Archive for the 'Just for Fun' Category



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

DFW Faves

Have you ever explored your own city as if you were a tourist? While the Dallas Museum of Art will always be my number #1 spot to spend time in the Metroplex, I thought I would share a few of my favorite places alongside works from the DMA’s collection. You might just discover a new hangout in your hometown!

Klyde Warren Park

Located right across the street from the DMA in Downtown Dallas, this amazing urban park is built over the Woodall Rodgers Freeway. Pick up something tasty from one of the many food trucks, take a stroll with your pup to My Best Friend’s Park, or enjoy free public programming ranging from dance classes to outdoor concerts and films. What I love most about Klyde Warren Park is how it serves as a gathering space for the community.

Dallas Farmers Market

When I travel, one of my favorite things to do is visit the local market. Happily, the Dallas Farmers Market is one of my all-time favorites with seasonal fruits and veggies, local goodies, and fun events. Visit The Shed at the Dallas Farmers Market on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to buy directly from farmers, ranchers, and artisans (if you’re lucky, you can also enjoy some samples!) The Market is open daily and offers local specialty foods and artisanal vendors. Where else can you pick up locally grown produce, honor Texas music with a Willie Waylon George & Beyonce t-shirt, and take a wine and cheese appreciation class?

The Foundry & Chicken Scratch

I might be in hot water with my colleagues for revealing our favorite lunch spot, but Chicken Scratch is too good to miss! The fried chicken, biscuits, and coconut waffles are all a special treat (we’ve contemplated, but never ordered their big salad bowls…we’ll try them next time…maybe), and the design of the space is comfy and eclectic: shipping containers delineate the boundary of the patio and a stage made out of reused pallets created by Gary Buckner of Stash Design sits outside of The Foundry, the laid-back bar next to Chicken Scratch. Definitely give Chicken Scratch a try – just be sure to leave us a table!

As we move into the new year, I’m looking forward to visiting old favorites and playing tourist while exploring more of the Metroplex. What are your favorite places to visit in DFW?

Lindsay O’Connor
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs

Friday Photos: Family for All

We know there’s no one definition of family.

There’s family we’re given and family we choose,
Family we luck into, family we couldn’t bear to lose,
Family that’s near and family we miss every day,
Family for hugs and reminding, “It’ll all be okay!”
From parents to grandparents, sister to brothers
(All those whom we couldn’t replace with any others),
Aunts, uncles, and cousins – the list never ends,
Coworkers and communities, good friends and best friends,
And let’s not forget pets! Dogs and cats, too,
For a friendly tail wag or nuzzle when we’re blue.
Let us wish for your holidays (should you celebrate any –
I won’t name them all for I know there are many):
Enjoy some time with your family, be it minutes or hours,
And please know we’re so grateful to count you in ours.

With love,

Jennifer Sheppard (and everyone else at the DMA!)
Teaching Specialist

A Fairly Good Time

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A view of the Esplanade at Fair Park from Jessica Thompson, Manager of Teen Programs.

Last Tuesday was our sixth annual Education Fair Day, a chance to escape the chill of the Museum for some deep-fried fun in the sun at the State Fair of Texas. For some, like Jessica Thompson, going to the Fair is a time-honored tradition. Jessica’s paid a visit to Big Tex nearly every year of her life. For others, like our McDermott Interns, it was a super-sized introduction to a slice of Texas history and culture.

Emily Wiskera and I tackled the trip together. While we chowed down on Fletcher’s corny dogs (a must!), admired the blue ribbons in the creative arts building, and searched for our favorite haunted house ride, I started wondering about what connections could be made between the fair and the DMA. A set of photographs recently installed in the Center for Creative Connections certainly provides some fair feels, but what about elsewhere in the Museum?

State and World’s Fairs

The above pair of posters was an easy connection to make. On the left, we have the 2016 State Fair of Texas poster; on the right, the DMA’s poster from the 1968 World’s Fair in San Antonio. Each was designed around a unique concept. Hemisfair, San Antonio illustrates the overarching idea of people coming from all over the globe for the World’s Fair. The artist, Robert Indiana, used circles with arrows drawn in towards a star in the south of Texas to convey this message. The star, besides featuring prominently on the state flag of Texas, acts a giant X-marks-the-spot, where the Hemisfair and San Antonio are the treasure.

Immediately recognizable in the State Fair of Texas poster is our celebrity cowboy, Big Tex, surrounded by fields, livestock, and farming equipment. The design is graphic, straight forward, and conveniently explained by a page from the State Fair of Texas website:

Originally established as a livestock exposition back in 1886, it is without question that the Fair has deep roots in agriculture. In honor of its history, the Fair constantly strives to promote agricultural education and aims to further support this initiative through its 2016 event, themed “Celebrating Texas Agriculture.”

Though on different scales, state fairs and world’s fairs both bring people together for a variety of cultural experiences. Here’s how the State Fair of Texas compares to world’s fairs:

  • The State Fair of Texas, at 24 days per season, is the longest running state fair in the United States. A World’s Fair can last up to six months–the 1968 Hemisfair in San Antonio did!
  • An estimated 1.5 million – 3 million people attend the State Fair of Texas each year. For reference, the population of Dallas is 1.3 million people, and Texas’ population is 27.47 million people. The 1968 Hemisfair brought in 6.4 million people from all over the world, and the recent 2015 Expo (or World’s Fair) in Milan had 20 million visitors.
  • This year marks the 130th anniversary of the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. In contrast, world’s fairs are held in a new city and country every year.

Creative Arts

baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland, “Album” quilt, c. 1861, Martha E. Keech, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous centennial gift

The Baltimore album quilt above, despite being 155 years old, isn’t too different from a quilt you might find on a visit to the creative arts building. This kind of quilt, with its trademark white background and squares (or blocks) with floral designs in red and green, first became popular in… you guessed it: Baltimore! The style remains popular today. This particular album quilt was made by hand by one woman, Martha E. Keech. Sometimes groups of women would join forces to make one of these quilts and each would sew one block and sign their name, hence: an album quilt.

The more than 25 categories for quilts at the State Fair this year include sections for ones made by individuals, pairs, and groups, both by hand and by machine. Overall, there are over 1,100 categories in the creative arts competitions! Many people are familiar with submissions like pies, quilts, and collectibles, but did you know the Fair also has LEGO assembly categories for kids and adults, as well as a “Glue a Shoe” contest? This year’s Glue a Shoe contest features such entries as “Grumpy Flat,” after everyone’s favorite internet cat, and “Hamilton: An American Shoesical.”

Fantastic Foods

No Fair day is complete without sampling some of the sensational snacks! Here are some numbers from Eater Dallas on a fair-goer favorite, Fletcher’s corny dogs:

  • On average, 630,000 corny dogs are sold each 24-day State Fair of Texas run.
  • Fletcher’s is in its 74th year of selling corny dogs at the Fair.
  • To satisfy corndog purists, 1,500 gallons of mustard are needed each year.
  • To satisfy heathens like myself (see selfie above), only 800 gallons of ketchup are required.

Yes, corn (sometimes called maize) is a key ingredient in the batter used for corny dogs, but it’s more than a family resemblance that ties together this State Fair staple and Otis Dozier’s Maize and Windmill. Dozier, a native Texan, was a member of a circle of artists called the Dallas Nine. He regularly submitted works of art to the State Fair of Texas’s creative arts competitions – and he often won. According to a DMA docent, Maize and Windmill is one such blue ribbon winner!

A bonus connection: Dozier’s upbringing on a Mesquite farm instilled in him a lifelong love of agriculture which can be found in his many paintings of farms, fields, flora, and fauna. This ties in pretty neatly with this year’s Celebrating Texas Agriculture theme, don’t you think?

The Fair closes this Sunday, October 23, but these three works of art will still be here to greet you on your next visit, up on Level 4. What other fairly relevant connections can you find? You know that something has to relate to the butter sculpture!

Jennifer Sheppard
Teaching Specialist

Friday Photos: Summer Lovin’

The Education team works very hard to make your summer vacation fun and exciting for families and kids of all ages. So it only makes sense that we play just as hard! Some of us had some big art-related vacations, exciting camping adventures, and we had a lot of fun working in between (with or without our pups!). Check out some of our summer highlights!

Madeleine Fitzgerald
Audience Relations Coordinator


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