Archive for February, 2018

Artistic Equations

Mathematics and art, two subjects that are often thought of as an unlikely combination; however, for American artist Alfred Jensen these two subjects fit together exactly. One of Jensen’s geometric, mathematical paintings could be seen if you peeked into the Conservation Studioab this past fall. This painting may appear simple in design, but the process and the surface are very complicated and interesting. Jensen was fascinated by the Maya calendar, philosophy, mathematics, color theory, pre-Columbian culture, and Asian culture. All of these things influence the compositions he creates, and in this particular painting there is very likely a specific reason for the number and placement of each dot of paint throughout the work.

Jensen combines mathematical and philosophical theory with artistic practice in his works similar to the way the field of conservation combines science with art. This perfect comparison makes it all the more exciting to perform a conservation treatment on this painting. In this work, it appears that Jensen applied the paint straight from the tube by dotting it directly onto a primed canvas. The dots were clearly not added at random, but were planned out, as is evidenced by a grid applied in pencil that can be seen in the reserves between the dots, below the paint.

Due to the high impasto of each little dot of paint, little cups and horizontal platforms are created that are perfectly positioned for catching and gathering dust. The dust detracts from and changes the way the colors interact with each other, affecting the color theory aspect of Jensen’s technique. Additionally, since the surface is unvarnished, the dust has started to attach itself to the paint, which will make it increasingly difficult to remove in the future.

Removing the dust from the surface is no easy task. Each little dot of paint has pointed ends that are extremely fragile and sometimes very small and difficult to see without magnification. As the DMA’s conservation intern, I began cleaning this painting in September 2017. In the image below, I’m using an optivisor to be able to see the very tiny, vulnerable peaks of paint and a small, soft brush to carefully dust each daub of paint to reveal the intended color below without disturbing the peaks. A HEPA vacuum gathers the dust so it doesn’t settle back onto the paint below.

The removal of the dust is a very slow, careful process because each little dot essentially becomes its own painting, requiring individual attention. From the viewing window of the Conservation Studio, it may seem as if the painting has not changed very much; however, below you can see the difference between a cleaned (green) and uncleaned area (blue) of the painting. The area in the green square is no longer dull and gray, and the colors show their intended vibrancy. The cleaning, while slow and detailed, is a very satisfying process.

Caroline Hoover is the Conservation Intern at the DMA.

Artist Interview: Timothy Harding

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Last month, our first C3 Visiting Artist of 2018, Timothy Harding, began his participatory installation in the Center for Creative Connections (C3). We’ve enjoyed watching the project grow as Harding adds new contributions to the installation biweekly. Learn more about the artist, his process, and his experiences at the DMA.

Tell us about yourself. (In 50 words or less)
I’m an artist based in Fort Worth, a die-hard Dallas Stars fan, and proud owner of a cat named Clyde. When not cheering on my team, I work in my studio and teach at Tarleton State University in Stephenville.

What motivated you to apply to the C3 Visiting Artist Project?
Recently my practice has been confined to the studio with no outside collaboration. I was interested in coming up with a project that would allow me to collaborate with others and open the opportunity to explore methods that I have not previously used. This is the first project I’ve done that is almost entirely digital in execution and produced with people who I never directly interact with. I’m excited to see how this might impact my practice moving forward.

 

Tell us about the installation you’ve created in the Center for Creative Connections.
The installation is a site-specific line drawing made up of hundreds of individual marks. This ongoing work is produced from scribbles and gestures left by Museum visitors on an iPad. Visitors leave their mark in a program and send it to me over the creative cloud. From there I make a couple of slight alterations to the file and cut them out via laser cutter in varieties of gray, black, and white paper. After cutting, I visit the Museum and add to the installation. The marks are layered in a manner that allows each to be noticeable while working together to produce an intricate whole.

 

Do you have any favorite visitor contributions you’d like to share?
I can’t say I have any specific favorite marks that have been sent yet. What I have found most interesting about this project is the number of unique marks I receive on a daily basis. Earlier projects have used my own scribbles, which are very familiar to me. It’s refreshing to find new marks and think about the decision making of that viewer without knowing who they are or anything about them.

What have you enjoyed most about this experience so far?
I’ve enjoyed interacting with Museum-goers. I had the opportunity to give a presentation to an engaged group of people about my work and this project. That was a very rewarding experience. Other interactions have been more casual and occur during installation. People of various ages, from children to adults, seem curious about the project and what is happening. It has been fun to have casual conversations with them and solicit their contributions.

C3 Visiting Artist Timothy Harding will lead a Teen Tour and a Teen Homeschool Workshop in April. Learn more about upcoming Teen Programs here.

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

You can’t spell DART without art

Prior to moving to Dallas, I found myself doing a lot of research about how to navigate the city. As a person that doesn’t have a car or know how to drive, I knew without a doubt I would be depending on the DART system. As my bus moves down Ross Ave in morning traffic, I can take time to look out the windows and get glimpses of Dallas, soaking in the details that might be missed otherwise.

The study of public transportation can show how cities both shape and are shaped by these models. While public transportation attempts to create access for ever growing cities, the nature of this large scale building has seen its share of highs and lows throughout its long history. Although DART is fairly new to Dallas (1980s), we can see the way neighborhoods around stops have changed and developed as lines have been added. Trains and buses have been of interest to artists around the world, and the DMA has a number of works that explore their many facets.

Lothar Baumgarten, Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, Katy Yard, Continental Viaduct, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas, negative 1989, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, 2004.41.2, © Lothar Baumgarten / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

In 1989, German artist Lothar Baumgarten dedicated six months to following America’s railroad tracks to create the series, Carbon. This image shows the Katy, also known as the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. Today this railyard has been replaced by the American Airlines Center. The Katy was the first railroad to connect Texas to the rest of the United States in the late 1800s, and  it served as a way to transport goods such as cotton across the United States. Baumgarten addresses the irony of the beautiful landscapes that were made available for public consumption as tracks were laid across fields, but also the destruction that comes with it. In addition, he looks at the human accomplishment of settling the land that carried with it the cost of displacing communities. Finally, this work addresses the decline of the railroads themselves as they became industrial transportation.

Willard Watson, Untitled, 1985, drawings, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Friends of Willard Watson, 1985.181.4 © Estate of Willard Watson

Willard Watson, “The Texas Kid,” reminisces about when his family moved to Texas from Louisiana in his series of drawings, Life Story. Watson’s family were sharecroppers, a system where the landowner allows a tenant to use the land in exchange for a share of the crop. However, this system often kept tenant farm families severely indebted, with many laws in place to favor the landowners position. This particular image shows the way railroad travel could be empowering, as Watson writes at bottom, “when we were coming across this bridge going to Dallas, Daddy said we were home free.”

Just as these artists were inspired by their experiences with transportation, the DART Student Art Contest invites students to create works of art inspired by DART. Come visit the DMA to get inspiration for your DART contest submissions, which are due February 28. I can’t wait to see the Best of Show winner across the DART bus on my daily commute, along with all the other finalists on view at the DMA in April!

Olivia Feal is the McDermott Intern for Interpretation at the DMA

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts

It’s that time of year again, we start seeing candy hearts, bouquets of fresh red roses and couples celebrating Valentines Day. This year we wanted to say thanks to some of the sweet notes the DMA has received from couples that celebrated their big day with us under the Chihuly glass or out in the Sculpture Garden (which will reopen this Spring!).

“We were so impressed with you and your staff!  You all were so professional and handled everything we asked and paid attention to all the details!!!  Thank you and all the employees that worked so hard to make the DMA SUCH A MAGICAL PLACE FOR NEILLEY AND LOUIS!”

“Thank you again for all your help! Our friends and family had an amazing time and we loved our wedding.”

“I just wanted to say thank you for all of your help coordinating our wedding day. It turned out so perfectly”

“Thank you so much for such a beautiful reception at the DMA.  We all had such a great time!  Everything went off without a hitch!”

“This was truly a dream come true!”

Xoxo,
The DMA

To book your own experience at the DMA visit our Host an Event page now!

Jordan Gomez is the Marketing Manager at the DMA

Have a PAWsome New Year!

Friday is Chinese New Year and we invite you to start the New Year with us as we celebrate the Year of the Dog during our monthly Late Night. Throughout the night, you can experience lion dances, watch Chinese martial arts demonstrations, have your name written in Chinese calligraphy, and listen to traditional Chinese music in our galleries. There will be dog-themed tours, of course, but you can get a jump-start learning about the dogs in our collection with two previous blog posts here and here.

While dogs take precedence this year, be sure to check out these works of art from China on Level 3 that feature other animals from the Chinese zodiac:

Funerary plaque, China, Western Jin dynasty, 219-316 CE, limestone, The Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 2016.33.a-b

This tomb marker features two of the four “spiritually endowed” directional deities – the tortoise and the dragon. The other two deities are the phoenix and the unicorn. While not one of the animals represented in the Chinese zodiac, the tortoise is important in Chinse Buddhist belief because it symbolized longevity.

Pair of Lokapala (Heavenly Guardians), China, Tang dynasty, 1st half of 8th century, pottery with colored lead glazes, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Fund, in honor of Ellen and Harry S. Parker III, 1987.1-2.MCD

Learn more about these heavenly guardians, which often featured lions and tigers on their armor and showed triumph as guardians by balancing on the figure of a bull (or ox), on our 6:30 p.m. spotlight tour with DMA Teaching Specialist Jennifer Sheppard.

Rectangular box, China, mark and reign of Emperor Wanli (r. 1573-1619), dated in inscription to 1595, cinnabar lacquer over wood core, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. George A. Shutt

The cover of this box features two symmetrically opposed imperial five-clawed dragons chasing the flaming pearl of wisdom.

Polo horse tomb figure, China, attributed to Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907), ceramic, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Rothwell, 1960.167

This horse is a mingqi or “spirit object” that was buried with the deceased in underground tombs. With the accession of the emperors of the Tang dynasty, the number of funerary objects placed in tombs increased, as funerary art became a means to display your wealth publically.

Friday’s Late Night will also feature a talk by DMA curator Dr. Anne Bromberg who will discuss our new installation Asian Textiles: Art and Trade Along the Silk Road which features these two coats from China:

Short coat: dragons and auspicious symbols, China, late 19th century, silk with metal-wrapped yarn, Gift of Betty Ann Walter and Ruth Walter Benedict in memory of Ethyl Walter and Gladys Walter, 1993.70

Woman’s semi-formal court coat, China, 19th century, silk and metal-wrapped yarns, Gift of Mrs. Beatrice M. Haggerty, 1995.40

So if January wasn’t all you thought it would be, start fresh this Friday and join us as we kick-off a PAWsome new year!

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services

The Art of Speakeasy

Get your party outfits ready in time for the second DMA Speakeasy, the most anticipated party in town, on Saturday, February 24. If you are gunning for first prize in the costume contest, look back on an Uncrated tutorial on how to become a Speakeasy Star.

The evening kicks off with custom crafted cocktails from Dallas’ finest, the Singapore Swingers 18 piece orchestra, 1920s dance lessons, novelty gaming tables and admission to our amazing galleries. The vintage 1974 version of the Great Gatsby will be rolling on the big screen in Horchow Theater. Our guests will be attired in their finest 20s rags. A scavenger hunt is planed that will take our guests throughout our vast collection to “Track down the bootleggers”.

The night is capped off with fantastic raffle prizes; to include a package from the Joule Hotel; Two DMA Arts and Letters Live VIP Packages: one for Maria Shriver and one for Lidia Bastianich; Stock Your Bar Package compliments of ROXOR, NUE, and Title No 21; and a Five Course Tasting for four at Wolfgang Puck at Reunion Tower. Tickets are a throwback to the 20s at only on buck.

Tickets to this event are available to DMA Members starting at $70. All tickets include 2 drink tickets redeemable for your choice of our “bootleggers” crafted cocktails, live entertainment, dance instructions by the talented hoofers from The Rhythm Room, access to the gaming tables, tasty bites and photo booths.

Jennifer Harris is the Director of Special Events at the DMA

The Game is Afoot!

Calling All Junior Detectives! There’s a mystery afoot, and we need every Sherlock min-fan and Nancy Drew-in-training on the case! After years of hosting the popular Museum Murder Mystery Game here at the DMA, we’ve decided it’s finally time to give the kids a chance to step into the role of detective. Our kid-friendly version is the perfect mash-up of Night at the Museum and the game of Clue, featuring plenty of fun and games . . . without the murder.

On Friday, March 9th our first ever Family Mystery Night will make its debut, and we’re looking for the brightest junior detectives to help solve the case. Actors will bring the art to life, and kid detectives can interview the suspects, search for clues in the galleries, sniff out the crime scene, and hopefully solve the mystery by the end of the evening.

We polled a few prospective detectives on what the mystery could be and got some very devious ideas (maybe we should watch our backs?!).

From Caleb, age 7:

“I think maybe one of the paintings is a map to the emperor’s treasure, I don’t know where, maybe in a dojo!”

From Lucia, age 14:

“If I had to guess, there are a bunch of art pieces who aren’t happy because they don’t get enough attention, so they decide to steal/kidnap another work of art who is very popular. This art was supposed to travel somewhere, but because they stole it, everything got delayed, so now we have to find the missing painting so it can get to its destination.”

From Naomi, age 9:

“Somebody’s head got chopped off! A kidnapping! A painting is rogue!”

To get the dirt on the real story, find all the details here and purchase your tickets today. Happy sleuthing!

Leah Hanson is the Manager of Family and Early Learning Programs at the DMA


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