Archive for the 'Behind-the-Scenes' Category

Foxes and Fireflies: An Interview with Mel Remmers

When we found local artist Mel Remmers’s Instagram account, we were drawn to her distinct artistic style. With her wide-eyed, emotionally captivating portraiture, witty captions, and some sneak peek shots sprinkled into the mix, she reveals her work and process to her growing following in an engaging and down-to-earth way. Because we noticed elements of fashion, whimsicality, nature, and experimentation with textures and colors in her work, we were eager to invite her to a viewing of our Laura Owens exhibition. Inspired by Owens’s works, the paintings Remmers created welcome you into a fantasy world of their own.

 

Photo Credit: Stevie Hudspeth

Check out our interview with Remmers about her process:

Tell us about yourself as an artist.
In February 2015, I bought a child’s paint set from a grocery store. Seeking to find a creative therapy after battling cancer and needing emotional repair, I posted my first attempt at painting on Instagram and I was shocked and excited by such a positive response. I was hooked! This started Instagram becoming part of the creative process. As my following grew fast, I sold my first painting after four weeks, and as of November 2017 my 400th sold.

My paintings started out as fashion-inspired female figures, and in time I added motion to them. Now I paint portraiture that provokes a mood with either dark shadows or the expressions in the eyes. I am also fascinated by light and have focused periods with black-and-white paintings as well as ink. The majority of my paintings consist of multiple mediums and tools such as gold foil and others as I have discovered them. Hand-painted wallpaper with a nature-inspired theme has become my most requested commission and my new obsession.

What was your first impression of the Laura Owens exhibition?
As I walked into the exhibit, my eyes drew on the immense scale, the bold and playful works. Then as I moved closer I was lost in the details of unexpected elements, heavily sculpted paint textures, and her no-fear use of PINK.

What did you find most inspiring about this exhibition?
Most notably, the grand scale of her work. I have a strong desire to “Go Big”—paint on walls or just use a larger canvas than usual. This connection brought that buzz to continue on that path.

Another inspiring spark was the variance of her work. The abstract collages flowing to whimsical childlike characters of animals was a delightful scene.

I was also thrilled to see her unexpected three-dimensional elements and use of materials like felt, and her beehive painting where it looked like bees were buzzing above the canvas.

What was the painting process for your pieces like?
As I walked away from the exhibit, reflecting and imagining this collaboration, I knew to go with my gut response. Fireflies were my first whisper, and I wanted to play off the forest scene where you find animals peeping throughout the painting.

Since I usually do not plan or sketch, I started with the trees and then water emerged. All of this is evolving while I am filming to Instagram, and my specific music choices have come to set the mood of where I am in the process.

RemmersDMACollection Reflections-1

I am a fast painter so I wanted to be patient and take my time. That equaled four days of nine hours at a time, and that also included a second painting that I felt told more of the story. The water, with its intense color and light reflection of the first painting, became the continuation of the story in the second painting and introduced a new character, the glitter fox.

These paintings are made with acrylics, some oils, chalk, pastel, and ink, and the fireflies are made of tiny crystals and glitter glue.

MelRemmers ForestFinal 1

Remmers GlitterFox1

What elements or themes from Laura Owens’s work did you incorporate into your pieces?
My collaborative theme became nature. I wanted to bring a sense of belonging. I usually focus on a feminine theme, and now she became a living part of it. Her dress inspiration was taken from a large impasto glob from one of Laura’s abstracts that I found crazy good. So her dress looks like a dripping, thick waterfall floating into the water.

Do you have any other takeaways from this experience?
My takeaway is LIMITLESS. In a world where the trending word is “brand,” Laura Owens does not have a limit to her visions or exclusivity. She goes from sky high drawings of cats to a wild abstract collage. Laura’s work has calmed my doubts of risk taking, opened a larger vision, and given my creations a wider world to live in and explore. And, glitter glue IS a medium.

Hayley Caldwell is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the DMA.

Visions of Home: An Interview with Artist Ellie Ivanova

This summer, the Center for Creative Connections (C3) is thrilled to have C3 Visiting Artist Ellie Ivanova here to design interactive in-gallery activities in which visitors contribute their visions of home. These perspectives then become part of a larger print created independently by the artist at her studio before finally being installed back in C3. Get to know more about Ellie and her project below, and stop by the Center for Creative Connections to contribute your own drawing to the project.

Ellie portrait

Tell us about yourself.
I am an artist who uses photography, but goes beyond the print. I have lived in several countries (Bulgaria, Latin America, the United States, and Italy) and am grateful for all the people I have met in all the places where I have lived who have shaped my experience.

What motivated you to apply to the C3 Visiting Artist Project?
As a researcher pursuing a PhD in Art Education, my special interest is in public pedagogy, which is everything we learn from each other in informal ways outside of a classroom environment and everything we do when sharing experiences through art. Having changed homes myself many times, and living in between two homes right now, I found an affinity with people who are longing for a lost home or dreaming for one. I wanted to see what would happen when all our different ideas of home come together, and what better place to experiment with this than Dallas Museum of Art!

Tell us about the installation you’ve created in the Center for Creative Connections.
It is a participatory print, in which many different small drawings of homes—lost, dreamt, and found—are contributed by visitors on squares of transparency. Using these as photographic negatives, I put together these drawings to print a “neighborhood” of the collected homes on photo-sensitized fabric. I’m using the cyanotype process, an old photo process that has been used through the decades for scientific and architectural imaging along with creative art making. Even though a home is something personal, a place that separates us from the rest of the world, with this project we see how different or similar our ideas of home look like when they are brought together.

 

 

Ellie c3 project

C3 Visiting Artist Project Space

Do you have any favorite visitor contributions you’d like to share?
The simplest drawings have been most delightful! Of course, I enjoy the elaborate, detailed homes done by other artists or others who are invested in the process. But when we have to draw simply, the bare bones of thought show through. I enjoy seeing how our basic image of what a home is can translate into being something so creative.

fabric closeup
Kerry Butcher is the Center for Creative Connections Education Coordinator at the DMA.

What’s next in the Quadrant Galleries?

We bid farewell to Edward Steichen’s In Exaltation of Flowers this week. The lavender walls and gold-leafed canvases will go off view on May 13 and the space will be prepped to hold a selection of newly acquired posters from the Guerrilla Girls Portfolio Compleat (opening May 26, more details provided in a future Uncrated post).

Fortunately, two new installations of contemporary art will open the same weekend the Steichen exhibition comes to a close. In the Stoffel Quadrant, eleven large sculptural works will adorn the walls and floor. Lynda Benglis’s Odalisque (Hey, Hey Frankenthaler), a colorful river of poured latex, is representative of the scale and non-traditional materials explored by this selection of artists. Elise Armani, the McDermott Intern for Contemporary Art, chose these works, all of which were created by women whose work resists the crisp geometries associated with the male-dominated Minimalist movement. Instead, Armani wants viewers to recognize the ways each piece interacts with its surrounding and raises questions about the relationship between works of art, physics, anatomy, and psychology. Contemporary culture, environmentalism, and daily routines are critiqued in works by Annette Lawrence and N.Dash. Lawrence draws attention to the proliferation of junk mail and wasted materials by transforming strips of paper into a wall relief. Dash’s blackened, folded paper sculpture is the result of her methodical handiwork aboard the New York subway.

Another group of works by women artists will be on view in the Stoffel Quadrant (formerly home to Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room). The installation, Soft Focus, will contain nearly thirty photographs drawn from the DMA’s permanent collection and local lenders. Some images, like Kunie Sugiura’s Central Park 3, broaden the traditional understanding of photography by relying on alternative applications of light sensitive materials. Also included will be an example of Diane Arbus’s iconic approach to portraiture. Other photographers whose works will be on view are women who participated in mainstream art movements but rarely received equal critical acclaim as their male counterparts.

images: Lynda Benglis, Odalisque (Hey, Hey Frankenthaler), 1969, poured pigmented latex, Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2003.2 © Lynda Benglis / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY; Annette Lawrence, Free Paper 12 / 05, 2006–2008, mixed media, Dallas Museum of Art, Charron and Peter Denker Contemporary Texas Art Fund 2008.100.A-E © Annette Lawrence; N. Dash, Commuter (New York, 2013), 2013, graphite and paper, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Bonnie L. Pitman in honor of Deedie Rose and Catherine Rose 2016.63; Kunie Sugiura, Central Park 3, 1971, photo emulsion and acrylic on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family Acquisition Fund 2016.11.1; Diane Arbus, Untitled, 1968, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Polaroid Foundation grant 1975.82 © Estate of Diane Arbus

Emily Schiller is the Head of Interpretation at the DMA

The Mayer Library Collects: Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA

Of the work we do in the library, one of the most enjoyable is collection development…  A.K.A buying books! Materials purchased for the library’s collection primarily support research on the DMA’s encyclopedic collection and exhibitions. One of the most significant areas in which the library collects is exhibition catalogues published by museums and galleries from all over the world. Exhibition catalogues provide current research, photographs, and documentation of works of art, and function as primary sources of historical information for scholars.

A great example of this is the recent purchase of over 20 catalogues from the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibition program. Pacific Standard Time (PST) is a collaborative program established in 2011 that brings Southern California arts institutions together to present exhibitions on a particular theme connected to the Los Angeles region. Previous iterations were Art in L.A. 1945-1980 and Modern Architecture in L.A. The 2017-2018 PST iteration, LA/LA, explored Latin American and Latino art, featuring art from ancient times to the present across a variety of disciplines.

The catalogues from this series of exhibitions will serve as authoritative resources for the study of Latin American art at the DMA. For example, the exhibition Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas featured the DMA’s Incan checkboard tunic, which is also discussed in the catalogue (page 172, catalog no. 73).

And there were two career survey exhibitions for artists in the DMA collection: Valeska Soares and Adriana Varejão.

Here are a few more highlights:

You can see a list of all the Pacific Standard Time catalogues held by the Mayer Library here.

The Mayer Library is open to the public. Check the library’s page on DMA.org for current hours.

 

Jenny Stone is the Librarian at the DMA.

In Search of Brandon Kirby and the Golden Spider

Earlier this month, the DMA’s exhibition The Power of Gold: Asante Royal Regalia from Ghana opened to the public. What you may not know is that the entire exhibition of more than 250 objects was inspired by a few works from the DMA’s collection. The DMA Member Magazine, Artifacts, explored two of these objects in the Winter 2018 issue. Discover more about the inspiration behind the exhibition and the history of these beautiful pieces:

In 2014, two finely crafted gold artworks joined the Dallas Museum of Art’s holdings of West African regalia. The cast gold spider and T-shaped bead arrived in an elegant velvet-lined display box bearing an inscription with the following information: the items came from the Asante kingdom, were once owned by the kings, and left their original home in 1883.

Sword ornament in the form of a spider, Ghana, Asante peoples, late 19th century, gold-copper-silver alloy, Dallas Museum of Art, McDermott African Art Acquisition Fund, 2014.26.1

Dr. Roslyn A. Walker, Senior Curator of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific, and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art at the DMA, began a multi-year investigation into the works’ journey from the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana) to Texas. This research inspired The Power of Gold: Asante Royal Regalia from Ghana, the first exhibition to focus on Asante royal regalia in over three decades. The Cree family were previous owners of the objects, and in their oral history detailing the objects’ relocation from Africa to England they mention a man named Robert L. Brandon Kirby. Who was Brandon Kirby and how did he come to own these ornate examples of gold craftsmanship? These questions drove Walker to dig through British Parliamentary Papers, correspond with international archivists and scholars, and trace census records throughout the US and Europe. Born in Australia in 1852 as Robert Low Kirby, and later recorded under the surname Brandon Kirby and then Brandon-Kirby, he traveled in 1881 to the British colony, where he served in the Gold Coast Constabulary, a police force. He earned the respect of the British governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Samuel Rowe, and during a mission in 1884 he was tasked with delivering letters from Sir Samuel to the kingdom’s various paramount chiefs regarding the pending selection of an heir to the Golden Stool (throne).

Walker’s reconstructed narrative identifies this tour through the Asante kingdom as the context for Brandon Kirby’s possession of the cast gold spider and T-shaped bead, which were probably bestowed upon him by Prince Agyeman Kofi, later known as Asantahene (king) Kwaku Dua II.

Pendant, Ghana, Asante peoples, late 19th century, gold-copper-silver alloy, Dallas Museum of Art, McDermott African Art Acquisition Fund, 2014.26.2

The following year, Brandon Kirby partnered with James Cree (d. 1891), a wealthy Scotsman, to buy cattle ranches in the Territory of New Mexico, thus the Asante spider and bead arrived in the US. According to Cree family lore, Brandon Kirby’s dramatic departure from New Mexico forced him to travel light, leaving behind his mementos of his time in the Gold Coast.

The intricate castings were then passed through generations of the Cree family, landing in Austin, Texas. From there, it was only a few hundred miles and years of research before their reintroduction at the DMA in The Power of Gold. A final historical resource soon joined the spider and bead at the DMA and recently entered the Museum’s collection—an album of photographs by Frederick Grant dated 1883–84 and featuring Brandon Kirby in Kumasi, the capital of the Asante kingdom.

Frederick Grant, Ashanti and West Central Africa, 1883-4 (cover), 1883–84, leather, copper alloy, and paper, Dallas Museum of Art, African Collection Fund, 2017.12

Frederick Grant, Ashanti and West Central Africa, 1883-4 (detail), 1883–84, leather, copper alloy, and paper, Dallas Museum of Art, African Collection Fund, 2017.12

Find out more about Brandon Kirby and the golden spider in the beautifully illustrated exhibition catalogue that accompanies the exhibition.

Dr. Emily Schiller is the Head of Interpretation at the DMA.

Contemporary Additions

With 93 exhibitors, the 2018 Dallas Art Fair left no dearth of fantastic work to purchase through the Dallas Art Fair Foundation Acquisition program. For the Dallas Art Fair’s 10th anniversary, and the third year the DMA has participated in this exciting partnership, the contemporary collection gained eight new works by seven artists. This year, perhaps more than ever, we are reminded how much representation matters. The curatorial team (Anna Katherine Brodbeck, me, and the McDermott Intern for Contemporary Art Elise Armani), under the leadership of our Director, Agustín Arteaga, used the funds this year to select works that further diversify the contemporary collection. The artists range in age and background as well as the variety of mediums that they use.

Brie Ruais’s large wall-based ceramic was created from the same amount of clay as the artist’s own body weight. In her process-driven practice, Ruais spreads and molds the clay with her hands and feet, marks still evident once the pieces are partially glazed and fired. The DMA’s holdings in contemporary ceramics do not quite reflect the multitude of ceramic work being produced today, and we felt that this work was a striking addition to demonstrate the use of the medium expanded beyond traditional forms.

Brie Ruais, Broken Ground Red (130 lbs of clay spread out from center), 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Albertz Benda [image source: brieruais.com].

In Sanford Biggers’s Sirroco from 2016, the artist repurposes an antique quilt to use as the substrate of this incredible painting. Interested in the inherent geometry and varying textures of the quilts, Biggers references a historical, though unproven, narrative that on the Underground Railroad quilts were used as signposts to guide escaping slaves. Sanford Biggers is a cousin of the painter John Biggers (1924-2001), who is already represented in the DMA’s collection. Acquiring Sanford Biggers’s work provides a great opportunity to explore artistic lineages and make connections between generations.

Sanford Biggers, Sirroco, 2016. Courtesy of Massimo De Carlo Milan | London |Hong Kong [image source: massimodecarlo.com].

This was also the first year we purchased from a local gallery, and we were pleased to select Alicia Henry’s mixed-media work Untitled, 2017, from Liliana Bloch Gallery here in Dallas. In this portrait of a man, Henry uses stitched thread and ink to comment on identity and notions of beauty. Some of the marks appear, hauntingly, like scars and allude to some form of violence previously endured. With this truly powerful work, we further expand our holdings by contemporary African American artists.

Alicia Henry, Untitled, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Liliana Bloch Gallery [image source: lilianablochgallery.com].

In addition to the works above, we are pleased to have also acquired Matthew Ronay’s sculpture Condition, 2018; Tony Lewis’s drawing Nes, 2018; two gelatin silver prints from Geraldo de Barros’s series Fotoformas Sao Paulo, 1949/2008; and Shara Hughes’s painting Gusto, 2018. It is difficult not to write about every work since they all bring something unique to the conversation. I encourage anyone interested in these acquisitions to visit the gallery websites to learn more about the artists.

Thank you to the generous donors to the Dallas Art Fair Foundation Acquisition program for their time and enthusiasm in making these acquisitions happen!

Chelsea Pierce is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant for Contemporary Art at the DMA.

More than Meets the Eye

In just over a week the DMA will host the acclaimed exhibition Laura Owens which is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. The exhibition explores the career and whimsical world created by contemporary artist Laura Owens. Prior to the arrival of the exhibition, the DMA Member magazine Artifacts was able to talk with Amy Baumann, Owens’ Studio Manager, about the process of creating the unique and exceptionally beautiful exhibition catalogs:

This spring, visitors will encounter paintings on a monumental scale in the mid-career survey of American painter Laura Owens. Owens is also known for her work on a much more intimate scale, as a book artist. Her Los Angeles art space and studio even hosts Ooga Booga, an independent art bookseller. She shares this love of books through her gorgeously crafted catalogue, a deep dive into her life and career, containing memorabilia from her artistic formation and essays from experts in diverse cultural fields.

What is most surprising is that every catalogue contains a unique cover, screen printed by hand in the artist’s studio—a mammoth undertaking that involved a crew of five studio assistants working for over three months.

I talked with Amy Baumann, Owens’ Studio Manager, about the process of fabricating over 8,500 unique books, each one functioning as a work of art that visitors can take home with them.

Anna Katherine Brodbeck:
Can you speak about the genesis of this ambitious project?

Amy Baumann: Screen printing has been a big part of Laura’s work in the last five years. When she first approached us with the idea for the covers, we said, “Great! How do you want to do this?” This resulted in the book covers being created by the build-up of layers upon layers of images, much like her paintings.

AKB: What is the source material for the diverse imagery?

AB: Laura started by selecting patterns used in her paintings, such as a bitmap made from a scan of crumpled paper and vintage wallpaper overlays. She also chose some basic shapes that we printed as vectors, and more complex images that we printed using CMYK process. We made a chart listing the various elements to make sure we maxed out the possible combinations. They had to be random and not repeat. We came up with a system to put all the covers in production simultaneously, organizing them in piles at various stages of production. Laura wanted the print crew to choose the layers and how they were used in order to promote more randomness, but she would change the way the layers were used during the process, sometimes requesting a different scale or image, or shifting the color palette.

Anna Katherine Brodbeck is The Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMA.


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