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Au Revoir Monsieur Gaultier

Last week we bid adieu to The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier after three months of hosting the internationally touring exhibition at the DMA. Before the exhibition travels to its final U.S. museum, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: de Young, here are a few stats from the DMA’s presentation:

  • 114,986 visitors over three months
  • 16,044 postcards purchased
  • 1,020 catalogues sold
  • 142 ensembles
  • 73 works on paper
  • 49 wigs designed by Odile Gilbert
  • 30 animated mannequins
  • 13 weeks on view
  • 6 galleries of works
  • 2 custom cowboy-inspired greeters
  • 1 incredible fashion designer

See the exhibition from arrival to departure and everything in between.

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Kimberly Daniell is the PR Specialist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

“Like a Virgin”: Countdown to Gaultier’s First Exhibition

Last week several of my colleagues and I began meeting about the logistics of deinstalling the exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk once it closes on February 12. Gaultier is the world-renowned French couturier, whose fashion has been worn by everyone from Madonna to Lady Gaga. We found it difficult to believe that we were already making plans to take down a show in which we had invested so much time and effort installing. I was enormously privileged to be given the opportunity to help coordinate this installation as its exhibition registrar and to witness firsthand how so many of my colleagues transformed themselves daily into magicians in order to see this complicated project come to fruition in a tight timeframe. Permit me this walk down memory lane as I highlight stops, junctions, and detours on our way to what was the first of many openings, the VIP Host Committee Luncheon at 11:00 a.m. on November 9, 2011.

July 14–19 (3 months and 3 ½ weeks until opening)

This exhibition was the first fashion installation most of us had ever worked on, and its many technical requirements added extra complexities. A trip to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ installation was vital for me and several of my colleagues. We take hundreds of pictures, ask pages of questions, and document mannequin mounting, lighting, and mechanical specifications.

October 17 (3 weeks and 2 days until opening)

Two 18-wheelers deliver the majority of the exhibition, with mannequins, mounts, and furniture in a regular truck, and costumes and works on paper in a climate-controlled one.

October 18 (3 weeks and 1 day until opening)

As soon as possible, we locate and unpack the Galleon headband so its dimensions can be verified for our preparators, who will make a mount for it, and our carpenters, who will build the proper-size “porthole” display case.

Preparators John Lendvay and Mary Nicolett assemble mannequins and take height measurements so they will know where to place them on the platforms in relation to the projectors, which will eventually bring their faces to life.

October 20 (3 weeks until opening)

Once the Odyssey gallery mannequins have been placed, the preparators hang the projectors a precise eighty-eight inches away from their noses so that the faces will align properly and not look like Picasso paintings.

LED strips are affixed inside the Urban Jungle gallery platforms before their frosted Plexiglas tops are installed.

October 21 (2 weeks, 6 days until opening)

Naked assembled mannequins await dressing in what was deemed the “morgue” but later transformed into the Exhibition Store.

October 24 (2 weeks and 2 days until opening)

Several tightly fitted leggings and stockings were packed directly on their legs to save wear and tear from dressing and undressing them at each venue.  Thankfully, the mannequin body parts were labeled so we could easily match them to the proper legless torsos.

October 28 (1 week and 5 days until opening)

Tanel Bedrossiantz from Gaultier’s Paris atelier and local mannequin dresser Greg Goolsby join us on our first day of costume installation.

October 29 (1 week and 4 days until opening)

By the end of our second day, sixty mannequins throughout the exhibition have been dressed, including the catwalk models and their surrounding “punks.” We made it a priority to focus first on those with projections to allow as much time as possible for alignment and editing.

As hectic as the installation is, we find time to appreciate the humor – here Montreal’s organizing curator (and former model) Thierry Loriot demonstrates how to properly wear a Mohawk before attaching it to a mannequin head with double-stick tape.

Preparators and carpenter Dennis Bishop install the screen scrim and fine-tune the chain mechanism of the catwalk.

October 31 (1 week, 2 days until opening)

The porthole into the Urban Jungle gallery is finished, allowing visitors a sneak peek into the installation, and at the DMA’s Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design Kevin Tucker, who is working with preparator Mike Hill on mannequin placement.

Mannequins patiently await their turn to be mounted on their catwalk platforms.

Tanel detaches a mannequin’s hands in order to install its many bracelets.

The “Hussar coat”-look silk faille skirt is unpacked. This piece has its own crate and is packed suspended over a cone support.

November 1 (1 week and 1 day until opening)

Gaultier atelier staff member Thoaï Nirodeth laces up the Chantilly lace body stocking. The Skin Deep gallery is the last to be dressed and installed because the back wall was built over a doorway we needed in order to move the large mannequin cases in and out of the space.

November 3 (6 days until opening)

We discover that a new mannequin has been sent for Madonna’s dancer’s costume in the Skin Deep gallery, and this one does not want to support himself (or Madonna) on all fours. After consultation with our conservator John Dennis and the Gaultier atelier, we build a mount to support him at the collar bone (surreptitously hidden by his black scarf).

A shipment of new outfits arrives from Paris, including the cowboy and cowgirl looks at the entry of the exhibition (created specifically for the Dallas installation), the 3-D “horn of plenty satin ribbon corset-style gown (which was just on the runway over the summer), and the costume from the film Kika. Upon unpacking the helmet, we notice the absence of a key accessory—an early model video camera. We locate similar ones on Ebay, but are fortunately able to obtain one overnight from a friend of a coworker who (thankfully) never throws anything away.

November 6 (3 days before opening)

The final shipment arrives from Montreal, including mannequins for the new outfits just arrived from Paris and clothing items with animal-related components that had been delayed due to customs problems.

Although it is standard practice to allow artwork twenty-four hours to acclimatize after arrival, time is of the essence and we unpack the final shipment immediately, which includes the doll with the ostrich-feather dress in the Boudoir gallery. In order to import items made from endangered animals or migratory birds, it is necessary to apply for government permits, which can take months to process.

Preparator Doug Velek installs the final two works on paper amid hair clippings in the exit gallery—the space that had been used as the “salon” of wig stylist Hugo Raiah.

November 7 (2 days before opening)

Preparator Lance Lander was instrumental in “lassoing” the numerous and complicated AV components in the exhibition, and also came to the rescue by lending the final accessories to complete the cowboy and cowgirl “looks.” (The lasso and Black Stetson were requested by the atelier at the last minute.)

Carpenter Dennis Bishop puts the finishing touches on the projector covers in the Odyssey gallery.

November 7, 8:30 p.m. (1 day and 9 ½ hours until opening)

Jean Paul Gaultier comes straight from the airport for his first walk-through of our installation. Several of us were on hand to welcome him and are privileged to watch the design genius at work as he adjusts the drapery of fabric and modifies accessories. To add more of his characteristic je ne sais quoi to the Chalk-striped mink pantsuit, he borrows a gold lamé turban from one of the female punks (now stylishly bald) and adds the Plastic bolero with gold thread embroidery.

November 8, 6:00 p.m. (17 hours before opening)

Registrars, preparators, and even our chair of collections and exhibitions scramble to clean, arrange, and affix the mirrored tiles to the platforms in the Metropolis gallery.

November 9, 10:00 a.m. (1 hour until opening)

After final consultation with Jean Paul Gaultier, his atelier staff hang the train of the Satin cage-look corset dress on the wall according to his specific direction.

Reagan Duplisea is the Assistant Registrar for Exhibitions at the Dallas Museum of Art.

A week of Gaultier at the DMA

We held several special events for the opening of The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, not only the first exhibition on the French couturier but the first contemporary fashion exhibition for the DMA. The week started off with a “Welcome to Texas” reception for Jean Paul Gaultier presented by the members of the Jean Paul Gaultier Host Committee complete with the high-kicking Kilgore Rangerettes, country music, Stetson hats, cowboy boots, and a “Welcome to Texas” themed  tequila bar with corny dogs appetizers.

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M. Gaultier attended a Parisian luncheon with Eiffel Tower statues, pink tulle and black leather tablecloths inspired by the French Cancan ensemble worn by Carla Bruni-Sarkozy from his Ze Parisienne spring/summer 2002 Haute Couture collection located in the Skin Deep gallery of the exhibition. Later that evening excitement was in the air when M. Gaultier and Dita Von Teese entered the Museum for the Donor Circle reception greeting 700 eager guests. M. Gaultier shared stories from his childhood and entertained the fashionable dressed crowd, including the DMA’s Interim Director Olivier Meslay and curator Kevin W. Tucker in Gaultier ensembles. M. Gaultier finished his visit to the DMA on Thursday during the press preview where he discussed his inspiration and the exhibition.

Thursday was also the first opportunity for DMA members to explore the exhibition before the opening on Sunday, November 13. The Friday night General Membership reception drew over 1,500 members who dressed to impress and danced the night away to DJ Andre 7.

There are still two and half months to explore the acclaimed exhibition and number of programs to attend including a Jean Paul Gaultier themed Late Night on Friday, January, 20. For information on upcoming events, and on DMA memberships, visit DallasMuseumofArt.org.

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier Has Arrived

After months of preparation and anticipation, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk is now open to the public.  The DMA’s galleries have been transformed into an immersive fashion environment, complete with singing mannequins and a moving catwalk.  I couldn’t stop saying “wow” my first time through the exhibition–I kept forgetting that I was inside the DMA.

Les Vierges collection, Apparitions dress, Haute couture, spring/summer 2007, copyright P. Stable/Jean Paul Gaultier

The exhibition celebrates a 35-year span of Gaultier’s career (from 1976 to 2011), and is divided into six distinct galleries:

  • The Odyssey of Jean Paul Gaultier, which is an introduction to Gaultier using three of his favorite motifs: sailors, mermaids, and virgins.
  • The Boudoir, which explores Gaultier’s reinterpretation of corsets and lingerie for the modern woman’s wardrobe.
  • Skin Deep, which celebrates how skin (our first garment) and its various types of decoration have inspired Gaultier.  This section is also devoted to Gaultier’s take on male fashion, including his men’s skirts.
  • Punk Cancan, which reflects the influence of Paris and London on Gaultier’s designs.
  • Metropolis, which explores the worlds of technology and science fiction.  This section of the exhibition also includes Gaultier’s collaborations with artists in the fields of film and dance.
  • Urban Jungle, which demonstrates the influence of world cultures and peoples in the fashions of Jean Paul Gaultier.

Les Actrices collection, Barbarella body-corset, Haute couture, fall/winter 2009-2010, copyright P. Stable/Jean Paul Gaultier

Of course, Jean Paul Gaultier’s name is forever tied to Madonna, and the gold corset from her Blond Ambition tour has pride-of-place in the Boudoir gallery.  The labels in the exhibition reveal a “who’s who” of other celebrities who have worn the designs in the exhibition, including Kylie Minogue, Dita von Teese, Sarah Jessica Parker, Anthony Keidis and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Catherine Deneuve, and Beyoncé.  Several of the labels also list the number of hours required to make that particular garment.  For me, that is the most fascinating part of the exhibition.  I spend my weekends sewing, and I get annoyed if something takes me longer than a day or two to complete.  I can’t imagine spending 200+ hours working on one garment!  I guess that’s the distinction between haute couture and something home-sewn.

Les Indes galantes collection, Lascar dress, Haute couture, spring/summer 2000, copyright P. Stable/Jean Paul Gaultier

If you would like to experience The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, I encourage you to sign up for our full-day Art & Fashion Teacher Workshop on December 3rd.  I am co-leading the workshop and we’ll explore the exhibition, as well as other examples of fashion from the DMA’s collection.  There are still spaces available, and it’s guaranteed to be a fashion-filled day (bonus points if you arrive for the workshop wearing sailor stripes). If you’re not able to join us for the Teacher Workshop, keep an eye out for Jessica’s fashion-inspired Friday Photo Posts in the month of November.

Jean Paul Gaultier's love note to Dallas

The DMA’s Uncrated blog also has a behind-the-scenes peek at Gaultier’s time at the DMA last week, including photos and video.  Of course, I also encourage you to come check out the exhibition for yourself.  This is the DMA’s first-ever fashion exhibition, and it truly is phenomenal.  Don’t let these fashions walk off the catwalk on February 12th without seeing them in person.

Shannon Karol
Manager of Docent Programs and Gallery Teaching

Big Love from Jean Paul Gaultier

You may have heard that the U.S. Premiere of The Fashion World From Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk opened yesterday at the Dallas Museum of Art. But we had a week of pre-opening  events prior to Sunday, including the Press Preview on Thursday morning. Below are a few of our favorite shots from our time with the “enfant terrible”.

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Kimberly Daniell, Public Relations Specialist at the Dallas Museum of Art

Live from the Red Carpet: Gaultier Opens in Montreal

An entry to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts with exhibition banner above

An entry to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts with exhibition banner above

As the DMA’s curator for the forthcoming exhibition on Jean Paul Gaultier, I recently had the opportunity to travel with some of my colleagues to the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, where the exhibition had its international premiere. The Montreal Museum, which had organized the exhibition, did a tremendous job in presenting the works not simply as couture draped across mannequins, but as truly vibrant objects of art and design. The excitement was indeed palpable, as the red carpet was rolled down the front steps of the Museum and the crowds began to gather for opening night. Even for the second night’s reception, over 2,000 people gathered for a preview of the exhibition!

The crowds converge for one of the opening receptions

The crowds converge for one of the opening receptions

Gaultier arrived from Paris to join in the festivities and one could see he was enjoying himself as much as anyone else in attendance. One of the remarkable aspects of the installation was the creation of specially “animated mannequins” for the clothing which incorporated custom-molded heads to accommodate video projections of which made them appear to speak, sing, and scan the crowds (at the entry stood Gaultier’s own double—a mannequin welcoming those many visitors). Throughout the exhibition, Gaultier’s fashions reflected both his exceptional talents and sheer joy in life. As guests poured through the crowded galleries, they stopped to admire their new favorites—perhaps a dress of brilliant feathers making the wearer appear exotic and bird-like or a Can-Can dress with the repeated image of kicking legs on the interior?

Animated sailor mannequins with Gaultier's  fashions in his iconic marinière (sailor striped shirt) motif

Animated sailor mannequins with Gaultier's fashions in his iconic marinière (sailor striped shirt) motif

The Gaultier mannequin is programmed

The Gaultier mannequin is programmed

Crowds gather around the exhibition's moving catwalk

Crowds gather around the exhibition's moving catwalk

More crowds in the "Urban Jungle" section of the exhibition

More crowds in the "Urban Jungle" section of the exhibition

Come November, Dallas and DMA members will have the opportunity to enjoy their own welcoming party for The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier!

Kevin W. Tucker is The Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Dallas Museum of Art

My Day With Haute Couture: Visiting Paris with Jean Paul Gaultier

Every address in Paris resounds with some note of the city’s history as an artistic and cultural capital of Europe, but this week one address in particular, on rue Saint-Martin, echoed with cancan music and vibrant images of haute couture crafted by one of the enduring figures of the fashion world, Jean Paul Gaultier.

Two weeks ago I had the good fortune to visit the city and experience the premiere of Gaultier’s new spring and summer couture line, a selection of forty-six works evocative of not only the world of that most recognizable of dances but with punk culture of the 1970s. As he is known to do so well, Gaultier fused disparate influences into a richly charged whole—with dresses winkingly titled “The Clash,” “Too Fast to Live Too Young to Die,” and “Toulouse Lautrec.” While sophisticated in the materials, articulated forms, and elegant profiles, the line was anything but aloof, sedate, or boring—and proved that, in his fourth decade as an independent designer, the enfant terrible of the fashion world could still thrill and titillate while exhibiting the mastery gained in his years of work. To me, Gaultier’s best work is when his inspirations, from street fashion to various world cultures, just begin to fuse in his designs yet remain disparate enough to create a frisson that truly electrifies the viewer. Indeed, as fashion is articulated design for the human body, motion is implied; to excite, good design should have a restless and somewhat unexpected side.

 

My visit was in anticipation of the DMA’s forthcoming presentation of The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, opening on November 13, 2011, following its international premiere at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in June. The first dedicated fashion exhibition hosted by the DMA under the aegis of the Museum’s Decorative Arts and Design program, this multisensory exploration of the career of Gaultier will include about 120 examples of his designs dating from the 1970s to works created in just the last year. Given the excellence of his work as one of the foremost fashion designers of recent decades, we are exceptionally thrilled to be the first venue in the United States for this landmark exhibition.

Gaultier in the Mohawk and Kevin on the far right.

After the show, I enjoyed the exceptionally rare opportunity to not merely review the works in his salon but visit the atelier on the top floor. Here, within this hive of alternately small and large workrooms, great bolts of fabric and endless tubs of beads, feathers, and trimwork rested neatly upon shelves, seemingly with no space unused. On any walls that had somehow managed to escape a shelving unit, photographs, Gaultier’s sketches, and notes were tacked. Staff diligently and carefully stitched, examined, and checked pieces, while fragments of prototypes—sections of dress with sample materials, alternate patterns, and differing techniques—hung from racks. While each of these vignettes might seem otherwise unremarkable to anyone familiar with the art of costume, the entire workshop reverberated with the energy of rapid preparations that had paused for but a moment as the forty-six works were presented to the eager crowd on the third floor of the building the prior afternoon. Before that day was done, the work began anew, plotting a course toward the next line of works that Gaultier had envisioned.

This November, Texans won’t have to go to France to experience the visual sophistication and boundless energy within Gaultier’s creations—they will just have to visit the DMA.

Kevin W. Tucker is The Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Frida Kahlo: Fashion as the Art of Being

At Late Night this Friday journalist and author Susana Martínez Vidal will speak about her beautiful new book, Frida Kahlo: Fashion as the Art of Being, which looks at the iconic and carefully curated style of Frida Kahlo and the artist’s lasting influence in the worlds of fashion and art. Before her visit, I asked the author to share a few insights about this project.

Frida Kahlo Cover 3D crop

What inspired you to write a book about Frida Kahlo?

During the almost 18 years that I headed EllE Spain and attended international fashion shows, I saw Frida walk by on innumerable occasions, interpreted in diverse ways by the greatest designers in the world: Jean Paul Gaultier, Givenchy, Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld, Lacroix, Kenzo, all have paid homage to her.  Countless times I witnessed her influence in music, film, and in the best international fashion magazines.  The most famous actresses, models, and singers have evoked her: Monica Belluci, Naomi Cambell, Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer, Beyoncé, Madonna, Patti Smith, Cold Play.

In 1993 Frida Kahlo inspired the first fashion shoot I published as the director of EllE.  Through the eye of Canadian photographer Michel Pérez, actress and model Patricia Velásquez, the exotic beauty for “The Mummy” saga (who along with Frida shares indigenous heritage), was transformed in an Aztec princess. Years later, I was impacted by the spring collection of the great Jean Paul Gaultier, the first of the major designers to evoke her.

It powerfully attracted my attention that a woman who was half indigenous and was not from a first world country nor from show business (she wasn’t an actress, singer, or dancer) had gatecrashed into ranking among the most iconic women of the 20th century, next to Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy or Maria Callas.

In 2012, shortly after relocating to live in Mexico, the Huffington Post asked me to write a blog about the exposition of Frida Kahlo’s clothing that had recently opened.  Seeing this fantastic showcase in the Casa Azul Museum, I started to remember all the images of Frida from the runways and decided that the subject deserved to be explored more profoundly.  At the end of the article I expressed my desire that one day a book would speak to the influence of Frida Kahlo on fashion.  It was a challenge I gave myself to dare myself to take the step.  For months the article was one of the most read on Huffington Post, and this convinced me that Frida lived even though she had died more that half a century prior.   Frida Kahlo: Fashion As the Art of Being is the realization of that dream.

Frida Book 2 crop

In your opinion, what is the biggest lesson Frida taught us about fashion, art, or life?

Her determination to transform pain into beauty, while being an imperfect beauty, motivated her to build an image that she cared for and cultivated in order to elevate her self-esteem. She used fashion like therapy, emphasizing her defects to develop her own hallmark image and identity. The more pain she was in, the greater she made herself up. At the end of her life she dressed as if going to a party.

Her fans applaud her paintings because they admire her story, and therefore you cannot separate her life from her work. Like Stephen W. Hawking, she is someone who knew how to transform her limitations into opportunities. In both situations, their disabilities have transformed in aids that encourage them to focus on there abilities. Certainly, she was her finest work of art.

Frida in Gallery 01

Do you see the fashion world’s appropriation of her style as honoring her, exoticizing her–both?

Perhaps both: Fashion has resurrected Mrs. Kahlo, to give her the glory she didn´t have during her life.

Since the beginning, the idea of the book has been to show the influence of Frida Kahlo in contemporary fashion and pop culture and why she continues to appear so modern in the 21st century.

My objective has been to unravel fashion’s constant obsession with Frida Kahlo, despite being a field which by definition is always in constant motion, and decipher why it is that her style continues to provoke an irrepressible appeal the world over.

Frida in Gallery 02

Join Susana Martínez Vidal this Friday for talks in both English and Spanish and pick up a copy of Frida Kahlo: Fashion as the Art of Being, available for purchase in the DMA store.

And let Frida inspire your own fashion – come dressed like Frida Kahlo on May 19 and your Late Night ticket will be $5.

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

Goodbye for Now

It has been my great pleasure to work in the education department at the Dallas Museum of Art for the past three years. My position as the Program Coordinator for the Center for Creative Connections (C3) has been such a huge opportunity to expand my K-12 art education and museum studies masters degree. I have had the great challenge to expand my knowledge in the classroom by leading the hands-on adult workshops in C3, working with local artists on the development of programs, leading programming for hundreds of people,  mentoring young artists, and working with amazing people who have helped me grow as an educator. And now, I am thankful for a new opportunity to teach K-6 art for Richardson Independent School District and will forever be grateful to the DMA for my experience.

C3 Adults

C3 Adults

To close, I would like to say goodbye by remembering some of my favorite times at the museum. There are far more experiences to remember, but thought I would count just thirty-six–one experience per month of working at the DMA.

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My top thirty-six (my three years x twelve months) memories from the DMA:

  1. Meeting many artists and working with them to create dynamic workshops in C3.
  2. Co-teaching a creativity program for adults.
  3. Becoming friends with Meaningful Moments attendees John and Sue, and receiving my very own squirrel foot necklace!
  4. Coming up with crazy Creativity Challenges for Late Night.
  5. Working with studio art students from the University of North Texas to train them how to expand their practice by teaching workshops for adults.
  6. Being the loudest one in the Center for Creative Connections office.
  7. I loved being part of the Urban Armor graffiti camp with our teen specialist JC Bigornia and guest artist IZK Davies.
  8. Teaching Terrific Textiles summer camp with 6-8 year olds
  9. Developing educational components for DMA’s Available Space project
  10. Meeting one of my favorite pop-up artists Robert Sabuda, during a Late Night Creativity Challenge.
  11. Teaching a Think Creatively class and instructing  participants to draw a work of art they hated.
  12. Reading my favorite Fancy Nancy book during summer story time.
  13. Leading a Creativity Challenge for our Meaningful Moments program.
  14. Sitting in front of Orange, Red, Red  by Mark Rothko when I need to think about something important.
  15. Seeing people drop things into a work of art by Nobuo Sekine.
  16. Going bowling for our education retreat.
  17. Having a Task Party with the C3 Adults.
  18. Doing yoga after hours in the Cindy Sherman exhibition with Melissa Gonzales!
  19. Meeting so many talented adult visitors who have helped mold me into a better educator.
  20. $1 coffee
  21. Leading Creativity Challenges for J.P. Morgan; making them create a love story between two works of art and crafting what the baby would look like!
  22. My incredible work-pal who brightened my day by leaving notes, gifts, and encouraging words on my desk weekly.
  23. Giving impromptu tours to visitors of works of art in our collection.
  24. Hosting Wayang Kulit artists in C3.
  25. Holding Life Drawing classes in the DMA galleries.
  26. Meeting Taye Diggs and helping Shane Evans lead a drawing workshop in C3 during the BooksmART festival to promote their children’s book Chocolate Me!
  27. Hosting a poetry showcase with The Spiderweb Salon of Denton, Texas. I was able to hear many musicians and writers (many of whom were C3 visitors) respond through words and songs to an exhibition at the DMA.
  28. Taking creativity breaks in the Crossroads Gallery.
  29. Working with C3 Volunteer Robert Opel to create the vision for the C3 Adult Programs promotional flyer.
  30. Receiving a phone call that Think Creatively changed one of my visitor’s lives and he will never be the same.
  31. Having an incredible boss who took many chances by letting me run with my ideas!
  32. Making new friends and being challenged by my colleagues.
  33. Having access to see the Jean Paul Gultier exhibition anytime I wanted to.
  34. Meeting many new people every day.
  35. Working with Maria Teresa and experiencing how important art is to the community.
  36. Working with Lesli Robertson and Natalie Macellaio on The Motherload installation (opening September 2014) and the launch of parent and child summer camp called Side by Side.

Thank you DMA for all the amazing memories.

Signing off for the last time as:

Amanda Batson
C3 Program Coordinator

 

 

Sculpture for the Body – Art Smith at the DMA

Art Smith , Untitled, 1948-1979, wood, paint, copper, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.36a-m

Art Smith , Untitled, 1948-1979, wood, paint, copper, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.36a-m

This week we are putting the finishing touches on the DMA’s presentation of the exhibition From the Village to Vogue: The Modernist Jewelry of Art Smith. Highlighting a pioneer of late 20th-century jewelry design whose work represents the progressive modernist impulse of “sculpture for the body,” the installation is both dramatic in appearance and revealing in what it contains. This collection, which also features examples of works by Smith’s contemporaries, is drawn from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum, which received a major gift of the artist’s work in 2007. While we are thrilled to host this exhibition of a leading American jewelry artist, our interest in having From the Village to Vogue appear at the DMA was also to note the larger importance of this medium and reflect upon the DMA’s interest in expanding our jewelry holdings. Just as fashion boldly entered our galleries through the 2011 presentation of The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, this year we will not only feature the work of Art Smith but also, excitingly, make plans for future exhibitions of jewelry and other design arts.

Art Smith, Ellington Necklace, circa 1962, silver, turquoise, amethyst, prase, rhodonite, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.4

Art Smith, “Ellington” Necklace, c. 1962, silver, amethyst, chrysoprase, rhodonite, green quartz, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.4

Beyond the realm of curators and collectors of modernist studio jewelry, Art Smith’s work is often unfamiliar, yet his impact and those of his contemporaries in the decades following World War II helped shape a new American movement in both design and craft. Drawing from the trend toward abstraction in painting and sculpture, Smith and other designer-craftspeople experimented with highly stylized forms, particularly the biomorphic imagery that characterized the work of sculptors such as Isamu Noguchi and, notably, Alexander Calder. Unlike other sculptors who may have occasionally produced jewelry, Calder’s passion for the medium appeared at least equal to that for his more widely known large-scale mobiles and stabiles. Like Calder, Smith reveled in the whirling organic line: bent wirework that was complemented by flattened ovoid forms, semiprecious stones, and richly finished patinas. Unlike so-called “high-style” jewelry, faceted gemstones and highly polished precious metals were typically set aside in preference for subdued materials and more direct fabrication techniques that were undoubtedly less labor intensive, but also ones that provided more visceral results by reflecting the hands of the artist as an immediate, personal expression. What could be more perfect for the medium of jewelry, which is, like other elements of fashion, an equally personal manifestation of the wearer’s preferences? And they were indeed artists in keeping with the spirit of the times; the modern sculpture, painting, and rhythmic vibrancy of jazz that Smith admired certainly echo throughout the punctuated, gestural lines, which form a type of visual play in his richly syncopated designs. You may notice this almost immediately upon entering the darkly colored main gallery, which features Smith’s work. Even in static display, each piece seems to dance with a particular life of its own.

(left) Art Smith, "Modern Cuff" Bracelet, designed circa 1948, silver, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.15; (right) Peter Basch, Model Wearing Art Smith's "Modern Cuff" Bracelet, circa 1948, black-and-white photograph, Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum

(left) Art Smith, “Modern Cuff” Bracelet, designed c. 1948, silver, Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Russell, 2007.61.15; (right) Peter Basch, Model Wearing Art Smith’s “Modern Cuff” Bracelet, c. 1948, black-and-white photograph, Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum

As you might expect, it is always exciting for the many hands and minds that make such exhibitions possible at the DMA to delve into a new arena as we are doing now with modern jewelry. From interpretation to design, each of our exhibitions requires hundreds of hours of brainstorming, logistical planning, and creative input, all with the hope that whatever subject we bring you will be offered in a way you will find compelling or even thrilling. As a curator, communicating facts is only one part of my job; sharing my enthusiasm for looking, learning, and celebrating the diverse creative achievements of the visual world is, at heart, what I and all of my colleagues at the DMA do every day. We hope you will find From the Village to Vogue: The Modernist Jewelry of Art Smith and our new jewelry endeavors just as exciting as we do!

Kevin Tucker is The Margot B. Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the DMA.

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