Archive for March, 2014

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

We’re cheering on our Texas Rangers during Opening Day!

Nic Nicosia, Bobby Dixon & the Texas Stars, 1986, screenprint, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Group, Dallas, Texas

Nic Nicosia, Bobby Dixon & the Texas Stars, 1986, screenprint, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Group, Dallas, Texas

Installing Light

Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World is opening this weekend and the DMA is the only venue outside of Europe to host this exhibition featuring rarely seen objects from around the world. We’ve been preparing for weeks for Sunday’s opening, as you can see in the photos below,

Learn more about the exhibition and the artistic techniques used to enhance the effect of light found in the objects on display in Nur from the DMA’s senior advisor for Islamic art, Dr. Sabiha Al Khemir. And on Thursday, April 3, your lecture ticket will also include admission to Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World!

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

ARTifacts: Harwood Street Meets Sesame Street

Did you know—or remember—that a few special Sesame Street residents came to the DMA? Bert, Ernie and friends joined the celebration for the new downtown Museum by entertaining our youngest visitors on opening day, January 29, 1984.

Sesame Street characters at the DMA, 1984

Sesame Street characters at the DMA, 1984

Ernie at the DMA, 1984

Ernie at the DMA, 1984

Bert at the DMA, 1984

Bert at the DMA, 1984

Honkers at the DMA, 1984

Honker at the DMA, 1984

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

Nothin’ Beats the Cookie Season, and That’s the Truth

It wasn’t enough that I had purchased a flight to Dallas that arrived and departed within the same 24 hours just to see B. J. Novak at the DMA’s Arts & Letters Live event; I knew that if I wanted to thank B. J. Novak properly, I had to do just a bit more.
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As an avid baker, the decision to make him cookies wasn’t a difficult one. After deciding to theme the cookies after stories from his book, I started planning. I spent hours at kitchen stores gathering supplies and ingredients; two days before I left, I started on the big project. With minutes to spare until I had to leave my home in Utah to catch my flight, I finished them. Wrapped securely in bubble wrap and placed in a box fashioned like the book jacket for One More Thing, I lugged them through the airport.
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After a couple of stressful layovers, I was finally in Dallas! At the hotel, I met my friend Cherokee, who traveled from Oklahoma. We made our way to the Museum, even though it was early, Having traveled so far, we didn’t want to take the chance of getting “bad” seats. The entire day, my stomach was in knots, not only at the thought of being in the same room as someone I’ve long admired, but also about how my gift would be received. I remember relaying my story to a few individuals, Before I knew it, pictures were being sent to his publicist and the knots in my stomach got even tighter. When Cherokee and I were let inside the auditorium, we sat up front and center, not thinking it’d get any better.

After a few minutes, a woman with the Museum’s Arts & Letters Live series approached us and asked if we had the cookies. Assuming she wanted to see them, I pulled them out. She kept talking but all I remember were my eyes glazing over when she said, “He wants to invite you backstage.” Nervously, we followed her to a holding room, knocked on the door, and from around the corner came B. J. Novak.

For the next twenty minutes, words like “blown away” and “impressive” escaped his mouth to describe my cookies. I was in awe. He had learned about my travels and went on to ask what I did for a living, why I chose Dallas, and where I learned to bake. B. J. and the other guests in the room were very gracious toward methis fan that I’m sure was coming across as a nervous mess. He indulged my requests for pictures and took many himself. We talked a bit more with him about his career and thanked him for taking time out for us, and then it was time for the event to begin.

We took our seats and B.J. killed it onstage, doing readings and answering questions from the audience. Rounding off this perfect evening, he signed our books and I was sent floating home with a hug and thanks for “making his day.”

At most I wanted him to think the cookies were fun. NEVER did I think they would receive this type of reception. B. J. Novak has inspired a lot of happy memories for me; the projects he’s contributed to have influenced relationships and formed bonds. Most recently, his book has been a light during a difficult time in my life. To borrow his words, I continue to be “blown away” by what happened. I chose Dallas because it was closest, but I see now that I wouldn’t have had this experience if it weren’t for the unbelievably kind staff at the DMA. My sincerest thanks to all involvedit meant more than I could ever put into words.
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Click here to discover where our title inspiration came from.

Jen Jake is a manager at a group home for adults with mental disabilities in Utah and an avid B. J. Novak fan.

Savor the Arts: A Kitchen Adventure

This Friday, cookbook author and professor of comparative literature Dr. Mary Ann Caws will be here to discuss her book The Modern Art Cookbook during our Savor the Arts Late Night event.

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The Modern Art Cookbook is equal parts art historic document and recipe guide, illuminating the relationship between art and food. In preparation for this event, the DMA’s programming team decided to try some recipes from the book to see what they were like (and to test their kitchen skills).

Betsy Glickman, Manager of Adult Programming:
I have always been a fan of the “breakfast for dinner” concept, so I opted to tackle an egg-based dish from the book. Armed with a minimal set of ingredients—and an even more minimal set of cooking skills—I set aside an evening to bring Pablo Picasso’s Spanish Omelette to life in my kitchen. I originally thought the dish would resemble a traditional, half-plate-sized omelette, but as I laid out the ingredients (10 eggs, 4 potatoes, 2 onions, etc.), I realized this was going to be much larger.

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I began by peeling and slicing the potatoes and onions. I then tossed them into a large pan and sautéed them for about 15 minutes. While they were cooking, I beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl.

Once the potatoes and onions were beginning to brown, I drained them on some paper towels to help absorb the excess moisture. I then added them to the salad bowl along with a large helping of salt and pepper.

Next it was time to make the omelette. I pulled out the best nonstick pan I own, added some olive oil and medium heat, and poured in the contents to cook for several minutes.

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As the edges began to firm up, I realized the hardest part of the process was yet to come: I somehow had to flip this thing over. I snagged a plate for assistance, and, in a swift movement, transferred most of the contents to the plate and back into the pan. All in all, I’d give my flip an 8 out of 10.

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I cooked the omelette for another 2-3 minutes. The book instructed to leave the center a little runny, but, unfortunately, I overcooked it a bit. Even so, the end result was quite tasty. Viva el Spanish Omelette!

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Things I learned: It’s difficult to ruin an omelette, but there are endless ways to make it better. In the future, I may try adding tomatoes, peppers, and/or salsa to this recipe.

Stacey Lizotte, Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services:
I decided to make Brecht’s Favorite Potato Bread because I have always been interested in mastering a bread recipe (yeast and rising dough have always been a bit of a mystery to me). This recipe called for one cube of yeast, which I should have researched before picking this recipe. I tried finding a conversion from cubed yeast to dry yeast and was not successful, so I went with one packet of dried yeast for the recipe. Because dry yeast needs to be activated with water, I reduced the amount of oil recommended.

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Even with that reduction, my dough was very wet. After adding an additional cup of flour it was still not the texture I thought it should be. But having little experience with bread, and thinking that the mashed potatoes probably added moisture, I thought maybe that was how it was supposed to be.

While the dough did rise, as you can see from the photos the dough did not hold its shape once formed into “loafs.”

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While the look of the bread left much to be desired, I found the flavor interesting, which I attribute to the lemon zest.

Things I learned: Yeast used to come in cubes. I will add lemon zest to any future bread dough recipes I try.

Liz Menz, Manager of Adult Programming:
The last time we all got together for a cooking blog, I went with soup, so this time I ventured into the realm of desserts. I decided to make Claude Monet’s Almond Cookies. The recipe is much like a shortbread recipe, so there were very few wet ingredients and (something I discovered halfway through) the dough required kneading.

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Combining the flour, confectioner’s sugar, ground almonds and lemon rind into a bowl with the eggs was the easy part. Realizing that the cubed butter was still needed, I figured out that my wooden spoon was not going to cut it, so kneading was the way to go!

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After some work (and one phone call to my mother), I realized I was doing this right, as the dough finally came together. It was on to rolling out the dough and cutting the cookies! I am a less-than-prepared baker and discovered that, in a pinch, a wine bottle doubles well as a rolling pin and wine glasses are the perfect size for cutting!

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After I sprinkled the cut cookies with sugar and sliced almonds, they went into the oven for about 20-25 minutes. They came out golden and yummy! The lemon rind really gave them a great flavor, and I decided that these cookies would be great with a cup of coffee and a book.

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Things I learned: Shortbread-type recipes are harder than they look, but worth it. Lemon rind is a great addition to cookies. Also, thanks Mom.

Don’t forget to join us on Friday as we savor the arts! And, for more fun food-inspired posts, peruse the Culinary Canvas section of our Canvas Blog.


Betsy Glickman is a manager of adult programming at the DMA.
Stacey Lizotte is head of adult programming and multimedia services at the DMA.
Liz Menz is a manager of adult programming at the DMA.

The Luck of the Irish

There will be no pinching in the Museum galleries this St. Patrick’s Day, as the DMA collection has the luck of the Irish and is covered in green. Visit these clover-colored works in the collection for free.

Reagan Duplisea is associate registrar-exhibitions and Kimberly Daniell is the manager of communications and public affairs at the DMA.

Words with Friends (and owls, mohels, etc.)

For the exhibition Never Enough: Recent Acquisitions of Contemporary Art, New York-based artist Darren Bader visited Dallas to help us realize a unique work recently purchased by the DMA. Bader is known for his innovative and unconventional use of materials that push the boundaries of sculpture and activates environments with unexpected pairings and phenomenological experiences.

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For example, in the 2012 exhibition Darren Bader: Images at MoMA PS1, the artist presented a room filled with a newly upholstered couch and several live housecats, all of which were available for adoption by museum visitors. Elsewhere the artist installed a selection of vegetables, each on its own wooden pedestal, that was made into salad for gallery visitors by a museum staffer twice a week. While these works all had a social dimension, for the artist these elements are understood to be sculpture of one form or another, albeit in the most expansive definition of the word.

Bader’s work also frequently employs double-entendres and wordplay, as is readily apparent in the series of rhyming couplets that make up the recent acquisition at the DMA, and which is now on view: obi and/with SCOBY; oak with/and smoke; owl and/with towel; oar with/and store; oil with/and mohel; oat and/with note; orc with/and fork. Generally, when a museum purchases a work it has a set physical form, but in this case the work itself consists solely of the words listed in the title above and the conceptual potential for realizing these couplings. These absurd combinations can be realized in physical space (e.g., placing a rowing oar in the DMA store) or in the form of photographic or video documentation to be displayed in the galleries. Contractual agreements like this have a long history within the canon of conceptual art, including works by Marcel Duchamp, Yves Klein, Hans Haacke (with the aid of dealer Seth Siegelaub), and Andrea Fraser, among others.

As the curator for this exhibition, I was tasked with coordinating and/or sourcing the various elements needed to realize this work, including an obi and SCOBY, owl and towel, and even a mohel (more on that in a later blog post). In order to find an owl, we got in touch with Kathy Rogers from Roger’s Wildlife Rescue down in Hutchins, Texas.

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Kathy and her team run an amazing facility that rescues, rehabilitates and houses hundreds of birds of all varieties. For our project, Kathy had three types of owls available—Barred, Barn and Screech—and ultimately we decided to go with Forest, the Barn Owl. Forest was born in captivity, so he is very comfortable around humans and was more than happy to be filmed by the DMA’s crew.

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Next we had to find a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) to go along with the obi (a traditional Japanese sash used with a kimono) we purchased from eBay. Lucky for us, the wonderful people at Holy Kombucha in Fort Worth were more than willing to provide us with a grade-A large SCOBY. While the SCOBY itself is naturally slimy and smelly, it is probiotic, and when used in kombucha it makes for a very tasty health drink; however, in order to exhibit the SCOBY our Objects Conservator dried it in an oven for several hours until it became a tissue-paper thin wafer.

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For those that are curious, the SCOBY will be on view in the Stoffel Gallery, along with video clips representing other pairings from the Bader piece scattered throughout the galleries (included in free general admission!). We have also staged two small interventions outside the gallery spaces that you might encounter on your next trip to the DMA. So if you find an oar in the DMA store, or oats in the DMA donation box, don’t be alarmed . . . it’s only art.

Gabriel Ritter is The Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMA.


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