Posts Tagged 'DMA'

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.

Art Runs in the Family

Creativity is all around us in Dallas, and we love highlighting and honoring our local creative community at the Museum. This year, we have the special opportunity to celebrate the work of two relatives: Willard “The Texas Kid” Watson, whose drawings are in For a Dreamer of Houses, and his nephew Stephen McGee, whose painting is featured in We Are ARTISTS: The Stewpot Art Program.   

Willard Watson, affectionately known as “The Texas Kid,” was raised in Dallas and wore many hats—literally and figuratively—over his lifetime. He served as a solider in the South Pacific  in World War II, and was also a tailor, a cook, a carpenter, an upholsterer, a shade-tree mechanic, a handyman, and an actor. Around town, he was best known for his creative homemade outfits, customized cars, and front yard sculpture garden.

Willard “The Texas Kid” Watson’s customized car
Photograph of Willard “The Texas Kid” Watson seated outside of his home and posing in front of the sculptures placed in his yard for his portrait. Creator: Unknown, 1993–01. This photograph is part of the collection entitled The Black Academy of Arts and Letters Records and was provided by UNT Libraries Special Collections.

His artworks often included found objects and everyday materials. Using colored markers, pencil, and paper, Watson created a series of Life Cycle drawings that showed scenes from his home and family life and were narrated with vivid captions. Thinking back on his childhood in Dallas, he wrote:

My middle sister, Mable, had taken sick and I to go down to Elm Street to Otis drug store to pick up some medicine, But first I had to get some money from Daddy, who worked at S&S grocery store. I had to walk a mile down Central tracks and a mile back. And when I got Back my mother was drinking Buttermilk, I will never forget it. Tears were in her eyes, and it made me feel very Bad. She was depressed. She Loved her children so much that when one got sick she’d show it By tears. She say she Be praying But she always had tears. I kind cheered her up. The other Children were out Playing.

Willard Watson, “The Texas Kid,” born 1921 in Caddo Parish, LA; died 1995 in Dallas, TX; Untitled, 1985. Colored marker and pencil. Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Friends of Willard Watson, 1985.181.8

Watson shared his love of art with his nephew Stephen McGee. McGee relished working in acrylic paint, pastels, colored pencils, and charcoal mediums. He particularly enjoyed portraiture, and he completed art projects for the nonprofit organization CitySquare that involved creating drawings of former talk show host Jay Leno, Lyle Lovett, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, and Dallas Cowboy Tyron Smith. McGee had loved art since he was a small child, and next to his love for God, art was his life.

Stephen McGee working on a portrait of Robert Johnson
Retrieved April 10, 2020, from FPCDallas
Fast Cheetah by Stephen McGee

McGee became a member of the Stewpot Art Program community in 2010. The Stewpot offers a safe haven for people experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness in Dallas, and the Art Program provides class time and art supplies for individuals looking to express themselves creatively, grow as artists, and support themselves through the sale of their work. You can learn more about The Stewpot and how to support their work here.

The Art Program helped McGee take his artistic practice to a higher level, form lasting friendships, and make his life more positive. McGee passed away on August 8, 2019, leaving a host of family and friends who love and remember Stephen “The Artist” McGee for his tremendous resilience, kindness, and creativity.

How are you spending time with loved ones right now? How are Willard’s scenes similar or different from your home life? Have you ever shared a special legacy with an important person in your life or passed down something you care about to a younger generation? These artworks make us think of home, family, and the ways that we can support one another during these uncertain times. 

We hope the artwork and life stories of Willard Watson and Stephen McGee inspire you to create, share joy with your loved ones, and continue to explore our city’s rich creative communities in For a Dreamer of Houses and We Are ARTISTS: The Stewpot Art Program.

Stephen McGee with his Stewpot Art Program class on a visit to the DMA. Stephen is third from the right in the white shirt.

Mary Ann Bonet is the Director of Community Engagement and Lindsay O’Connor is the Manager of School Programs at the DMA.

The House and the Dream of the Poetic Image

For a Dreamer of Houses takes Gaston Bachelard’s 1958 book The Poetics of Space as its conceptual framework. In this work, the French philosopher posits the house as the formative structure by which we develop a relationship with the exterior world through the emotive qualities of our daydreams and memories. These experiences then become the stuff from which writers and poets spin the threads of meaning, conjuring images forth from where we formed our first world: the house.

Clementine Hunter, Saturday Nite, 1971, oil on canvas board, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. and Mrs. Robert F. Ryan, 1984.220

The Poetics of Space is, fundamentally, a love letter to poetry, to the ways in which poets shape language into an evocation of lived experiences, of half-forgotten memories. Yet there is a porous boundary between the literary and visual arts, with their shared interest in the conjuring of images. Visual art has a language all its own—one of light captured on silver-coated paper, pixels in digital space, etched impressions. As the resulting weaving of this visual language, art is a way of imagining—and imaging—potential ways of being in the world. In Bachelard’s telling, the questions of being human that art seeks to interrogate and crystallize are forged through the home, the nest from which we learn to become social beings.  

LaToya Ruby Frazier, Grandma Ruby’s Refrigerator, 2007, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family
Acquisition Fund, 2018.37

For Bachelard, this outward-looking view springs from our sense of the house as a universe in and of itself. In the 2007 photograph Grandma Ruby’s Refrigerator, LaToya Ruby Frazier portrays the home as the encapsulation of a/the world, with the ties of familial relationships proudly displayed in an orderly grid on her grandmother’s fridge. The kitchen—a space of gathering, of shared meals and the tenderness of cooking and providing for one another—becomes the site in which the matriarch orders her world. Here, the home is a place of comfort and love from which her family can fundamentally ground themselves as they venture outside of its sheltering embrace.

Literal depictions of the home are not the only forms of art to which Bachelard’s theories may be applied. Ian Cheng’s BOB (Bag of Beliefs) is an artificial lifeform composed of multiple driving personalities that react to each other and to external stimuli. While BOB lives in a cavernous simulated den in the space of the gallery, viewers contribute to BOB’s development through the BOB Shrine, a phone-based app in which viewers introduce patterns of stimuli to BOB and thereby shape its behavior in a parental fashion. As surprise and upheaval force BOB to update its beliefs, Cheng seeks to explore what constitutes the human experience of change and encounter through artificial life.

Ian Cheng, BOB (Bag of Beliefs), 2018-19, artificial lifeform, Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2019.81

BOB exists solely in digital space, an amorphous realm of data that seems almost immaterial in the context of human life. It is through the notion of inhabitation that we ground our relationship to BOB. BOB is not “real” per se, but we are able to conceive of it as a being with drives and needs and to visualize its experience through the framework of the home: its home in the gallery monitors is the place from which it nourishes itself, from which it develops a code of beliefs, from which it interacts with the world on a truly global scale. As Bachelard notes, “Whenever life seeks to shelter, protect, cover or hide itself, the imagination sympathizes with the being that inhabits the protected space.”

It is this ability of the house to foster imagination that Bachelard finds so compelling. He argues that intimate spaces, like those of the home, give rise to the daydreams in which our material, immediate world becomes infinite, and we achieve that grandeur that is only to be found in the depths of thought. The expanse of the cosmos becomes tangible and known, a cherished friend to our imaginings. Bachelard muses, “The house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.”

Vija Celmins, Strata, 1983, mezzotint, Dallas Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon Fund, 1984.24, © Vija Celmins

Perhaps no artist captures the longing and the tender intimacy of the immense better than Vija Celmins, whose lovingly hand-drawn seascapes, rock fields, and starscapes render these seemingly boundless landscapes as human and knowable. Strata, with its soft, luminous stars pulsing through the black field of space, imparts a sense of belonging in a vast universe. In Celmins’s work, we are stardust; “immensity is within ourselves.” Her creation, itself visual poetry, brings the cosmos within our reach, the stuff of daydreams drawn forth from the embrace of the known universe of our homes.

Hilde Nelson is the Curatorial Assistant for Contemporary Art at the DMA.

Behind the Scenes with the Dream Team

It takes a village to make an exhibition come together. The imaginative and immersive exhibition For a Dreamer of Houses wouldn’t be possible without a top-notch team of passionate DMA staff members, each of whom play a unique and vital role in making the art come to life. They all had a bit of fun in the process, too! Check out these behind-the-scenes photos submitted by our “Dream Team.”

The Dream Team! This team is made up of registrars, preparators, conservators, designers, security and operations staff, and curatorial staff.
Installation begins for Alex Da Corte’s Rubber Pencil Devil.
Raising the roof! The DMA preparator team begins installing the roof section of Rubber Pencil Devil.
Rubber Pencil Devil is wrapped in plastic as the floors around it are built.
Curator Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck and Curatorial Assistant for Contemporary Art Hilde Nelson watch the videos inside Rubber Pencil Devil.
Designer Jaclyn Le prepares the house-shaped scrim to go in place.
Going for a ride in the lift.
Even underwear chandeliers need steaming! Here, Interim Chief Conservator Fran Baas prepares Pipilotti Rist’s Massachusetts Chandelier. #ArtConservation
Janine Antoni’s Grope with contract preparator Vince Jones’s feet. “It was necessary to get behind the piece, and it just made me laugh!” —Mary Nicolett, Senior Preparator
Gallery Attendant Tirfe Chafo spreading JOY!
Straightening up Betty Woodman’s The Red Table.
Artist Francisco Moreno lends a hand to Senior Preparator Russell Sublette with the installation of his work Chapel.
Francisco Moreno and contract preparator Kevin Jacobs perform a post-installation quality check on the interior of Chapel.

Making Ourselves at Home

Our homes have taken on new significance in these past few weeks. We are getting to know much more intimately our rooms, our furniture, and certainly our roommates. We might be noticing the dust more on the floors, or the cracks in the ceiling. We might be noting habits that perhaps were always there, but have come to the fore.

Is there a chair you prefer to sit in for comfort? A window you often find yourself daydreaming out of? Is there a favorite sweatshirt or blanket you reach for when you feel a draft?

Daniel Barsotti, Untitled (Window), 1977, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Polaroid Foundation grant, 1977.46, © Daniel Barsotti

There might be things we are lacking, things that had broken that we had been meaning to replace. We might be farther away from the homes in which we were raised, and the families inside, and it might feel harder to get to those places.

Romare Bearden, The Family, 1975, intaglio, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Michael L. Rosenberg, 1994.245.5, © Romare Bearden Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, New York

Maybe that family heirloom is being revisited more often now. Hands grazing over the nooks and crannies in the wood. Smells from recipes handed down from generations might be flooding our kitchens, if we are lucky.

Bill Owens, We’re really happy. Our kids are healthy, we eat good food, and we have a really nice home., 1971, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Lay Family Acquisition Fund, 2005.103.2, © Bill Owens

Our homes are microcosms of ourselves. They are our habits embodied. They are visualizations of our personalities. They can make us feel safe, but they can also scare us. The storms in the middle of the night might cause strange sounds and shadows to appear. The house can take on a life of its own. But it’s ultimately a shelter, and a home is a privilege not everyone has.

Francisco Moreno, Chapel, 2016-18, pencil, vine charcoal pencil, and acrylic on an all-encompassing structure, Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, the Charron and Peter Denker Contemporary Texas Art Fund, Elisabeth Karpidas, Charles Dee Mitchell, Tammy Cotton Hartnett, Travis Vandergriff, Joyce Goss, Harper and Jim Kennington, and Karen and John Reoch, 2019.58. Photo by Wade Griffith, courtesy of the artist and Erin Cluley Gallery.

A house is also a boundary between ourselves and the world around us. We might see neighbors pass by our windows for the first time. We might peer into brand new rooms, far away, via technological devices, now that our schools and businesses are being conducted from home.

The exhibition For a Dreamer of Houses was organized before we as curators had any idea how much time we would all be spending in our own homes. Indeed, currently you can see the show via the comfort of your pajamas in 3-D on the web. But it was born from ideas circulated in philosophy, psychology, and sociology in the last hundred years. Hilde Nelson, Chloë Courtney, and I developed the concept for the show over the past year, inspired by recent acquisitions of immersive installations that brought to the fore just how wonderful the home is. Not just as a well-known and -loved domestic space, but as a place of fantasy.

Alex Da Corte, Rubber Pencil Devil, 2018, glass, aluminum, vinyl, velvet, neon, Plexiglas, folding chairs, monitors, high-res digital video, color, and sound, Dallas Museum of Art, TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art Fund, 2019.59. Photo by Tom Little. Courtesy of the artist and Karma, New York.

We noticed that artists’ depictions of the home were reflecting our increasingly globalized world, re-creating a childhood house that could fit inside a suitcase. Or sociopolitical issues, like state-sponsored violence, imagining how furniture could reflect invented futures that were nurturing instead of traumatizing. Then, a global pandemic arose, and we were startled to realize how works in the show, chosen months ago, seemed to presage a strange new reality, with quarantining procedures, new emphasis on hygiene, and the fear of illness striking our loved ones.

Misty Keasler, Green Room (Quarenteen) Leagnul di Copii, Tigru Mures, Romania, 2004, C-print on Kodak Supra Endura, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Burt and Missy Finger, 2006.33. Courtesy Misty Keasler and The Public Trust Gallery.

But in spite of these fears, readers, we saw a resiliency in the worlds depicted by these artists. We still see a bright future, where we can take the lessons learned in the imaginative worlds of art, and apply them to a reality where we are all in this together, helping build a more equitable and safer future. And so we look to art, just like to the home, to visualize our shared humanity. And we have lots more time to look, and reflect on what we are seeing, at home.

Dr. Anna Katherine Brodbeck is the Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMA.

Get to Know an Artist: Helen Brooks, “Profile”

Helen Brooks, Profile, about 1935, charcoal, Dallas Art League Purchase Prize, Seventh Annual Dallas Allied Arts Exhibition, 1935.13

Eighty-five years ago, on March 24, 1935, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts opened its seventh annual Dallas Allied Arts Exhibition. That same day, an illustrated spread in the Dallas Morning News announced the show’s 12 first-prize winners, all but two of which are now in the DMA’s collection. Helen Brooks’s Profile, the only self-portrait of the bunch, appears at bottom center, adding a touch of humanity to a roster of mostly landscapes and still lifes. Reviewing Dallas’s 1934-1935 art season for the Dallas Morning News a few months later, artist, critic, and future Museum Director Jerry Bywaters called Brooks’s work “one of the best drawings of the season.”

Clip from Dallas Morning News, “The Prize Winners,” March 24, 1935; clip from Dallas Morning News, January 5, 1936

When a show of self-portraits by 27 local artists opened at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in January 1936, Bywaters again had nothing but praise for Brooks’s contribution, declaring in the News, “It is hard to imagine a more thoroughly convincing likeness or better drawing than the small work by Helen Brooks.” One can imagine Brooks appreciating Bywaters’ complimentary words; however, she may have raised an eyebrow at an earlier section of the 1936 article, where Bywaters applauded what he saw as the exhibition artists’ lack of vanity: “In most cases,” he wrote, the self-portraits on display “attempt to make a good rendering of a person who may be considered detachedly as a personality or a lemon [something substandard, disappointing].” Ouch, Jerry.  
 
Bywaters’ mixed messaging aside, Profile and the later, three-quarters-view portrait reveal Brooks to be both a talented artist and a woman with a keen sense of style. She skillfully captures distinctive facial features like her sharp cheekbones; bow-shaped, downturned lips; and receding chin. Her glossy black bob with short, blunt bangs and finger waves, as well as her thinly plucked, arched brows, wouldn’t look out of place on a 1920s movie starlet—a photograph that accompanied news of Brooks’s recent wedding in October 1936 could practically double as a Golden Age Hollywood headshot. #HaircutGoals 

Clip from Dallas Morning News, “Back from Wedding Trip,” October 18, 1936

Melinda Narro is the McDermott Graduate Intern for American Art at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Staff Picks: New Year, New Reading List

Do you have a New Year’s resolution to read more books? The Arts & Letters Live team is here to help you jump start your reading goal and keep you updated on exciting new releases. Check out the selections of authors and books we’re looking forward to hearing and reading in our upcoming 29th season. Take a moment to peruse Arts & Letters Live’s 2020 season and consider giving yourself or your favorite bookworms the memorable experience of hearing authors talk about their latest books and share insights about their creative process.

Carolyn Hartley, Administrative Coordinator
Erin Morgenstern, Tuesday, January 14
If you loved Morgenstern’s The Night Circus as much as I did, her highly anticipated second novel, The Starless Sea, will cast a spell on you from its very first page. An old book leads graduate student Zachary Ezra Rawlins on an epic quest to a vast underground library with the guidance of Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book will lead them on a path to a secret underground world with pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea.  Things are never what they seem. Come to the event early to go on a mysterious tour to explore bees, keys, and swords in the DMA’s collection.

Carolyn Bess, Director, Arts & Letters Live
Tembi Locke, Tuesday, February 18
After hearing author, actor, and TEDx speaker Tembi Locke at the Texas Book Festival, I immediately invited her to share her poignant story of resilience with Arts & Letters Live audiences. Her new memoir is From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home, both a New York Times bestseller and a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick. It’s also being adapted into a Netflix series directed by Witherspoon. Locke’s story encompasses taking chances, finding love, and building a home away from home. She writes movingly and poetically about loss, grief, and the healing miracle of food, immersing readers in the beauty and simple pleasures of spending three summers in her husband’s hometown in Sicily.

Jennifer Krogsdale, Audience Relations Coordinator
Anne Enright, Tuesday, March 10
This season, one of the books I’m most excited to read is Anne Enright’s forthcoming novel Actress (to be released on March 3). According to the pre-publication publicity I’ve read, Enright’s latest book examines the delicate and intricate relationship between a mother and daughter. Norah is grappling with the long-kept secrets that shaped her once famous mother, Katherine, while also coming to terms with unnerving secrets about her own past and what she wants for her future. Intricate family dynamics, a passion for the arts, and a bizarrely committed crime—sounds like my cup of tea.

Lillie Burrow, McDermott Intern for Arts & Letters Live and Adult Programming
Erik Larson, Monday, March 30
This winter, DMA gallery attendants may report an intern lingering a little too often in the Winston Churchill gallery inside the Reves Collection, but the frequent visits will be in anticipation of Erik Larson’s newest nonfiction masterpiece, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. With a fastidiously researched narrative, Larson promises to deliver a fresh portrait of the famous leader, and I’m prepared to be bamboozled (again) into meticulously studying a significant historical event through the guise of an indulgent narrative. After re-binging two of my favorites, Devil in the White City and In the Garden of the Beasts, I’m eager for Larson to unveil Churchill’s secrets and to imagine myself as his confidante to the drama. So, spill the tea, Mr. Larson. I am ready to learn.

Michelle Witcher, Program Manager, Arts & Letters Live
Esther Safran Foer, Tuesday, April 14
I look forward to hearing Esther Safran Foer discuss her forthcoming memoir I Want You to Know We’re Still Here, a poignant account of growing up with parents who were Holocaust survivors, and how their unspoken anguish impacted her childhood. When Esther learns as an adult that her father had a previous wife and daughter who both perished during the Holocaust, she resolves to find out who they were. She travels to Ukraine armed with only an old photo and a hand-drawn map to re-create how her father managed to survive. Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum will be a promotional partner for this event, and touring their stunning new facility deeply affected me.

Preserving 100-Year-Old Plastic: Naum Gabo’s “Constructed Head No. 2”

The plastic sculpture is deteriorating, so slowly you can’t tell, but actively and unavoidably. For two years now, Elena Torok, Assistant Objects Conservator at the DMA, has been researching the repair history and material composition of Constructed Head No. 2 by Naum Gabo (1890–1977), in preparation for a conservation treatment this past spring. The sculpture is now free to see in the European Art Galleries.

Naum Gabo, Constructed Head No. 2, 1923–24, based on an original design of 1916, Ivory Rhodoid, Dallas Museum of Art, Edward S. Marcus Memorial Fund, 1981.35, © Nina Williams, England

Naum Gabo was a Russian avant-garde artist who worked with some of the some earliest forms of plastic in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. Plastic was just becoming commercially available, and Constructivists like Gabo were interested in using new materials to merge art and daily life.

Over his lifetime, Gabo made seven versions of Constructed Head No. 2. They are all similar in design—a geometric bust of a woman made of many combined pieces—but they vary in size and medium. The earliest version was made from painted galvanized iron in 1916, and the latest, in the Nasher Sculpture Center’s collection, was made from stainless steel in 1975. The version in the DMA’s collection, dated 1923–1924, is made from Ivory Rhodoid (a trade name for an early cellulose ester). It is the only version Gabo made in plastic.

Plastic artworks are tricky for museums to preserve. There are many types of plastics, and the materials, still relatively new to the history of art, don’t all age well. Depending on type, they may start to bend, change color, or even break down entirely. Gabo’s early plastic works are known for their sensitivity. A sculpture acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art notoriously degraded to the point of being unable to be shown again.

Assistant Objects Conservator Elena Torok with Naum Gabo’s Constructed Head No. 2.

How has the DMA’s sculpture escaped that fate? Torok’s research indicates it has something to do with the color. More specifically, she has identified white pigments in Constructed Head No. 2 that appear to slow the deterioration of this particular plastic. Although the sculpture has discolored slightly and the left shoulder has started to bend and deform, it is still in great condition, especially compared to many other plastic works Gabo made during the same time period.

By 2017 what had not aged so well were materials used in older repairs. Constructed Head No. 2 was repaired at least three times before it was acquired by the DMA in 1981, and some of the glues used had started to yellow and darken (a common occurrence with certain adhesives as they age). This change was not only visually problematic, but also structurally worrisome; as glues discolor, their breakdown can eventually cause older repairs to lose their strength. As a result, this important work in the Museum’s collection has not been displayed in recent years.

Torok treats Naum Gabo’s Constructed Head No. 2.

Torok thoroughly researched the sculpture’s repair history before determining a conservation treatment plan. Earlier this year, she carefully removed the old, discolored adhesive and replaced it with new adhesive that is long-lasting and, most importantly, reversible, meaning it can be removed and replaced if necessary in the future. In August the sculpture went back on display for the first time in five years.

Constructed Head No. 2 is almost 100 years old now. The sculpture is too fragile to leave the DMA, it can’t be displayed too long due to light sensitivities, and it has to be shown in a special perforated case to allow for air exchange. As it slowly breaks down, the plastic releases distinct-smelling chemicals that can actually speed the aging of the sculpture if allowed to remain enclosed in close contact with it over time. Museums continue to acquire works made with plastic, and conservators continue to research the material and fight science with science in order to keep works on view (and intact) as long as possible.

Lillian Michel is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at the Dallas Museum of Art.

As the Page Turns

Have you ever looked up information online and discovered that what you were looking for is in a published book, but after a few clicks found out that the book is not actually available online? Perhaps this was your experience—at first it appears that the publisher has made some parts of the book available, and you start browsing it, but just when you get to the good part, the online content stops! That happens a lot with art books, which are usually the best kind of books to browse in person. Nothing can replicate the experience of holding a book in your hand, especially an art book that has a beautiful hardcover binding, sturdy paper, lovely images, and reliable information. There is also a certain thrill of discovery when you are browsing in a library of any kind, and you find out something new that you would not have known otherwise. It can make your day!

In the DMA’s Mayer Library, thanks to a team-based summer moving project, you can now browse 500 more books than before, along with literally thousands of art magazine issues dating from the 1800s up to today. In order to make the items available, new shelves were added and the staff moved almost everything to new locations—over 60,000 items from 2,241 shelves! The library adds an average of 1,500 items every year, but most of them are stored in closed stacks—that means the books are available on request; however, the good news is that as soon as the books are processed and in the online catalog, we display them in a New Books area. New titles are on view every week, so no matter when or how often you visit the library, there is always something new and exciting to discover. Within this expanded browsing area, you can also now find publications by the DMA all together right at the front of the library, along with the current exhibition catalogs. If you don’t see what you’re looking for in the reading room, our reference librarian on duty will be happy to help you find it. We plan to keep adding items to our reading room selection, and your question might help us do that. We look forward to welcoming you to the library—see you soon!

Jacqueline Allen is the Mildred R. and Frederick M. Mayer Director of Libraries at the DMA.

Hooray for 100k!

This past weekend, the Dallas Museum of Art officially reached 100,000 followers on Instagram! Since the dawn of our Instagram presence back in April 2013, it has been our pleasure to share with you glimpses into the day-to-day at the DMA: behind-the-scenes peeks, magnificent artworks from our collection, live (and lively) event and program coverage, insights into our exhibitions, and artful just-for-fun content. We are grateful to be able to extend the DMA beyond our walls and into the palms (or desktops) of followers from far and wide, and we thank each and every one of you for staying connected with us.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, here’s a look back at some of our most popular and memorable Instagram posts from over the years:

This spotlight on Lynn Lennon’s 1984 photograph of the beach party at Dallas City Hall is our most-liked Instagram post to date.
Post from June 21, 2019
Installing The Two Fridas (Las dos Fridas) for the DMA’s landmark exhibition México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde.
Post from March 9, 2017
When technology, science, and art come together.
Post from October 26, 2016
A fantastic first look at the iconic exhibition Yayoi Kusama: All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins.
Post from September 22, 2017
Remember that time we did a bit of off-roading in the galleries?
Post from August 7, 2018
When #NationalNappingDay and Ramón Casas’s Tired were all too relatable . . . 
Post from March 12, 2018
Celebrating LGBTQ+ pride by putting our best foot forward at the annual Pride Late Night.
Post from June 21, 2019
Life imitating art.
Post from December 13, 2017
One for the archives: our first-ever exhibition installation post from our earliest days on Instagram. This one was for the 2013 exhibition The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece: Masterworks from the British Museum.
Post from April 19, 2013
We loved seeing visitors dress for Dior. This gorgeous hand-painted dress was quite the showstopper!
Post from July 1, 2019

Here’s to many more years of sharing all of the Museum’s artful happenings with you on Instagram. If you haven’t done so already, stay up-to-date with us by following @DallasMuseumArt!

Hayley Caldwell is the Copy and Content Marketing Writer at the DMA.


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