Archive for May, 2011

Bookends

We’ll host our 1st Annual BooksmART festival on Saturday June 11th from 11am to 5pm. General admission to the Museum will be FREE with a fun-packed day of events and activities celebrating literacy and the arts for the young and young-at-heart. Our  stellar lineup of authors, illustrators and performers include Rick Riordan, Laurie Halse Anderson, Norton Juster, Jerry Pinkney, David Wiesner and many more!

One of the authors that I am especially excited to hear  is Cynthia Leitich Smith, a New York Times bestselling and award-winning author whose fictionfor young readers  is noted for its diversity, humor, lyricism, imaginativeness, compelling action, and mid-to-southwestern settings. And I got the chance recently to ask her a few questions.

Q: Why did you decide on a career writing for children and young adults?

As a child and teen, I was an avid reader and writer. I read all of the Newbery winners and everything by Judy Blume. I transitioned to spooky stories during adolescence. Along the way, I also read graphic-format books (which we used to call “comics”).  In sixth grade, I had a column, “Dear Gabby” in Mr. Rideout’s classroom newsletter, offering advice to the troubled and lovelorn.

I went on to become editor of my junior high and high school newspapers. From there, I earned a journalism degree and law degree, working summers for small-town and major metro newspapers (including the Dallas Morning News) and in law offices.

As a first-generation college graduate, I was mindful of pursuing writing jobs with relative security to them. But in my late 20s, after the Oklahoma City Bombing, I was reminded that life can be short, unpredictable, and precious–that we should follow our dreams and do our best to uplift others. I could imagine no pursuit closer to my heart than books for young readers, and from that point on, I’ve dedicated myself to that end.

Q:  You are a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.  How has your Native American heritage and identity influenced your writing?

The quintessential advice we give to new voices is: write what you know. For me, that meant realistic stories of lower middle class, mixed blood Native American families from the mid-to-southwest. It meant stories of daily life and intergenerational relationships and military service and loss and healing.

My first book, Jingle Dancer  is about a young girl who assembles her jingle dance regalia with the aid of women of every generation of her intertribal community and then dances to honor them at a powwow. My debut novel for tweens, Rain is Not My Indian Name, is about a girl who, after the unexpected death of her best friend, slowly reconnects to the important people in her life through the lens of a camera. Indian Shoes is a collection of humorous, touching short stories for middle grade readers. They’re about young Ray and his Grandpa Halfmoon.

I’ve continued writing about Native characters and themes in my short stories. In 2012, I look forward to the publication of a companion short story to one by noted Abenaki author Joseph Bruchac, which will appear in Girl Meets Boy. Our tales are a fun pairing, about two Native teens–one who’s a tall, formidable basketball-star girl and one who’s a short, scrawny boy into martial arts. It’s a love story–naturally.

 

Q: You shifted your emphasis to fantasy for your book TANTALIZE, the first in a series.  What made you want to tackle the fantasy/gothic fiction genre?

I occasionally joke that I’m in the thrall of the master, by which I mean Abraham Stoker. I was fascinated by Dracula, especially with regard to the timelessness of its themes for teen (and grown-up) readers today. The classic touches on gender and power, orientation, the “dark other” (which back in the day meant Eastern European), plague, invasion, and more. All of those topics are still very much with us today, and looking at the vampire mythology itself….

Q: What has been one of your most meaningful interactions with one of your readers?
A handful of teenage girls have written to tell me that they have left their abusive boyfriends because of Quincie, the hero of the Tantalize series. A girl has written to say that she felt differently–better about herself–after having been assaulted by someone she’d trusted.

Other kids have written to say that Rain is Not My Indian Name helped them to cope with the loss of a loved one, and an aunt told me that her niece wouldn’t speak of a friend’s death until she could do so by using the novel as a reference point.

Most recently, I’m reminded of a boy–about age 14–who came up to me on my recent book tour. I was in New York City, and he approached me with a well-loved and quite tattered copy of Tantalize. He said it was the first book he’d ever finished. “The first book?” I asked, and he nodded solemnly. “The first book ever,” he emphasized. “All the way through.”

Q: What are you most excited about for the BooksmART festival?  Can an art museum add something to the traditional book festival?

I’m excited to connect with folks who have a global love of the arts–visual, literary, and beyond. They’re people of imagination and possibilities–kindred souls and the very kind of heroes that I love to write about.  Austin may be my home now, but Dallas will always be dear to me. See y’all soon.

Cynthia Leitich Smith will be presenting on her young adult fiction, including her latest novel, Blessed, in Horchow Auditorium. 

She will also present on her books for younger readers that explore Native themes and characters in the DMA’s exhibition Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection

Katie Hutton is Interim Head of Arts & Letters Live at the Dallas Museum of Art

Seldom Scene: A visit to the Windy City

Some of the Junior Associate members of the Dallas Museum of Art recently went on a trip to Chicago with Heather MacDonald, The Lillian and James H. Clark Assistant Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the DMA. Below are a few snapshots from their trip, including their visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. For more information on the Junior Associate level of membership click here.

How to Install a 27-Foot Sculpture

The installation of James Lee Byars’s Figure of Death was caught on camera last week in preparation for the exhibition, Silence and Time, which opens this Sunday, May 29, in the Barrel Vault and Quadrant Galleries.

James Lee Byars, The Figure of Death, 1986, basalt (ten pieces), Private Collection, Dallas, TX, © James Lee Byars

Video by Ted Forbes, Multimedia Producer at the Dallas Museum of Art

Seldom Scene: Moving 1.7 tons

Silence and Time opens on Sunday, but weeks ago we started moving in several heavy sculptures. Below are images of the journey Bojan Šarčević’s She (1.7 ton onyx sculpture) made to the Barrel Vault. Stay tuned for more updates.

Photography by Adam Gingrich, Marketing Assistant at the Dallas Museum of Art

Papered Walls

Sara Woodbury, McDermott Curatorial Intern for American and European Art, recently organized an installation of prints for the Works on Paper gallery on the Museum’s second floor. Cross Cultural Dialogues in European and American Landscapes features landscapes from the 19th and 20th centuries that demonstrate artistic influences occurring between Europe and America. The show also highlights different printmaking techniques. We’d like to explore a few of these methods here, and also share a behind-the-scenes look at how works on paper are stored and cared for at the Museum. All of the prints you’ll see here are included in the installation, so be sure to check them out in person next time you visit the DMA.

Printmaking Techniques

Artists use a variety of printing techniques, but we’ll highlight just three methods here: woodcuts, etching, and lithography.

Lyonel Feininger, Mansion on the Beach (Villa am Strand), 1921, woodcut

Woodcuts are recognized by their linear quality, reflecting the laborious process required to make them. An artist draws onto a block of wood, and then all of the wood surrounding the drawing is carved away, turning the design into a three-dimensional relief. These raised lines are coated with ink, and the block is pressed to a piece of paper, printing the image. The oldest known printing method, the woodcut developed in Europe around 1400. It became less popular as easier printing techniques emerged, but many 20th-century artists embraced the medium’s bold, linear character.

Charles Emile Jacque, A Corner of the Forest of Fontainbleau, n.d. (mid to late 19th-century), etching

Another interesting technique is etching, which is similar to drawing. To make an etching, an artist draws with a tool called an etching needle onto a metal plate that has been coated in wax. Next, the plate is submerged in an acid bath, which corrodes, or “bites” into the exposed metal lines, leaving the wax-covered areas unaffected. The plate is then rinsed, covered with ink, and wiped down. The ink remains in the grooves of the etched lines, and the plate is ready for printing. Etching first appeared in the 16th century and became especially popular during the 17th century. It also experienced a resurgence in popularity during the late 19th century, a period that has become known as the Etching Revival.

John Rogers Cox, Wheat Shocks, 1951, Lithograph

One of the most important printing techniques in 20th-century art is lithography. An artist draws onto a stone or metal plate with a special greasy crayon. The stone is treated with acid, and then covered with ink and rinsed with water. The ink sticks to the greasy crayon, but washes off everywhere else. A piece of paper is pressed to the stone to print the image.

Lithography was invented in 1798 by Alois Senefelder and was initially used for commercial images. By the late 19th century, however, artists had begun exploring lithography’s creative possibilities. Lithography accommodates a wide range of styles, making it an ideal medium for the stylistic variety that characterizes 20th-century art.

Behind-the-Scenes with Registrar Anne Lenhart

Did you know that works on paper–including prints, drawings, photographs, and other types of work–are  stored and cared for differently than paintings and sculptures? Works on paper are sensitive to various conditions and must be handled with special care and attention. We asked Anne Lenhart, Assistant Registrar, to share insight into how the Museum stores and handles its large collection of works on paper.

What DMA department is responsible for handling prints?

Anne: The care and handling of prints is a shared responsibility between the curators, registrars, conservators, and preparators. The curators are responsible for choosing the works on paper for installations and exhibitions. Once the works on paper are chosen, the registrars, conservators, and preparators are responsible for making sure the prints are in good condition and ready for installation.

Where are the prints stored in the Museum? How are they stored?

Anne:  All of our objects are stored in secured art storage spaces. These areas, which have limited staff access and are monitored twenty-four hours a day, have a consistent temperature of 70° Fahrenheit (+/- 2°) and 50% (+/- 5%) relative humidity. Because paper is susceptible to even small changes in humidity (think about what happens to a sheet of paper when it contacts a drop of water), we try to be especially vigilant in terms of how we store our paper collection.

These numbers are considered guidelines for very stable pieces, such as those created with carbon-based ink applied to a good quality rag paper. Objects that are less stable—where the pigment and the materials are of lower or unknown quality or in the case of color photographs (especially Polaroids)—are exhibited for shorter periods of time.

A display table in the Print and Textiles Study Room, where the Museum’s works on paper are kept.

Many of the Museum’s unframed prints are stored in Solander boxes, such as this one.

How long can prints stay mounted in the galleries?

Anne:  The general rule for exposure of works on paper is one to three months, and we try to keep the maximum period of time any work on paper is on view to less than six months. After a work comes down, we usually do not reinstall it for eighteen months so that it can “rest.”

Cross Cultural Dialogues in European and American Landscapes is on view now, and we hope to see you soon at the Museum.

Sara Woodbury is the McDermott Curatorial Intern for American and European Art, and Karen A. Colbert is the McDermott Education Intern for Teaching Programs.

Seldom Scene: Meaningful Moments

Meaningful Moments is our monthly Access Program for individuals with early stage dementia and their family members or caregivers. Here are some images from last month’s program. For information on the May 17th Meaningful Moment and other Access Programs at the DMA visit our Access Programs page on the DMA’s web site.

Like a Rolling Stone

The 28th season of Jazz Under the Stars will kick off tomorrow and we are all very excited about this year’s lineup. A full schedule and brief details on each of the groups can be found on our concerts page. I recently had the chance to chat with Tim Ries, saxophone player and featured artist for the June 9 Jazz Under the Stars concert. I was excited to get to ask him a few questions about his background as an artist, his time with the Rolling Stones, and The Rolling Stones Project. Watch a video of Tim performing his arrangement of Satisfaction from The Rolling Stones Project.

Q: What made you first get into jazz, and music in general?

My dad played the trumpet and had a band, although it was not his full-time job. I grew up in Detroit, so he also took me to all the concerts that toured through the area. I got to see all the famous big bands when they were on tour, like Woody Herman Band, Maynard Ferguson, Count Basie, and the Ellington Band. Then of course my dad also had all the jazz greats playing at home too, like Louis Armstrong.

My sisters were all into the Beatles and Rolling Stones so I heard that a lot growing up too, which is great since now I play with the Stones.

Q: So, what was your “career path” as an artist?

When all the Motown bands left the Detroit area for California in the early to mid 70s, many of the “sidemen” stayed in the area. I had the chance to play with these guys from a very young age. That was really great. Then I went to the University of North Texas for my undergrad and got my masters from the University of Michigan. And I am actually working on my DMA at the Manhattan School of Music right now. From 1983 to 86 I was in the Maynard Ferguson band, so I guess that would be considered my first “touring gig.”

After that, I moved to New York, where I have lived since. I play a lot in the city and travel all around to play with many people and many different types of music. I have had the chance to work with lots of great musicians, including Donald Bird, Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson.

Q: When did you start working with the Rolling Stones and how did you get this gig?

I started touring with the Rolling Stones in 1999. I had worked with their trombone player, Mike Davis, before and the saxophone spot opened up so he called me. They needed someone who could play saxophone as well as keyboard and organ and I could do it. So it really was a matter of who you know, being in the right place at the right time, and being a versatile and well-rounded musician.

Q: What is your favorite concert, or road experience?

Well, two things come to mind…

Many years ago I was booked on a recording session with Elvin Jones, who is my favorite jazz drummer of all time. I was very excited to be part of this session. Then on the same evening of the Jones session, I was booked to play a Stevie Wonder concert. Stevie is my favorite singer. Talk about an exciting day!

The second one was a Stones gig in Rio, on the Copa Cabana Beach, where we played for 1.5 to 2 million people. The concert promoter could not give an exact count because of the huge size of the crowd! They had to build a bridge over the road to the stage–over all the people–simply so the band could get to the stage to play the show. The “awesome factor” of that many people is almost indescribable.

Q: What inspired “The Rolling Stones Project” and the follow-up album, “Stone World”?

I had been wanting to do a “jazz album” of current popular music for awhile. I wanted to do something totally new and not just new arrangements of the same old standards from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Having been with the Stones for several years by then, I thought, “why not do this project with their tunes as ‘modern day’ standards?” Charlie Watts got into the project first and was going to be the guest drummer on a couple of tracks. Then Keith Richards got in on a few tracks, and by the time the first album was finished, we had over twenty-five guest artists on it. The second album ended up with seventy-five guests, including all the original Stones members again, as well as an overall all-star lineup.

Q: What new projects are on the horizon for you?

I will have two new CDs coming out this year. The first one that will be released was actually recorded in between the time of The Rolling Stones Project and Stone World. The second is a live CD recorded more recently in a New York club called Smalls. It features John Patitucci, Chris Potter, Billy Drummond, and Kalman Olah.

I also have many recordings and video footage of additional Stones songs done in big band arrangements that I would like to release sometime in the near future as well.

Mostly, in my own projects, I don’t want to be classified as only a jazz artist. I want to do projects where I have a chance to make great music with all the great musicians that I have had the honor to work and play with over the years.

Don’t miss your chance to see Tim Ries and The Rolling Stones Project featuring Bernard Fowler on Thursday, June 9!

Denise Helbing is Manager of Partner Programs at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Seldom Scene: Something Beautiful

Through the Eyes of Our Children – Something Beautiful opened yesterday on the Museum’s M2 level. The exhibition showcases the work of more than seventy students from several elementary schools in the South Dallas–Fair Park area of the Dallas Independent School District. We wanted to share some photos of the installation and inspire you to find something beautiful of your own.

Photography by Adam Gingrich, Marketing Assistant at the Dallas Museum of Art

Our #1 DMA Moms

#1 Mom mugs, construction paper cards, misshapen clay bowls, homemade jewelry—many moms probably have an entire stash of Mother’s Day gifts they have received over the years from their children. When I’m working with preschool children in the studio, one comment I hear over and over again is “this is for my mom!” For kids, there’s just something about creating artwork they’re proud of and wanting to give it to mom. In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I’d check in with some of our kid experts to find out what they think about celebrating mom.

Kris and kids 2008

Kris and kids 2011

Jeb, Gareth, and Ruthie have been coming to the museum for parent-child classes since Ruthie was a baby strapped to her mom’s back. When asked where their mom Kris’ favorite spot in the museum was, Jeb said “probably the studio.” Ruthie loves her mom because “she reads some books to me some time” and Gareth’s favorite thing to do with mom is “tea time.” Kris’ favorite work of art recently on display at the museum is Janine Antoni’s Lick and Lather. We’ve watched Kris’ kids grow up at the Dallas Museum of Art, and it’s a delight to see how well this family knows the museum and the collection.

Miller and Andrea 2009

Miller and Andrea 2011

Five year old Miller says that his mom likes coming to the museum to see “the art stuff.” (When we checked in with Andrea, she clarified that her favorite spot is the Reves collection.) Miller informed us that “the things she likes to do—she likes to play Chutes & Ladders. She’s really good at a lot of sports.” When Miller started attending our Arturo’s Art & Me class as a three year old, he was shy and quiet and only wanted to sit with his mom. Now he’s one of the first to answer a question or share an observation and quick to volunteer when we need helpers!

Arwen and Kayte 2009

Arwen and Kayte 2011

Arwen and mom Kayte have also been attending our art classes for several years. After one class about birds, Arwen went home and created an entire clay aviary display for her bedroom. She thinks mom’s favorite work of art is “the furniture,” but Kayte claims it is Robert Raushenberg’s Skyway. On a recent trip to Paris, Arwen was so museum-savvy, she didn’t have any trouble visiting the art museums and making herself right at home with her sketchbook.

These are just a few of the fabulous moms who regularly visit the Museum and have become a part of our museum family. Treat your mom to a day at the museum this Mother’s Day! You can enjoy a Mother’s Day brunch in the Atrium, create art to wear in the Studio, and spot a few of the famous moms hanging out in the galleries (like Henry Ossawa Tanner’s painting pictured below).

Henry Ossawa Tanner, "Christ and His Mother Studying the Scriptures", c. 1909, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Deaccession Funds

Leah Hanson is Manager of Early Learning

Autism Awareness at the DMA: A Father’s Perspective

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Four times a year we host an Autism Awareness Family Celebration at the Museum for children with autism and their families. Families have fun together at this special event in the Museum’s Center for Creative Connections for two hours before the Museum opens to the public.

In April, we recognized Autism Awareness month with an April 2 Autism Awareness Family Celebration in collaboration with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The morning event focused on music as Jaap van Zweden, Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and his wife, Aaltje van Zweden-van Buuren joined us. A Dallas Symphony Orchestra string quintet performed, and Jaap van Zweden talked about movement as he waved a colorful streamer in the air along with children. Aaltje van Zweden-van Buuren shared a compelling story about her family’s experience using music therapy with her son, an individual with autism.

I had the joy of talking with an enthusiastic and involved father at our recent event; Denny Singh is clearly his son’s number one fan.

Denny and Sohan

What three words would you use to describe your family?
After my son’s diagnosis:  strongER, as in “what doesn’t kill you makes you . . . “; closER, as in redefining the word “love” and spending more time together; and MORE appreciative of what many take for granted, like our son playing with a friend.

What types of activities does your family enjoy together?
Shopping while letting my son take photos of stores (his current obsession), visiting museums and the aquarium and zoo, going to water parks, and hanging out with his beloved cousins.

What is unique about your son?
His quirky, outgoing personality (e.g., asking people about their rings and jewelry), his grasp of technology and working a smartphone better than his parents, his empathy and ability to care, and his effort to overcome challenges and inspire us to be better people while guiding us on this unexpected journey.

What do you like most about the Autism Awareness Family Celebrations? 
To borrow from a Visa commercial:
Admission to the Autism Awareness Family Celebrations: Free
Additional expenses like supplies for crafts and fun activities: Free
Creating a safe environment where families and their children are welcomed, supported, and valued: PRICELESS

Have the events changed your perception about visiting an art museum with your family?
The events have empowered our family to be more involved in the community and not be afraid of activities or environments because of autism. And just as important as the event are the tickets given to families for a follow-up visit to the DMA any other day like any other family.

The most recent Autism Awareness Family Celebration was focused on music. What is the role of music in your family? 
Music plays an important role in our family, especially for our son. He loves music and all instruments, which he knows by heart (confusing a clarinet with a bass clarinet is a no-no!). While riding in the car, he asks to listen to a specific CD over and over again. Other parents tell me this isn’t just an autism thing, although his memorizing eighteen songs by number is! For those with autism, music has been shown to teach language and improve overall functioning.

Sohan and his family meet Jaap van Zweden

Do you have any advice about visiting museums for other parents who have a child with autism?
JUST GO!!! Regardless of your child’s “level of functioning,” he or she deserves the opportunity to experience the beauty and culture of the arts. As communities become more inclusive and welcoming, it is our duty as parents to take our children out into them. Take it slow at first to make a visit a positive experience for all. Most of all, remember, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

I eagerly look forward to seeing you at the next Autism Awareness Family Celebration at the DMA!

Denny, Su Chen, and Sohan with Jaap van Zweden

Amanda Blake is Manager of Family Experiences and Access Programs.


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