Archive for December, 2010

The Ball Drops

The DMA and Radio Disney are teaming up again this year for Noon Year’s Eve on December 31, the perfect way to ring in the New Year if your bedtime is a bit before midnight. The Museum will open at 10:00 am to kick off the three hours of celebration. There will be music and games led by Radio Disney DJ Tera Beal and prizes aimed at visitors ages 6 and under. Everyone is invited to join in on the countdown for when the clock strikes noon. The DMA is also offering a prize for parents and other grown-ups who come, $5 admission and $5 parking in the DMA garage from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm (visitors ages 12 and under are always free at the DMA). 

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Inspired by the New Year’s countdown — and the impressive Times Square crystal ball — we created a top ten countdown (without any scientific data or specific parameters) of the past year at the DMA.

10. Turning 107 in January and kicking off a year of great Late Nights at the Museum.

9. The month long celebration of the Arts District, Art in October, with two free admission days to the Nasher Sculpture Center, The Crow Collection of Asian Art, and the Dallas Museum of Art with multiple family programs. 

8. Welcoming the DMA-organized exhibition The Mourners from our sister city of Dijon, France in October with an opening weekend featuring a Mourner on stilts and five French chefs.

7. The summer gave us two months of the inspiring and cozy The Living Room installation made of recycled cardboard by artist Jill Foley.

6. Celebrating the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence with nine months of events and two exhibitions featuring Mexican art.

5. September brought the opening of the new C3 exhibition Encountering Space with new works of arts from the DMA collection, a space bar, and a new Arturo’s Nest.

4. Inviting a special guest, The Grinch, to close out a great year of exciting First Tuesdays.

3. Jeff Kinney, author of the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid, made an appearance as part of the BooksmART series of Arts & Letters Live in April.

2. Launching our quarterly Autism Awareness Family Celebrations in April inviting children with autism and their families to explore C3 and participate in activities an hour before the Museum opened.

1. Our amazing visitors! More than 500,000 of you visited our many exhibitions and programs throughout 2010, we can’t wait to get started on 2011.

2010 also brought the launch of Uncrated. Thank you dear readers and Happy New Year.

Painting by Numbers

Our new installation Re-Seeing the Contemporary displays more than fifty works of the art from the DMA’s captivating contemporary collection. Some of the artists on view range from familiar abstract expressionists to lesser known artists at work today. As 2010 comes to a close, we thought it might be fun to take another look at the exhibition, re-seeing the exhibition into our own top ten list of interesting categories.

1. Paintings: 29

The majority of artworks in the exhibition are paintings.

Jackson Pollock, Cathedral, 1947 Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard

 

Pollock changed the definition of painting—instead of painting on the wall or an easel, he laid the canvas on the floor and applied paint to it from above through pouring and dripping.

2. Sculptures off the wall: 9

Larry Bell, The Cube of the Iceberg II, 1975 Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift in memory of J. O. Lambert, Jr.

Although not your typical figurative sculpture, this work has a reflective quality that involves the viewer.

3. Sculptures on the wall: 5

Alan Saret, Deep Forest Green Dispersion, 1969 Dallas Museum of Art, gift of John Weber

Though sculptures are typically displayed using a base or plinth, this work also fits the category because of its three-dimensionality. Since the piece is made out of wire and hangs off of one nail, it must be reshaped with each installation, almost becoming a living thing like the plants or moss it resembles.

4. Collages: 3

Jess, Arkadia's Last Resort; or, Fete Champetre Up Mnemosyne Creek, 1976 Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund

Jess took images from various sources such as jigsaw puzzles, art books, advertisements, and store catalogues and combined them to create a collage in the shape of a landscape.

5. Works never shown before: 6

Jack Whitten, Slip Zone, 1971 The Rachofsky Collection and the Dallas Museum of Art through the DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

A new acquisition that has not yet been on view, Slip Zone adds to the DMA’s collection of postwar abstract art. Whitten created the unique design by pulling various objects across the wet painted surface.

6. Works by women artists: 5

A few of the female artists are represented in the exhibition:

Jackie Ferrara, A213 Symik, 1982 Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift

Susie Rosmarin, Gingham, 1998 Dallas Museum of art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bryant M. Hanley, Jr., in honor of Charles Wylie, The Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art

Anne Truitt, Come Unto These Yellow Sands II, 1979 Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Shonny and Hal Joseph (St. Louis, Missouri) in honor of Cindy and Armond Schwartz

7. Works by Texas artists: 2

Christian Schumann, Nomads, 1998-1999 Dallas Museum of Art, Texas Artists Fund

Christian Schumann graduated from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, located just blocks away from the DMA.

8. Works with people: 11

Wallace Berman, Untitled, 1964 Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund

At first glance, this collage may appear to be a repetition of the same picture. Upon further inspection, though, you can see that each hand holds a transistor radio, which in turn frames images of people, animals, and objects.

9. Works with text: 14

Glenn Ligon, Untitled, 2002 Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund

Inclusion of text is a modern development which Ligon often uses in his art. As the text progresses, it becomes more and more unclear.

10. Works with hot pink: 3

Pink is the color of happiness and works including hot pink just make us smile.

Charline von Heyl, Untitled (3/00), III, 2000 Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Kathleen and Roland Augustine in honor of Robert Hoffman

This painting, a recent museum acquisition, recalls a tropical rainforest inhabited by abstracted animal-like forms. The shocking combination of colors—yellow, green, turquoise, and hot pink—draw your attention to the composition.

Over the holidays we hope you will visit the DMA to discover the countless connections you can make with Re-Seeing the Contemporary and with the larger DMA collection.

Haley Berkman is the McDermott  Curatorial Intern for Contemporary Art and Sarah Vitek is the McDermott Education Intern for Adult Programming at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Merry Museum Memories

HM and Marilyn Hailey at the member preview for All the Worlds a Stage

Marilyn Hailey has been a member of the Dallas Museum of Art and a Museum Store volunteer for more than twenty years. Last week, she stopped in to purchase a gift membership as a Christmas gift for a friend. I had the opportunity to sit down and ask her a few questions about why she loves the Museum.

Do you remember why you joined?

MH: A friend had a volunteer position with the Museum Store and was moving. She asked me to take over for her and I did.

If you could have one work of art from the Museum’s collections in your home, what would it be?

MH: Vase of White Lilacs and Roses by Édouard Manet.

What is your favorite activity at the DMA?

MH: I enjoy coming to the exhibition previews on the member days. I love the jazz on Thursday nights as well. I sometimes tell Wendell [Sneed, Jazz in the Atrium Program Coordinator] who to bring back.

What has been your favorite special exhibition?

MH: Splendors of China’s Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong. That Christmas, every gift I bought was from the Splendors of China’s Forbidden City gift shop. I love oriental art. My husband, HM, and I lived in Japan for a while when he was in the Air Force.

What is a typical day like for you?

MH: I get the newspaper and read the funnies, and then work on the computer crosswords. I spend too much time doing that. I’m in a lot of leagues in the city.

 

Form/Unformed: Building a Collection of Modern and Contemporary Design at the DMA

As the curator of decorative arts and design for the DMA, I oversee a collection of nearly 8,000 works of American and European art. From 17th-century ceramic vases to 20th-century plastic chairs, these holdings are among the Museum’s most expansive and diverse. One aspect of this collection is a growing number of modern and contemporary international design objects, a selection of which has recently been installed in an exhibition in the Museum’s Tower Gallery, Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to Present. In this installation, we showcase, for the first time, a perspective upon design of the last fifty years as seen through the lens of the DMA’s collections.

Zaha Hadid's coffee and tea service set.

Although the DMA began acquiring modern design of the 20th century nearly two decades ago, it has only been in recent years that opportunities to collect contemporary design have been taken, resulting in a host of new acquisitions, such as a tea service and bench by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid and a witty assemblage of stuffed animals as a chair by the Brazilian design team of the Campana brothers. Many of the objects reflect a logical continuum with the Museum’s historic decorative arts works–whether by function as seating and tableware, or most plainly as aesthetic creations inspired by the era and cultural milieu in which they were fashioned. Even so, a few works in the exhibition, such as Giovanni Corvaja’s “The Golden Fleece” ring, reveal a new collecting interest within the department, that of jewelry. Just this year, over a dozen exceptional examples entered the collection, with yet more growth anticipated in the coming years. Such decisions to expand collecting areas are not made lightly, as resources must be carefully considered and such “new” areas of interest must be reviewed for their logical connections to the DMA’s other collections (in this instance, ancient Greek and pre-Columbian jewelry).

Robert J. King's Celestial Centerpiece.

Our new jewelry collecting efforts have been exciting, and as we continue to add new works in this area (and in other arenas of design), you will see additions to this exhibition and the Museum’s galleries–so keep a watchful eye!

Kevin W. Tucker is the The Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Seldom Scene: The Grinch Visits

On the first Tuesday of every month, admission to the DMA is free, and we have special activities for our youngest visitors until 3:00 p.m. On December 7, we had a special guest in C3, the Grinch (before his heart grew three sizes in one day). He stopped by from the AT&T Performing Arts Center, where Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical was opening later that night. DMA staff members could not pass up this photo opportunity.

The Starting Line

Annette Lawrence, "Coin Toss," 2009, stranded cable, The Art Program at Cowboys Stadium

Try to imagine the longest line of paper conceivable. Now think about how much time it would take to create it. How many people would participate? What would this mass of paper look like? Well, the DMA’s Center for Creative Connections teamed up with Big New Field artist and Community Partner Annette Lawrence this month to start the longest paper line possible.

In the Art Studio earlier this month, Museum visitors crowded around the tables using long rolls of white butcher paper, 4-foot rulers, and double-sided tape to create their own addition to Lawrence’s continuous line. Sounds of paper ripping and scissors cutting echoed throughout the Center as the lines our visitors made snowballed to the ground before they rolled them up onto giant spools. Couples worked together to merge their own lines into one and siblings helped each other meld their contributions to the larger spool. The line continued to grow and grow like a living being.

Every six months the Center for Creative Connections invites a Community Partner to creatively respond to the Center’s current exhibition. Our newest partner, Annette Lawrence, came up with the idea to allow visitors to be an active part of the project. Through a series of workshops now through next September, Museum visitors can contribute to a collective paper line by tearing and taping pieces of white butcher paper together. Center staff will collect and store the paper on large spools until Lawrence installs the line in the Center next fall. Once installed, those visitors who contributed to the line will be invited to come view the final work.

Imagine the metamorphosis of two-dimensional pieces of paper into a three-dimensional sculptural form. Visitors were excited to think about how the artist will install the line in the Center,  thinking it might be a never-ending maze of white strips hanging from the ceiling and covering the walls or imagining it as a huge ball of yarn. For now we have to wait for the end result, but until then the line will continue to evolve.

Annette Lawrence, "Free Paper 12 / 05," 2006–08, mixed media, Dallas Museum of Art, Charron and Peter Denker Contemporary Texas Art Fund, 2008.100.a–e, © Annette Lawrence

The Center for Creative Connections has previously worked with the following Community Partners: the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA); Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts; University of North Texas College of Visual Arts and Design, New Media; textile artist Lesli Robertson (UNT), and, currently, the Center for Creative Computation, Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University.

Annette Lawrence will participate in the DMA’s “State of the Arts” series, a conversation about the arts and the cultural landscape of the Metroplex, on Thursday, January 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Hadly Clark is the Center for Creative Connections Coordinator for the Dallas Museum of Art

Re-imagining and Re-installing

 

The DMA exhibitions department spends much of its time planning, organizing, and fine-tuning any given exhibition. And ironically, the installation process marks the beginning of the end of our efforts. On the Museum’s second floor, our department is now working to complete the massive reinstallation of the  European galleries, which host some of the most well known and celebrated works of art in the DMA’s collections. Alongside curators Olivier Meslay and Heather MacDonald,  the exhibition designer, preparators, registrars, and carpenters have come together to re-introduce this selection of masterpieces to DMA visitors.

 

During “install,” the exhibitions department ensures that the careful removal of objects, new construction (such as platforms, walls, and pedestals), and re-installation of the artwork all run according to plan. Close attention to the condition of the galleries and the creation of hospitable environments for the works — and visitors — come into play.

 

For example, the sculptural grouping found off the Level 2 courtyard requires proper window tinting before the works can reach their “final destination.” Anyone will agree that this precaution was worth the wait when caught between Brancusi or Hepworth’s monochromatic contours and Matisse or Kandisnsky’s vibrant polychrome canvases. When filtered properly, the same light that can damage art now works in tandem with it, persuading us to step back and experience the “dance” between these gleaming three-dimensional whites and the vivid impressionist brushwork.


 

 
We hope you’ll come see for yourself on your next visit to the DMA.
Aja Martin is the Exhibitions Administrative Assistant at the Dallas Museum of Art.
 
 

 

The Art (and Archaeology) of Good Cheer

Known as the “Indiana Jones of Ancient Ales, Wines, and Extreme Beverages,” Dr. Patrick McGovern is a world-renowned expert on the origins of ancient fermented drinks and a leader in the emerging field of biomolecular archaeology. On Thursday evening, he will present the history of wine in a lecture entitled Uncorking the Past, part of the Museum’s Boshell Family Lecture Series on Archaeology. Dr. McGovern tells us more about his unique archaeological research.

Dr. McGovern in his laboratory, examining a 3000-year-old millet wine, which was preserved inside a tightly lidded bronze vessel from a Chinese tomb. Photo: Penn Museum.

You oversee the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology – a leader in this cutting-edge field. What type of research do you conduct at the lab?

The Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory has been at the forefront of the revolution in uncovering the organic underpinnings of our species on this planet. We analyze ancient fermented beverages, foods, perfumes, dyes (such as Royal Purple), and other organics, which could only be imagined from ancient writings, using highly sensitive instruments in the laboratory (infrared spectrometry, gas and liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, etc.). Molecular archaeology promises to open up whole new chapters relating to our human ancestry and genetic development, cuisine, medical practice, and other crafts over the past two million or more years.

Where do you find evidence of ancient food and drink, and what tools and technologies do you use to analyze that evidence?

Pottery, which is virtually indestructible and goes back to between 5000 and 13,000 B.C. in various parts of the world, absorbs ancient organics and is crucial to our research. By using organic solvents, we “tease out” the ancient organics, and then go to work with our battery of scientific instruments. Sometimes we work directly from residues, either deposited inside vessels of various materials or deposited elsewhere (e.g., on bones, textiles, etc.).

Dr. McGovern peers into a wine jar dating to 5400 - 5000 B.C. Photo: courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

In the course of your work, what has been your most surprising discovery?

There have been many, but the discovery of Royal Purple and the earliest resinated wine from Iran (circa 5400 B.C.) are two highlights.

Your academic background is varied, and you have degrees in both chemistry and archaeology. How did you become interested in the history of fermented beverages?

It was very serendipitous. As I moved from inorganic to organic chemical analysis of archaeological materials, we were successful in first detecting Royal Purple, a highly stable compound that had been preserved for over 3,000 years. This gave us the confidence to move on to wine, beer, and other materials. Grape wine was first, and came about when an associate, Virginia Badler, showed us shards of large jars from an early Iranian site (Godin Tepe) with residues inside that she believed to be wine deposits. She proved to be right, and the rest is history.

After the lecture on Thursday, we will have the opportunity to sample wines from Burgundy, as well as an artisan beer called Midas Touch. Please tell us about the beer, which was inspired by analysis you did on objects found in the tomb of the legendary King Midas.

It all started over fifty years ago with a tomb, the Midas Tumulus, in central Turkey at the ancient site of Gordion, which was excavated by the Penn Museum in 1957. Within that tomb, buried deep down in the center of a large mound, excavators found the body of a 60- to 65-year-old male, who had died normally. He lay on a thick pile of blue- and purple-dyed textiles, the colors of royalty in the ancient Near East. The excavators had found what would become one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries of the 20th century – they had located what has since been identified as the tomb of Gordion’s most famous son, King Midas.

“King Midas” laid out in state on piles of purple- and blue-dyed textiles inside his coffin, from the northwest, with the large bronze drinking set in the background. Photo: courtesy of the Gordion Project, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Inside the tomb, surrounding the body, were 157 bronze vessels, including large vats, jugs, and drinking bowls that had been used in the final farewell dinner for the king outside the tomb. The body was then lowered into the tomb, along with the remains of the food and drink, to sustain him for eternity.

Surprising, none of the 157 drinking vessels were made of gold. Where then was the gold if this was the burial of Midas with the legendary golden touch? In fact, the bronze vessels, once the bronze corrosion was removed, gleamed just like the precious metal. The real gold, as far as I was concerned, was what these vessels contained – the remains of an ancient beverage, which was intensely yellow, just like gold. Chemical analyses of the residues – teasing out the ancient molecules – provided the answer: the beverage was a highly unusual mixture of grape wine, barley beer, and honey mead.

Jars filled with the spicy stew, served at the funerary feast of King Midas, can be seen inside one of the large vats. They were placed there after the fermented beverage, which they initially contained, had been served at the funerary banquet. These “left-overs” might have been intended for sustenance for the king in the afterlife. Photo: courtesy of the Gordion Project, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

You may cringe at the thought of mixing together wine, bee,r and mead, as I did originally. That’s when I got the idea to do some experimental archaeology. In essence, this means trying to replicate the ancient method by taking the clues we have and trying out various scenarios in the present. In the process, you hope to learn more about how the ancient beverage was made. To speed things up, I also decided to have a competition among microbrewers to try to reverse-engineer and see if it was even possible to make something drinkable from such a weird concoction of ingredients. Soon, experimental brews started arriving on my doorstep for me to taste – not a bad job, if you can get it, but not all the entries were that tasty.

Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery ultimately triumphed. The beverage has since gone from one triumph to the next. Dogfish is the fastest growing microbrewery in the country, and “Midas Touch” has become its most awarded beverage.

Original Dogfish Head Brewery label for Midas Touch beer. Photo: courtesy of Dogfish Head Brewery

Be sure to watch Dr. McGovern and the team from Dogfish Head Brewery on The Discovery Channel’s Brew Masters, which chronicles their travels around the world searching for exotic ingredients and discovering ancient techniques to produce their award-winning beers.

Patrick E. McGovern is Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. His books include Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture and Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages. His research on the origins of alcoholic beverages has been featured in Time, the New York Times, the New Yorker, Nature, and numerous other publications.

Do-It-Yourself Stickley

“When we come to make things ourselves . . . we should not only find more pleasure in making them but we shall take more pleasure in possessing them.” —Gustav Stickley, The Craftsman, March 1905

Early 20th-century designer and businessman Gustav Stickley believed in the do-it-yourself movement. His magazine, The Craftsman, provided readers with step-by-step instructions on making household objects such as side tables, clocks, embroidered pillows, and even birdhouses.

In just a few months, the Dallas Museum of Art will host the exhibition Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement. We’re inviting people to produce objects inspired by Stickley’s designs, document their process, and share their experience with the DMA. These videos and photographs will be displayed in the exhibition’s education space. Our deadline is January 5. Learn more about the DIY Stickley project on the DMA website.

A few weeks ago, my husband, John, and I thought it would be fun to take up Stickley’s challenge and make one of his simpler designs with our kids, Aiden and Rowan.

After some debate, we decided to make the doghouse for our two dogs, Sampson and Beasley.

Building the structure moved along pretty quickly thanks to John and Aiden. By the end of day one, we had framed the structure and attached the walls and floors.

 

Day two included attaching the roof, painting, and trying to get the dogs to go inside the doghouse.

Apart from adjusting the measurements and the paint, we stayed close to Stickley’s original design. This was a fun weekend project for our family and a great way to make Stickley’s designs come to life in the 21st century.

 

Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement will be on view at the Dallas Museum of Art from February 13 through May 8, 2011. To learn more about the do-it-yourself Stickley project and discover how you can participate, visit the DMA website.

Guest blogger Laura Bruck was formerly Manager of Gallery Interpretation at the Dallas Museum of Art and is currently an education consultant.

Insourced: Works by Dallas Museum of Art Staff

The much-anticipated Dallas Museum of Art staff art exhibition is fast approaching. Opening this weekend, the exhibition occurs every two years and is an opportunity for DMA employees to present their work to coworkers and general public. This year’s exhibition, Insourced: Works by Dallas Museum of Art Staff, features sixty-eight works by forty-three artists ranging from our new interns to a preparator who has been with the DMA for over thirty years. Staff members whose “day jobs” range from curators to gallery attendants are included.

The exhibition is unique because anyone who wants to participate can; even the title was selected by a staff vote. Insourced also has an acting curator–conceived and organized collaboratively by Collections and Exhibitions department staffers, the exhibition placement was decided by Erin Murphy, Contemporary Art Curatorial Administrative Assistant and Uncrated contributor. We posted a few “sneak peek” photos here, but please come by and see the works by our talented staff.

The exhibition is on view from December 5, 2010 through March 13, 2011 on Mezzanine 2 next to the Mildred R. and Frederick M. Mayer Library.

 

 

Joni Wilson is the Exhibitions Assistant at the Dallas Museum of Art


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