-906, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Rothwell.

Some of the finest pieces from Chinese tombs are the handsome and muscular ceramic horses created by talented craftsmen for burials of the elite. This one has faded over time, but centuries ago it would have dazzled in reds and oranges. Horses, thought to be related to dragons and crucial to the countless military campaigns waged by China, symbolized strength, wealth, and power. Horses also represented a spiritual ascension, as the souls of the dead could ride them into the afterlife.

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Tomb Plaque Marker on a Tortoise Base, 1000-1200, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund

After the fall of the Tang Dynasty, a new burial tradition was adopted by the nobility: the use of large stone stele, or bei in Chinese. These stele were often etched with information from the deceased’s life, including occupation, age and date of death, birthplace, and their life accomplishments, as an enduring honor to the deceased. The stele is capped by carvings of mythological animals and erected on the back of a stone tortoise, an animal who could carry heavy loads according to Chinese mythology.

Make sure you visit these works of art currently on view on Level 3 of the permanent collection galleries! What other burial traditions can you uncover at the Museum?

Mo Gyeong Seong
Teen Advisory Council Member

That’s a Wrap!

For thousands of years, cultures all around the world have practiced mummification to preserve departed loved ones and revered leaders along with objects that celebrated their life and prepared them for the afterlife. Check out these spook-tacular objects from the DMA’s collection related to mummification and join us on Saturday, October 29, at 2:00 p.m. for Mummies Unwrapped with DMA curators Dr. Anne Bromberg and Dr. Kimberly Jones.

Coffin of Horankh, c. 700 B.C.E., wood, gesso, paint, obsidian, calicite, and bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 1994.184

Coffin of Horankh, Egypt, Thebes, c. 700 B.C.E., wood, gesso, paint, obsidian, calicite, and bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 1994.184

For the ancient Egyptians, it was necessary to preserve the body so that the spirit could live on in the afterlife. Cartonnages, or coffins, were often highly personalized with a likeness of the owner and his or her name. Some include stories about the gods or even protection spells for specific parts of the owner’s body.

Canopic jars each held one of the mummified organs of a deceased person—the heart, lungs, intestines, and stomach. The four figures carved into the lids of the jars served as protectors for the organs inside. Since the heart was believed to be integral to the final judgment of a person’s soul, it was one of the most important organs to preserve.

Mantle with Condors, 300–100 B.C.E., camelid fiber, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., in memory of John O’Boyle, 1972.4.McD

Mantle with condors, Peru, South Coast, 300–100 B.C.E., camelid fiber, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., in memory of John O’Boyle, 1972.4.McD

This mantle was part of a funerary bundle from a Paracas burial. The deceased person, posed in a fetal position, would be wrapped in up to dozens of layers of handwoven garments embroidered with intricate designs—in this case condors with outspread wings.

Standing Female Figure, 1400–1540, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, collection of Andrew D. Christensen, gift of J.D. Christensen, 1983.633

Standing female figure, Peru, Inka (Inca), 1400–1540, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, collection of Andrew D. Christensen, gift of J. D. Christensen, 1983.633

This small figurine is similar to those used in an Inca sacrificial ritual known as capacocha. The preserved remains of young men and women who participated in capacocha rituals have been found in the Andean peaks clothed in fine textiles and accompanied by both human and animal figurines.

Jessie Frazier is the Manager of Adult Programming at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Friday Photos: #inktober

Some of you might have noticed the #inktober hashtag popping up on your Insta feed recently. Inktober is an incredible project for artists and illustrators that occurs every year for the month of October. The creators set prompts for each day of the month, then artists create an original drawing using ink as the primary medium. It’s a great way to discover new ways of working and new artists to follow, and super fun to see how people from across the world respond to the theme of the day.

In honor of #inktober2016, this is my response to today’s prompt, big. I decided to do a sketch of one of the biggest pieces of art I could think of at the Museum: Ellsworth Kelly’s sculpture, Untitled.

This sculpture is outside in our sculpture garden, surrounded by trees and beautiful water features. It’s a gorgeous place to sit and sketch, read, or just relax in the fresh fall weather!

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Reinforce your own positive drawing habits by participating with the remaining prompts this month. And if you’re a teen–or know a teen–interested in learning more about outdoor observational drawing, register for our Teen Workshop on the subject this Saturday!

Grace Diepenbrock
McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching

A Fairly Good Time

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A view of the Esplanade at Fair Park from Jessica Thompson, Manager of Teen Programs.

Last Tuesday was our sixth annual Education Fair Day, a chance to escape the chill of the Museum for some deep-fried fun in the sun at the State Fair of Texas. For some, like Jessica Thompson, going to the Fair is a time-honored tradition. Jessica’s paid a visit to Big Tex nearly every year of her life. For others, like our McDermott Interns, it was a super-sized introduction to a slice of Texas history and culture.

Emily Wiskera and I tackled the trip together. While we chowed down on Fletcher’s corny dogs (a must!), admired the blue ribbons in the creative arts building, and searched for our favorite haunted house ride, I started wondering about what connections could be made between the fair and the DMA. A set of photographs recently installed in the Center for Creative Connections certainly provides some fair feels, but what about elsewhere in the Museum?

State and World’s Fairs

The above pair of posters was an easy connection to make. On the left, we have the 2016 State Fair of Texas poster; on the right, the DMA’s poster from the 1968 World’s Fair in San Antonio. Each was designed around a unique concept. Hemisfair, San Antonio illustrates the overarching idea of people coming from all over the globe for the World’s Fair. The artist, Robert Indiana, used circles with arrows drawn in towards a star in the south of Texas to convey this message. The star, besides featuring prominently on the state flag of Texas, acts a giant X-marks-the-spot, where the Hemisfair and San Antonio are the treasure.

Immediately recognizable in the State Fair of Texas poster is our celebrity cowboy, Big Tex, surrounded by fields, livestock, and farming equipment. The design is graphic, straight forward, and conveniently explained by a page from the State Fair of Texas website:

Originally established as a livestock exposition back in 1886, it is without question that the Fair has deep roots in agriculture. In honor of its history, the Fair constantly strives to promote agricultural education and aims to further support this initiative through its 2016 event, themed “Celebrating Texas Agriculture.”

Though on different scales, state fairs and world’s fairs both bring people together for a variety of cultural experiences. Here’s how the State Fair of Texas compares to world’s fairs:

  • The State Fair of Texas, at 24 days per season, is the longest running state fair in the United States. A World’s Fair can last up to six months–the 1968 Hemisfair in San Antonio did!
  • An estimated 1.5 million – 3 million people attend the State Fair of Texas each year. For reference, the population of Dallas is 1.3 million people, and Texas’ population is 27.47 million people. The 1968 Hemisfair brought in 6.4 million people from all over the world, and the recent 2015 Expo (or World’s Fair) in Milan had 20 million visitors.
  • This year marks the 130th anniversary of the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. In contrast, world’s fairs are held in a new city and country every year.

Creative Arts

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Baltimore, Maryland, “Album” quilt, c. 1861, Martha E. Keech, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous centennial gift

The Baltimore album quilt above, despite being 155 years old, isn’t too different from a quilt you might find on a visit to the creative arts building. This kind of quilt, with its trademark white background and squares (or blocks) with floral designs in red and green, first became popular in… you guessed it: Baltimore! The style remains popular today. This particular album quilt was made by hand by one woman, Martha E. Keech. Sometimes groups of women would join forces to make one of these quilts and each would sew one block and sign their name, hence: an album quilt.

The more than 25 categories for quilts at the State Fair this year include sections for ones made by individuals, pairs, and groups, both by hand and by machine. Overall, there are over 1,100 categories in the creative arts competitions! Many people are familiar with submissions like pies, quilts, and collectibles, but did you know the Fair also has LEGO assembly categories for kids and adults, as well as a “Glue a Shoe” contest? This year’s Glue a Shoe contest features such entries as “Grumpy Flat,” after everyone’s favorite internet cat, and “Hamilton: An American Shoesical.”

Fantastic Foods

No Fair day is complete without sampling some of the sensational snacks! Here are some numbers from Eater Dallas on a fair-goer favorite, Fletcher’s corny dogs:

  • On average, 630,000 corny dogs are sold each 24-day State Fair of Texas run.
  • Fletcher’s is in its 74th year of selling corny dogs at the Fair.
  • To satisfy corndog purists, 1,500 gallons of mustard are needed each year.
  • To satisfy heathens like myself (see selfie above), only 800 gallons of ketchup are required.

Yes, corn (sometimes called maize) is a key ingredient in the batter used for corny dogs, but it’s more than a family resemblance that ties together this State Fair staple and Otis Dozier’s Maize and Windmill. Dozier, a native Texan, was a member of a circle of artists called the Dallas Nine. He regularly submitted works of art to the State Fair of Texas’s creative arts competitions – and he often won. According to a DMA docent, Maize and Windmill is one such blue ribbon winner!

A bonus connection: Dozier’s upbringing on a Mesquite farm instilled in him a lifelong love of agriculture which can be found in his many paintings of farms, fields, flora, and fauna. This ties in pretty neatly with this year’s Celebrating Texas Agriculture theme, don’t you think?

The Fair closes this Sunday, October 23, but these three works of art will still be here to greet you on your next visit, up on Level 4. What other fairly relevant connections can you find? You know that something has to relate to the butter sculpture!

Jennifer Sheppard
Teaching Specialist


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