Rock On

We’re well prepared for tomorrow’s “Collect Rocks Day” with a number of works in our collection made from various forms of stone. Explore some of the DMA’s rockin’ works below and add them to the “must see” list on your next visit to the Museum.

Cold Case Closed

Prime Minister Stephen Harper (right) of Canada listens as Parks Canada’s Ryan Harris talks about an image showing one of two ships from the lost Franklin expedition, in Ottawa. Photo: Reuters. Website: http://www.smh.com.au/.

In news disclosed this week, history came to life and reached out to touch Frederic Edwin Church’s masterful painting The Icebergs (1861) in the DMA’s collection. The recent discovery of one of two ships submerged in the arctic waters off the Canadian coast also brings to closure one of the great mysteries of expeditionary navigation. In the trip led by Captain Sir John Franklin, two ships sailed in 1845 in a failed attempt to map and navigate the Northwest Passage. The captain and his men perished in the cold conditions. In 1863 Frederic Church would tap into this tragic tale in an attempt to make The Icebergs more appealing to British collectors. Before shipping the work to England, he added the broken mast of a ship in the foreground as a direct allusion to the doomed expedition. The opening for the painting’s exhibition in London was attended by many Arctic explorers, as well as the widowed Lady Franklin.

Learn more about the discovery of one of Franklin’s ships, including video of the discovered ship, on BBC.com.

Dallas Museum of Art_The Icebergs painting

Sue Canterbury is The Pauline Gill Sullivan Associate Curator of American Art at the DMA.

State of the Arts: Contemporary Artists

We’re kicking off our fall season with our first State of the Arts program, our collaboration with Art&Seek and KERA. Join us Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. for a discussion with three DFW artists: Devon Nowlin, Arthur Peña, and Darryl Ratcliff.
soa

Uncrated was able to ask them a few questions beforehand:
1. What is the most appealing aspect of being a working artist in Dallas?
Devon Nowlin (artist; founding member, Homecoming Committee): As an artist who also works full-time, I have had good employment opportunities in my field and see some good job prospects for artists in both Dallas and Fort Worth. Along with exhibitions, teaching opportunities, and other work-work, one can construct a patchwork of professional activities for one’s self here.
Arthur Peña (artist; founder and Director, WARE:WOLF:HAUS and VICE PALACE): The two very prominent aspects I can think of are pragmatic ones. First, it is extremely affordable to be a working artist in Dallas. It’s not unheard of to have an apartment and a studio for under $600. I don’t know what other major cities can offer that and also boast world-class museums and an established art scene. Second, the accessibility to the Dallas art world is shockingly overlooked. If one wanted, they could meet and shake hands with other artists, gallery directors, collectors, and museum directors at one gathering. And they would be cordial and welcoming. Try that in NYC and see what happens!
Darryl Ratcliff (artist; Community Engagement Associate, National Center for Arts Research & Initiative on Arts+Urbanism): Affordability and opportunity. The access one has to cheap space is truly unique in Dallas, and the general cost of living is far cheaper than in other major cities. Also, there is significant upward mobility in the art scene. There is a willingness to experiment and embrace new ideas and artists.

2. What is something you are thankful for in your art community/peers/scene and how it/they have contributed to your practice?
DN: I am very thankful for the Education Department of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. I have benefited greatly from their programs both as a participant and audience member over the years, and as an artist-instructor in their programs. They give professional, and yet experimental and creative, teaching opportunities to artists in the area, and I have cherished my experiences there. So that is one of the many things in my community that I am very thankful for.
AP: Quick story: The recently retired WARE:WOLF:HAUS operated on limited funds for every show and especially the last fall season. Because of its location, security was needed on top of insurance for liability purposes. Not once did I pay out of pocket for any of that. WWH was able to operate and host shows strictly through donations from my fellow artists and supporters. People would toss whatever they had into the donation bucket, or specific people in the art community donated large funds to keep the door open and allow shows to happen. Considering that WWH was not a nonprofit art space and people were throwing down hard cash, I find this willingness to support the artists and work as a truly collaborative effort inspiring.
DR: It is cliché but I am very thankful for my fellow creatives in this city. My work is collaborative by nature, so I couldn’t have had any success without the constant support and cooperation of literally hundreds of creatives and lovers of creativity over the last five years.

3. How would you improve the Dallas art community/scene ?
DN: In Fort Worth, we are also in need of the facilities and funding that Darryl would like to bring to Dallas. What we don’t have that would really help elevate the local Forth Worth scene is more critical attention in both print and online publications. If artists here could get some press, I think it could help push the dialogue in Fort Worth in ways that I see happening in Dallas. I am encouraged by a level of interaction that is happening among artists between Dallas and Fort Worth, though it tends to be a one-way street with artists going from Fort Worth to Dallas. I’d like to see us mix things up a little more!
AP: Besides the obvious need for an influx of funds either through more grants or private donors, I’m not sure how one could improve the community other than more involvement from the community at large. There needs to be a cultural and psychic shift here in Dallas, and Texas as a whole, when it comes to the arts. Without a steady stream of interest starting at the city’s top level, the city at large will continue to view the arts as pure entrainment rather than as an agent for change and critical thought. We need more artists—not just those who make but those who have the discipline and vision to want to transform this city. I don’t think it’s about improving, rather it should be about energizing, invigorating, and giving everyone a swift kick in the a**.
DR: I would create at least 500 units of subsidized studio/living space for creatives in five geographically diverse parts of Dallas, award at least two million dollars per year in small grant funding to individual artists/projects/collectives, and create an international curator-in-residence program to help top curators become familiar with Dallas-based talent.

Be sure to join us tomorrow night to hear more from these artists.

Liz Menz is the Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA.

Showcasing 40 Years: Installing Isa Genzken

Isa Genzken: Retrospective, the DMA co-organized exhibition with the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, will open this weekend at the DMA as part of a successful national tour that has been described as “dazzling.” The DMA is the final stop for this first major U.S. exhibition of Genzken’s remarkable career. Her work contains many elements and the DMA crew has been installing the exhibition for weeks. Get a sneak peek below and then visit the exhibition, which is included in the DMA’s free general admission and is on view beginning this Sunday, September 14, through January 4.

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Conservation Timeline

Silver Vitrine (for the 1908 Kunstschau), 1908, Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops), Vienna, Austria, 1903-1932, maker; Carl Otto Czeschka, Austrian, 1878-1960, designer; Josef Berger, Austrian, 1874/75-?, goldsmith; Josef Hoszfeld, Austrian, 1869-1918, Adolf Erbrich, Austrian, 1874-?, Alfred Mayer, Austrian, 1873-?, silversmiths; Josef Weber, dates unknown, cabinetmaker; Wabak, Albrech, Plasinsky, Cerhan (unidentified craftsmen), silver, moonstone, opal, lapis, lazuli, mother-of-pearl, baroque pearls, onyx, marble, ivory, enamel, glass, and Macassar ebony veneers (replaced), image courtesy of Richard Nagy Ltd, London, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

The Wittgenstein Vitrine (from the 1908 Vienna Kunstschau), 1908, Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops), Vienna, Austria, 1903-1932, maker; Carl Otto Czeschka, Austrian, 1878-1960, designer; Josef Berger, Austrian, 1874/75-?, goldsmith; Josef Hoszfeld, Austrian, 1869-1918, Adolf Erbrich, Austrian, 1874-?, Alfred Mayer, Austrian, 1873-?, silversmiths; Josef Weber, dates unknown, cabinetmaker; Wabak, Albrech, Plasinsky, Cerhan (unidentified craftsmen), silver, moonstone, opal, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, baroque pearls, onyx, ivory, enamel, glass, and Macassar ebony veneers (replaced), Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

With fall just around the corner, here’s a brief sneak peek into the conservation treatment, made possible through the Art Conservation Project grant from Bank of America, of the DMA’s recent acquisition, a masterpiece of Viennese design known as the Wittgenstein Vitrine.

An exhibition dedicated to this spectacular addition to the DMA’s collection, Modern Opulence in Vienna: The Wittgenstein Vitrine, opens November 15 in the Conservation Gallery. The display will examine the historical significance of the Wiener Werkstätte vitrine and include other examples of Viennese art and design from the period. It will also highlight the conservation treatment and technical analyses carried out during the past year.

Collaboration between curator and conservators – a discussion on original wooden base height, veneer, and finish

Collaboration between curator and conservators – a discussion on original wooden base height, veneer, and finish

Fitting the new curved glass side panel – the replacement of a missing element

Fitting the new curved glass side panel, replacing a missing element

The elaborate silver vitrine (or display case) stands roughly five feet tall and is encrusted with pearls, lapis lazuli, opals, onyx, and other gemstones. Each of these materials requires different conservation approaches and solutions. The overarching goal of the treatment has been to bring the piece closer to its original 1908 appearance, as well as to stabilize a number of fragile elements. The most stunning transformation has resulted from the reduction of blackened tarnish and the removal of layers of old silver polish residue trapped within the intricate metalwork.

Detail of old polish residue trapped between glass and metalwork

Detail of old polish residue trapped between glass and metalwork

Detail of old polish residue caught between the glass panes and silver decorative elements

Detail of old polish residue caught between the glass panes and silver decorative elements

Many painstaking hours of old polish removal and reduction of silver tarnish.

Engaging in many painstaking hours of old polish removal and reduction of silver tarnish

Conservation treatments do not take place within a vacuum, and an exciting part of the project has been the interdepartmental collaboration between the curatorial, conservation (including myself), and collections staff at the DMA. Kevin W. Tucker, The Margot B. Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Dallas Museum of Art, and I have also been working with outside consultative experts, including silversmiths, specialty glassmakers, gemologists, research scientists, and even an ornithologist (to help identify the various birds depicted on the vitrine).

Detail of a pearl cluster with two birds.  Notice the old polish residue in the interstices surrounding the cluster.

Detail of a pearl cluster with two birds. Notice the old polish residue in the interstices surrounding the cluster.

During removal of silver tarnish, as seen in this image from left to right.

During removal of silver tarnish, as seen in this image from left to right.

Working almost daily on an intimate and intense level with an object has resulted in many discoveries, which we look forward to sharing with the public in both the exhibition and the opening symposium on November 15, 2014.

Fran Baas is the Associate Conservator of Objects at the DMA.

My Meaningful Moments at the DMA

Amanda Blake, Head of Family, Access, and Scholl Experiences at the DMA, during a Meaningful Moments program.

Amanda Blake, Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA, during a Meaningful Moments program

There are many reasons I enjoy working with our Access Programs here at the DMA, but one of the big ones is the chance to form relationships—relationships with participants and, in turn, their relationship with works of art in our galleries. The Meaningful Moments program for visitors with Alzheimer’s disease and their care partner (usually a spouse or family member) creates opportunities for people to have transformative experiences with works of art and with one another. I feel lucky to be a part of this each month. As I have gotten to know the participants over the years and spent time with them each month, I am reminded of the importance to live in the moment and to cherish each day that we get to spend with our loved ones. The Meaningful Moments program reinforces my belief in love and in the kindness of humanity.

If someone were to pass by our group in the galleries, it would appear as if longtime friends were chatting and reminiscing. In the studio, there is often laughter and joking as participants create and share their artwork. Many of the participants get together outside of the program, for lunches or support groups. I have received gardening tips and holiday cards from individuals in the program, and I have even visited the woodworking shop of a participant to learn how to use a lathe. The group is social and very welcoming to newcomers, but is also a supportive bunch of familiar faces.

Viewing and talking about works of art can unearth past memories, especially those still accessible to a person with Alzheimer’s disease. I have witnessed this many times during Meaningful Moments. From a Native American cradle sparking recollections about vacationing with young children, an exhibition with a beautiful wedding gown triggering detailed stories about participants’ wedding days, impressionist works reminding attendees of a favorite nature spot from their youth, or a print by Andy Warhol generating a lively discussion of life in the 1960s, artwork often serves as a catalyst to connect with the stories from the past and with loved ones in the present. During our gallery conversations, spouses (even those married more than fifty years) occasionally learn new things about their loved one’s past.

Crucial to the Meaningful Moments program, socialization and simulation play a key role and have been proven to help improve mood and behavior, as well as dramatically enhance quality of life. The social interaction and exploration of works in the collection are as gratifying to the spouse or family member as it is to the attendees with Alzheimer’s disease. I have seen care partners lean on one another for support and bond over shared experiences. One woman who used to bring her husband to the program still occasionally attends, even though her husband passed away two years ago. A couple who has attended the program since the beginning even schedules their doctor’s appointments and vacations around the program dates. A wife who brings her husband has told me that she needs the program, as it is a time when she can connect emotionally with him and not think about the disease for the two hours that they are in the Museum.

Since the program began four years ago, two of my favorite people in my life have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I know how heartbreaking it can feel for this disease to affect someone you love, let alone how scary it must feel for the person diagnosed. The Meaningful Moments program is one of the best parts of my job and means so much to me as an educator—it is an honor to be welcomed into the circle of this small group of people and to become part of their experience as they journey through life navigating such a devastating disease.

Getting to know program attendees and seeing how much the couples genuinely and patiently care for one another, I have witnessed true love in action. To watch a husband gingerly fit a headpiece he designed around his wife’s head, to catch couples married fifty years holding hands in front of a Jackson Pollock, to be in the studio immersed in jewelry-making with attendees while listening to Duke Ellington and suddenly looking up to see an impromptu slow dance take place by one of the couples in the program are just a few of the many truly memorable experiences for me, and ones that I will always cherish.

To learn more about the DMA’s Meaningful Moments program, or for information on how to schedule a group from assisted-living facilities specializing in memory care, visit the Museum’s website or e-mail access@DMA.org.

Amanda Blake is the Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA.

DMA Works at Work

We hope you have a relaxing break this Labor Day and aren’t hard at work like these pieces in the DMA’S collection.


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