Posts Tagged 'Whitney Museum of American Art'

Our Portal Into Publishing

View from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group located in the famous Flatiron Bldg

View from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group located in the famous Flatiron Building

The annual DMA Arts & Letters Live planning trip to New York provides the foundation for each season of the DMA’s literary and performing arts series. During more than 30 meetings in five days at the end of July, Carolyn Bess and I learned which authors are generating a lot of buzz for their new books, and who will be on tour during our 25th anniversary season. These meetings provide a portal into the publishing world not yet revealed to the media or to the public. Here begins the dialogue regarding the authors and books publishers want to catapult into public conversation. We share statistics and successes from our recent events as we attempt to woo such “wish list” writers as Donna Tartt, Bill Bryson, and Nick Hornby. Authors often tour to a predetermined number of cities and only for a short time following their book release date, so there can be significant competition when it comes to securing them for Arts & Letters Live. We seek to balance the type of books, speakers, and performances we feature in each season to construct a mix of literary and historical fiction, poetry, memoir, nonfiction, pop culture, and emerging authors.

Though our meeting schedule certainly kept us busy, we managed to squeeze a few excellent cultural outings into our visit. The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s acclaimed illustrated memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic was excellent and would fit nicely into our Artful Musings category (if only Alison weren’t in such high demand these days!). We enjoyed seeing Gerald Murphy’s Cocktail on view in the glorious new Renzo Piano building of the Whitney Museum of American Art as we look forward to hosting Liza Klaussmann tomorrow night at the DMA for her new fictional account of Sara and Gerald Murphy in Villa America. On a Friday evening visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we joined the Museum Hack tour for what their brochure terms “a highly interactive, subversive, fun, non-traditional museum tour.” Their strategy did not disappoint. During our three-hour tour, we learned obscure and whimsical tidbits about a select number of pieces in the Met’s collection and wandered the galleries after hours, inciting childhood fantasies of spending the night in the Met like Claudia in E. L. Konigsburg’s iconic novel, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

One of the things that impressed me most during these meetings was the number of times publishers commented on the excellent reputation of the Dallas Museum of Art and Arts & Letters Live. After working on events with publicists all year via phone and e-mail, it is gratifying to meet with them in person and to hear how much they appreciate the quality of events that we host at the DMA. The professional relationships built and fostered during this New York trip are a key component to Arts & Letters Live’s success.

Michelle Witcher is the Program Manager, Arts & Letters Live, at the DMA.

Youth and Beauty in the Harlem Renaissance

Regarded as one of the premier art historians on the Harlem Renaissance, Dr. Richard Powell will be joining us on Friday, May 18, for our Late Night celebration centered on the Harlem Renaissance and the Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties exhibition.

Dr. Powell, the John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art & Art History at Duke University, has been writing on art and curating since 1988, when he received his Ph.D. from Yale University. He has worked with the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. We asked him a few questions about his work before he joins us on Friday.

You’ve worked extensively on African diaspora, American art, and African American art.  What drew you to the Harlem Renaissance specifically?

So much of the work during this period was trail-blazing. It was pushing against conventions to make a bold, new statement in art.

Would you comment on the work Congo (1928) by Aaron Douglas, which is featured in Youth and Beauty, and how it is evocative of the Harlem Renaissance?

It is evocative of the Harlem Renaissance because Douglas is encouraging viewers to see African dance, bodies, and art as sources of inspiration and information. My favorite part of the picture is the woman looking upward with what seems like “super sight” Eyes that radiate upward on a levitating figure. Eyes that do more than simply see; they project.

Aaron Douglas, Congo, c. 1928, gouache and pencil on paperboard, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, Gift of Susie R. Powell and Franklin R. Anderson

Do you have a favorite, little known fact or story about the Harlem Renaissance?

My little known fact is that the term “Harlem Renaissance” actually comes into common currency starting in the 1940s. Artistically inclined black artists in the 1920s and 1930s referred to that moment as the “New Negro Arts Movement.”

What are you most looking forward to on your visit to Dallas?

Just seeing Dallas. It’s been a little while since I was last there. I’m really looking forward to my visit!

Dr. Powell’s lecture, Jungle Beauty: Harlem Renaissance Portraits and Their Marks, will start at 9:00 p.m. in Horchow Auditorium on Friday, May 18. We hope to see you there!

Liz Menz is the Manager of Adult Programming.


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