Archive for the 'People' Category

Artist Interview: Chase Kahwinhut Earles

After recently acquiring a piece of Caddo pottery by Chase Kahwinhut Earles, we reached out to the artist at his home in Oklahoma to hear about his practice and process. Listen to his introductory message and read his Q&A conversation with Dr. Michelle Rich,The Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Assistant Curator of the Arts of the Americas at the DMA.

Chase: Kuha-ahat [Hello]. Kumbahkeehah Kahwinhut [My name is Kahwinhut]. Hello my name is Chase Kahwinhut Earles, and I’m a member of the Caddo Nation. I make traditional pottery and also contemporary pieces incorporating modern interpretations of our culture.

Chase Kahwinhut Earles, 2019. Photo by Travis Caperton, University of Oklahoma

Michelle: Can you describe the process by which you make your pottery?

Chase: I make pottery the ancestral, or traditional, Caddo way. I dig the clay myself from the banks of different rivers, mostly the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma. I process it to dry it and break it down into usable material. I collect and crush freshwater mussel shell to mix with the clay as a temper, which helps strengthen it so the vessels survive through the pit-firing process. All of my pieces are hand built using the coil method. I don’t use a wheel. After a piece dries, I burnish it with smooth stones to make it shiny. There’s no glaze. Then I pit fire the vessels. The final step is to engrave the design into the carbonized surface of the pots.

Photo by Travis Caperton, University of Oklahoma

Michelle: Pit firing is very different from kiln firing. Will you talk about that a little bit?

Chase: I fire my pots in a traditional pit fire. This is different than the modern kiln, which slowly heats the pottery until it gets to high temperatures. Our pit firing is started by stacking sticks and lighting an open ground fire. First, we heat the pottery near the fire to drive out moisture, and then they go right into the fire. I’ll add more wood, and the larger fire will get to a high enough temperature to vitrify the clay. You can see the pots start glowing! Sometimes things can go wrong, and if a pot gets overfired it will become fragile or might even spawl or crack. Large pieces, such as the Alligator Gar, can be fired in sections or with multiple fires.

Michelle: What inspired you to make Caddo pottery?

Chase: My parents took us to the Southwest when we were young. I loved and was inspired by the beautiful Pueblo pottery and wanted to make those beautiful pots. And I did learn how, but realized there was something not right about that, and I came to understand the difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation. That pointed me in the right direction—to look at my own tribe. I mean, why wouldn’t I have? But I didn’t expect to find anything. Lo and behold, we have one of the biggest pottery traditions in the country, but not many people know about it! Then my purpose was obvious. I dove in, obsessively learning everything about our tribe, our pottery tradition, and our techniques. Jeri Redcorn, a Caddo elder who revived Caddo pottery, helped me get started.

Photo by Travis Caperton, University of Oklahoma

Michelle: The words “contemporary” and “traditional” carry a lot of weight when describing Indigenous arts made in a customary fashion. Where do you situate your work?

Chase: The question of contemporary and traditional is complicated with Native American art, where these words are used to describe the difference between something that’s made in a modern manner or something that’s made exactly how we’ve made things forever. My work up to this point has been primarily trying to save our ancestral and traditional ways of making pottery, so it’s a very ancient style, method, and technique. The present-day definition of “contemporary” is that you’re a living artist. So, in fact, we can be contemporary and traditional at the same time—I’m a living artist producing fine art. But I thought it was important to learn and reestablish our ancestral way in order to have a base to move forward, evolve our work, contribute to Caddo culture, and develop a modern narrative.

Chase Kahwinhut Earles, Batah Kuhuh Alligator Gar Fish Effigy Bottle, 2018, Caddo, ceramic, Dallas Museum of Art, The Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Fund, 2020.9

Michelle: What does it mean to you to have the DMA acquire your work?

Chase: It means the world to me. When I set out to make pottery and art, specifically our tribal art, it was clear that not many people knew about the Caddo, even though we were once a huge, great society. And no one knew about the pottery, and the tradition kind of got forgotten. Having my work in institutions and museums like this is the ultimate goal—to share our beautiful artistic traditions with people and educate them about our identity, our culture, and our continued presence. So, on the scale of importance, it’s up there at the top!

Also, I can’t thank the DMA enough, especially for this opportunity. It goes a long way to educate people about the importance of Native American artwork in the context of American art. I applaud that effort and am very thankful for it.

Black Birders on What Humans Can Learn from Birds

Summer is a popular time for birding. Binoculars optional—all you really need to do is look and listen and you’ll see that birds are everywhere: working, singing, crafting. However, some birders know that they have to consider their own safety and security while viewing birds, not because of the dangers of wildlife but because of racism. With the recent viral video of the false police report made by a white woman against an African American man birding in Central Park, birding has become part of the national dialogue around race. Within 48 hours of the birder’s video post, which took place on the same day that George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, an enterprising group of nature enthusiasts, ecologists, and science educators joined forces to create the first ever Black Birders Week to bring awareness to issues of race and the outdoors. I spoke to three organizers of the group about the video, birds, art, and more.

From left: Nicole Jackson, Kassandra Ford, Ashley Gary

Nicole Jackson, Program Coordinator at The Ohio State University’s School of Environment and Natural Resources, told me that such incidents of racism directed at Black birders and outdoor enthusiasts “is something that happens more often than people realize.” Kassandra Ford, a PhD candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, echoed this, saying, “I wish I could say I was surprised by [the video], but I wasn’t at all.” Ashley Gary, a freelance Science Communicator also known as The Wildlife Host, remarked, “It is exhausting to be a Black person because there are so many things you have to worry about.”

Although Black Birders Week was formed to address racial inequities, its aim is also to highlight the positive impacts of African Americans in birding, environmental work, and the STEM fields. I decided to ask these three founding members of Black Birders Week to weigh in on some works in the DMA’s collection depicting birds, since birds’ relationship to human society is nothing new, and in fact goes back millennia.

Pendant: bird-man, Tairona, 1200–1500, Tumbaga, Dallas Museum of Art, the Nora and John Wise Collection, bequest of Nora Wise, 1989.W.474

The first piece, a bird-man gold pendant, would have been worn around the neck by elite men in what is present-day Colombia. The piece may reflect the Tairona belief that religious leaders could temporarily leave their human form to embody animals and gain knowledge from them. This pendant shows a bird of prey in somewhat of a dual human-animal form as the bird wears earrings and perhaps a garment. I asked Kassandra for her insights on birds of prey. “Birds are just,” Kassandra then paused, “excuse my language—but they’re badass. They’re intense, they’re ferocious, especially birds of prey. They have an aura of pride and power in the way that they hold themselves, in the way that they dive-bomb prey. That kind of attitude is like a warrior.” Indeed the piece may very well have been worn with that same aplomb.

Dance headdress, Igbo peoples, mid-20th century, wood, paint, metal, and fiber, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., 1975.27.McD

This dance headdress by an artist of the Igbo of present-day southeastern Nigeria would have been worn in dynamic display during a masquerade. The carving depicts a seat for the spirits, of which the birds may be indicative as messengers to the spirit world. Ashley found the bird figures in this piece to be observing the activity from all angles, suggesting omniscience. She compared it to Edgar Allan Poe’s infamous Raven, who silently watches and knows all, as the poem goes: “the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core.”

Double-spout strap-handle vessel depicting a falcon, Paracas, 500–400 BCE, ceramic and resin-suspended paint,
Dallas Museum of Art, The Nora and John Wise Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon, the Eugene McDermott Family, Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Murchison, 1976.W.85

The double-spout vessel depicting a falcon is a funerary object from Peru’s Paracas peninsula. Many two-spouted vessels were musical devices that whistled when poured. Bird imagery is common in Paracas art, and music was also a crucial element of life, including in burial rituals, festivals, and ceremonial communications with ancestors. Since birds are among the most magisterial song makers in the animal kingdom, it seems fitting that a culture highly valuing music would also esteem an animal known for impressive sounds.

Bird calls play a major role in how birders learn to locate and learn about a bird’s life. Ashley noted that birds have the unique ability to sing two notes at once, since birds produce sounds from an organ called the syrinx, a two-sided voice box in their chest. According to author David Sibley, birds sing to communicate and mark territory. They can read their audience too, as they sing differently to mates than to rivals, and some species have over 200 songs in their repertoire. To find out more about bird behaviors, tune in to our Arts & Letters Live event with David Sibley, available now through July 28.

All three birders we interviewed spoke of the meditative aspect of birding, how it quiets the mind and fuels the spirit. The vast array of artistic depictions of birds, Nicole speculated, may reflect the dichotomy between the ubiquity of birds in our lives and their simultaneous mystery. “Birds are everywhere,” Nicole observed, “but there’s the dynamic that we don’t know everything about them. It’ll be a lifetime before you’re close to knowing everything about birds.” In a time when many people are aiming for social change, Nicole’s final observation struck me as a potent lesson to learn from the only surviving dinosaurs: “Birds are very resilient and very adaptable.” The intersection of nature and society also struck a note for me in one of Kassandra’s effusions about the pleasures of birding: “Birds can be unapologetically themselves without worrying about being judged.  We as humans can learn from them.”

Dr. Carolee Klimchock is a Program Manager for Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

Pride of Place: Dallas Artists Respond

It’s always fascinating to see which objects in the DMA’s collection artists are drawn to because it can be a window into what is on their mind and how they think about their own work. For the last three years, the DMA has partnered with the local arts nonprofit Arttitude to celebrate the work of LGBTQ+ visual and performing artists in Dallas through programs like State of the Arts and our annual Pride Block Party. Since we are unable to tour the galleries with local artists for Pride Month this year, we reached out to two artists who exhibited in Arttitude’s recent MariconX show and invited them to find and respond to an object in the DMA’s collection that resonates with their own work. Here is what they had to say: 

Armando Sebastián is a Dallas-based painter whose work draws on Mexican folk art and his own life experiences to explore themes of gender and identity. Sebastián describes his style as akin to magical realism, and he is particularly interested in referencing the traditional Mexican folk art genre of ex voto paintings depicting divine interventions into human misfortunes.

Here are a few recent paintings from Armando Sebastián. You can see more of his work on his website and on Instagram

Images: Armando Sebastián, Los Amados / Live in Harmony, 2020; I know who I am, 2020; The Dreamers, 2019

Sebastián chose the 18th-century painting Christ as Savior of the World (Salvator Mundi), reflecting:

Unknown artist, Christ as Savior of the World (Salvator Mundi), late 18th century, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Cleofas and Celia de la Garza Collection, gift of Mary de la Garza-Hanna and Virginia de la Garza and an anonymous donor, 1994.37.1

“The angels above are conspiring to the master plan on earth. The trinity holds flaming hearts, perhaps the interpretation of humankind. On the ground you see the depiction of evil, a beast eating a fruit. The ladder to the heavens is full of obstacles that makes it impossible for anyone to climb. I personally appreciate narrative in art, the possibility to convey complex ideas and hidden meanings through your work.” 

Olivia Peregrino is a Dallas-based photographer working in portraiture and documentary photography. She began her career as a photojournalist, and her work has expanded to include uplifting portraits of women and Latinx LGBTQ+ communities, event photography, and documentary filmmaking.

Here are a few recent photographs by Olivia Peregrino. To see more of her work, follow her on Instagram or visit her website.

This slideshow contains nudity.

Images: Olivia Peregrino, Omar, El Salvador, LGBT Immigrant, ongoing project, 2020; Rafael, Colombia, LGBT Immigrant, ongoing project, 2020; Wandel, Dominican Republic, LGBT Immigrant, ongoing project, 2020; Melissa, Natural Bodies, 2018

Olivia chose Robert Mapplethorpe’s 1981 photograph Ajitto, saying the following:

Robert Mapplethorpe, Ajitto, 1981, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund, © The Estate of Robert Mapplethorpe. Used with permission, 1981.99

“Robert Mapplethorpe is one of my favorite artists for the beauty of his portraits and his mastery of light and composition. Ajitto’s portrait perfectly reflects Mapplethorpe’s recurring obsessions in his photographs. The representation of the human body through the female and male nude is a theme that I, as an artist, also seek to show in my portraits, but from a feminine and contemporary perspective.”

Closed but Still Caring for Our Collection

The DMA’s doors may be temporarily closed, but our dedicated Art Care Team is still working hard to make sure all the Museum’s treasures stay in good condition! Take a look behind the scenes at what goes on during a typical “art check” by our team of essential staff members from our Conservation, Collections, and Security & Operations departments, and how they are keeping the galleries, the storage areas, and the rest of the building safe.

Pest traps must be set out to ensure we don’t have any small but destructive critters taking up residence in our art areas!
Building Manager John Claire helps collect pest traps in the Reves Galleries.
Paintings Conservator Laura Hartman inspects the pest traps in an art storage area.
Senior Preparator and IPM Coordinator Mary Nicolett uses a microscope to closely inspect the pest traps.
Building Assistant Luke Peterson conducts a temperature and humidity check in an art storage area.
Security Manager Shalamar Jackson and Associate Registrar Katie Cooper examine the painting racks in art storage.
Assistant Objects Conservator Elena Torok performs a modified air exchange in a case with a degrading early plastic⁠—Naum Gabo’s Constructed Head No. 2.
No horsing around here! Associate Registrar Katie Cooper conducts thorough gallery rounds.

Collecting and Reflecting

The DMA houses art collections from far and wide, and from many different collectors. But collecting isn’t just for artworks to be exhibited in a museum! Many of us are our very own curators of art or objects that hold personal significance and memories. We asked DMA staff members what they collect, and here’s what they shared:

Melissa Brito
Teaching Specialist for Family and Access Programs
One of my current collecting habits consists of gathering disposed remnants of memories, specifically color-positive slide film. I’m drawn to these personal, forgotten-about moments that can be monumental, intimate, or mundane.

Cynthia Calabrese
Chief Development Officer
Exactly 30 years ago, I was given a “condiment fork” as a wedding gift and I was told, “may this be the first unique thing you collect in your married life.” Since then, I’ve added to it and collected everything from cocktail shakers, to large soup spoons, to dessert plates.

Katie Cooper
Associate Registrar for the Permanent Collection
Our small collection is an accumulation of our travels and passions. From this Murakami print found at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth to a Frank Lloyd Wright woodcut from his Chicago Robie House, our collection is a warm reminder of memories past. 

Chloë Courtney
McDermott Graduate Intern for Contemporary Art
My mother has an ever-changing collection of natural materials and found objects. It includes Roseville ceramics, seeds, bones, and playful elements such as tiny cows. Both whimsical and morbid, it operates as a memento mori in our home.

Lizz DeLera
Creative Director
Keith Haring—a personal connection. My design degree is from the university in his hometown of Kutztown, PA, and we both lived in NYC. The poster is from the F train on the subway, and he gave me a few of the others.

Heather Ecker
Marguerite S. Hoffman & Thomas W. Lentz Curator of Islamic & Medieval Art
I love this print—a colorized version of a woodcut by Antoine Valérie Bertrand based upon a drawing by illustrator Gustave Doré (1832-83) that was published as part of the weekly travel journal Le Tour du Monde (Around the World) sold in French railway stations—because it is so operatic and perfectly renders 19th-century French stereotypes of Spain.

KC Hurst
Director of Marketing and Communications
Hypebeast sneakerheads won’t be impressed, but this humble collection of 41 pairs is my personal ode to sneaker culture. No sacred, unworn kicks over here—I’m just a girl who loves a good pair of high-tops. 

Danielle Lemi
Evaluator
This oil painting was created in 2019 by Sacramento-based artist Carmen Julie Velasco. After submitting grades, a professor enjoys a Sunday afternoon. Reaching a red light, she listens to Barbara Lewis’s 1963 hit Hello Stranger. She exhales and sees a restaurant where she met a former lover. What places hold memories for you?

Stacey Lizotte
DMA League Director of Adult Programs
I started collecting porcelain Disney figurines when I was in elementary school. I would choose characters from my favorite movies, but Disney stopped making these types of figurines in the early 90s. This made the last additions to my collection Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian from The Little Mermaid.

Patrick Pelz
Manager of Membership and Onsite Experience
This is a Saturday morning from January, and shows about a third of our plant collection. After some extremely cold and LONG winters in Chicago, we decided to make sure we were constantly surrounded by green year-round.

Emily Schiller
Head of Interpretation
We pick up a 3-D magnet from any new city we visit. We specifically look for ones that have been poorly painted—bonus points for new shapes and gratuitous gemstones. There are also sub-groupings, like the trio of “scrolls” from Jerusalem, Paris, and Sydney.

Queta Moore Watson
Senior Editor
I have more tote bags than I have shoes! When I travel, I always buy a tote bag. They’re not only useful but also a wonderful reminder of my trip. Here are a few from my collection.

The Wonder Moments

What do you love to do? Perhaps it’s a favorite hobby or pastime, or perhaps it’s part of your job. Is there a moment that comes to mind when you think back on how you first became interested in that particular passion? We call these moments the “wonder moments”—moments where sparks of curiosity are first ignited. We asked DMA staff members about the “wonder moments” that led to working in a museum or doing the jobs they do now. Here’s what they had to say:

Georgia O’Keeffe, Red Poppy, 1927, Private Collection, Geneva. Invitation to the 1988 exhibition preview, Dallas Museum of Art Archives

Tamara Wootton Forsyth
The Marcus-Rose Family Deputy Director
The moment I knew when I wanted to work in a museum was actually here at the DMA! My high school art teacher made it a requirement that we go on a field trip to a museum. My field trip was to see the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition here at the DMA. I was dumbfounded by the exhibition and knew I wanted to stay in the arts forever. This was my favorite painting from the show. I even ended up with a small tattoo of the work!

Jacqueline Allen
The Mildred R. and Frederick M. Mayer Director of Libraries
I’ve always loved a good mystery.  In grade school, I read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, a novel about two children who run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and research an art object.  Two decades later, I visited The Met in New York City and knew then that art and museums would be part of my life.  Fast forward to an Arts & Letters Live event on March 26, 2004, where I met the author E. L. Konigsburg, a dream come true.

Brian MacElhose
Collections Information Manager
I discovered when working at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) that I could merge two of my interests: computers and the fine arts. I had decided to return to nonprofit museum work after working in a for-profit gallery for about three years in New York City. When I was tasked with governing MAD’s art information, I realized that data is my jam!

Bernardo Velez Rico
Manager of Off-Site School ProgramsMy “wonder moment” was as an undergraduate at Stanford University.  The first class I took taught the histories of my communities—ones of resistance and resilience—through art; that taught me we all have stories to tell, and that I could help youth share their own.

Jessica Thompson-Castillo
Manager of Teen Programs
My “a-ha” moment was when I was working alongside teen volunteers in my first museum internship at Thinkery in Austin. Young people taught me what it means to listen and act with empathy—because sometimes that’s hard for adults to remember. Their passion and leadership inspire me to be a positive force for change in my community.

Being There: Serve as a DMA School Programs Volunteer!

If you love working with children, have a passion for art, and want to support Dallas students, we want you to join our team as a DMA School Programs volunteer! DMA docents lead tours in the Museum galleries, facilitating meaningful experiences for visitors of all ages. Go van Gogh® school outreach volunteers lead experiences in Dallas elementary classrooms that encourage students to look closely at works of art and express creativity through art-making activities. Applications to become a DMA docent or Go van Gogh volunteer for the 2019–2020 school year are now open. Click here to learn more and apply!

Curious about what it’s really like to serve as a DMA School Programs volunteer? A couple of our experienced volunteers have shared some of their reflections on the impact and rewards of their volunteer work.

Marilyn Willems, DMA Docent

Describe a typical day as a DMA docent. What does leading a program look like?
A typical day starts with a tinge of nervousness only to help build excitement and anticipation for the visitors that are coming. Camaraderie with fellow docents and sharing experiences set the day in motion. I enjoy thinking about and planning how I want to engage the visitors in hopes their “takeaway” encourages them to better understand and appreciate the art and discover how much fun they can experience at the Museum. That is what makes the time spent in training worth every minute.

Why do you like volunteering for the DMA? How has your volunteer service enriched your experience?
I feel I am being rewarded by sharing the art with visitors when my enthusiasm increases their enthusiasm for the art. 

Do you have a favorite memory from your time as a DMA docent?
I am amazed by the insightful thoughts expressed by our young visitors. Those are my most rewarding experiences. Being a docent has become a very important part of my life.

What would you tell someone who’s interested in serving as a docent volunteer?
If you have a passion for lifelong learning, get joy from being with a group who share this passion, and enjoy sharing it with others, you will be rewarded and feel you are making a valuable contribution.

Terei Khoury, Go van Gogh (GvG) Volunteer

Why do you like volunteering for the DMA? How has your volunteer service enriched your experience?
Not only are the GvG training programs and access to the staff instructive and enriching, but the programs make a visible impact in each classroom and venue we visit.  You can see and sense the enthusiasm as we introduce each program, and the hands-on experience is always a special plus as the students express themselves. I’m SO proud to say that over my four years in the program, I’ve touched the lives of at least 2,500 children and had the opportunity to tie STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) together for them all!

Do you have a favorite memory from your time as a GvG volunteer?There’s just no question that our impact with the Color My World program is TREMENDOUS! When we work with special needs children, see the expressions on their faces, hold their hands as they play with clay, paint, and tools, and see their eyes light up with delight and pride as they experience their own artwork—there is no better feeling on earth knowing you’re making such a difference in the world!

What would you tell someone who’s interested in serving as a GvG volunteer?
GvG provides an outlet for one of the most meaningful interactions a volunteer in the arts can have. You touch so many minds and hearts with the generosity of BEING THERE. You aid the teachers and administrators by BEING THERE. You create enthusiasm and energy by BEING THERE. You make a difference by BEING THERE.

 

Get to Know C3 Visiting Artist Karla Garcia

The C3 Visiting Artist Project is back again for 2019 with three artists from across North Texas: Karla Garcia, Spencer Evans, and the Denton-based artist collective Spiderweb Salon. Over the course of the year, we’ll be chatting with the artists to dive into the process and methodologies behind their projects presented in the Center for Creative Connections.

Our first artist of the year is Karla Garcia. Garcia’s project for C3, Carrito de Memorias (Cart of Memories), utilizes an interactive “food” cart, designed and constructed by the artist with resources at the University of North Texas Fabrication Lab. Using handmade papers, Karla invites visitors to consider our memories associated with identity, roles, and traditions when making and sharing food. We interviewed Garcia to learn more about her practice and processes as an artist. Check it out below, and visit her project in the Center for Creative Connections through the end of April!

Tell us about yourself.
I am an artist, an educator, a mother, and an MFA candidate at the University of North Texas (UNT). I am originally from the border city of Juarez, Chihuahua, where I spent my formative years before moving to El Paso, Texas. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Graphic Design from the University of Texas in El Paso, and later moved to Dallas, where I currently reside. My current practice explores the concept of home and is based on the years when I moved from Mexico to the United States.

Tell us a little about past projects that led you to apply to the C3 Visiting Artist Project.
After being accepted into the Museum Education program at UNT, part of our curriculum was to research and collaborate with fellow classmates to create education programs for various audiences at museums. I was able to do my internship at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, where I worked with the Interpretation and Public Programs fields of the Education Department. One of my responsibilities was to set up an art cart for a few hours on Fridays. I talked to visitors about the processes of art making that were relevant to the exhibitions on display and assisted in an interactive activity for the Gabriel Dawe piece Plexus #34. My supervisor and mentor Peggy Speir was invaluable in this experience as she designed a type of loom that was used for visitors to explore the same technique that Dawe used for his large-scale artworks. I enjoyed that type of interaction, where I got to learn about the visitors’ personal lives through conversation as they learned about the artist, the museum’s collection, and processes of art making. This led me to create an art cart activity for a Louise Nevelson piece, Lunar Landscape, by painting blocks of wood black to be used to form compositions and explore the artist’s creative process. These activities inspired me to design my own art cart titled Carrito de Memorias (Cart of Memories), where I explore ways of creating an engaging activity to enable the public to connect to artworks from the DMA’s collection and connect to other people through the display of the community’s personal experiences.

Tell us about the installation you’ve created in the Center for Creative Connections.
I wanted to create an art cart inspired by the history of ancient Mexico and the food carts I visited when growing up in Juarez. To me, a food cart is not only a place where food is easily accessible, but also a type of neutral space where people from all social backgrounds gather. I wanted to create this same inviting feeling for the C3 space, but rather than offering food, we are asking visitors questions that relate to the DMA’s collection regarding tradition, identity, and roles. It is a difficult thing to ask people you don’t know about their personal views, or asking them to share a memory. In my research, I have found that street food is an extension of our kitchen space. We form our traditions around food, and our families’ oral histories are passed on to us during holidays and personal celebrations, and even through daily routines. The cart became this extension of our personal spaces in our homes where everyone is welcome to share their stories. The menu on the tables around the cart have three options relating to gender roles, identity, and traditions. There are three artworks from the collection with a description that matches these categories. I’m thrilled to read everyone’s answers and see their drawings. With these, I will create sculptures that embody the public’s collective memories.

Join Karla Garcia for a Gallery Talk on Wednesday, March 20, from 12:15 to 1:00 p.m. Gallery Talks are included in free general admission. You can participate in an art-making activity related to the Carrito de Memorias installation in C3 at the FREE 2019 AVANCE Latino Street Fest / DMA Family Festival at Klyde Warren Park on Sunday, April 7, beginning at noon.

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

The Texas Kid and “True Stories”

One hour into David Byrne’s 1986 movie True Stories, John Goodman’s character, Louis Fyne, parks his car in front of the eccentric house of a voodoo practitioner. A sign reading “Invisible Hospital of Saint John the Baptist” is barely visible in the nighttime. That sign was hiding another sign that read “The Texas Kid.” The actual owner of the house with a fantastically decorated yard was Willard “The Texas Kid” Watson.

Filming the “Dinero” music video at The Texas Kid’s house in 1984. Top row, left to right: Charlene Dawkins, Lee Gonzalez, George Reiff, Dick Ross, Willard Watson, Kris Cummings, David Byrne, Joe “King” Carrasco. Seated on bottom row, left to right: Adelle Lutz, Georganne Deen. © Christina Patoski

Willard Watson, a.k.a. The Texas Kid, was a folk artist born in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, and raised in Dallas, Texas. He was a local celebrity, recognized for his customized cars, flashy outfits that he sewed himself, and the sculpture garden outside his home near Love Field Airport. Fourteen of his drawings are in the DMA’s collection. The first drawings were acquired just three months after the movie was filmed.

As Watson recalled in his autobiography, “That year, 1985, David Byrne, who had a famous band called Talking Heads, came by the house and asked if he could film part of his movie TRUE STORIES at my house.”

Christina Patoski, a journalist and photographer from Fort Worth, served as a special consultant for the movie. David Byrne called her in 1984, after a mutual friend recommended Patoski to be a point of contact in Texas, and said he was working on a film. In the summer of 1984, Byrne, Patoski, and some friends drove around for three days scouting locations in Dallas and surrounding counties that Byrne imagined as settings for the fictional town of Virgil, Texas. Patoski took photographs during the initial trip and throughout the filming of the movie.

Patoski suggested that Byrne come back in the fall during the State Fair. He returned in October and brought Jonathan Demme, the director of Stop Making Sense. At that time, Patoski was directing a music video for Joe “King” Carrasco staged in the The Kid’s yard. They visited her there and met Watson and saw his incredible yard and home. Byrne decided to use it as a location in True Stories. Demme purchased some of Watson’s drawings and later cast him in his feature film Something Wild.

Byrne and crew came back in August of 1985 and started filming in early September. Patoski says it was an intense six-week shoot. Watson recalled:

“Elnora and I said yes, but we had to give up the use of our home for almost two weeks. They would work all day and often until two or three in the morning. The crew was all over the place. . . . At night, the cast and crew liked to party at nightclubs, particularly Shannon’s club, Tango. . . . I even went to their wrap party at Sons of Herman[n Hall.]”

Watson in the “voodoo room,” built in the dining room of his house in 1985. © Andy Reisberg

While Watson himself doesn’t appear in the movie, his wife, Elnora, and one of their grandsons had roles as the wife and son of the shaman, played by Pops Staples. Patoski says they built the “voodoo room” for the movie, but the rest of the house, filled inside and out with Watson’s art, hardly had to be changed.

While True Stories was filming, a solo exhibition of Watson’s art was on view at the Bath House Cultural Center at White Rock Lake. It was there that a curator from the DMA saw his Life Cycle drawings, and after showing them to the director of the DMA plans were made to acquire them. “I was really really proud for my work to be acquired by the Dallas Museum of Art,” wrote Watson.

Click images to expand.

Lillian Michel is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at the DMA.

LGBTQ+ Equity in the Arts

On November 29 we are partnering with KERA’s Art & Seek for a night of performances and conversation with local arts leaders Erica Fellicella, Olivia Grace Murphy, and Jerome Larez (see their full bios here). The topic: how equitable and inclusive is the Dallas arts landscape for LGBTQ+ communities?

The night will kick off with each panelist sharing a selection of past work and then Art & Seek‘s Senior Arts Reporter-Producer Jerome Weeks will moderate a conversation. After the program, stick around for a meet and greet with the panelists to keep the conversation going.

I reached out to each panelist with a few questions about their lives, work, and what we can expect on November 29. Here’s what they had to say:

Erica Felicella, artist, consultant, organizer 

If you could take one work of art from the DMA home what would it be?

1982_21_o4

Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 1981, Chromogenic color print, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund, 1982.21, © Cindy Sherman, courtesy of Metro Pictures, New York

Any advice for young artists out there?
It may be hard but don’t let that stop you.

What is something you are looking forward to?
The advancement of and changes in the art scene in the Dallas community.

You’ve lived in Dallas for about 20 years—how has the city changed in your perspective?
Growth across the board.

What are some words that you live by?
If you are not scared then you are not doing it right.

What is the last thing you Googled?
Performance art.

Is there a medium that you are interested in trying?
A bigger dive into New Media-based works with stronger technology components.

How do you recommend getting started with advocacy work?
Show up, listen, and go.

What is your hope for the LGBTQ+ communities of Dallas?
More opportunity given to shine and growth as a community.

Can you give us a sneak peek of what you will present at State of the Arts?
Think a community speaking through the voice of one.

Olivia Grace Murphy, Flexible Grey Theatre Company

If you could take one work of art from the DMA home what would it be?

dorothea-tanning

Dorothea Margaret Tanning, Jeux d’Enfants, 1942, lent by private collection

What is something you have to do before each show?
As an artist, I put a lot of importance on collaboration. I have to talk to and check in with every actor I share the stage with that night, whether it’s one other person or 100 other people.

What is something you are looking forward to?
Artistically, I am looking forward to announcing our next season for Flexible Grey Theatre Company. Personally, I am looking forward to the holidays because I make (in my humble opinion) the absolute greatest pumpkin pie.

Last play you read?
CHURCH by Young Jean Lee

What do you find most challenging or rewarding about theater as an artistic medium?
The most rewarding part is getting together with a group of fellow artists who you adore and trust completely to create something wonderful. I just recently had a profound experience working on STRAIGHT at Uptown Players. The people involved and the environment were so filled with trust and love. It was an unforgettable experience as an artist.

What are some words that you live by?
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” –Oscar Wilde

What is the last thing you Googled?
“Cute snake pictures.”

How do you recommend getting started with advocacy work?
Find something you’re passionate about. Find work that needs to be done that speaks to you. And then don’t lose that spark.

What is your hope for the LGBTQ+ communities of Dallas?
I want to continue to normalize queer culture, queer art, queer people, and make our community part of the fabric of why Dallas is so great. Acceptance and visibility are key, and I feel like we’re making great strides.

Can you give us a sneak peek of what you will present at State of the Arts?
One of my passion projects with Flexible Grey Theatre Company has been the continued work on our original piece, BRIDGES: LGBTQ+ THEN & NOW, in which interviews from the older LGBTQ+ generation are told by queer millennial performers. The audience on November 29 will have a sneak peek of this show performed by some of my favorite actors in DFW.

Jerome Larez, Co-Founder and Board Chair, Arttitude

If you could take one work of art from the DMA home what would it be?

1997_137_o4

Terry Falke, Remnant of the Original Route 66, Arizona, 1995, Fujiflex print, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Afterimage Gallery, 1997.137, © Terry Falke

What drives new projects for you?
I hope to bring people together to share a profound experience and instill pride, belonging, interaction, and human connection.

What do you love most about teaching?
I love interacting with the students and watching them develop their art-making process.

What is something you are looking forward to?
I look forward to meeting new artists and listening to their artistic processes. I especially look forward to knowing their personal stories and why they make art.

What are some words that you live by?
Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

What is the last thing you Googled?
The Raising of Lazarus by Duccio

How do you recommend getting started with advocacy work?
Find a cause whose mission aligns with your beliefs and join. The biggest hurdle is getting involved.

What is your hope for the LGBTQ+ communities of Dallas?
My hope for the LGBTQIA community of Dallas is to build greater solidarity in our voices. Too many of us are fighting the battle for equality with little support. I want to see organizations and individuals of multiple backgrounds working together.

What, if anything, is missing from the arts in Dallas?
For the most part, diversity, access, and inclusivity are missing. Dallas has many creative people and art should not be an afterthought because it is who we are. Art has an extraordinary power to transform attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions, especially when art is in places that are accessible to everyone.

Can you give us a sneak peek of what you will present at State of the Arts?
We will have a Day of the Dead fashion show with artwork that we presented in past shows from our MariconX program.

Jessie Carillo is Manager of Adult Programs at the DMA.


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