Archive for the 'Arts & Letters Live' Category

What to Look for When You’re in a Museum

The Inspired City, planned by the DMA’s literary series Arts & Letters Live, connects art, people, books, and ideas in creative ways, ignites curiosity, and offers unique experiences for all ages. On June 1, hear acclaimed authors talk about their latest books, meet them personally at book signings, and experience the DMA in new ways through interactive workshops and gallery walks led by authors, activities with artists, and more! All programs are FREE.

Rob Walker, author of The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday, will host a talk and tour at the DMA during this event. In his new book, he highlights a numbers of tips for enjoying your surroundings and stimulating creative thinking at an art museum. Here are some highlights to think about at your next museum visit:

PLAY “BUY, BURN, OR STEAL”*

  • Challenge yourself to examine all the works in a particular space and decide which of the artworks you’d be willing to buy, which one you despise so much you’d like to burn it, and which one you love so much you’d steal it.

CONDUCT AN UNRELATED ACTIVITY

  • Maybe it’s worth playfully accepting the notion of a museum as mere background, an environment we inhabit incidentally, as we do other spaces. At the DMA, we suggest walking and meditating. Come up with your own suitable physical and mental health regimens.

DISCOVER THE BIG WITHIN THE SMALL

  • Look carefully and seek out the humanity and the humor and absurdity in things.
  • Always be very curious and always be looking around.
  • Find the joy in wondering about a toilet paper roll or a coffee cup lid.

MAKE IT ART

  • Grant yourself the superpower of making “art” wherever you go, and see how that changes what you perceive. Art is everywhere, if you say so.

CHANGE IS TO COULD BE

  • Try your hand at conditional thinking: prime yourself to think in conditionals instead of absolutes—see something not for what it is, but what it could be.
  • Look for an answer instead of the answer, and see how you can shift and broaden your vision.

DON’T PHOTOGRAPH—DRAW

  • Suppose the next time you’re tempted to capture a snapshot of an appealing or interesting scene, you draw it instead?
  • Many people believe that they “can’t draw,” meaning that they’re not terribly good at drawing, or find trying to draw either frustrating or embarrassing. Be heartened that you don’t need to show your drawing to anyone!
  • Get yourself a cheap little notebook and pull it out the next time you’re tempted to reach for your phone. Draw one thing—just one! Then do it again. Fill your notebook.

* “Buy, Burn, Steal” concept courtesy of Museum Hack

Adapted from Rob Walker’sThe Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everydayby Valerie Chang, McDermott Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live.

Join the Club! A Moveable Feast Series Preview

Today is National Read a Book Day! Have you been wanting to join a book club or wishing someone would curate a list of “must reads” for you? This month the DMA’s acclaimed literary series, Arts & Letters Live, kicks off a new initiative intended to build community through conversation, offering you another opportunity to take a deeper dive into books featured in the series. A Moveable Feast Book Club will feature four books over the next three months, allowing you to select any (or all) you would like to attend. We hope that by reading and sharing insights together a week or so before hearing the author speak, your experience will be richer and even more meaningful. Book Club events will take place in the DMA’s Founders Room, where participants can enjoy lunch while engaging in conversation with fellow bibliophiles.

The series kicks off on September 13 with Dr. Jaina Sanga, author and fellow of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, leading a conversation about Texas Literary Hall of Fame author Sarah Bird’s tenth novel. Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is a historical novel depicting the story of slave-turned-soldier Cathy Williams, who disguised herself as a man and fought in the Civil War with the legendary Buffalo Soldiers.

Photo credit: Sarah Wilson

On October 9, Dr. Jaina Sanga will lead a discussion of MacArthur “Genius” grant winner Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing,a road novel through Mississippi’s past and present that explores the bonds of a family tested by racism and poverty. Ward became the first woman and the first person of color to win two National Book Awards for Fiction, joining the ranks of William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, Philip Roth, and John Updike.

Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan

Debut novelist Fatima Farheen Mirza’s A Place for Us will be the topic of discussion on October 23, again led by Dr. Jaina Sanga. The first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth, A Place for Us is a deeply moving and resonant story of love, identity, and belonging, and a powerful portrait of what it means to be a Muslim American family today. Reviewers have described it as “absolutely gorgeous” and “stunning.” 

Photo credit: Gregg Richards

The final gathering, on November 20, will feature a discussion of Jill Lepore’s These Truths: A History of the United States, moderated by Dr. Andrew R. Graybill, professor and chair in the department of history at Southern Methodist University, and co-director of the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies. History buffs will have an opportunity to dissect award-winning historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore’s magisterial account of the origins and rise of a divided nation, and the beauty and tragedy of American history.

Photo credit: Dari Pillsbury

Michelle Witcher is the Program Manager for Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

What a year!

What a year 2017 was at the DMA! Below is a brief look back on some of our memorable moments.

January
The launch of the C3 Visiting Artist Project.
The DMA Teen Advisory Council organized and debuted their Disconnect to Reconnect program.
The launch of Sensory Scouts, a monthly program designed for teens and tweens on the autism spectrum.
The 26th season of DMA Arts & Letters Live kicked off on January 14 with Zadie Smith.
The DMA welcomed Anna Katherine Brodbeck as The Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art.

February
The DMA launches its first ever crowdfunding campaign, Destination Dallas: Bringing México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde to Dallas, bringing in more than $100,000.
The DMA’s Speakeasy was the bee’s knees, celebrating the Shaken, Stirred, Styled: The Art of the Cocktail exhibition.

March
México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde opens at the DMA on March 12, presenting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the greats of Mexican modernism in Dallas.
The first of a total of 12 DMA Family Days launched on Sunday, March 26, with a total of 39,778 visitors on those days, with almost half being first-time visitors.

April
The 52nd Art Ball raises more than $1.3 million.
The DMA is proud to be the recipient of the second annual Dallas Art Fair Foundation Acquisition Program, which included the addition of work by Justin Adian, Katherine Bradford, Andrea Galvani, Matthews Wong, and Derek Fordjour.
The Keir Collection of Islamic Art Gallery opens to the public, marking the largest public presentation of the collection to date.

May
Aruto’s Nest got a new look.
Visions of America: Three Centuries of Prints from the National Gallery of Art and Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion open, kicking off our summer fun.

June
Works of art centered around the idea of communication went on view in C3.
Twenty-four DISD students with vision impairment participated in the DMA’s first indoor touch tour of the Museum’s European sculptures.
Six hundred and fifty sleuths help solve our sixth annual Museum Murder Mystery evening.
President and Mrs. Bush explored México 1900–1950 with DMA Director Agustín Arteaga.

July
More than 1,000 people participated in our Guinness World Record attempt on what would have been Frida Kahlo’s 110th birthday during the DMA’s Frida Fest, with almost 6,000 visitors in attendance.
México 1900–1950 welcomed 125,894 visitors before it closed on July 16.
Visitors went gaga for our Iris van Herpen-themed Late Night featuring a Lady Gaga costume contest.

August
Guerrilla Girl Käthe Kollwitz discussed the groups iconic work during the August Late Night
The Junior Associates celebrated the last days of summer during their August 25 Kickoff Party.

September
The DMA celebrated the first anniversary of Agustín Arteaga’s tenure as The Eugene McDermott Director.
DMA Members got to be the first to step into infinity during two weeks of preview days for Yayoi Kusama: All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins.
More than $17,000 was gifted to the DMA during North Texas Giving Day.
The Dallas Cultural Plan held a kickoff event at the DMA to help shape the future of arts and culture in Dallas.

October
Yayoi Kusama officially opened and immediately became an Instagram sensation.
Truth: 24 frames per second, the DMA’s first time-based media exhibition, opened.
TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art, benefiting amfAR and the Dallas Museum of Art, raised over $7.3 million.
It was Potter-mania during a spellbinding Second Thursday with a Twist.

November
The second annual Rosenberg Fête featured an evening themed around François Lemoyne’s The Bather from the Rosenberg Collection.
More than 7,000 visitors took part in our three-day Islamic Art Festival: The Language of Exchange celebrating the Keir Collection of Islamic Art.

December
Asian Textiles: Art and Trade Along the Silk Road goes on view in the Museum’s Level 3 gallery.
We traveled to a gallery far, far away during the final Second Thursday with a Twist inspired by Star Wars
The DMA reflects upon a year of amazing art, events, and visitors!

Arts & Letters Live Announces its 27th Season

Arts & Letters Live, the DMA’s signature literary and performing arts series, is excited to announce its 27th season of 25 events from January through June 2018! Ignite your curiosity and secure your seats now to hear award winners and icons in the fields of literature, music, visual art, poetry, happiness, and food.

Some of the headliners for the 2018 season include:

▪ Creator-producer-screenwriter of the PBS Masterpiece series Victoria, Daisy Goodwin

▪ Happiness researcher and bestselling author Shawn Achor, whose TED Talk has more than 16 million views

▪ Grammy Award–winning vocal ensemble Conspirare’s Dallas premiere performance of Considering Matthew Shepard

▪ Emmy Award–winning journalist and producer Maria Shriver

▪ Award-winning poet and author Naomi Shihab Nye, who will debut a new poem inspired by a work of her choice in the DMA’s collection and will juxtapose works from the collection with a live reading of her poetry

Two authors who have been on Arts & Letters Live’s wish list for years, Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri and Booker Prize winner Michael Ondaatje, will take part in the Distinguished Writers series. Jhumpa Lahiri will talk about her experience moving to Rome with her family, seeking full immersion in the Italian language—“a trial by fire, a sort of baptism.” Imagine being soaked in the art, language, and culture of Rome for an extended period of time, enjoying beautiful vistas of the Colosseum as seen here in Jean-Achille Benouville’s painting.

Jean-Achille Benouville, Colosseum Viewed from the Palatine, 1844, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. George A. Shutt, Dr. and Mrs. George N. Aldredge, Jr., the Societe Generale, 1984.63

Many opportunities exist this season to connect art in the DMA’s collection with authors and books featured at Arts & Letters Live, both through pre-event tours and short story, poetry, and illustration workshops, often using works of art as inspiration for writing and drawing. On February 7, author Denise Kiernan will talk about her new nonfiction book The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home, which explores the drama and tragic struggles of the famous Vanderbilt family inside the Biltmore House. This story features a captivating cast of real-life characters, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Singer Sargent, James Whistler, Henry James, and Edith Wharton. The pre-event tour will spotlight a beautiful console table that was once housed in the Vanderbilt mansion in New York City and other paintings and decorative arts of that era.

Vanderbilt Console, Herter Brothers, c. 1881–82, oak, marble, silverplate, and bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of an anonymous donor and the Friends of the Decorative Arts, 1996.213.a-e

Bestselling cookbook author, Emmy Award–winning television personality, and successful restaurateur Lidia Bastianich will talk about her heartwarming memoir My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food. Bastianich spent two years in a refugee camp before moving to the United States—a hugely formative experience in her life. You can enjoy a dinner featuring some of her favorite recipes before the event and hear her share stories about those dishes. Her vibrant personality and love of food call to mind one of my favorite still lifes in the DMA’s collection by Paul Cézanne.

Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Apples on a Sideboard, 1900–06, watercolor over pencil on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.12

Arts & Letters Live will delve further into the theme of immigration with a dynamic pairing of two award-winning authors, Luis Alberto Urrea and Francisco Cantú, who will explore the United States–Mexico border in fact and fiction. Cantú served for years as a US Border Patrol guard, and Urrea’s forthcoming novel, The House of Broken Angels, paints a vivid portrait of a complex family and reminds us what it means to be the first generation and to live two lives across one border. Dallas Nine artist William Lester’s painting The Three Crosses evokes for me the often tragic aspects of border crossings. The stark landscape with barbed wire is not Golgotha, but is recognizably Texas.

William Lester, The Three Crosses, 1935–36, oil on Masonite, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the New York World’s Fair Department of Contemporary Art, 1937.24, © The Estate of William L. Lester

 

To see a complete roster of the Arts & Letters Live 2018 season from January through June, visit DMA.org/all.

Carolyn Bess is the Director of Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

 

Homer for the Holidays

They say there’s no place like home for the holidays, and here at the Museum, we’ve been excited about one of the oldest stories about going home: The Odyssey. On Wednesday, November 29, DMA Arts & Letters Live will host award-winning author Daniel Mendelsohn as he talks about his book An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic. Mendelsohn’s memoir shares what he learned from teaching his dad in a university course on Homer’s The Odyssey, reading and reliving this epic.

Thanks to the DMA’s wonderful collection of classical art, visitors can view Greek artworks related to Homer’s The Odyssey before Mendelsohn’s talk. Here are a few of our favorites.

Heroes

The star of The Odyssey, Odysseus, is not your typical hero. As Mendelsohn’s dad points out, Odysseus “lost all his men . . . is a liar . . . cheated on his wife . . . and without the gods [is] helpless” (Mendelsohn). However, classical heroes are not necessarily moral, but merely impressive people who fought well and died for honor. The DMA’s  funerary sculpture of a young man shows the Greek idea of a hero: a great man who died bravely in battle. This idealized nude figure at the prime of his life is memorialized in a military stance.

Figure of a young man from a funerary relief, Greek, Attic, c. 330 B.C.E., marble, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Cecil H. Green, 1966.26

Frenemies

The real prototype for a Greek hero is Achilles, the famed warrior of Homer’s epic The Iliad. We find Achilles fighting on this DMA black-figure panel amphora. Looking back to The Iliad, the interactions between Achilles and Odysseus are strained, even while they fight for the same side. Achilles tells Odysseus, “I hate . . . like the very Gates of Death [that man] who stoops to peddling lies” (as translated by Fagles). Since Odysseus uses tricks constantly, it makes sense that the two don’t get along.

Black-figure panel amphora, Greek; Attic, last quarter of 6th century B.C.E., ceramic, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund, 1965.29.M

Seduction and Violence

The Odyssey illustrates the dangers of two timeless powers: love and death. Look inside this DMA kylix, or drinking bowl, and you’ll find a familiar face: a siren. The enchanting sirens are one of Odysseus’s obstacles, and they combine the two dangers of seduction and physical violence. Placed on the interior of this bowl, the image of the siren was likely meant to ward off evil.

Black-figure kylix, Attic, c. 550-530 B.C.E., ceramic with slip, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Bill and Jean Booziotis and Wendover Fund in honor of Pepecha Zarafonetis Booziotis, 2004.19

Immortality

Gold olive-leaf wreaths typically crowned athletes, influential politicians, or individuals who had died. When crowning dead bodies, as this DMA wreath likely did, the undying gold may have symbolized the hope that the fame of the individual would triumph in immortality. The desire for immortality was a frequent theme in Greek mythology. However, Odysseus is unique in that, when offered immortality from the goddess Calypso, he refuses it. For him, reaching home is more important than eternal life.

Wreath, Greek, 4th century B.C.E., gold, Dallas Museum of Art, Museum League Purchase Funds, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., and Cecil H. and Ida M. Green in honor of Virginia Lucas Nick, 1991.75.55

In Greek, the word nostos refers to a return trip home (fun fact: nostos + algos, which means grief or pain, is the root of nostalgia). Only a small portion of The Odyssey is considered a true telling of nostos, but the prevalence of nostos ballads shows that the Greeks definitely recognized the value of returns. Mendelsohn and his father seem to agree: while reaching the end can be complicated, there is something important about a journey back. Wherever you might be heading this winter, safe travels!

Tickets are still available to see Daniel Mendelsohn at the DMA on November 29! Join me that night for a pre-event tour as we take a closer look at Homer’s themes in the DMA’s Greek collection.

Kathleen Alva, McDermott Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

 

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.

Adventures with Stephen Tobolowsky

On April 18, Stephen Tobolowsky will return to the DMA Arts & Letters Live stage to celebrate the release of his second memoir, My Adventures with God. In preparation for his visit, I had the privilege of interviewing Stephen about his acting turned writing career and some of the things he learned along the way. His answers are insightful, relatable, and as always, humorous. From the aspiring artist to the admiring onlooker, Stephen offers advice, intentionally or not, for anyone interested in advancing his or her own path to success and level of self-awareness. So, what did I glean from our interchange, you might wonder? Well, as a young professional embarking on a long career ahead of me, this interview reminded me that I do not need to have all the answers, That I can trust my instincts, and that, even in times of doubt, I should cling to what gives me strength and a sense of what makes me, me. Below you can read just a snippet of our discussion and get a glimpse into what’s to come on the night of his much anticipated appearance at the DMA:

Sara: In this book, you continually return to Judaism as a kind of grounding force throughout the vicissitudes of your life. Can you speak broadly about how you understand the role of faith, religious or not, factoring into one’s lived experience?

Stephen: This is the question from which all questions come. We like to think that we are fixed quantities that move through time. We are not. We are equations with more than one unknown. I think this fundamental uncertainty about our existence is why we cling to things we feel are certain. Like science. Like art. It’s why people like cats. We are certain of their uncertainness.

The only protections we have from false prophets and the despair that grips us all at one time or another is beauty and in embracing a good philosophy. Judaism provides both.

We live in an age that popularly views religion as primitive and elevates science. I like science, even when it is wrong. I find the pursuit of answers inspirational. But for my money, I don’t care how smart Steven Hawking is or how interesting a black hole may be, if he doesn’t understand the Holiness code of Leviticus, not to curse the deaf nor put an obstacle before the blind, it doesn’t add up to much.

Judaism is a layer cake built over thousands of years. The different layers reflect that age’s relationship to truth. In some ages, it was popular to think that truth can be known. You end up with the Ten Commandments. In other ages, it was popular to think the truth was hidden. You end up with mystical works like the Zohar and the Midrash. There are very few creations of man that have existed through so many conflicting times and have survived so many hardships. The wisdom embodied in Judaism has endured. The philosophy in a nutshell? From Hillel over two thousand years ago: “What is hateful to you do not do unto your fellow man. The rest is commentary. Go and study.”

To read the entire interview, you can visit Stephen’s website, where he posted the exchange in two parts: Part I and Part II. The Museum is excited to welcome Stephen back to DMA Arts & Letters Live, so go grab a copy of My Adventures with God in the DMA Store and join us for an evening full of inquisitive minds, entertaining anecdotes, and rip-roaring laughter.

Sara Beth Greenberg is the McDermott Graduate Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.


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