Archive for February, 2011

Our Oscar Moment

The day after the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden poses in front of Pollination, the DMA’s magnificent painting by Lee Krasner, the artist Ms. Harden portrayed in the film Pollock and for which she won an Academy Award. In an instance of DMA synchronicity, we captured Ms. Harden after rehearsals for her performance tonight in the Arts & Letters Live program Texas Bound. On March 25, Arts & Letters Live will present an evening with art historian Gail Levin for her new biography on Krasner.

All of the fun. None of the cost.

The program Late Nights at the Dallas Museum of Art is full of activities and experiences for people of all ages. But did you know that there’s a way to enjoy them without having to pay Museum admission?

Volunteering at Late Nights isn’t your average charitable activity. Volunteers can choose from a wide array of programs they wish to help with, and they often get to participate. As a volunteer, you become a part of Late Nights on multiple levels as a facilitator, aide, and participant, and you can also explore the Late Night before or after your volunteering shift. You can get in on the action yourself, helping visitors create their own works of art in the Art Studio or encouraging visitors to think outside the box during a Creativity Challenge.

Many volunteers have said that the rewards that come with volunteering at Late Nights make the event more of a fun activity than actual work. Couples and families will volunteer together to participate in Late Nights in a different way, and more often than not, they come back again and again to volunteer. One volunteer put it this way, “I look forward to the beaming faces of the kids when you’ve applauded them for the project they’ve just completed. It’s really sweet to see the parents and children working so closely together. It’s also amazing to see what people can create with simple materials and their imagination.”

Volunteers receive free admission to Late Nights and also have the opportunity to meet up-and-coming or even nationally known artists who lead workshops or host programs. When you volunteer, you get a glimpse into all of the behind-the-scenes work that is involved in creating a fun and exciting Late Night. You’ll be amazed at how much collaboration and effort goes into each one of these events, and being a part of it can give you a great sense of accomplishment.

Volunteering at the Dallas Museum of Art helps you become an integral part of the Late Night experience. After all, where else can you help little ones wiggle into fun yoga poses and then race against the clock to create a work of art under pressure at the Space Bar? So if you’re looking for a unique way to experience the Museum, consider becoming a volunteer. It will provide you with a new perspective on Late Nights at the DMA.

For more information on volunteering, visit our volunteer page or contact Hadly Clark at 214-922-1311 to volunteer for Late Nights.

The Night Owl and the Pussycats: Adventures in Igniting the Power of Art

From the very beginning in February 2009, this exciting book project inspired by the DMA’s director, Bonnie Pitman, was a collaborative effort. And my responsibility was to serve as the publication’s gatekeeper, charged with trafficking the manuscript, compiling and incorporating the numerous edits and comments, and keeping track of all the details and loose ends. There were “those days” when I imagined masses and masses of rapidly proliferating Hydra heads—and, like a metaphorical Hercules, the faster I lopped them off (i.e., completed a task), the faster they seemed to regenerate.

To keep track of all the edits to the digital manuscript, we used the Microsoft Word feature known as Track Changes, where, like a board game, everyone gets a different color. With five or six people making rainbow-colored edits, the manuscript became a vivid, almost psychedelic, dazzle of clashing colors, from bright pink to pale brown. Since large chunks of text were moved around, Word could only track this by keeping the old, lined-out passages on the page, so I found myself on “fast forward” through whole paragraphs on occasion. Then when comments were added to the screen, a running series of squashed balloons of text crowded in along the right-hand margin. Pretty soon we were laughing about eye strain.

Our quest for a perfect set of images became the next challenge. We pored through hundreds of DMA images—sorting, juxtaposing, weighing, and discarding—for each of the 141 photographs finally chosen. So it was definitely an exciting moment when the book went to the printer in early October 2010. As I write this blog two years later, we have distributed the printed copies. While this project “had its moments,” it’s also been enormously rewarding. I’ve learned a lot about data analysis, the design and packaging of information, and the challenges and pitfalls of fact checking. Even at moments of relatively frazzled morale, our spirits were always kept up by the knowledge that we were presenting something new and important. This book was a labor of love for a large group of people, especially for the two authors.

Ending on a light note, Bonnie kept us entertained throughout the editing and production process by sending digital pictures of her two cats, Leda and Perseus. Owing to the late hours she usually keeps, Bonnie was frequently hard at work on this book at one or two o’clock in the morning, seated at her glass work-table, with Leda and Perseus lying on—or playing with—stacks of galleys, photo contact sheets, charts, layouts, and reports—all of which offered the cats an ideal playground. I still have the early photographs showing them stretched out on a hoard of papers and folders. The later pictures depict their puzzlement as the glass tabletop finally resurfaced and the papers receded. And there’s a final shot of the cats sitting wistful, but perhaps also slightly triumphant, on a table cleared of everything but a vase of flowers and a single copy of the printed book. I’m sure Leda and Perseus look forward to a sequel.

Eric Zeidler is Publications Coordinator at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Seldom Scene: Presidents at the DMA

In honor of Presidents’ Day we wanted to share a few images of U.S. Presidents that are in our collection.

George Washington, Rembrandt Peale, c. 1850

George Washington, Jean-Antoine Houdon, c. 1786

Lincoln, Boardman Robinson, 1937

The Washington Family, Edward Savage, c. 1780

Insomniac Tours: A History

Roslyn Walker, DMA curator, leading a Late Night tour.

Have you ever wondered what happens in the Dallas Museum of Art after the sun goes down? Do the paintings look different at night? Does the Museum have a different feel to it? Well, there’s one way to find out.

Late Nights at the Museum feature a variety of programs and activities, including the Insomniac Tour. The Insomniac Tours started informally in 2004, thanks to our Director, Bonnie Pitman, and her night-owl disposition. When the DMA turned 100 we stayed open for 31 hours, and Bonnie led tours into the wee hours of the morning for anyone who wanted a more personalized Museum tour. With the launch of Late Nights, the tours continued, and their name was coined.

Bonnie is not the only one who gives the Insomniac Tour, although she tries to attend as many Late Nights as possible. Other guest tour guides have included artists Krystal Read and Jim Lambie, DMA curators Heather MacDonald, Roslyn Walker, and Jeffrey Grove, and local art critics such as Christina Rees. When Director of Collections Management Gabriela Truly gives the tour, she talks about the art that’s not displayed, and where it is stored. These different speakers give visitors a chance to learn new things about the works of art through multiple perspectives.

The best part about Insomniac Tours is that no two tours are the same. The tour guide will take a poll every Late Night to see how many people have taken an Insomniac Tour before, and will ask for input on what members of the group want to see. If the group is full of newcomers, the tour guide will give a “best of” tour, highlighting some of the most unique parts of the DMA’s collections. Repeat visitors can get a tour of more obscure works, or focus on a certain exhibition or movement.

Since the DMA is such an expansive museum, it can be intimidating for visitors to know where to begin. Joining an Insomniac Tour allows visitors to receive a customized tour with some of the leading art experts. So check it out the next time you’re looking for something to do on a Friday night, and see how art can come alive after dark!

Join Olivier Meslay, Senior Curator of European and American Art and The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art, when he leads his first Insomniac Tour during the February Late Night.

Exit Through the (Stickley) Gift Shop

Take home a bit of Americana inspired by the age of Gustav Stickley in the exhibition store.   

 

Seldom Scene: Love Designed

A Date to the DMA:

The Center for Creative Connections invites you this spring to explore the Encountering Space exhibition with a fresh perspective inspired by designed spaces. Experience changes on view March 12 – September 30, 2011 throughout the Center including two additional works from our Decorative Arts collection shown below. Get involved and share your own photographs of designed spaces on Flickr, www.flickr.com/groups/dmadesigned.

Chair, Frank Lloyd Wright, 1956

Hall chair, c. 1850-1860

Late Nights With Family, Bring Everyone Together

Trying to find new things to do with the family on Friday night can be a challenge. That’s why we want to give you the inside scoop on family-friendly activities available at Late Nights at the DMA. Held the third Friday of each month, these are fun ways for you and your family to unleash your creative tendencies. Here are ten ways to help you plan a “great escape.”

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  1. Studio Creations: Studio Creations enables you to use different media, such as paint, pencil, sculpture, and fabric, to create works inspired by Museum exhibitions. Late Night creations combine research on existing art with creation of new art.
  2. Arturo’s Nest: Our 2- to 4-year-old visitors can explore the space around them while using blocks, puzzles, and games to develop spatial learning skills in a fun and creative environment.
  3. Yoga for Kids: Children are constantly surrounded by stresses and stimuli and need a healthy way of centering themselves. Yoga for Kids helps youngsters improve their body awareness and flexibility in a fun and relaxing environment.
  4. Bedtime Stories with Arturo: Kids can dress up in their pajamas and listen to bedtime stories with our award-winning storyteller, Ann Marie Newman.
  5. Space Bar: Tap into your family’s creativity and make works of art inspired by the Center for Creative Connections’ Encountering Space exhibition.
  6. Creativity Challenge: It’s a race against the clock! Design creative pieces inspired by works of art before the time runs out. The challenges require teammates to work together with limited resources, stretching their creativity and exercising their ingenuity.
  7. Film Screenings: Each Late Night, the Museum showcases various films inspired by different exhibitions and artworks.
  8. Performances: Every Late Night features various artists doing what they do best. From instructional programs to lectures in the Auditorium, a variety of performances are available for you to experience.
  9. Tours: Our Insomniac Tour showcases works of art from our collections and exhibitions, and is led by our in-house art experts. If you can’t hold out until 10:00 p.m., take a self-guided tour as a family with one of our bite-sized tours and discover the collections in a new way.
  10. Music: From classical to modern, music can be heard throughout the galleries and in the Atrium each Late Night, enhancing the experience of art lovers.

Each Late Night is full of activities and special events suitable for children and grown-ups of all ages. The theme for each Late Night changes from month to month, so each visit to the Museum features different familyexperiences. Check out the Late Night schedule on our website for more information on our upcoming activities.

Setting the Exhibition Stage: Gustav Stickley

Have you ever wished you could see what goes on behind closed doors at the Museum before an exhibition opens? Well, we want to bring you in on the action with a few scenes from the installation of the DMA-organized exhibition Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement, which opens this Sunday. If you can’t wait until the February 13 to see more, you are in luck! A FREE sneak peek of the exhibition begins at noon on Saturday.

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Dining Among Masterpieces

Art and good food? We have both at the Dallas Museum of Art. The Cafe at the DMA offers a simple, yet elegant menu with a unique setting.  We are sharing the secret with you about what makes the food and experience in the Cafe so special, and who better to tell us than the head chef himself?

Chef Brian has been our Executive Chef at the Cafe since late September.  He discovered his love for cooking at the age of 5, and since then has been working in great kitchens throughout North Texas.  Now, he creates food to complement the various exhibitions at the Museum.  Here’s our “behind-the-scenes” interview with him:

Uncrated: What are some of the dishes you’ve created inspired by art at the DMA?

Chef Brian: “This is one of my favorite parts of my job – when we have new exhibitions.  I not only get to learn about the works of art being featured in the exhibition, but I get to research the cuisine from the region that they come from.

The Mourners exhibition by far has been the most thrilling for me as a Chef.  We were charged with putting on a dinner inspired by Michelin-starred chefs from Dijon, France.  With the African Masks exhibition, I got to really dive into some South African, Gambian, and Northern African cuisine, to create some of my newest favorite things– – South African Honey Cake with Abuelita Pudding and White Chocolate Anglaise.  I make this treat at home for myself!”

Uncrated: What was your favorite exhibition?

Chef Brian:J.M.W. Turner .  The masterpieces that were shown brought such wonderment to my eyes.  That’s the one thing I love about art:  No matter how old or new the work may be, you never know how it can affect you in a positive way and lift your spirits when they need lifting.”

Uncrated: How does your team prepare for Late Nights at the DMA?

Chef Brian: “I think that Late Nights at the Museum is one of the best attractions in Dallas.  We take a look at what programs and activities are going to happen that night at the museum, and try to plan accordingly with the theme and feel that the DMA is going for.  We keep it simple, so that food can be enjoyed by everyone, from the little artist to the art lovers.”

Uncrated: What’s the best thing about having lunch at the Cafe at the DMA?

Chef Brian: “When I go to a restaurant, I’m looking for an experience.  Well, what better place to sit down and have a bite to eat than the DMA?  Besides being surrounded by priceless works of art, the menu is very bistro and friendly to almost every type of eater.  For me, to eat great classic food with fresh products surrounded by incredibleart is a win-win for all.”

Check out the Cafe menu online.


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