Posts Tagged 'DFW Museum'

Off the Wall: I Don’t Like the Color Grey

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, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of an anonymous foundation

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!

Guiding Us Along

The existing Dallas Museum of Art collections handbook was published in 1997. Considering all of the stellar acquisitions that have taken place in the last fifteen years, we felt the time was right to publish a new one. The process took months of preparation and many meetings to create the new guide, which will be available in the Museum Store early next year.

In a series of conversations, DMA curators and former DMA Director Bonnie Pitman came up with a timeline, and  agonized over the book’s structure (for example, does Romare Bearden’s Soul Three belong in the Contemporary or the Modern section? Should European and American art be combined?). The group also came up with an “A” and a “B” list of objects to be considered for inclusion in each of the sections.

The process for paring these lists down was grueling for all concerned. Sacrifices and compromises were made. As a biased participant, I had my own favorite objects, and anxiously awaited the outcome of each meeting. My beloved College of Animals by Cornelis Saftleven was out of the running early on, owing to urgent conservation needs, but I had the pleasure of seeing this work restored to the European and American section late in the process.

Cornelius Saftleven, "College of Animals," n.d., oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation, 1987.32

I worked on the entries with the curators, interns, and freelance contributors. This catalogue has given me a newfound appreciation for the many works of art I had always admired in passing but never really focused on. Immersing myself in object files or staring at the objects in the galleries, I added many new discoveries to my list of personal favorites.

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the process was the ordering and grouping of objects within their sections. We plastered the walls of our “Classroom B” conference room with color printouts of all four hundred-plus objects, taped or pinned in constantly migrating clusters. It was ultimately quite satisfying to see the groupings crystallize; every invidious or inept grouping eventually led us to the final fortuitous solution. This was a creative process, appealing to the artist in me.

Eric Zeidler is the Publications Manager at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Opening Up: A Staff Profile of Our Operations Manager

Uncrated tracked down Tara Eaden, the DMA’s Operations Manager, to talk about her job at the Museum.

Describe your job in fifty words or less.
As Operations Manager, my basic duties are to manage the Museum’s daily operations. These duties include, but are not limited to, coordinating with the operations supervisors to organize office moves, set up/break down special events, and to make sure that the museum remains pristine.

What might an average day entail?
There really is no average day for anyone in operations, however the basic portion of my day may consist of various meetings, scheduling for different activities/projects, problem solving and/or fulfilling certain needs of staff, visitors and vendors that fall within my jurisdiction.

How would you describe the best part of your job and its biggest challenges?
The best part of my job is the daily knowledge I gain through departmental and peer interactions, as well as meeting the most influential and unique people—colleagues and visitors. I am very fortunate to work with a team of people who make the most challenging days seem effortless. I am doubly fortunate to work in an environment who embraces and caters to all cultures from all demographics.

One of the biggest challenges I might face would be the overlapping of events on the same day. There have been some days where the operations crew is spread thin because of the need to take care of their daily housekeeping needs, as well as multiple events scheduled for the same day at either the same time, or overlapping times. This puts a strain on the crew, thus placing me in the position to be creative with scheduling and employee placement so that the needs are met for not only the client, but for the best interest of the employee.

Growing up, what type of career did you envision yourself in? Did you think you’d work in an art museum?
I always thought I would be a teacher growing up. Even though I do have the opportunity to teach now from time to time in other capacities, I always thought I’d be in a classroom filled with a group of tots eager to learn. I never thought I would work in an art museum. But now that I’m here, it has been one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve ever encountered.

What is your favorite work in the Museum’s collections?
While I have several favorite works in the museum, my favorite is by far the Untitled (big/small figure) by Tom Friedman. Works of art may say different things to different people, but this work speaks to me in a manner of symbolism. The big blue man (I’ll call him the blues) for me represents problems that we all face sometimes that seem so much bigger than we are. The small figure represents us. The big blue man is looking down on the small man as if he can defeat him or get the best of him. It is in that moment that we could either decide to allow our problems to give us the blues, or we can overtake them. Or simply stated, sometimes our problems seem bigger to us than they really are. My second favorite is The Icebergs by Frederic Edwin Church.

Is there a past exhibition that stands out in your mind as a favorite, or is there a particular upcoming show you’re looking forward to seeing?
While we have had a number of beautiful and intriguing exhibits, such as Dale Chihuly (1994), Animals in African Art: From the Familiar to the Marvelous (1997), Splendors of China’s Forbidden City: The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong (2004), Gordon Parks- Half Past Autumn (2005), my favorite by far is the Across Continents and Cultures: The Art of Henry Ossawa Tanner exhibition from 1995.

There’s a New Girl in Town

Earlier this year, the DMA was very fortunate to receive a lovely gift from SMU’s distinguished Art History professor emerita Dr. Alessandra Comini. She gave us a beautiful sculpture of Lady Godiva by one of 19th-century America’s premier female sculptors, Anne Whitney. Whitney’s work frequently reflects her commitment to social activism. In fact, before Whitney became an artist she often wrote essays and poems that were published in a contemporary periodical dedicated to women’s rights called Una. Soon she became notable for expressing her abolitionist and feminist views through both the written word and sculpture. Whitney’s sensibilities made Lady Godiva’s story particularly appealing.

Anne Whitney, Lady Godiva, c. 1861–64, marble, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. Alessandra Comini in memory of Dr. Eleanor Tufts, who discovered the Massachusetts-backyard whereabouts of this long-forgotten statue and brought it to Dallas.

Generally, we think of Lady Godiva on her legendary ride, but Whitney chose to depict a moment much earlier in the story. Godiva lived in Coventry England during the 11th century. As the story goes, she complained to her husband that the tax he levied against his subjects was excessively high. He agreed to lower them if in return she would ride naked on a horse through the streets of Coventry. Whitney depicts the moment when Godiva accepted her spouse’s challenge. Gazing heavenward, fully clothed and just starting to remove her girdle, she is about to begin protesting on behalf of Coventry’s vulnerable and oppressed.

It is especially unusual to own an artwork depicting the earlier, more poignant moment in the account of Lady Godiva’s famous ride. Moreover, owning a full-sized marble sculpture of a woman by a woman artist is quite rare. We are grateful to Dr. Comini for her generosity, and we encourage you to come see this exquisite sculpture in the DMA’s American Galleries on Level 4.

Join Dr. Alessandra Comini on Thursday, October 27 for a special lecture on women sculptors from America who descended upon the seven hills of Rome during the 1860s and beyond.  Click here for additional details.

Martha MacLeod is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant in the European and American Art Department at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Dallas Museum of Art’s C3: A Space To Channel Your Creative Energy

The Dallas Museum of Art’s Center for Creative Connections is a unique, hands-on space for museum visitors of all age. C3 gives Dallas creatives of all ages a place to learn about art and develop their own creativity in a fun, interactive environment. Find out more about C3 in the video below.


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