Archive for August, 2017

Fabulous Fall with Bestselling Authors

When publishers vet book tour locations for someone with the caliber of international bestselling author Ken Follett, the well-established reputation of Arts & Letters Live, the DMA’s 27-years strong literary and performing arts series, is a huge benefit. Dallas is one of only three stops on Follett’s US tour, the other two being Boston and New York. Ken Follett will kick off the Fall 2017 season on September 14 at First United Methodist Church with a discussion of A Column of Fire, the third novel in his enthralling Kingsbridge Series. The first two novels in the series, Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, have sold 38 million copies worldwide!

For those who yearn for the seemingly lost art of a well-crafted written letter in lieu of a quick email or text message, Seattle-based Letters Aloud presents an afternoon of real letters by real people, read by great actors with live musical accompaniment, on September 24. Letters Aloud’s mission is to connect audiences to famous (and infamous) historical figures through their intimate correspondence. As one fan said, “It’s like literary crack” and makes history come to life in surprising, inspiring, and hilarious ways. These dramatic readings will chart the course of celebrity through the correspondence of artistic luminaries like Stephen King, Jackson Pollock, Elvis Presley, Emily Dickinson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Vincent van Gogh, and Tom Hanks, to name a few.

Letters Aloud

Want the inside scoop on international bestselling author Dan Brown’s interest in codes, science, religion, and art and his creative process in writing chart-topping books and making blockbuster movies? On October 6 he takes the stage for the first time in Dallas to talk about all that and his newest novel, Origin, which has been hailed as his most brilliant and entertaining work to date. The novel opens with Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arriving at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” When the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, Langdon is forced to escape Bilbao. Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon uncovers clues that ultimately illuminate the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.

Bestselling author and acclaimed journalist Walter Isaacson joins us on October 26 to discuss Leonardo da Vinci, the biography of the famous artist that sets forth little known information about da Vinci’s life, connecting his art and science. Isaacson shows us how Leonardo’s genius stemmed from skills we can hone in ourselves—passionate curiosity, keen observation, a playful imagination, and being bold enough to think differently. Leonardo DiCaprio was recently slated to play the artist in the film adaptation after a heated bidding war between Paramount and Universal.

Legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz landed on the DMA Arts & Letters Live roster after a Texas Book Festival colleague recommended that Arts & Letters Live have lunch with the national marketing director of Phaidon, who was in town for a conference. While chatting with our new Phaidon friends on the DMA’s Socca Cafe patio, we learned about the forthcoming book Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005–2016 and knew immediately that DMA audiences would adore hearing about this artist’s creative process and behind-the-scenes stories of all the famous people she has photographed. Leibovitz’s event with DMA Arts & Letters Live on November 14 is one of only five appearances slated worldwide.

To see the complete roster of Arts & Letters Live events and to purchase tickets, visit DMA.org/all

 

Carolyn Bess is Director of Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.
Michelle Witcher is the Program Manager of Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

C3 Summer Intern Recap: Abigail

Hi, my name is Abigail Hofbauer– intern, chocolate lab puppy aficionado, sushi-lover, and new Dallasite. I’m currently in graduate school at Baylor University for my Masters of Arts in Museum Studies, having just completed my Bachelor’s (also at Baylor!) in History.

This summer, I had the chance to intern with the Center for Creative Connections at the DMA. I worked on many things over the summer: daily C3 upkeep, interactions with volunteers, and the newest Visiting Artist Project. Lisa Huffaker’s Sound re:Vision opened my eyes to the hard work behind the scenes of all interactive art installations. It was fun to create zines and to have part ownership of such an interesting piece in the Museum.

As the C3 Summer Intern, my specific project was to observe and evaluate the visitor experience of the Pop-up Art Spot inspired by the Keir Collection of Islamic Art. Through surveys, personal interactions, and simple observations, visitors provided some detailed feedback about what they want in a “pop-up experience” at a museum. Our goal was to make sure visitors were spending time with the art collections, making connections with the art and others in their group, and having fun in the Museum! If the results of my observations are any indicator, I’d say that we reached our goal.

Most of the visitors came in groups – both families and adults. Almost all of these groups spent time in the Keir Collection of Islamic Art either before, during, or after their activity. It was important to confirm this and show the Pop-up Art Spot was making a connection between the art and visitors. The majority of the visitors who participated in the Pop-up Art Spot activities were also adults, rather than children. This was a great piece of information to glean, as it shows how diverse yet simple activities appeal to all ages. Teens and adults above age 45 are some audiences to focus on in future activities.

The coloring and shape search activities were very popular, but the cross-cultural connection postcard activity really touched the hearts of our visitors. Some responses were so heartfelt and interesting! In the surveys taken, visitors indicated that they felt connected, proud, inspired, and excited to spend time with art. Many also indicated that there was a larger social impact of the activities on their visit: some learned about shapes, colors, patterns, or other visitors! We had 73 activities filled out and 183 participants throughout the month of July.

Here are three of my favorite responses from the postcard activity:

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Overall, this project was so fulfilling! I got firsthand knowledge of the visitors at the DMA. I also got to work closely with some amazing volunteers and see how they help educational programs shine. But most important of all, I used skills I learned from classes and previous experience to improve museum programming. This internship has allowed me to be part of so many experiences at the DMA and learn from the amazing Education team. It’s been an honor and I couldn’t have been happier to be here for the summer!

Abigail Hofbauer
Center for Creative Connections Intern

A Founding Mother

While using the archives for a small research project (more on that in a future post), I was reminded of one of the Dallas Art Association’s (DAA) founding members, Elizabeth Patterson Kiest (Mrs. Edwin J. Kiest). Mrs. Kiest attended the first meeting of the group of art supporters that formed the DAA on January 19, 1903 and she served as DAA Treasurer from its inception to her death in 1917, a century ago this year.

Bronze plaque in honor of Elizabeth Patterson Kiest for her long service as founder and Treasurer of the Dallas Art Association.

The Kiest Memorial Fund was established in her honor, with a plaster cast of Winged Victory as the first purchase. (The piece is no longer in the collection.)

An interior view of the Free Public Art Gallery space in the Textile and Fine Arts Building, with the plaster cast of Winged Victory in the upper left.

Beginning in 1932 the Kiest Memorial Fund was used to fund a purchase prize for the annual Dallas Allied Arts exhibitions, from which works by major Dallas artists were acquired for the collection including Jerry Bywaters, Otis Dozier, De Forrest Judd, Everett Spruce, Charles T. Bowling, Allie Tennant, Perry Nichols, Donald S. Vogel, William Lester, and Octavio Medellin.

In addition to the DAA, Mrs. Kiest was involved in a number of civic and women’s clubs, the foremost being the Dallas Shakespeare Club and the Matheon Club. The Dallas Shakespeare Club would later donate Road to the Hills by Julian Onderdonk to the Museum in memory of Mrs. Kiest.


Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Dallas Shakespeare Club in memory of Elizabeth Patterson Kiest

 

Hillary Bober is the Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art. 

Friday Photos: Fresh Prints

For our August Meaningful Moments program, participants explored the history of printmaking in the exhibition Visions of America: Three Centuries of Prints from the National Gallery of Art. After enjoying the galleries, we returned to the studio to try our own hand at block printing on tea towels.

Be sure to catch Visions of America before it closes September 3rd!

Emily Wiskera
Manager of Access Programs

Artist Interview: Lisa Huffaker

This summer the Center for Creative Connections invited C3 Visiting Artist Lisa Huffaker to design an in-gallery activity inspired by a work of art on view in C3. Meet Lisa here and learn more about her musically engaging activities designed for visitors of all ages.

Tell us about yourself. (In 50 words or less)
I am a classical singer by training, but have always created visual art and poetry as well. My latest project is White Rock Zine Machine, which offers tiny handmade books of art and writing through re-purposed vending machines. I am interested in the community we form through creative work.

What motivated you to apply to the C3 Visiting Artist Project?

Nam June Paik, Music Box Based on Piano Piece Composed in Tokyo in 1954, 1994, Vintage TV cabinet, Panasonic 10 TV model 1050R, Panasonic mini video camera, incandescent light bulb and 144-note music box mechanism, Dallas Museum of Art, bequest of Dorace M. Fichtenbaum 2015.48.113

While visiting the Museum, I saw Nam June Paik’s Music Box Based on a Piano Piece Composed in Tokyo in 1954. It’s an old television transformed to show a video of a music box, and it reminded me of my vending machines, which are also “communication boxes” with knobs, whimsically reinvented to give us new content. I loved the idea of exploring the relationship between these two objects, within the interactive space of the C3 Gallery, and inviting visitors to interact with and even contribute to the project.  I’m so grateful to the DMA for embracing my crazy vision!

Tell us about the process of creating your zine machine.

I found a retired baseball card vending machine on Craigslist, and transformed it.  I sanded it down to bare metal,  then used old player piano rolls as stencils to paint a pattern on the sides. I cut a hole in the front panel and covered it with glass, so we could see the zines inside. I attached Victorian-era music box disks to the machine,  including a sort of halo at the top. Then I added other objects — carved wood pieces, various metal oddities, a kalimba, gears and springs taken out of broken alarm clocks, and eight music box mechanisms, including one that plays original music composed by punching holes in a strip of paper.

What did you enjoy most about this experience?
While creating the zine machine, I really enjoyed the contradiction between noisy power tools and delicate, beautiful mechanisms! But most of all I have enjoyed the opportunity to explore certain ideas — the overlap of music, memory, and machine — and invite others to interact with the project. It has been fascinating to see the drawings and writings created by visitors in response to the music I chose for the listening station in my installation.

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Visit the Center for Creative Connections through September to contribute drawings to Huffaker’s zines and to receive a zine from the machine.

Join C3 Visiting Artist Lisa Huffaker as she hosts a series of programs in September:

Tuesday, September 5, First Tuesday: Music with Ms. Lisa; 11:30 a.m. – Noon
Friday, September 15, Late Night Tour; 6:30 p.m.
Friday, September 15, Late Night Performance with Piano; 9:00 p.m.
Friday, September 22, Teen Homeschool; 1:00-4:00 p.m.

Jessica Fuentes is the Manager of Gallery Interpretation and the Center for Creative Connections at the DMA

Make This: Camera Obscura

Today is a big day for the moon, check out this post from 2016 to find our how you can make a camera obscura to watch the moon’s time in the lime light.

Friday Photos: In 3D

One of the best parts of being a museum educator is creating programming for the amazing special exhibitions that come our way. We were especially excited to take on Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion this summer. Her designs are unlike any you’ve seen before, and we love her unique and creative use of materials. Many of her dresses utilize new technology, like 3D printing, to build complex structures.

We’re big fans of art when it collides with science and technology, and recognized this was a great opportunity to reach out to the TECH Truck over at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science for an outreach vehicle meet-up! We collaborated on a summer program for teens at the Boys and Girls Club of Mesquite, where we talked about materials, abstract thinking, and computer-aided design! Students learned how to make 3D models in Sketch-Up, which are currently at the Perot being printed. Here’s a look at van Herpen’s process come to life!

Make sure you visit Iris Van Herpen: Transforming Fashion before it closes this weekend!

Jessica Thompson
Manager of Teen Programs

The Two Käthes

Join us for Late Night this Friday when we will host artist Käthe Kollwitz of the feminist activist art collective the Guerrilla Girls as part of a celebration of women artists featured in Visions of America. For more than thirty years, women artists from across the country have donned gorilla masks and joined the ranks of the Guerrilla Girls to produce public art campaigns that raise awareness about gender and ethnic discrimination in the art world and beyond. Having decided early on that the members of the Guerrilla Girls would remain anonymous, they took this opportunity to shine some limelight on great women artists of the past by assuming the names of pioneers like Käthe Kollwitz, Frida Kahlo, and Zubeida Agha.

Guerrilla Girls at the Abrons Art Center, 2015

In an interview for the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art Oral History Program, Käthe explained the origin of their pseudonyms.

“Eventually we realized that we needed individual names within the Guerrilla Girls.  When we went places in a group or in pairs, we needed to be individuals in some way.  So this idea came up to have dead women artists as pseudonyms, and it was a useful idea because art historians were re-finding and representing the work of a lot of women artists from history.  Most of the pseudonyms that people took were artists they’d never heard of before they started and only discovered when they read up on women artists, looking for a name.”

Käthe’s own namesake, Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945), was a German printmaker and sculptor who also addressed social injustice in her work. She also happens to be well represented in the DMA’s collection

Kollwitz’s work is at times touching and heart-wrenching with intimate portraits of mothers with their children as well as genre scenes depicting the plight of the urban poor. Her subjects are often gaunt figures whose shadowy eyes and pained poses speak volumes about the dire circumstances under which they lived. Having endured multiple personal tragedies and both world wars, she was an artist who did not shy away from showing the realities of war, poverty, and loss.

Käthe Kollwitz, Revolt (Sturm), 1897, Etching, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts, The Alfred and Juanita Bromberg Collection, bequest of Juanita K. Bromberg, 2000.192.FA

Remarking on how she arrived at the pseudonym Käthe Kollwitz, the artist said, “It’s very personal for everybody.  Käthe Kollwitz is not my all-time favorite artist, but she’s a great role model.  She was an activist as well as an artist.  She didn’t believe in the expensive, fancy art system.  She did a lot of cheap prints that she gave and sold very cheaply.  She did a lot of work about working people, about women and children, even work about sex.  She was a fierce woman artist.”

Over 70 years after Kollwitz’s death the Guerrilla Girls are continuing the practice of using art to raise awareness. Reflecting on their own 30 year legacy, Käthe will speak about favorite projects and how the group has approached activism in their work. For more information about this and other Late Night programs, visit DMA.org.

Jessie Frazier is Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA

The Light and the Dark

What is it about art that speaks to us so deeply? How does it tap into our soul and speak so loudly to us, sometimes even uncomfortably shouting our truths to other people? We spend all of our time hiding the deepest parts of our souls from others around us, sometimes even from the people closest in our lives. But art, this amazing living and breathing thing, shouts our truths back at us and makes us feel emotions that we were positive we had locked away deep in our hearts where they could not escape. Suddenly, there it is. That work of art that is so profound, so fierce, that it stops us in our tracks and we are taken aback. This seemingly unassuming piece vividly screaming out to us and all surrounding us.

Two years ago I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Here I was, a four decade veteran of the mind as a psychotherapist, and my mind was the very thing being attacked. I realized something was wrong when I could not get my thoughts straight enough to form words. I could, and can, still speak but there is nothing more frustrating than consistently not being able to think of a word and speak it. My mind has become a tangled web where things often do not make sense and I have to stop and really think about what I want to convey to other people. As parts of my mind grow darker, the more creative and patient I must become–and this is where art has changed my life.

Recently I was able to come to the Museum and spend some time in the quiet stillness of the galleries before it was open to the public during the Meaningful Moments program. As I observed the beauty of this majestic place and wandered the meandering galleries, I took in the colors and the mediums, the brush strokes and the carvings; able to breathe deeply and take in the magnificence of where I was. As I turned the corner of a hallway towards the end of my time at the Museum, I saw a piece that stopped me in my tracks and pulled at my heartstrings.

Jackson Pollock, Cathedral, 1947, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard J. Reis © Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Cathedral is a piece of contemporary art created by the famed Jackson Pollock in 1947. I had never taken stock in contemporary art, really. But this piece stole my heart and was screaming my truth in a way that I didn’t think was actually possible. In this, I see my mind—this mess of black and grey and white. What is the brain if not a mass of neurons, an incredible weaving of all of your thoughts and feelings, experiences and memories; together it creates this masterpiece that we call the brain. Cathedral puts onto canvas what the brain is and more specifically, those who have Alzheimer’s. The beautiful brightness is the living and breathing part of me that is alive, capable of everything. In contrast the inky black is what the Alzheimer’s has taken from me: the plaques, tangles and weaves that steal my mind.

As I sat looking at this enigmatic piece of art, I thought about my experiences over the last two years. I see the parts of me that I had to let go of: my practice, driving, paying the bills. The death of those things is so eloquently represented with the sharp jagged edges of black here. In contrast, I think of all of the things I still have: helping others as much as possible, holding a conversation with my friends, the love of my husband and family. While my brain has betrayed me in ways I cannot express to those who do not suffer from this disease, it has not taken the essence of who I am.

I sit and stare at Cathedral and in it I see who I am: I see that there is a complexity and a depth; there is pain and there is joy, truly a mix of the light and the dark. So often we do not understand that even in illness we are part of a bigger picture; to not let the dark define who we are is what is important. To embrace who and what we are and celebrate ourselves as part of a larger medium of art is the definition of life–for without the dark there would be no light.

Jane McManus
Participant, Meaningful Moments program

Allison Espinosa
Care Advisor, Honor Health Care

How to Install a Robert Smithson

A new rotation of artworks was recently installed in the Barrel Vault, our main contemporary art space. Included in this new installation are masterpieces by Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Hans Hofmann, as well as several newly acquired artworks. One of the highlights of the gallery is Robert Smithson’s Mirrors and Shelly Sand. The work is composed of approximately three tons of sand and 50 mirrors (glued back-to-back in pairs of two) lined up in a row, creating the illusion of infinity when you gaze into them. This engaging piece invites the viewer in and encourages interaction (but just of the mental variety—please remember not to touch!).

The piece becomes even more interesting when you know the process required to install it. It takes a lot of work and skill to transform the 125 buckets of sand and two crates of mirrors into the finished work of art. There are specific instructions from the artist on how the piece should be installed, but there will always be variances due to the nature of the materials. Thankfully for us, one of our Senior Preparators, Mary Nicolett, has installed the Smithson eight times and is a pro.

First our crew constructs a massive tent made of plastic. This keeps all of the sand contained and ensures that other artworks in the area are protected. On installation day, our stellar team of preparators (professional art handlers) put on their protective gear and prepare to get dirty. After the Registrar (me!) completes a condition report on all the mirrors, they are lined up based on the artist’s specifications and a small pile of sand is poured over them to keep them in place. Once all of the mirrors are in place, the real fun begins. Each preparator grabs a bucket of sand and begins pouring. Once all the buckets are empty, Nicolett begins smoothing the sand into the appropriate shape. At the end of the day, the dusty crew exits the tent to let the dust settle. The next day, the tent is removed and the finishing touches to the sand are completed.

Installation works like Mirrors and Shelly Sand allow our prep team to flex their creative muscles. While we do follow the instructions provided by the artist, the preparators are the ones who physically create the artwork as you see it. A good prep team is vital to any art institution as they are the ones who know the intricacies of a piece and how to safely install it. Thankfully for us, we have one of the best!

 

Katie Province is the Assistant Registrar for Collections and Exhibitions at the DMA.


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