Archive for the 'works of art' Category

Friday Photos: Sands of Time

Some old friends are back on view in our Barrel Vault galleries this month. Stop by the Museum to savor those last few days of summer: you might just enjoy a sandy view sans the salt and heat!

Sarah Coffey
Education Coordinator

Food on the Move + Go van Gogh: A Meeting of the Vans!

This week Go van Gogh staff, volunteers, and summer interns packed up the Go van Gogh van and spent a few days with our friends from Food on the Move. Food on the Move is a mobile meal program delivering free breakfasts and lunches to non-traditional sites like apartment complexes across the Metroplex. CitySquare’s AmeriCorps members pull out blankets and tables at each site, setup activities and games, and pass out meals from the back of their great big van.

To this already rich program, we brought art activities developed by this year’s Mayor’s Intern Fellow, Grecia Soto. Inspired by objects in our Ancient American collection, Grecia developed an activity that had us making miniature sculptures out of Model Magic clay.

Imagine our surprise when we heard an old friend was sporting new wheels! Last summer, our Mayor’s Intern Fellow Joshua Berry-Jones developed our project for the then brand new CitySquare partnership. This summer, Josh has switched flashy outreach vehicles, and is an Americorps member working for CitySquare on Food on the Move!

Amy Copeland
Manager of Go van Gogh and Community Teaching 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

Musical Musings

Think back to your favorite scene in a movie. Was it action packed? Romantic? Full of suspense? Chances are that the music—the film’s score—helped create the mood of the scene.

Now think about your favorite work of art. How would you describe its mood or feeling? How did the artist convey that mood? When we describe the mood of a work of art, we typically think about visual elements like color, the quality of the brushstrokes, and composition. But sometimes, even with a work of art, music can enhance your experience.

We recently paired up with two local musicians, Clint Niosi and Claire Hecko, and invited them to imagine one minute “film scores” for a handful of works of art in the 18th Century European Gallery. Meet the musicians, learn about their process, and hear a sample of their work below.

Tell us about yourselves-in 50 words or less.

Clint Niosi: I’m a songwriter, film score composer, and audio engineer from Fort Worth.  I also work as a Digital Technology Specialist for the Art + Art History Department at UT Arlington.

Claire Hecko: INFP, musician, composer, picture maker, seamstress, cat lover and motorcycle enthusiast, among other things. My primary instruments are viola and bass. I like long walks in the desert and good manners.

How would you describe your process of creating a “score” for a work of art?

Clint Niosi: While I wasn’t really sure how to approach it initially, I ended up using basically the same process I would have used for a film score. I try to find the emotional core of the scene and use the music to help move the story forward. Once I feel like I’ve found the mood I add or take away layers until it feels right with the picture.

Claire Hecko: I have very little education in music theory, so I’m not entirely sure how to best describe my process. I consider the feelings I want to embody in a piece and try to determine how to best represent them musically. Often, this entails picking up an instrument and just playing around on it until I come up with something that will serve as a foundation for the piece. From there, I begin adding layers to build a complete composition.

Were there any challenges?

Clint Niosi: Yes there were. Creating a modern composition outside the historical milieu in which the paintings are set seemed very daunting. Also, the limited duration of the format (one minute per piece) was an additional challenge. Some of the paintings have very complex stories and complicated emotions to convey. Ultimately I just dove in and had fun with it.  

Claire Hecko: My biggest challenge was creating the “score” for The Harp Lesson by Jean Antoine Theodore Giroust – I had many ideas, but no access to (or training to play) a harp. Thankfully, technology allowed me to replicate the sound of a harp on a laptop.

What did you enjoy most about this opportunity?

Clint Niosi: It was such a treat to have a chance to collaborate with the DMA. I’m an art enthusiast and a long time fan of the DMA’s permanent collection. The chance to dive into something like this is something I will always remember. It was a learning experience.

Claire Hecko: My degree is in Art History, a subject close to my heart. The opportunity to represent a work of art through music was very exciting for me!

Stop by the Pop-Up Art Spot this Saturday to check out an iPod and listen to the “film scores” composed and recorded by Clint Niosi and Claire Hecko.

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

Emily Wiskera
Manager of Access Programs

Staff Spotlight: Rose Davis

When you find yourself in a room with Rose Davis, it is clear that she is not someone who goes unnoticed. She is warm and charismatic, a person who naturally bonds with a wide range of visitors and staff at the Museum. While it’s her job to observe visitors and make sure they engage with artwork safely, Rose often goes the extra mile and offers her own special discoveries and insights into the Museum’s collection.

Rose with The Icebergs, Frederic Edwin Church, 1861, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Norma and Lamar Hunt

Rose has been a gallery attendant at the DMA for only 10 months, but in that time she’s grown very fond of one work of art in particular, The Icebergs by Frederic Edwin Church. About a month ago, during a walk through of the 4th floor galleries, Rose engaged me in a conversation about The Icebergs. She asked us if we’d ever noticed the hidden figures in the painting. Rose excitedly told us about her growing collection of hidden characters in the painting, noting to us that she is continually discovering more as she spends more time with the piece.

Two weeks later, I came back to The Icebergs with Rose and asked her to walk me through each hidden figure she’d discovered. Her first discovery was the gorilla. Then one day when the gallery was empty, she took her first “closer look” and the rest snowballed: a mermaid, a mummy, animals, faces in the ice, and many more. With some laughter in her voice she explained to me that when she first began sharing her discoveries with others, they were skeptical of her, but as soon as they could find one figure in the painting they’d be itching to find another. Below are some of my favorites she shared with us (which I’ve outlined in red). What hidden images will you discover when you look closely at The Icebergs?

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We often think of gallery attendants as people who protect works of art by keeping us from getting too close, but as I’ve learned from Rose, you can “get close” to art in different ways, like absorbing the little details in a painting. Gallery attendants spend a lot of time with our permanent collection, so don’t be shy! Next time you’re exploring our galleries, say hello and ask them what they know. The answers might surprise you!

A visitor’s post-it note about Rose left at our Testing Zone, which currently highlights various writing styles for The Icebergs wall text.

Kerry Butcher
Center for Creative Connections Coordinator

Patrick Faulhaber: Homage to a Beloved Dallas Artist

A few months ago, when I first saw images of Patrick Faulhaber’s paintings, it was hard to believe they weren’t actually photographs. His paintings capture a unique view of Dallas street life, imbuing what might be seen as common and everyday with a sense of magic.

Sadly, in May this year, Patrick Faulhaber passed away at the age of 70. Faulhaber first debuted his small canvas paintings at the DMA’s Concentrations 31 exhibition in 1998, and we’ve recently put them on view again in our Center for Creative Connections. In an interview with former Museum curator Charles Wylie, Faulhaber shared a wonderful thought about the close link in his work between painting and photography:

Photography is fast and gathers and immense amount of information in a fraction of a second; painting is studying all that information and adding all your emotions and understanding.

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This quote resonated with us so much, we knew we had to create a gallery activity in the Center for Creative Connections that reflects his concepts and commemorates his life’s work. The photo-realistic paintings didn’t just happen overnight; he worked tirelessly to perfect all the information gathered from over twenty photos shot of each scene. We found a way to simplify this for our visitors: bring in light boxes, paper, colored pencils, and snapshots of scenes that are uniquely Dallas, and leave the creativity to you.

In just a few weeks, I’ve collected a wide variety of drawings that visitors have left behind. Here are a few of my favorite themes discovered among them. Of course, we have to start with the detailed drawings…

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We also loved our visitors’ personal add-ins to the photographs…

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And we can’t leave out the abstracted drawings…

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How detailed can you be when recreating a photograph? Stop by the Center for Creative Connections and put your own skills to the test!

Kerry Butcher
Center for Creative Connections Coordinator

Subliminal Art Messages

I feel like our works of art have been trying to tell me something lately…

Four letters, one very important word on this election day! If you haven’t already, get out and:

This message was approved by the DMA’s collection!

Taking deep breaths into a paper bag,

Amy Copeland
Manager of Go van Gogh and Community Teaching Programs


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