Archive for September, 2012

“Our State Fair is a Great State Fair”

Don’t Miss it; don’t even be late! Opening today, the State Fair of Texas inspired us to unearth a few gems from the collection.

Brian Cobble, “Drown a Clown,” 2011, pastel on paper, gift of Susan H. and Claude C. Albritton, III, © Brian Cobble

Squire Haskins Photo, Neg. No. N1377-3

Artist H. O. Kelly demonstrates painting in the Museum Court during the 1960 State Fair. An H. O. Kelly Retrospective was one of the Museum’s exhibitions for the 1960 Fair.

Bon Voyage to The Icebergs

Considered by some to be the DMA’s Mona Lisa, Frederic Edwin Church’s The Icebergs has been a destination icon for museum visitors ever since it was placed on display in 1979. Measuring slightly over 7 feet high and 11 feet wide in its frame, and weighing a cumbersome 425 pounds, it is the anchor of the American galleries in both a figurative and literal sense. Consequently, its presence is as keenly felt as its absence. Yet, there are times when a museum must make a sacrifice—albeit reluctantly–in the support of new art historical scholarship.

Frederic Edwin Church, “The Icebergs,” 1861, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Norma and Lamar Hunt, 1979.28

The Icebergs is to play a pivotal role in the presentation of the upcoming exhibition The Civil War and American Art, which will open at the Smuithsonian American Art Museum and travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Longtime members of the DMA will be pleased to know that this important exhibition has been organized by the DMA’s former curator of American Art Dr. Eleanor Jones Harvey, who has been with the Smithsonian American Art Museum since 2003. The exhibition will feature key works by America’s greatest artists of the era. These works channeled the conflicting emotions of a nation coming to grips with a reality that altered the very fabric of its identity and transformed its once unassailable optimism into dread for the unknown outcomes that lay ahead.

Frederic Edwin Church, “Cotopaxi,” 1862, oil on canvas, Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund, Gibbs-Williams Fund, Dexter M. Ferry Jr. Fund, Merrill Fund, Beatrice W. Rogers Fund, and Richard A. Manoogian Fund, Photo courtesy Detroit Institute of Arts

Key to charting the path from America’s loss of faith to its eventual hope of redemption will be four monumental landscapes by Frederic Church: The Icebergs, Cotopaxi, Aurora Borealis, and Rainy Season in the Tropics. The first two works have often been paired in a binary context of arctic and tropics, but, in this presentation, their multiple layers of meaning are to be revealed. In the case of The Icebergs, Church changed its title to The North for its debut just twelve days after the beginning of the war in 1861. He also donated all the ticket proceeds to the Union Red Cross. In his painting of the following year, Cotopaxi, Church depicted paradise rent asunder by the volcanic and explosive forces of nature as a symbolic reflection of the cleaving of a nation. A month before the end of the war, Church exhibited Aurora Borealis, wherein the darkness of the endless arctic winter echoed the weariness that dominated the American psyche. In Rainy Season in the Tropics, presented in 1866 after the close of the war, Church delivered the viewer—and a nation—from its trials and tribulations into a paradise redeemed by a nourishing rain and the promise of a double rainbow.

Frederic Edwin Church, “Aurora Borealis,” 1865, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Eleanor Blodgett, Photo courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

Frederic Edwin Church, “Rainy Season in the Tropics,” 1866, oil on canvas, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mildred Anna Williams Collection

For those wanting to bid a fond farewell to The Icebergs before its departure, please be sure to do so before mid-October, when it will be removed from view. If you would like to see the DMA’s masterpiece in the context of the exhibition, it will be at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., November 16, 2012–April 27, 2013, and then in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art May 21–September 2, 2013.

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

The Arts of Man turns 50

Fifty years ago, the Museum was installing the exhibition The Arts of Man (October 6, 1962-January 1, 1963). The exhibition was a major undertaking, including almost 500 objects and encompassing the entire museum. The exhibition attempted to “present in selective form representative art objects from all of the world’s major civilizations.” (The Arts of Man Press Release, 1962The Arts of Man was arranged chronologically, starting off with a facsimile of a segment of the paintings in the caves at Lascaux. The complex of caves, in southwestern France, are famous for their Paleolithic cave paintings, estimated to be over 17,000 years old.

Museum curator John Lunsford painted the Lascaux facsimile.

John Lunsford spoke about The Arts of Man and the Lascaux facsimile in an oral history conducted in 2002.

“The public response was overwhelmingly positive, and we may even have extended it a little bit—but obviously the bringing of it together was the big thing, and the entry piece was my reconstruction segment of the Lascaux cave paintings.  Barney [Delabano, exhibition designer] built the cave structure out of framing, canvas, and plaster.  And I got up on a scaffold… And I picked the famous long bull.  I’ll be immodest enough to say it wasn’t a bad facsimile.  It was very effective, and we kept it dimly lit—and it was the only ersatz thing in the whole show, everything else was real.”

Hillary Bober is the Digital Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Back Where It Started: Dallas Video Festival

Coming up in just ten short days, the Dallas Video Festival will launch its 25th Anniversary Festival here at the DMA. The festival will include screenings of feature-length works as well as shorts, animation, and other new media, “The Texas Show,” workshops, and more!

Recently, I spoke with Bart Weiss, DVF Artistic Director and all around “ video guy,” about the history of the festival.

So, the Video Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, back at its original home venue, the DMA. How did the Video Festival start and how did it happen to start at the DMA?

A dear and longtime friend of mine, John Held, Jr., was working on a program that was going to take place at the DMA called Video as a Creative Medium. It was a two-evening program; the first evening featured local video artists and the second evening featured video art from around the world, including works from Michael Smith and other up-and-coming video artists. It was a very successful program. Afterwards, I was chatting with John and Melissa Berry, the program manager at the DMA at the time, and just blurted out, “We should do this again next year, and for four days!” Thus the idea of the Video Festival was born.

I should also mention that on the first evening of the Video as a Creative Medium program, I met a lovely woman named Susan Teegarden, who is now my wife!

The Video Festival ran the first few years basically out of the DMA’s programming office and was not its own organization. Two of the founding board members of the official new organization, The Video Association of Dallas, were those very helpful and supportive DMA staffers–Melissa Berry and Sue Graze (the DMA’s contemporary art curator at the time).

What are a couple of your fondest memories of video festivals over the years?

Of course, I have many, many fond memories of past festivals, but one that really sticks out to me was one I could have never planned for. I cannot recall the exact year, but we had John Wylie Price participating in the festival. We were doing a program that included showing clips of the television show Amos ’n’ Andy. John was part of a conversation that debated whether this show was beneficial or damaging to the African American community since it often played upon stereotypes in the story lines.

We also had Steve Allen in town and he was going to be leading the program that was to follow Price’s. Allen attended Price’s program and instead of doing the schedule program, he ended up continuing the conversation with Price about how many communities–Jewish, African American, and others–often use humor to deal with the pain they experience as part of their history.

An absolutely incredible dialogue erupted and this moment is one that I think of often.

What can we expect at this year’s festival?

There are so many great things planned for this year’s festival–to pick out just a couple would be like looking down at your hands and deciding which finger on your hand was your favorite!

In general though, this year’s festival will feature many incredible Dallas filmmakers, who this year have made some of the greatest work of their lives. Some of these major local players whose work will be featured include (but are not limited to) Julia Dyer, Alan Govenar, Mark Birnbaum, and of course Allen and Cynthia Salzman Mondell, for whom we will hold a great tribute. All of this programming coming together so wonderfully is a statement to how important video art is, and doing the festival at the Museum makes it all the more powerful.

We hope to see you at the festival, September 27-30. For more details and to buy tickets and passes, visit the Dallas Video Festival’s website.

If you need further convincing to come check out the festival, here are a few pictures from Video Fests over the years.

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

Meet the 2012-2013 McDermott Interns

Each year we welcome a new group of McDermott interns working in the curatorial and education departments. The 2012-2013 group started at the beginning of the month and include Emily Brown, Emily Schiller, Alex Vargo, Andrea Lesovsky, Alec Unkovic, Hannah Fullgraf, Pilar Wong, and Danielle Schulz. You will hear from each of the interns on Uncrated throughout their nine months at the DMA. Learn more about the McDermott Internships on the DMA’s website; you can apply for your chance to be a 2013-2014 McDermott intern in January.

iMuseum: iCame, iSaw, iDid

Next week our September Late Night will be our “iMuseum 2.0” event, where visitors can use technology to explore the DMA and participate in new, interactive programs. You will be able to text a work of art with your questions, listen to the winner of our Be Our Main Stage Act contest, go on a Choose Your Own Adventure tour, have conversations with our curators in the galleries, go on our Twitter Treasure Hunts, and more!

Here are just a few of the new programs we will be offering on September 21:

Text a Work of Art
Do you sometimes wonder what a work of art is thinking or feeling? Well now you can find out when you text a work of art your question and get a response! There will be three works of art answering your questions throughout the night, including Cornelis Saftleven’s College of Animals, so start thinking of your questions.

Cornelis Saftleven, “College of Animals,” 1655, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation

Silent Soundtrack
Visitors will be able to check out a pair of headphones, provided by Austin Silent Disco, se -up with three different music channels. Each channel will have a soundtrack picked by DMA staff for a specific gallery. After you listen to our choices, we invite you to share your own ideas about the music you would choose to accompany a gallery or work of art.

Personal Tours
Check out a docent for a personal thirty-minute tour of two to three works in the DMA’s collection. Choose from themes like Love & Lust, Big & Small, Land & Sea, Work & Play, Secrets & Stories, Gods & Heroes, or Good & Bad. Docents will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

One of the works you will hear about on your personal tour.
Mask, Mexico, state of Veracruz, Rio Pesquero, Gulf Coast Olmec culture c. 900-500 B.C., jadeite, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene McDermott and The Eugene McDermott Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated

Art Trivia
Do you know how many paintings by Gerald Murphy are in the DMA’s collection? If so, participate on your own or bring a group of friends and play as a team, in our Art Trivia contest. There will be several rounds and the winners of each round will win great prizes!

Gerald Murphy, “Razor,” 1924, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the artist

Stacey Lizotte is Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Off the Wall: Joyfull

In our Center for Creative Connections we ask visitors to reflect on their responses to the spaces they encounter in art, as well as those they encounter in their everyday life.

For one work of art specifically, Lee Bontecou’s Untitled, we ask visitors to respond to one of three prompts:

  • To me, sharing space with this work of art feels like…
  • The words or pictures that come to mind when I look at this work of art are…
  • If this work of art was part of something larger, describe what it would be.

Untitled (35), Lee Bontecou, 1961

We have gotten a lot of great responses from visitors and want to share a few with you. Once a month we will have an “Off the Wall” post featuring three responses left by visitors.

Next time you are in the Center for Creative Connections add your contribution to the wall and maybe you will see it on Uncrated!


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