Archive for the 'Just for Fun' Category

Re-creating a Roman Feast

On Tuesday, December 11, archaeologist and food writer Farrell Monaco will be here for a talk and feast exploring ancient Roman cuisine. Monaco is the author of a celebrated food blog, Tavola Mediterranea, in which she explores recipes from across the Mediterranean and even re-creates recipes from the archaeological record.

In what has become a tradition for the Adult Programs team whenever we have a program about food, we tried our hand at making a few of the recipes featured in Tavola Mediterranea. You can find our other cooking attempts here, here, here, and here.

Katie Cooke, Manager of Adult Programs
When scrolling through the blog, the Libum caught my eye. I think because of a distant memory about the sweet bread that the Romans ate, from my days learning Latin. I also thought that the idea of an ancient cheesecake drizzled with honey couldn’t be that bad, even with my amateur baking skills.

The ingredients list could not have been easier to assemble. The base for the bread was only three things: eggs, flour, and ricotta. I had Great British Bake Off in the background, so I was reminded to let it proof and not knead it into a stiff mass.

While the dough was resting, I arranged the bay leaves on the bottom of the pans so that the bread would sit on them and soak up all the delicious, savory flavor.

I split the dough between two pans as the recipe says, and it’s a good thing Farrell specified that, because the baking time is already an hour—I would’ve been up very late if all that dough was baked in one loaf! The fun part was decorating the tops with pine nuts.

The finished product was very nicely browned loaves of dense cake/bread. I drizzled them with honey and then used some for dipping. I would recommend keeping a lot of honey on the side when eating this. I thought that the bay leaves were going to give it a little more flavor, but overall the taste of the bread is very neutral.

What I learned: If I were part of an ancient civilization, I would have worshiped honey because it makes even the simplest of breads sugary and delectable.

Jessie Carrillo, Manager of Adult Programs
From the moment I saw Vatia’s Fig-Stuffed Pastry Piglets, I knew I had to make them. While not directly drawn from an ancient source, this dish is not too far off from something that the Romans would have eaten, and the combination of ingredients sounded tasty.

I started by making a dough from whole wheat flour, olive oil, and water. While the dough rested in the fridge, I sliced two portions of pork tenderloin, pounded them with a meat mallet until they were very thin, and seasoned them.

Next I combined dried figs with salt, pepper, and honey in a food processor, spread the mixture on the pork pieces, and then rolled them up like a couple of Ho Hos®. I rolled out my dough until it was about the thickness of a pie crust and cut pieces large enough to wrap around the pork, as well as some smaller pieces that I fashioned into my piglets’ ears, noses, and tails.

After wrapping each piece of pork in pastry and decorating the piglets, I followed the author’s advice and threw them into the oven without naming them. After about 30 minutes at 400 degrees, the piglets came out sadly missing their tails, but otherwise adorable and surprisingly yummy!

What I learned: Meat wrapped in pastry dough has always been delicious, and cooking is even more fun when you combine it with sculpture.

Stacey Lizotte, DMA League Director of Adult Programs
I decided to make Apicius’ Tiropatina (Tiropatinam), which is an egg custard, because it only had three ingredients (six if you count the garnishes), and because I was curious about what flavor and texture you would get in a custard from just eggs, milk, and honey (instead of sugar).

You would think three ingredients would make this a simple recipe, but it was VERY time consuming—literally a two-day process (so if patience is not a virtue of yours, I wouldn’t recommend this recipe).

Once the three ingredients were combined, there was a lot of custard mixture—A LOT. There was no way the mixture I had would only make 18 small custards like the recipe said. If you want to make that amount, I would recommend at least halving this recipe. The one step I added is that I strained my custard mixture before putting it in the tins. I do this for any custard or curd that I make, and I feel that it’s important in order to get a smooth texture.

I didn’t have a pudding tin and my muffin pans were too large to put in a water bath, so I decided to use my mini cheesecake pan. I didn’t take into account how watery this mixture is compared to a cake batter so, as you can see, during the baking process a few of my custards seeped out of the pan.

I often find egg custards too “eggy” for my taste, but these custards actually had a light flavor that I found appealing. I attribute that to the honey. I also enjoyed the black pepper on top—clearly those Romans knew what they were doing.

What I learned: A water bath is essential for baking custards. Since I had so much extra batter, I decided to make a batch of custards in a muffin tin but without a water bath and the result was  horrible.

If you would like to learn more about Roman cooking and enjoy a Roman Feast, you can purchase your tickets for the event here.

Time Travel at the DMA

This week we had a special visitor who traversed through time and space in advance of our November 8 Second Thursdays with a Twist all about Doctor Who. For his tour through the Museum, he said he would like to see some people and places that he’s traveled through time to visit. We were happy to oblige, mostly because we didn’t want him to use his sonic screwdriver on us. As he was walking through the Museum, he also found a few artworks featuring people and places he had not encountered and he wanted to learn more about those too.

The Doctor hadn’t yet met George Washington, so he was eager to see his portrait:

No trip to the DMA is complete without a stop at Frederic Edwin Church’s The Icebergs:

A future iteration of the Doctor met Vincent van Gogh, so naturally we had to show him Sheaves of Wheat:

And here are a few of the other stops he made in our galleries:

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When you visit the DMA on November 8 for our next Second Thursdays with a Twist, you, too, can go back in time to see Winston Churchill, the Aztecs, and many other important historical characters through our scavenger hunt and warp drive tours that’ll have you exploring all that timey wimey stuff!

Katie Cooke is the Manager of Adult Programs at the DMA.

Confectionery Connections

Ghosts, jack-o-lanterns, spider webs—these are some of the things that come to mind when thinking about Halloween. But the most important of all might be candy! I love how there is no shame in eating as much candy as I like this time of year. I must admit, sweet treats are on my mind a lot—so much so, that I couldn’t help but make some sugary connections with our collection.

Candy dish, Louis Comfort Tiffany (maker), date unknown, iridescent glass,  Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Waggener, 1983.18

If the title of this piece is not enough to spark your imagination, maybe the gorgeous color of Tiffany’s candy dish will. Tiffany may be best known for his stained glass windows, but his creative versatility was also renowned. Lamps, vessels, jewelry—you name it, he could do it. The iridescent glass on this dish reminds me of old-fashioned pulled taffy, delicately thinned out into a flower-like shape, or an unraveled, satiny candy wrapper inviting us to share its saccharine delights.

Dale Chihuly, Hart Window, 1995, glass, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Linda and Mitch Hart, 1995.21.a-ii, © Dale Chihuly

Speaking of glass, Dale Chihuly’s blown glass sculpture is an iconic installation commissioned for the Hamon Atrium. One of my fellow interns shared a story of a little girl who disagreed that Chihuly’s piece was made of glass. She asked the young girl what she thought it was, to which the girl answered, “plastic.” I was hoping she was going to say candy, because that’s what I think of every time I pass by. The vibrancy of the colors and the seemingly soft forms make me think of fruit roll-ups.

Pendant: macaw head profile, Mexico or Guatemala, Maya, 600–900 CE, Dallas Museum of Art, given in memory of Jerry L. Abramson by his estate, 2008.76

This Maya pendant of a macaw head profile has me dreaming of a flavorful lozenge. When viewed in person, this jadeite pendant pops out from the gallery’s gray walls, almost as if glowing. It’s no wonder that the Mayans valued jadeite and other greenstones as some of their most precious materials, just like diamonds are to us.

Wassily Kandinsky, Murnau, Burggrabenstrasse 1, 1908, 1908, oil on cardboard, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1963.31

Wassily Kandinsky had a neurological condition called synesthesia, a rare phenomenon in which one sense simultaneously triggers another sense. In Kandinsky’s case, he saw colors when he heard music. I like to think that I taste things when I look at art, but that’s not really true. This landscape painting reminds me of Munchkinland from The Wizard of Oz. Can you imagine the sidewalks lined with gumdrops and lollipops?

I blame candy makers for conditioning my brain to associate bright colors with candy, but I hope my connections have emphasized the enchanting qualities of these works of art. Art truly transcends visual response and transforms into palpable sensations, or at least that’s what I tell myself to feel better about my sweet tooth. I encourage you to explore which pieces from the DMA’s collection speak to you.

Paulina Martín is the McDermott Intern for Gallery & Community Teaching at the DMA.

Make & Take: Architectural Artistry

We have a new way to get creative at the DMA! Make & Take is a new art-making series that takes place on one Thursday every month. Drop by on October 25 and stay for as long as you want, whether it’s a few minutes or an hour, and you’ll leave with a new skill plus your own creation. Our first Make & Take was on Thursday, September 27. As the weather cooled down, participants enjoyed their time outside on our Sculpture Terrace near the Conservation Gallery, overlooking part of the downtown skyline. Local artist and architecture teacher Jay Cantrell led participants in exercises that helped give shape to the cluster of buildings in front of them. One exercise involved outlining the skyline that showed the different structures using only one line. Another was focusing on architectural details of the buildings, like windows and arches, so you don’t get overwhelmed by tackling the entire building. You can see a few examples below.

View from Sculpture Terrace

Architectural drawing made by Jay Cantrell

Outline of skyline done by participant

Small detail of building done by participant

If you didn’t get a chance to come out and sketch with us, don’t worry! Make & Take will happen once a month (except December) and explore a new art technique every time. On the 25th, we’ll be working with vibrant pastels to make abstract images inspired by the pastels on view in Günther Förg: A Fragile Beauty. On November 29, explore monotype printmaking, where you’ll make subtractive images in ink and then print using a press, like the monotypes featured in Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow.

Katie Cooke is Manager of Adult Programs at the DMA.

Papel Picado

Papel picado has taken over the DMA art studio!

In celebration of México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde, the DMA offered many exciting activities during our DMA Family Days/DMA días familiares. Not only was admission to the exhibition free, but visitors could also enjoy music performances in the atrium, visit a new Pop-Up Art Spot in the Ancient American Galleries on Level 4, and make papel picado in the studio.

Papel picado is a type of Mexican folk art often used as decoration for all kinds of festivities, like Dia de los Muertos, Easter, and Christmas. Papel picado literally means pecked paper and is made by cutting designs from tissue or crepe paper. These designs are often very geometric and might feature floral elements, birds, skeletons, and more, depending on the celebration.

In the video below, you can watch artisans at work in San Salvador Huixcolotla, a municipality in the Mexican state of Puebla that is well-known for papel picado. Look at how deftly they use chisels (rather than knives or scissors) to punch out designs – using this method, an artisan can cut up to 50 sheets of tissue paper at a time!

At home, papel picado is often made using the fold-and-cut method, which is probably familiar to you if you’ve ever made a paper snowflake. This was our method of choice in the studio. To help visitors get started, Jessica put together some instructions and a simple template to go along with them. Click on the link to download the instructions, find some 8 1/2″ x 11″ tissue paper, and have a go at making your own papel picado!

¡Buena suerte!

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Jennifer Sheppard
Teaching Specialist

Say What?

Being a part of the family programs team here at the DMA means that we spend a lot of quality time with children of all ages. Whether it’s singing songs to babies, or challenging a group of 8 and 9 year olds to try and beat their parents at a game of art trivia, we engage in tons of fun AND funny conversations. Here’s a quick round-up of some of the funny things we’ve overheard lately in the galleries and studios.

Messy Homechool project

During a homeschool class, my colleague Jennifer gave the kids an overview of what they would be doing. Upon hearing that the studio project for class was going to be messy and fun, an 11 year old boy said, “Miss Jennifer, I’m so glad my mom brought me today because you said it would be messy and fun. THOSE ARE MY THINGS!”

lions

As an introduction to a lesson focused on different lions in the collection, I asked the children what they knew about lions. In response to the question, “what do lions eat?” a flurry of responses bubbled up: “grass?” “worms?” “WAFFLES!” (which resulted in lots of giggles).

elevator pic

Overheard while waiting with a group of children to get on the elevator: “I want to live here!”

dogs in gallery

In a discussion about how some dogs have what we might think of as jobs, I showed the children images of rescue dogs, guide dogs, and police dogs. When I showed a picture of a therapy dog at a hospital comforting a child and asked the students what job this dog has, a little girl called out, “It’s a love dog!” (which prompted a bunch of “awws” from the grown-ups in the group).

mom hero

During a lesson about heroes, I talked with a group of 3 and 4 year olds about what makes a person a hero and who our heroes are today. Three year old Lily piped up, “My mom is my art hero because she watches while I paint.”

We’ve also managed to capture some funny faces:

Leah Hanson
Manager of Family and Early Learning Programs

Flat Stanley’s Latest Adventure

Flat Stanley is no stranger to the Dallas Museum of Art. In fact, he has visited a few times over the years, and each time he gets to experience a new adventure. We were happy to welcome him back this year to help him explore the DMA and beyond!

This year, Flat Stanley came on a mission! He wanted to see the collection, but specifically he was hoping to see some artwork with dolphins. Unfortunately there weren’t dolphins to be found in the works of art currently on view, but he took a tour around the Museum and found some wonderful water related works of art.

Flat Stanley’s next adventure was a trip with Go van Gogh, a program that brings the DMA to Kindergarten through 6th grade students in schools throughout DFW free of charge.

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Next on Stanley’s agenda was a quick stop at our neighbor’s the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Mostly hoping to spot a dinosaur, Flat Stanley was thrilled to also find a dolphin!

After spending some time in and around Dallas, Flat Stanley caught the travel bug and decided to hop some flights with DMA educators to explore a few cities. First on his itinerary was a quick trip to Washington D.C., where Flat Stanley spent some time at the National Mall. He got to see both the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial!

Next, Flat Stanley caught a flight to the Big Apple! Of course he had to take the subway system to navigate this new city, so he snapped a photo at the 42nd Street station. He enjoyed visiting some museums, but Flat Stanley’s favorite stop was experiencing the sights and sounds of Times Square.

After the rush of New York, Flat Stanley couldn’t just come back to Texas. So instead he made his way across the pond to London! This required a bit of a costume change–luckily, he was able to find a foot guard uniform just his size for the journey. All suited up, he got to visit Buckingham Palace, where the flag was raised indicating that the Queen was on the premises. While in the area, he also stopped by the Queen Victoria Memorial and the Wellington Arch.

After all that traveling, Flat Stanley was happy to get some rest and return to Dallas and the DMA. He took one last tour around to see the new México: 1900-1950 exhibition before heading home.

Jessica Fuentes
Manager of Gallery Interpretation and the Center for Creative Connections

Cake Imitating Art!

Last fall, I dabbled in cake decorating, and spent a semester at El Centro College’s Food & Hospitality Service Institute learning how to pipe borders and figures, carve cake, finagle fondant, and sweet-talk gum paste from local cake whiz Chef Chris Miller. As I brought my cakes into the office to share—a girl can only eat so many frosted confections on her own!—I couldn’t help but think of connections to artworks at the Museum.

Below are cake creations and their DMA artwork doppelgangers.

And one lone cake sans DMA connection, that looks an awful lot like this Tom Friedman sculpture.

Amy Copeland
Manager of Go van Gogh and Community Teaching Programs

Once Upon a Time at the DMA

Portrait Party

“Once upon a time” is one of my favorite phrases—it almost always precedes a magical beginning, the possibility of slightly harrowing adventures, a lesson or two learned, new friends, and a “happily ever after.” I’m not afraid to admit, I’m a sucker for any ole fairy tale!

As we’ve been exploring Art and Nature in the Middle Ages over the past few months, I’ve found plenty of fairy tale inspiration in the art. From stained glass windows I imagine would have fit in just fine in Sleeping Beauty’s castle to beautifully illustrated manuscripts that Belle would surely be found reading in the library, this medieval art has the same fairy tale magic as the stories.

Are you a fairy tale fan too? Even after we say goodbye to Art and Nature, there are still plenty works of art in the DMA’s collection that speak to a fairy-tale loving heart. To find the perfect match for your inner fairy tale hero, take our quiz here!

And be sure to come to this Friday’s Late Night, which will be filled with medieval magic and fairy tale wonder!

Leah Hanson
Manager of Family and Early Learning Programs

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

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Melinda Blauvelt, Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1981, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund © Melinda Blauvelt

As a New Orleans transplant, I wanted to celebrate my favorite holiday with you–Mardi Gras! When most people think of the holiday, they imagine excessive eating and drinking, harlequin masks, and colorful beads. But what is Mardi Gras in New Orleans really like and how did the holiday originate?

Mardi Gras is the love of life. It is the harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our creativity, our eccentricity, our neighborhoods, and our joy of living. All at once. 
― Chris Rose, 1 Dead in Attic: Post-Katrina Stories

In the Catholic tradition, Carnival season starts on the Twelfth Night, also called King’s Day or the Feast of the Epiphany, and runs through Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras comes from the old French, meaning “Fat Tuesday,” and marks the last day of celebration and indulgence before the deprivations of Lent. Carnival season is celebrated across many cultures with Catholic roots, and was introduced to the Gulf Coast of the United States during the French colonial period. Carnival takes on a local flavor wherever the holiday season is observed, including the Samba parade in Rio de Janeiro and the Volo dell’ Angelo in Venice.

Carnival season festivities in New Orleans include parades and masked balls put on by krewes, private social clubs devoted to charitable work and community involvement with their own special regalia and traditions. Revelers will often celebrate in costume. At one time, masking allowed New Orleanians to escape societal and class constraints.

One of my favorite parades is hosted by the Krewe of Muses, an all-female krewe know for their dazzling, often bitingly funny floats and their prized feature throw—glittering, homemade shoes fit for a Grecian goddess. Speaking of throws, it’s estimated that 25 million pounds of Mardi Gras items get tossed from floats in New Orleans every Carnival season! Parade floats often have a special theme, and are worked on year-round in the krewe’s secret hub, or den, until it’s time for the parade to roll. Along with floats, parades include dance troupes and marching clubs, high school marching bands, and flambeaux, or torch-bearing marchers who have been part of Carnival since the first night parades in the 19th century. While there are more than 80 official krewes, the largest and most extravagant parades thrown by the super krewes kickoff the Saturday before Mardi Gras with the Krewe of Endymion. Their motto, “Throw until it hurts,” reflects the over-the-top spectacle of Carnival.

New Orleans owes many beloved Carnival traditions to its African cultural heritage. During the colonial period, many of the enslaved people and Free People of Color in the city came from the Senegambian region of Africa. Their influence on the Gulf Coast can be seen in the region’s cuisine, music, architecture, and unique culture traditions.

Egungun costume, Republic of Benin, Yoruba peoples, Late 20th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Pace Primitive Gallery, New York

Egungun costume, Republic of Benin, Yoruba peoples, Late 20th century, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Pace Primitive Gallery, New York

Masquerade and processionals are an important aspect of African culture and the continuum of these traditions can be seen in second lines and marching cultures in New Orleans. Drawing from Nigerian beading traditions, Mardi Gras Indians craft spectacular suits for processionals and performances that take an entire year to create and weigh as much as 150 pounds. While the origin of this tradition is not easy to pin down, Mardi Gras Indians name themselves after American Indians to honor the help they provided for people escaping slavery and to “create an identity of strength and resilience.” There are more than 50 Mardi Gras Indian tribes in New Orleans, and on Mardi Gras rival tribes will meet to compete through costume and song.

While I won’t be celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans this year, I had to make a king cake, a sweet brioche served during Carnival, for my amazing DMA colleagues to sample. King cake is decorated in the Mardi Gras colors of purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power) to honor the three kings who visited the Christ child on the Twelfth Night. It traditionally includes a hidden plastic or ceramic baby, and the person who finds the trinket must buy the next king cake or host the next party.

king-cake

FYI, calories do not count during Carnival.

After all, in essence, Mardi Gras is about celebrating the sweetness of life with your friends, family, and neighbors.

This Mardi Gras I hope you indulge a little (or a lot!), kick up your heels, and show your community some love. Laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll)!

Lindsay O’Connor
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs


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