Archive for December, 2013

A Year of Launches, Anniversaries, and Free at the DMA

The year 2013 has been an exciting one at the DMA. We’ve welcomed more than 540,000 visitors, launched new programs, and hosted 11 exhibitions. Below are a few of the Uncrated team’s favorite highlights from the past year.

      • Going free!
        We returned to free general admission on January 21 and have loved every minute of opening our doors for free to the North Texas community.
      • Getting more than 41,000 new friends
        In January we launched DMA Friends, the first free museum membership program, and our new friends have been earning points on their visits and redeeming them for unique rewards for almost 12 months!
      • DMA sleepover
        Speaking of unique rewards, we hosted our first DMA Overnight in November. Ten DMA Friends redeemed 100,000 points to spend the night at the Museum with a guest while exploring the galleries after hours, participating in new DMA games and sleeping under the watchful eyes of Tlaloc.
        Overnight Guests
      • C3 got a facelift
        Come by and see new works of art and activities for all ages in the front gallery of the Center for Creative Connections on Level 1.
      • A sky of denim
        The DMA co-organized exhibition Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take (on view through January 12!) is full of beautiful and interesting works of art, but we had the privilege of being the first venue to ever show his denim work Untitled (one day it all comes true). It was amazing getting to witness Jim Hodges viewing his completed work on display for the first time.
        hodges
      • Happy Anniversary!
        This was the year of anniversaries here at the DMA, including the 110th birthday of the DMA, the 80th anniversary of the Dallas Free Public Art Gallery becoming the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, the 50th anniversary of the merger of the DMFA and DMCA, the 30th anniversary of the DMA Sculpture Garden opening, the 20th anniversary of the Hamon Building opening (which includes Level 4 and the Atrium), Arturo’s 10th birthday, and the 5th anniversary of C3.
      • From Greece to Dallas
        We had a year of amazing exhibitions, from a celebration of President Kennedy in Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy to the colorful world of Chagall’s sculptures, drawings and costumes in Chagall:Beyond Color, from the famous Discus Thrower from the British Museum in The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece to welcoming the local art community in DallasSITES: Available Space.
      • Art/Arte
        This fall we launched our first-ever bilingual (Spanish and English) guide for visitors, written by members of the Dallas community through a partnership program with AVANCE-Dallas and Make Art With Purpose. Pick one up at the Visitor Services Desk on your next visit.
      • Texas hops and barley
        This summer we had a Texas beer social for Museum staff and sampled brews that come from the Lone Star State. Uncrated team member Melissa Nelson Gonzales out- sipped the competition and won the beer tasting contest!
        beer
      • Eyes of the  Ancestors
        In June we celebrated the publication of our catalogue Eyes of the Ancestors: The Arts of Island Southeast Asia at the Dallas Museum of Art and welcomed special guest Dhalang Purbo Asmoro, who hosted a public gamelan and wayang performance with musicians from Java, Bali and New York. This month, the book was named the winner of the 2013 International Tribal Art Book Prize.
        Indonesian_Celebration_Wayang_Performance_2013_047
      • Creative rest stop
        We launched a new program this year, the Pop-Up Art Spot, taking C3 into the galleries and inviting visitors to enjoy a creative break while exploring the Museum. Over 12,000 visitors of all ages have participated in drawing, writing and other creative activities!
      • New digs
        In 2013 a portion of the south end of the building was under renovation for the new DMA Paintings Conservation Studio (watch the transition here). Visitors can see into the DMA’s Conservation Studio and explore the conservation process in the adjacent gallery for free during Museum hours. A recent conservation project, Daniel Buren’s Sanction of the Museum, hangs in the Concourse and leads the way to the studio.
        conservationburen
      • A Texas-size howdy!
        Our Visitor Services Team, which greets every guest of the DMA when they walk through our doors or visit the galleries, also got a makeover. You may have noticed their friendly smiles and new outfits during your visits this year.
        GA

Thank you for helping us make 2013 a great year. We wish you a very happy new year!

Kimberly Daniell is the manager of communications and public affairs at the DMA.

Festive Artworks

From twinkle lights and tinsel to plastic mistletoe and inflatable snowmen, decorations abound during the holiday season. But at the DMA, our walls are “decorated” the entire year, so we poked through the Museum’s collection for particularly festive artworks that would make unique holiday deco. Here’s what we found:

Instead of felted reindeer and fake snow atop your dining room table, how about incorporating Erik Swenson’s tableau of fantastical cold-weather creatures? The one in the sweater would make for interesting dinner conversation.

Erick Swenson, Untitled, 1998, styrofoam, resin, wool, foam, epoxy, clay, and paint, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mark Babcock

Erick Swenson, Untitled, 1998, styrofoam, resin, wool, foam, epoxy, clay, and paint, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mark Babcock

I would happily exchange the star atop my tree for this Indonesian standing guardian figure (tepaung). Unlike my star, this figure is capable of warding off evil spirits.

Standing figure, c. 1300-1800, Indonesia, East Kalimantan, Mahakam River Region, Belayan River, Kenyah-Kayan Complex, possibly Bahau or Bahau-related people, ironwood, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

Standing guardian figure, c. 1300-1800, Indonesia, East Kalimantan, Mahakam River Region, Belayan River, Kenyah-Kayan Complex, possibly Bahau or Bahau-related people, ironwood, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

Trade in your tangled ball of twinkle lights for Bruce Nauman’s neon letters.

Bruce Nauman, Perfect Door/Perfect Odor/Perfect Rodo, 1972, white glass tubing, clear glass tubing, and suspension frames, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund, The 500, Inc., Dorace M. Fichtenbaum, Deedie and Rusty Rose, an anonymous donor, the Friends of Contemporary Art and a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in honor of Sue Graze

Bruce Nauman, Perfect Door/Perfect Odor/Perfect Rodo, 1972, white glass tubing, clear glass tubing, and suspension frames, Dallas Museum of Art, General Acquisitions Fund, The 500, Inc., Dorace M. Fichtenbaum, Deedie and Rusty Rose, an anonymous donor, the Friends of Contemporary Art and a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in honor of Sue Graze

These ancient Peruvian beakers, which may have been used to serve a corn beer called chichi, would be a lovely table setting for any holiday dinner party. Please pass the chicha!

Group of beakers, AD 900-1100, Peru, North Coast, La Leche Valley, Batan Grande Region, Sican culture, Gold, Dallas Museum of Art, The Nora and John Wise Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon, the Eugene McDermott Family, Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Murchison

Group of beakers, A.D. 900-1100, Peru, North Coast, La Leche Valley, Batan Grande Region, Sican culture, gold, Dallas Museum of Art, The Nora and John Wise Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon, the Eugene McDermott Family, Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, and Mr. and Mrs. John D. Murchison

To create this sculpture, Annette Lawrence tore junk mail into strips of equal width. Who needs handmade chains of paper strips when you could decorate your hearth with this?

Annette Lawrence, Free Paper 12 / 05, 2006-2008, mixed media, Dallas Museum of Art, Charron and Peter Denker Contemporary Texas Art Fund

Annette Lawrence, Free Paper 12 / 05, 2006-08, mixed media, Dallas Museum of Art, Charron and Peter Denker Contemporary Texas Art Fund

Andrea Severin Goins is the interpretation specialist at the DMA.

Our Living Christmas Tree

Last week, we introduced you to Russell Sublette, mountmaker extraordinaire, who is usually happy to be the invisible hand behind the displays at the Museum. But once a year, during the holiday season, he comes out from behind the scenes to become the “Living Christmas Tree.” He adorns himself with garlands, lights, and decorations, and then recruits helper elves (oftentimes unsuspecting McDermott Interns) to carol and spread holiday cheer throughout the DMA.

The tradition started in 1989, when one of the DMA registrars was upset that she had forgotten a Christmas tree to decorate the office. Sublette wanted to cheer her up, so he said, “How about I become a tree?” Since then, the annual event sees co-workers pushing him on a flat cart, toting armloads of cords for the lights and music, around the office hallways, spreading holiday cheer.

“Whenever I do it, I picture myself as Charlie Brown,” Sublette says.

Below is a video of 2013′s “Living Christmas Tree” roaming the DMA halls.


Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Reagan Duplisea is associate registrar of exhibitions at the DMA.

ARTifacts: DMA Director’s Debut

Did you know that a former Museum director was also an amateur thespian?

Lloyd LaPage Rollins was the director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts from 1934 to 1935. During his brief tenure at the DMFA, he performed the role of Maxwell Davenport in The Late Christopher Bean at the Dallas Little Theater in February 1935.

Lloyd LaPage Rollins, ("Lloyd LePage Rollins, Californian, To Become Director of Dallas Museum," Dallas Morning News, October 13, 1934"

Lloyd LaPage Rollins, “Lloyd LaPage Rollins, Californian, To Become Director of Dallas Museum,” Dallas Morning News, October 13, 1934

The Late Christopher Bean, adapted by Sidney Howard, is a comedy about a family that inherits the paintings of neglected artist Christopher Bean, which are now well respected and valuable, and are visited by three art connoisseurs/dealers. Maxwell Davenport, played by Rollins, is the true art connoisseur, concerned that the works are preserved and given their proper place in art history, while the other two are interested only in their own profit.

It is a fitting role for a museum director. In fact, the play’s director, Charles Meredith, reportedly told Rollins that “he would only have to be himself” to get him to agree to the role. (“Notes on the Passing Show,” Dallas Morning News, January 22, 1935, p. 2)

Unfortunately, it seems he was likely a better art historian than actor. A review of the play by John Rosenfield Jr. gives Rollins’ performance a passable grade, stating, “Mr. Rollins read his lines sensitively and missed a few effects—he will miss fewer as nervousness wears off.” (“Sidney Howard’s Intelligent and Amusing Comedy is Given,” Dallas Morning News, February 12, 1935, p. 2)

Bonus Fact: Rollins thwarted his attempted holdup while walking to rehearsal. As Rollins passed the would-be robber, the robber suddenly produced a pistol and ordered “Stick ‘em up.” Rollins instead punched the robber with a right to the chin, and ran the rest of the way to the theater. (“Fine Arts Director Swings Hard, Saves Purse from Robber,” Dallas Morning News, January 29, 1935, p. 1)

Hillary Bober is the digital archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

The Man Behind the Mounts

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Over the past 23 years, visitors to the DMA have witnessed the handiwork of preparator and resident mountmaker Russell Sublette without actually seeing it: the lid of an African box seems to lift as if pulled by an unseen hand, the Tiffany windows emanate a ghostly glow from within the wall into which they are built, odd-shaped objects stand straight and tall in their cases. He has made a Yoruba Egungun costume twirl and dance in the galleries, and created a mannequin support for an equestrian Madonna to ride.

Window with Starfish ("Spring") and Window with Sea Anemone ("Summer"), c. 1885-1895, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, glass, lead, iron, and wooden frame (original), Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

Window with Starfish (“Spring”) and Window with Sea Anemone (“Summer”), c. 1885-95, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, glass, lead, iron, and wooden frame (original), Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

“The point of the mount is to let the object speak without the mount being the center of attention,” Sublette says. “The best compliment you can give a mountmaker is ‘What a great object.’”

A 35-year veteran of the Museum, Sublette began his journey to become the DMA’s expert mountmaker in high school metal shop class. He still has a dust pan he made in 1972. After working for several years as a general art handler at the DMA, he focused his attention on making mounts with the Gold of Three Continents exhibition in 1990. A training course at Benchmark, a national company that supplies mounts and supports for museums across the country, provided him with a solid foundation and advice that he still carries with him to this day.

Sublette’s most recent handiwork can be seen (if you look closely enough) in the Behind the Scenes installation in the DMA’s new Paintings Conservation Gallery. Unframed canvases seem to float in their cases and provide visitors the opportunity to learn about painting support systems. The mount for William Henry Huddle’s Marble Falls was his favorite because it was the most challenging. Much time and effort were needed to thread the gravity clip and a triangular brace made to provide a strong structural gusset so the painting does not wobble.

Drawing 1
Image
Image

The Huddle is indicative of Sublette’s process and approach to mountmaking: First he has to figure out the “key to the object”–how to mount the artwork securely in four points or less. Then he asks himself, “How do I make this mount as discrete as possible, invisible if I can?” Sublette achieves this unobtrusive subtlety by becoming an “amateur engineer” and figuring out how thin a piece of metal can be and still hold the weight of the piece securely. Thin pieces of metal can hold a lot of weight of they are bent, twisted and machined to strengthen and make them more rigid. Sublette says that mountmakers are “artists in service of art.” This particular artist’s preferred medium is brass: it’s cheaper than steel, very malleable, needs only a small oxygen tank, and produces no soot.

Sublette says he enjoys the mountmaking aspect of his job because it takes 100% engagement and allows for close contact with the art. He admits to revisiting an object 100-150 times before its mount is complete, measuring and re-measuring, memorizing each line and contour. “It’s important to take the mount to the piece and not the piece to the mount. You shouldn’t have to force a piece into an acrobatic dance to fit the mount. I’m anal as hell. But now I’m using it for the forces of good.”

Sublette also made the shell surround mounts for the pedestals for the double-sided works in the conservation gallery, including Ernst Kirchner’s Four Wooden Sculptures (recto)/ Ice Skater (verso) and Emile Bernard’s Breton Women Attending a Pardon (recto)/Unfinished Sketch (verso). A far cry from the dust pans of yore.

Drawing 2 Drawing 3 Drawing 4

Reagan Duplisea is associate registrar of exhibitions at the DMA.

Digging Deep

The DMA recently welcomed Dr. Kimberly L. Jones as the new Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Assistant Curator of the Americas. Uncrated caught up with Dr. Jones to find out more about her job and what’s caught her eye as she explored our galleries.

kimberlyjones

Describe your job as a curator:
For me, being a curator provides the best of all worlds. At the most basic, it entails being in the presence of amazing human achievements on a daily basis. It generally involves engrossing research on such objects, their artisans, and the cultural context in which the materials were created. It means staying informed about ongoing fieldwork and investigations that ever amplify our knowledge of these cultures. As a curator, I have the opportunity to share such fascinating insights with a broad range of people who visit a museum specifically to appreciate and learn about such hallmarks of human ingenuity. Above all else, I see my role as foremost to honor the amazing cultures of our past and present and to instill in others (hopefully) a bit of my passion and enthusiasm for their diverse conceptions and visual manifestations of the world around us.

What might an average day involve?
An average day so far usually includes juggling a few projects, from more immediate to longer-term. It entails basic catalog revisions, research on the collection, e-mails with colleagues and staff, planning for publications and exhibitions, etc.

How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges?
The best part of my job is sharing the collections and their cultural contexts with others, in any format, from tours to research inquiries to publications. That people become aware of the rich diversity of populations, practices, beliefs, and artworks throughout the Americas is the most inspiring aspect of my role. The biggest challenges (yet perhaps most fruitful exchanges) may come through the developing nature of collections and exhibitions in ancient American art, as museums engage actively in the modern global community and seek growing collaboration among individuals, institutions, and nations.

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum?
Prior to the teenage years, I was pretty well geared toward work in archaeology, as my childhood digging in the backyard clay would attest. For graduate studies, I returned to this natural inclination, doing fieldwork for the past ten years in northern Peru. When my graduate advisor predicted a museum curatorial role for me, I dismissed him at the time, unwilling to relinquish my joy of being in the dirt. But I must admit that it is because of my work in archaeology that I feel so dedicated now to work in a museum, to have the opportunity to do best by the material achievements of these past peoples. The objects themselves remain (especially in societies without recognized writing) a crucial primary testament to ancient cultural beliefs, rituals, practices, concepts, materials, and techniques. The global community—individuals and institutions alike—would only benefit from ever-growing collaboration and commitment to ensure the long-standing preservation and public appreciation of such diverse and treasured heritage.

Do you have a favorite work in the DMA’s collection yet?
As any person who works at this institution would likely say, I cannot name one favorite but rather many that provoke that full-body smile. Emma-O in the Asian Galleries is captivating; I am struck always by the Jazz vase in the Decorative Arts Galleries; Shiva Nataraja in the South Asian Galleries harmonizes meaning and form; the cabinet in the Colonial Americas Gallery is an impressive testament to colonial trade; and the sword (telogu) with sheath from Indonesia is just plain fabulous.

As for my area of the Americas, I could not begin to share how many I cherish as masterworks of their respective cultures, exemplifying at times the technical skill and, at others, the creativity of the artisan. As a museum aims to provide for everyone, the more you know of an object—any artwork—often the more fascinating and engaging it becomes. I hope that through tours, gallery talks, invited lectures, and exhibitions, I will get to share my various “favorites” from the Arts of the Americas collection with an avid, interested community.

What are you looking forward to in your future here at the DMA?
Everything!

Dynamic Duo

Tomorrow, artist Stephen Lapthisophon, featured in the current Concentrations 56 exhibition at the DMA, will join his lifelong friend actor John Judd for a conversation about the creative process. Get to know these best friends before Thursday’s event:

John Judd and Stephen Lapthisophon, 1978

John Judd and Stephen Lapthisophon, 1978

Do you involve each other in your creative processes?
SL: John and I speak frequently now about our influences, the creative process and the various ways that we feel our work reflects the time in which we live. There is no direct integration of his work in mine—rather, it is an implied dialogue—constant, permanent and generous.
JJ: It’s impossible to estimate the degree to which Stephen influences my work. My relationship with Stephen is almost like one of family in that even though we’ve ended up pursuing different avenues in the arts, and are no longer collaborators, we shared formative creative experiences, and we were almost constant companions for many years. Stephen is always in there somewhere.

What is one piece/work of art of the other’s that you most enjoy or inspires you?
SL: I have seen him perform many times but perhaps my favorite piece I have seen him in is Austin Pendleton’s Orson’s Shadow, where he played Laurence Olivier.
JJ: I can see his hand in this simple small piece [below] as indelibly as I do in his current work. It represents something essentially Stephen—a quality that remains and has always been present in his best work.

Stephen Lapthisophon, House, 1977, paint on wood,

Stephen Lapthisophon, House, 1977, paint on wood, courtesy of the artist, photo: John Judd

How has your friendship evolved over 40 years?
SL: I met John Judd walking into my first art class as an undergraduate at UT Austin in 1974. We have known each other and trusted each other’s work since then.
JJ: From our first conversation there has existed an unspoken agreement—that we will confront this world as allies. We are like-minded and determined to take what we were given and make more of it. To leave some marks behind. We have lived our lives in very close proximity and miles apart, we have at times collaborated and pursued separate endeavors, we’ve had individual triumphs and defeats, have even exceeded each other’s expectations, but we have always been able to pick up a phone or sit down together and resume the conversation.

For more insight, stories and discussion, join us tomorrow night, December 5, at 7.30 p.m.!
photo
Liz Menz is the manager of adult programming at the DMA

World AIDS Day

Yesterday, we observed the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day with a screening of Untitled, a film by Jim Hodges, Encke King, and Carlos Marques da Cruz.

Untitled

Untitled begins with a reflection on the early AIDS epidemic. Following a nonlinear narrative, the film brings together mainstream network news, activist footage, artists’ works, and popular entertainment, referencing regimes of power that precipitated a generation of AIDS and queer activism, and continues today with international struggles for freedom and expression. If you missed yesterday’s screening, don’t worry! We will show Untitled again on January 11 at 1:00 p.m. And don’t miss the DMA-organized exhibition Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take, on view at the DMA through January 12.
Jim Hodges installation_DMA_photo credit Courtesy of Dallas Museum of Art_04 - Copy

Meg Smith is the curatorial administrative assistant for contemporary art at the DMA.


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