Archive for January, 2019

Ruth Pershing Uhler: A Texas Woman Artist to Know

Why do some women artists become famous while others become footnotes in art history textbooks? That is the topic of discussion in The O’Keeffe Sisters and Women of American Modernism, a series of short talks at the DMA on February 2. Few art history scholars knew Georgia O’Keeffe had a younger sister named Ida who was also an artist, and whose work is now exhibited in Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow. Ahead of the talks, we thought we would take a look at another woman modernist in the DMA collection you probably haven’t heard of: Ruth Pershing Uhler.

Ruth Pershing Uhler was born in a small town in Pennsylvania in 1895. Uhler and her family moved to Houston in 1909, but she returned to Pennsylvania to study art. Receiving the proper training was the first hurdle women had to clear to become artists. Women were often encouraged to study “lesser” mediums like watercolor instead of oil, and art was seen as part of a woman’s aesthetic training to create a beautiful home rather than as a career. Uhler didn’t settle for these expectations. She studied at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (and did learn to work in oil), and after graduating she obtained a fellowship that provided her with her own studio and the ability to paint and exhibit art in Philadelphia. She worked in Philadelphia for 11 years before returning to Houston in 1925 and exhibiting across Texas in the 1920s and 30s.

Ruth Pershing Uhler, Earth Rhythms, c. 1935, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas Artists Fund, 2018.10, © Estate of Ruth Pershing Uhler

In 1935 Uhler went to Santa Fe with friend and fellow Texas artist Grace Spaulding John. The landscape of New Mexico inspired a series of nine paintings that Uhler completed after returning to Houston the next year. Earth Rhythms (c. 1935), recently acquired by the DMA, belongs to this series. While it is possible Uhler saw and responded to the work of Georgia O’Keeffe, Uhler’s paintings—with undulating forms that glow with an almost spiritual quality—are also reminiscent of Transcendentalists like Raymond Johnson and Agnes Pelton, who were working in New Mexico during the same period. Uhler’s series was exhibited in 1936 at the Twelfth Annual Exhibition of Houston Artists.

Uhler teaching in the MFAH galleries c. 1950. Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Archives.

At the time, it was impossible for a woman to support herself as a full-time painter without a gallery to represent her and sell her art, so most women artists took second jobs. Uhler became a teacher at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) in 1937, and in 1941 she became the MFAH’s first curator of education, a position she held until just before her death in 1967. In the same way that Ida O’Keeffe held nursing and teaching jobs on and off her entire life, being an art educator provided Uhler with financial stability, independence, and creative fulfillment. She was hugely influential in the growth of the MFAH’s education programs, but the demands of her job led her to abandon painting.

Curiously, one day in 1940 Uhler intentionally destroyed many of her paintings in a fire. She built the bonfire in the backyard of Grace Spaulding John’s house, which she had been house-sitting. John’s daughter saw her and asked what she was doing. Uhler officially ended her career as a painter that day, remarking, “Well, I only want my best work to survive.” Consequently, her works are few and difficult to find today.

As art historians reconsider the influence of women artists in modernist movements, and as Texas artists are given more serious attention, artists like Uhler will become more popular. It takes time and a conscious effort on the part of curators to shine a light on under-recognized women artists, but we get a fuller and more realistic view of art history when women’s work is recovered from the margins.

Lillian Michel is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at the DMA.

2-D to 3-D Wire Creations

This February’s Open Studio will feature funky wire creations! Making sculptures inspired by paintings is a great way to engage with abstract art, and it allows your or your child’s mind to see the differences between a two-dimensional versus a three-dimensional artwork.

Imagine your favorite abstract painting—now imagine it as if it were designed as a sculpture. Would it twist or move? Would it cast shadows not conveyed in the painting? Sculpture is amazing because you can see it in a full 360 degrees and see up close what a painting simply cannot do. I love this activity because it asks the question “what would this painting look like if it were three dimensional?”

The 2-D to 3-D Wire Creations activity is a no-mess art-making project that is suitable for all ages and imaginations. It allows your child to engage with the basic elements of art—color, line, and shape—while introducing more complex subjects like abstract art, space, and movement.

As you twist and manipulate the wire, ask your child questions such as:

  • What kinds of lines can you make with the wire?
  • What colors are similar in the painting and your art?
  • What’s your favorite shape in the painting?
  • Do you like the art better as a painting or a sculpture?

I used Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting Grey Blue & Black—Pink Circle to draw inspiration for my wire sculpture.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Grey Blue & Black—Pink Circle, 1929, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation, 1994.54, © The Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The painting has colors and lines that make my sculpture interesting and recognizable.

This will be a fun project for you and your family. The best part is that you will be able to find the painting that inspired your work of art in the DMA’s collection!

Open Studio is for families and individuals looking for something free to do on the weekend. I am so excited to share with you the monthly art activity, how to engage your child in art projects, and a sneak peek of what you might expect. So stay tuned and see you soon!

February Open Studio Dates and Times:

Theme: Wire Creations
Location: Center for Creative Connections Art Studio
Price: Free
Dates:  
Saturday, February 2
Sunday, February 3
Saturday, February 16
Sunday, February 17
Time: Noon–4:00 p.m.

Melissa Brito is a Teaching Specialist for Family and Access Programs at the DMA.

Artworks Aplenty

This week the DMA’s beloved Late Night program turns sixteen! In celebration of each year the program has been around, let’s take a look at artworks that were added to the permanent collection during those years—they are also currently on display, so be sure to keep a lookout for them when you’re here for Late Night!

2004

Olowe of Ise, Kneeling female figure with bowl (olumeye), Nigeria, c. 1910-c. 1938, wood, pigment, and paint, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 2004.16.McD

2005

Sugar bowl, Lebolt & Co., Chicago, Illinois, c. 1915, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Marguerite and Robert K. Hoffman in honor of Nancy Hamon, 2005.51.5.a-b

2006

Buddha Sakyamuni, Thailand, Khmer, c. 13th century, gilded bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, and Bromberg Family Wendover Fund, 2006.21

2007

Mark Handforth, Dallas Snake, 2007, steel, aluminum, and glass lamp head, Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund and Lay Family Acquisition Fund, 2007.39

2008

Window with Sea Anemone (“Summer”), Louis Comfort Tiffany (designer), Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company (manufacturer), New York, New York, c. 1885-95, glass, lead, iron, and wooden frame (original), Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 2008.21.1.McD

2009

Box, John Nicholas Otar (designer), c. 1933, copper and brass, Dallas Museum of Art, Discretionary Decorative Arts Fund, 2009.7.a-b

2010

Nandi, India, c. 13th century, granite, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund and gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, 2010.6

2011

François-Auguste Biard, Seasickness on an English Corvette, 1857, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of J. E. R. Chilton, 2011.27

2012

Marriage necklace, India, Tamil Nadu, late 19th century, gold, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley honoring Dr. Anne Bromberg via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 2012.46

2013

Guillaume Lethière, Erminia and the Shepherds, 1795, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 2013.1.FA

2014

Antoine-Augustin Préault, Silence, c. 1842, patinated plaster, Dallas Museum of Art, The Mr. and Mrs. George A. Shutt Fund and General Acquisitions Fund, 2014.10

2015

Bust of Herakles, Roman, Lambert Sigisbert Adam (restorer), 1st century-2nd century CE, marble, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, and Bromberg Family Wendover Fund, 2015.31

2016

Tomb plaque marker on a tortoise base, China, c. 219-c. 316 CE, limestone, Dallas Museum of Art, the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 2016.33.a-b

2017

Jonas Wood, Untitled (Big Yellow One), 2010, oil on linen, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Vernon and Amy Faulconer, 2017.45.2, © Jonas Wood

2018

Pair of six-panel folding screens depicting “The Tale of Genji,” Japan, Kano School, 16th-17th century, ink and color on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of David T. Owsley via the Alvin and Lucy Owsley Foundation, Bromberg Family Wendover Fund, and the Cecil and Ida Green Acquisition Fund, 2018.21.1-2

Valerie Chang is the McDermott Intern for Adult Programming at the DMA.

Sweet Sixteen!

This month, Late Nights at the DMA is turning 16! Where has the time gone?

It all started with one question: how should the DMA, first formed in 1903 as the Dallas Art Association, celebrate its 100th birthday?

The answer was to stay open for 100 continuous hours in January of 2003. We offered a variety of programs, and we saw people in the Museum at all hours of the day and night. Throughout the rest of 2003, we experimented with a few different evening programs, and this led to Late Nights at the DMA as you know it!

Late Nights launched in January 2004, and as we start our sixteenth year of the program, I thought this would be a good time to reflect back and give you another round of Late Nights by the Numbers.

Over 15 years:
165 Late Nights
1,176 musicians have performed
14 parades went down the Concourse
167 art historians and artists gave a talk or tour
50 artists performed art demonstrations
72 Creativity Challenges were fought
462 tours were offered
221 films were screened
121 bedtime stories were read by Arturo
662,499 visitors stayed up late with us
59 exhibitions were celebrated
and 49,550 staff hours were worked to bring you Late Nights each month!

Stacey Lizotte is the DMA League Director of Adult Programs at the DMA.

Studio Doors Are Open—Come On In!

Calling all weekend crafters, makers, tinkerers, and artists! The DMA’s Art Studio is opening its doors to one and all starting in January 2019. On the first and third weekend of every month, drop by and give your creativity a workout with a hands-on art-making project for the entire family. Whether you prefer to wield a paintbrush or squish some clay, we’ll have something to inspire your inner artist. Materials and projects will switch up every month, and DMA staff will be on hand to demonstrate techniques and share fun facts about art and artists in the DMA’s collection.

In January we’re kicking off Open Studio by making landscape monotypes inspired by the exhibition Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow. We’ll supply the paint and paper—you bring the fun!

Open Studio 1

Open Studio is available for FREE on the first and third Saturday and Sunday of the month from noon to 4:00 p.m. All supplies are provided, and no registration or ticket is required.

Leah Hanson is the Director of Family, Youth, and School Programs at the DMA.


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