Posts Tagged 'Arts & Letters Live'

The Outsiders

The DMA will host acclaimed author S. E. Hinton as part of its Arts & Letters Live series this Thursday, April 24. Hinton gave a fresh and multifaceted voice to the renegade, rebel, and rogue characters in her popular young-adult novels such as The Outsiders and Tex. Generations of readers have embraced her books for their themes of loyalty and perseverance in the face of classist and social injustice, and have projected them into Americana icon status.

Hinton’s best-selling and most well known novel is The Outsiders, about two rival gangs of upper-class and “greaser” teens in the 1960s, inspired by her own experiences growing up in Tulsa. The book was published when she was just 18 years old. Twenty-thousand copies of the book will be distributed throughout Dallas this month as part of “Big D Reads,” a community reading project. Michael Kostiuk’s Untitled from 1973 in the DMA’s collection reminded us of the backdrop for The Outsiders.

Michael Kostiuk, Untitled, 1973, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Polaroid Foundation grant

Michael Kostiuk, Untitled, 1973, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Polaroid Foundation grant

 

Reagan Duplisea is the associate registrar, exhibitions, at the DMA.

 

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.
cookies

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.

Rewarding DMA Friends

Longtime Center for Creative Connections (C3) visitor and volunteer Mary Burkhead claimed a DMA Friends reward for six of her friends to attend a small-group artist-led art-making session. Mary was one of our first DMA Friends, joining on January 21, the official “opening day” of the program. Mary and I brainstormed about possibilities for this specialized workshop, and she requested a private Think Creatively workshop with Magdalena Grohman, Ph.D., in C3. Mary loves attending the Thursday night adult workshops and was eager to have a special class just for her and the friends that she has made over the past year in the workshops. Read the interview with Mary Burkhead below. I hope she inspires you to keep collecting your DMA Friends points!

Dr. Magdalena Grohman and class in discussion

Dr. Magdalena Grohman and class in discussion

How long have you been coming to the DMA?
Since I moved to Dallas in the mid-80s.

How many DMA Friends badges have you earned?
Oh, gosh, lots! Some more than once. I hate to admit it, but I’m rather greedy about them. I’m still disappointed that I didn’t get the last code needed for the special Neil Gaiman badge. But I did get the special JFK badge!

What is your favorite way to collect points?
By seeing and doing wonderful things in the Museum, of course! Seriously, you earn badges by doing what you already love to do: going to special exhibitions, exploring the galleries, attending workshops, lectures, and special events.

Think Creatively presentation by visitor

Think Creatively presentation by visitor

Why were you interested in claiming the “Small Group Art-Making Session in C3” reward?
I frequently attend the creativity workshops and the Artistic Encounters workshops. I encourage everyone to try them. I always have a wonderful time, and learn a lot. And I’ve met so many wonderful, fun, interesting people. I just loved the idea of having a special session with some of these new friends.

What is your favorite thing to do or see at the DMA?
Well, I have lots of favorites, and I hate to be limited. And the DMA is not limited! One of my favorite artworks is The Icebergs. I will be very glad to see it again when it returns home this month. But there are many other pieces that I also love. I love the workshops, of course. That’s why I selected it for my reward. I also love the Arts & Letters Live programs. I love how the DMA brings together many different types of art. And then there is Late Night! I could go on forever.

Dr. Magdalena Grohman and visitors responding to works of art

Dr. Magdalena Grohman and visitors responding to works of art

How did you choose the people that were going to participate with you in the workshop?
With great difficulty! I wanted everyone who had ever attended a workshop to come, but of course, that’s not possible. So I selected a group of folks who participate frequently and who interact well. That’s important for a group learning experience. Not to mention,  they are all fun, wonderful people!

Visitor in thought

Visitor in thought

What do you value the most at the DMA?
I think the most wonderful thing about the DMA is that it is available to everyone. Art is so important to individual people and to the whole community. I’ve talked to so many people at the Museum who are having fun, experiencing new things, and exploring the possibilities of art. I love that. It’s exciting to talk to people who have come for the first time, or the first time in a long time. It’s nice to talk to out-of-towners who think our DMA is great!

Do you recall a favorite moment at the DMA?
There are so many. But one wonderful moment was being in the Museum late at night–I think it was close to midnight–on the 100th anniversary. There were so many people there, and they were all having so much fun! I’m so glad that led to the monthly Late Nights.

Are you also a DMA Partner in addition to being a DMA Friend? 
I am a Partner, and I also have memberships in several other  local museums. Financially supporting the DMA is a great value for entertainment and education, and also for our community.

Two participants writing to music

Participants writing to music

Amanda Batson is the C3 program coordinator at the DMA.

Swelling Seas

Not for the faint of heart, Neil Gaiman’s forthcoming novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, is wondrous, imaginative, and, at times, deeply scary. We found some frightening and powerful images of the sea in our collection that we thought were appropriate for Gaiman’s upcoming DMA Arts & Letters Live event on June 24, 2013, at the Majestic Theatre. Gaiman has announced that this will be his final U.S. tour, and as of today there are fewer than 100 tickets left to his talk and book signing! Visit the DMA’s website for more information and to buy tickets.

Adolf Hiremy-Hirschl, Seaside Cemetery (Seefriedhof), 1897, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of J.E.R. Chilton

Adolf Hiremy-Hirschl, Seaside Cemetery, 1897, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of J.E.R. Chilton

Gerhard Richter, Kunstverein, Richard Bacht, Margreff, Sea (Meer), 1972, yellow, red, blue, and black offset print on white lightweight cardboard, cellophaned and fixed on white lightweight cardboard, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art League Fund, Roberta Coke Camp Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, and the Contemporary Art Fund: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon E. Faulconer, Mr. and Mrs. Bryant M. Hanley, Jr., Marguerite and Robert K. Hoffman, Howard E. Rachofsky, Deedie and Rusty Rose, Gayle and Paul Stoffel, and two anonymous donors

Gerhard Richter, Kunstverein, Richard Bacht, Margreff, Sea, 1972, yellow, red, blue, and black offset print on white lightweight cardboard, cellophaned and fixed on white lightweight cardboard, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art League Fund, Roberta Coke Camp Fund, General Acquisitions Fund, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, and the Contemporary Art Fund: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon E. Faulconer, Mr. and Mrs. Bryant M. Hanley, Jr., Marguerite and Robert K. Hoffman, Howard E. Rachofsky, Deedie and Rusty Rose, Gayle and Paul Stoffel, and two anonymous donors

Gustave Courbet, The Wave, c. 1869-1870, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of H.J. Rudick in memory of Arthur L. Kramer

Gustave Courbet, The Wave, c. 1869-70, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of H.J. Rudick in memory of Arthur L. Kramer

Hayley Dyer is the Audience Relations Coordinator for Programming and Education at the DMA.

Spotlight on Raphael Parry

Many Dallasites know Raphael Parry for his extensive work in shaping the Dallas theater scene over the last thirty years. He currently serves as Executive and Artistic Director of Shakespeare Dallas, where he has directed or performed in over twenty-five Shakespearean productions. He also serves as a founder and Chief Artistic Officer of Project X: Theatre, a producing company that focuses on new play development. Raphael has been recognized by the Dallas Theatre League and the Dallas Theater Critics Forum with the Standing Ovation Award for his continued contributions to Dallas Theater.

What you may not know is that Raphael has deep ties to the Dallas Museum of Art, serving as Director and host of Arts & Letters Live’s Texas Bound series for almost two decades. The series showcases Texas-connected actors reading short fiction and essays by Texas-connected authors to a live audience. We like to say that it is “story time for adults.”

Raphael will reprise his role as Director and host again during the 2013 season of Texas Bound on February 11 and on May 6, when he will also participate as an actor.

We caught up with Raphael for a short Q&A about his involvement with Texas Bound.

Raphael Parry, Director and Host of Texas Bound series at the DMA

Raphael Parry, Director and host of the Texas Bound series at the DMA

How long have you been involved with Texas Bound?
My first season I was an actor reading a very short story—less than three minutes long. The next year, I was invited to serve as Director and host—that was 1995. I will be starting my 18th season this year.

What do you enjoy most about working with the series?
Getting to read a huge number of stories, as we search to select just the right ones for the series. It has really brought me a profound appreciation for the art of the short story. And our audience is so generous and eager to hear the readings. It is always a pleasure to take part in Texas Bound in performance.

Texas Bound rehearsal, 2012

Texas Bound rehearsal, 2012

Can you talk a little bit about the process of selecting the stories and casting them?
It starts with a huge collection of stories that have been sifted through after an open call for stories. Our Producer, Katie Hutton, reads through all the submissions and selects the ones that are candidates for Texas Bound. At this point, we have approximately eighty to one hundred stories that we can consider for the Texas Bound series. We meet twice weekly starting in the late summer and I read the stories out loud to Katie and her team. What works on paper can often not transfer to a successful story being read out loud. After reading each story, we discuss three to four potential actors that would be the right match for the story. After reading all of the stories over many weeks, we have a small collection of stories that are strong candidates. Then the real puzzle work begins. We have to find a combination of stories that add up to the right length for the evening and have some balance. We often use a meal as the metaphor for the evening: appetizer, main course, and dessert. We are looking to create a balance and flow.

What is your most memorable Texas Bound experience?
The most memorable experiences are when everything comes together: the actors, the stories, and the audience. There have been many evenings where the flow is fantastic, and we are all moving through the performance with each story and reading building on another. It is like floating on a cloud when it all clicks, and then it’s over—like an ephemeral dream it all dissolves and we are left with a great memory.

What story or stories are you most excited about this season?

'The Dangerous Animals Club' by Dallas native Stephen Tobolowsky

“The Dangerous Animals Club” by Dallas native Stephen Tobolowsky

All of the stories intrigue me, as we work so hard to find just the right ones. I am looking forward to hearing Stephen Tobolowsky read his essay “F.A.Q” from his book The Dangerous Animals Club. He has such an interesting voice, and his essays are so personal yet universal. Also, John Benjamin Hickey is reading Patricia Highsmith’s “A Curious Suicide”; it is a murder mystery with a unique tone. Those two are standouts from a stellar field of stories.

 

Stephen Tobolowsky will read on February 11th. photo credit Jim Britt.

Stephen Tobolowsky will read on February 11. Photo by Jim Britt.

Several of the featured actors this season. Matt Bomer and Stephen Tobolowsky will read on February 11th.  John Benjamin Hickey will read on May 6th.

Matt Bomer will read on February 11.

Several of the featured actors this season. Matt Bomer and Stephen Tobolowsky will read on February 11th.  John Benjamin Hickey will read on May 6th.

John Benjamin Hickey will read on May 6.

Join us for the first Texas Bound of the season on Monday, February 11. For more information on this season of Texas Bound, visit our website. You can order tickets online or call 214-922-1818.

Katie Hutton is the Program Manager for Arts & Letters Live at the DMA and Producer of Texas Bound.

BooksmART Festival – My Favorite Things

Well, it’s that time again! The second annual FREE BooksmART Festival at the Dallas Museum of Art is right around the corner. Mark your calendars now: Saturday, June 9, 2012, 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Spend the entire day with authors, illustrators, musicians, and actors! Every member of the family is guaranteed to find something to enjoy–there is really something for everyone. The full lineup can be found on our website, but I thought I would go ahead and give you my “Top Ten” list of things you need to do at the festival.

My Top Ten List of Things To Do (And See) at the BooksmART Festival 

1. Get here early! The first events start at 11:00 a.m. and you won’t want to miss them. You know what they say,  “To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. To be late is unacceptable!”

2. Make sure you go to an author or illustrator presentation. Whether you read picture books, chapter books, young adult books, or comic books, we have an event for you.

3. Get as many autographs as humanly possible. If, by chance, you miss an author at their booksigning, you can politely ask them to sign a book for you if you attend their workshop.

4. Eat something from the food trucks! I pinky promise that you’ll be glad you did. We’ve invited all kinds of trucks to come to the festival, but I know you’ll be especially excited for snow cones and ice cream sandwiches as the hot Texas sun threatens to swallow you up. You are welcome.

5. Head over to the Crow Collection of Asian Art for paper and pop-up fun! I am dying to learn how to re-create the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry using only paper, scissors, and my own two hands. I tried, and Wingardium Leviosa doesn’t really work in the Muggle world.

6. Stop in for a workshop or performance by the Dallas Theater Center. I’m so curious–just what is an Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat? They don’t exactly sell them at the Gap.

7. Get your eyes checked! The Essilor Vision Foundation will be at the festival all day providing FREE vision screenings and glasses to kids ages 5-16. After you get your glasses, go meet Taye Diggs. I’m 99.9% positive he’ll be wearing his glasses too.

8. Grab a snack and re-hydrate in the Atrium while you listen to music. Food, water, and music–life’s essentials!

9. Drop in on the Center for Creative Connections (a.k.a. C3). Check out the Art Studio, where several illustrators will be giving workshops; stop by the Tech Lab and create a digital short film; or just hang out at the space bar and let your imagination run wild!

10. Buy your favorite author’s books in the Museum Store, and visit Half Price Books’ table in the Concourse. Sign up for their summer reading program so you can keep the BooksmART fun going all summer long.

And now, since your appetite has been whetted, I’m going to leave you with a little song I’ve written for the BooksmART Festival. Sing it over and over with your family and friends in anticipation. If, by chance, you happen to memorize it, come find me; I’ll have a special prize for the choristers who serenade me. I will be at Horchow Auditorium all day, so look for me.

My Favorite Things (BooksmART Remix)

To the tune of Rogers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things”

Readings and writings and workshops and classes
Joe wears a dreamcoat and new stylish glasses
Pablo Picasso and yum, Chocolate Me!
These are a few of my favorite things
Cartoons and funnies and writers of stories

Mice and amoebas and full Scrabble glory
Dramas and comedies and mysteries
These are a few of my favorite things

Papers that morph into pop-up creations
Aliens that go on extended vacations
Monkeys that bounce on a bed full of springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When I’m grounded
When the ship sinks
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

For more information about the 2nd annual BooksmART Festival, visit our website or call 214-922-1818.

Hayley Dyer is the Audience Relations Coordinator for Programming at the Dallas Museum of Art. Growing up, her favorite picture book was “A Bargain For Frances.”

Sacré Bleu! A Twisted Tale of the Ultramarine Hue

Recently I managed to get my hands on an advance copy of Christopher Moore’s newest book, Sacré Bleu. This auspicious event was followed by two days of ravenous reading, skipped meals, and neglected chores. Christopher Moore, the author who has brought us absurdly funny stories about Jesus Christ, vampires, and sassy whales, has cannonballed into the pool of art history–and has made a huge splash!

"Sacré Bleu" by Christopher Moore. On sale April 3, 2012.

When asked about the origin of his latest novel, Moore says, “I simply set out to write a novel about the color blue.” This desire brought him to Paris, London, and Italy, where “it turns out they keep a lot of the art discussed in this book.” The novel opens as the tragic news of Vincent van Gogh’s death reaches Paris. His friends, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Lucien Lessard, set out to solve the mystery of Vincent’s death after receiving this warning from him:

“P.S. If you see the Colorman, run. Run. You are too talented and too delicate of constitution to endure, I think. I am not mad. I promise.”
–Vincent

To solve the murder, Lucien and Henri will have to hunt down this twisted little Colorman who has a penchant for ultramarine blue. They will find love, heartbreak, forgotten memories, and, ahem, some girls in Moulin Rouge. Ultimately they will uncover the secret of the Colorman and the ordained powers he gets from Sacré Bleu, but not before having a little bit of fun with their impressionist friends.

Here are some examples of uses of Sacré Bleu from Christopher Moore’s novel. Throughout the story, each of these artists is visited by the manipulative Colorman.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, “The Swing,” 1876, oil on canvas, Museé d’Orsay.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, “Rousse dit aussi La Toilette,” 1889, oil on cardboard, Museé d’Orsay.

Claude Monet, “Camille Monet on Her Deathbed,” 1879, oil on canvas, Museé d’Orsay.

Georges Seurat, “Bathers at Asnières,” 1884, oil on canvas, National Gallery.

Sacré Bleu, the “sacred blue,” the truest blue, was at the time the most expensive paint in history. It was extremely difficult to obtain. First, colormen would need the gemstone lapis lazuli, which, for centuries, was more rare and more valuable than gold. On top of that, lapis lazuli is only found in one place in the world, the mountains of Afghanistan–a world away from Europe! Why go to all this trouble to make a little bit of blue paint? Because the pigment derived from lapis lazuli creates the most spectacular, everlasting, ultramarine blue. It does not fade over time or blacken with age like some other blue paints. This quality of ultramarine blue, as well as the significant sacrifice one had to make to obtain it, made it the perfect color to reserve for the Blessed Virgin, the mother of Christ. In many religious scenes, Mary is seen wearing a Sacré Bleu gown.

Michelangelo, “The Entombment,” c. 1500, tempera on panel, National Gallery.

Although he spends most of his time haunting the impressionists in Montmartre, the Colorman does make his way back to 16th-century Italy to visit the masters of the Renaissance. In this example, it appears as though Michelangelo’s The Entombment remains unfinished because he was unable to obtain the ultramarine paint he needed to finish the figure of the Virgin Mary. Of course in reality this is probably due to the high cost of the paint, but in Sacré Bleu, it is a mystery that is waiting to be solved by you!

Christopher Moore will discuss his new book as part of the Arts & Letters Live program at the Dallas Museum of Art on Tuesday, April 1o, at 7:30 p.m. For more information and tickets to this event, visit our website. The DMA’s Museum Store is selling first-edition copies of Sacre Bleu, with beautiful color illustrations of the art discussed in the novel.

Hayley Dyer is the Audience Relations Coordinator for Programming at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Arturo is BooksmART!

Hello everyone! Arturo here, the family mascot of the Dallas Museum of Art! I bet you already know that I like spending my time at the Museum painting, drawing, and doing yoga, but did you know that I like to read too? Picture books, chapter books, comic books–I like to read everything! This spring, Arts & Letters Live is bringing some of my favorite authors to the Museum to talk about their work–and I wouldn’t miss them for anything! If you like to read too, then I would love for you to come to a BooksmART event with me. I’ll be sitting on the front row–you can’t miss me!

If you’ve never been to an Arts & Letters Live BooksmART event, let me tell you a little bit about it. Arts & Letters Live is the DMA’s literary series, bringing authors of all kinds to talk to readers (like you and me) about books they have written. After the event, the author meets everyone at the book signing. Last year I met Rick Riordan!

Mark your calendars now for these upcoming events.

On Friday, March 16, as a part of our Spring Break Late Night, author Laura Numeroff will be talking about her new book, The Jellybeans and the Big Art Adventure. Laura is the author of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Give a Pig a Pancake. I’m going to suggest that she title her next book If You Give a Parrot a Paintbrush! She’s going to start at 7:00 p.m. so make sure you get your mom and dad to get you to Horchow Auditorium on time!  ickets to this event are FREE with paid general admission to the Museum but a reservation is required.

On Sunday April 15, the legendary author-illustrator Marc Brown will be right here at the DMA talking about If All the Animals Came Inside. You may know him as the creator of Arthur Read, everyone’s favorite aardvark! Did you know that Arthur was born one night while Marc Brown was telling his son a bedtime story?  Now his son has grown up and reads Arthur books with his children!  Before the event there will be a tour of some of the animals in the DMA’s collection, inspired by If All the Animals Came Inside.

On Thursday, April 19, we are having a huge birthday party at the DMA. No, no, it’s not my birthday! Judy Blume’s book Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is turning forty this year, so we are celebrating in true BooksmART style. I know you won’t want to miss it! Judy will be here talking about all of our favorite books–Frecklejuice, Blubber, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and of course, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and the indomitable Fudge. It’s going to be a lot of fun!

To order tickets, you can have your mom or dad call my friends in the Arts & Letters Live office at 214-922-1818 or they can always get them online.  For more information about all our events, visit our website. I hope to see you at one of these events soon. Until then, keep reading!

Arturo is the mascot for all Museum family programming. He makes appearances on First Tuesdays and Late Nights; you can also find him on all family related print materials and as a temporary tattoo. He had a bit of help with this post from Hayley Dyer, Audience Relations Coordinator for Programming.

A Pair of Twos: Two Authors’ Take on Two Painters

Part of what’s most fun about working on Arts & Letters Live is getting to hear the buzz about new books several months before they are released. We first heard about Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith last winter and couldn’t wait for the release. This new biography came out less than a month ago to tremendous acclaim. Leo Jansen, Curator at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, called it “the definitive biography for decades to come,” and the authors were  profiled on 60 Minutes.

We are thrilled to be able to host these two authors for a program at the Dallas Museum of Art on Monday, November 14. They will discuss their new book and the similarities between Vincent van Gogh and Jackson Pollock, the subject of their Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Jackson Pollock: An American Saga.

Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith were gracious enough to answer a few questions for us in advance of their event.

How did you come to tackle Vincent van Gogh as a subject for this book?
While we were still working on our biography of Jackson Pollock, more than twenty-five years ago, we began to think about the next artist we might want to write about. The challenge for a biographer is to find a subject (1) who is significant, in terms of the work he or she has left behind; (2) who led an interesting life; (3) whose life had a particular impact on the work; (4) who left behind enough of a record in order to be able to reconstruct the life; and (5) who hasn’t already been the subject of a definitive, or even a thorough, account. No one met these criteria better than van Gogh. The only hurdle was that we don’t read Dutch, a hurdle got past with the help of eleven translators. 

Other than Vincent van Gogh himself, who is the most interesting figure that you write about in this book?
Theo, certainly. He was easily the most important person in van Gogh’s life. He was Van Gogh’s only consistent source of emotional and financial support. He was an interesting person in his own right – both audacious enough to be one of the first dealers in Paris who showed the work of the impressionists, but also conservative enough to show only work he knew would sell. He was intensely conflicted in his feelings for his brother –fully aware of Vincent’s willingness to take advantage of his generosity, furious that Vincent caused their family so much trouble, and angry that Vincent refused to accept his advice about how to make his work more salable, yet caring for him deeply, utterly.

How do you feel van Gogh’s letters shaped Van Gogh: The Life?
The letters are the starting point for any biographer of van Gogh. They are astonishingly long and detailed, and yet they often have a manipulative intent. Van Gogh usually wanted something from Theo, and he was sometimes elegant, sometimes ham-fisted, in his efforts to cloak his requests. But because of van Gogh’s intermittent self-knowledge, because of his extraordinary intelligence and intellect, because they were written for the most part to one person, and because he didn’t think anyone else would ever read them, van Gogh’s letters open an almost unique window onto a great creative mind.

Sheaves of Wheat, Vincent Van Gogh, 1890, Oil on Canvas, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Do you have a favorite work of van Gogh’s? What draws you to that piece?
We have many, many favorites, but one that comes to mind is a painting of underbrush in the Van Gogh Museum collection. It shows both his absolute mastery of color – extraordinary and subtle combinations of browns and purples and blues, hundreds and hundreds of them – and a dazzling display of his command over his brush, and in particular his Sargent-like ability to paint wet on wet.

Tree Roots, July 1890, Oil on Canvas, 19 3/4 x 39 1/4 in. Van Gogh Foundation, Amsterdam.

Have you visited Dallas before? If so, what did you think of the city?
(Steven) Yes, I have a lot of family in Texas – in fact I was Congressman Charlie Wilson’s first intern on Capitol Hill. Dallas has some spectacular architecture, including I. M. Pei’s Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, and the Museum has a first-rate collection, including two key works by Jackson Pollock, Portrait and a Dream and Cathedral. We have not yet seen the Nasher Sculpture Center and are thrilled at the opportunity to see it.

Cathedral, Jackson Pollock, 1947, Enamel and aluminum paint on canvas, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard J. Reis

The November 14 event is sold out but overflow seating is still available in a live simulcast in the Center for Creative Connections Theater.

Katie Hutton is Program Manager of Arts & Letters Live at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Membership Miles

At the Dallas Museum of Art we are often asked, “Why should I join?” A membership allows you to enjoy all that the Museum has to offer all year long, while supporting your local arts. There are many reasons to be a member at the DMA, and one of the exciting perks this year will be tickets to the upcoming exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.

Because it’s hard for us to pick our favorites, we invited a few members to share their thoughts on what makes being a DMA member special. Do you see your favorite listed below? If not, we would love to hear from you!

• Free admission
• Supporting the Museum’s collection
• “It’s a place that I can take my grandson to; it’s fun for both of us.”—Shari, member since 2006
• Free lectures
• “The discounts to Arts & Letters Live. We loved David Sedaris.”—Kenneth,  member since 1996
• “Free parking and access to jazz programs”—Stockton, member since 2009
• Discounts in the Museum Store and on dining (the store discount is most popular with children under 10, who can always find something they can’t leave without)
• Reciprocal membership to over 500 museums
• Subscription to the Dallas Museum of Art Magazine
• “I know about things before they happen and stay in tune with new things in Dallas”—Liz, member since 2008

Wendi Kavanaugh is the Membership Outreach Manager at the Dallas Museum of Art.


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