Posts Tagged 'Music'

Listening Hard: Remembering JFK on Record

The tragedy surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 trip to Texas inspired many songwriters to remember and honor JFK through song. Listening Hard: Remembering JFK on Record is an audio-video installation produced by Alan Govenar featuring songs of a variety of genres produced in the months after Kennedy’s assassination. Swing by the C3 Theater during the run of Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy to experience these songs.*

Listening Hard: Remembering JFK on Record, Alan Govenar, © Alan Govenar

Listening Hard: Remembering JFK on Record, Alan Govenar, © Alan Govenar

Uncrated chatted with Alan, founder and president of Documentary Arts and the installation’s producer, to pick his brain about his creative process and vision for this work. Join us at the DMA during our July Late Night on Friday, July 19, at 7:00 p.m. to hear Alan discuss his installation.

When did you begin researching JFK memorial songs?
It was 1975, so nearly forty years ago. I had heard about the Mexican-American corridos and started gathering the records when I could find them. I had written a lot about blues and jazz, and this was part of it.

What was the impetus for this project?
The piece was originally commissioned by the International Center of Photography. Brian Wallis, Chief Curator at the ICP, has organized a show of photographs, JFK November 22, 1963: A Bystander’s View of History,  that look at the assassination from the viewpoint of bystanders.

All of the singers are in a way personalizing their relationship with President Kennedy, either as friend or savior, champion of the downtrodden, the advocate for the forgotten or the disenfranchised. The songs juxtapose that sense of feeling a personal relationship with the president and the great sense of loss, the tragedy of his killing.

You’ve referred to this installation as an “experience.” How do you envision DMA visitors experiencing this installation?
All of the songs are topical. All were released on record. Most were written within days of the assassination. The installation is an audio loop, and the anchor, or punctuation point, is an eyewitness account released on an LP within days of the assassination. A man just saw the assassination, and someone put a microphone in his face and asked him what he saw. He was panicked, on the verge of crying. He had his five year old standing next to him. He was ready to pounce on top of him to protect him because he thought there was a maniac on the loose. That sets a certain stage for the rest of the piece, which is startling and haunting. But, there’s an aspect of the songs that has you smiling. It throws you back in time and place. Much of what the piece is about is perception and memory.

What was your creative process behind the image of JFK that continuously dissolves into images of record labels?
It has a meditative kind of effect, seeing that image reappearing. In some senses, I intended it to be reassuring, comforting, but also, it’s a memorial. It’s like looking at a tombstone. Those slow dissolves into the record labels that go in and out of JFK’s face are haunting, I think because of the idea that he was shot. It’s a complex, emotive kind of experience.

What was the most surprising thing you discovered?
The most surprising part of my research was the sheer vastness of songs written about John F. Kennedy in so many musical genres. People felt compelled to write them. People felt like their feelings needed to be expressed. A song in the installation called The Tragedy of Kennedy, by the Southern Belle singers recorded in December 1963, ends with:

Let me tell you people what we better do,
Keep our minds on Jesus for he’s a President, too.

It identifies Kennedy in that role, as a great savior who was martyred.

Why do you think Kennedy was memorialized through such diverse musical genres?
Corridos extol the virtues of the president who excited our passion to bring equality to all. The blues singers could identify with the sadness everyone was feeling. Country songs are often about mortality. It fit neatly into traditional music forms, where the way people were feeling could be expressed.

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* “Listening Hard” runs in the C3 Theater at designated times during Museum hours and is included in free general admission.

Andrea Vargas Severin is the Interpretation Specialist at the DMA.

Music and Masterpieces

We are very excited about the upcoming launch of a new program, Music and Masterpieces, produced in partnership with the Dallas Opera, on Saturday, November 10.

We have worked closely with our Arts District neighbor the Dallas Opera on many programs and projects in the past. These have included the commission of the song cycle A Question of Light by writing duo Gene Scheer and Jake Heggie, which was inspired by works of art in the DMA’s collection in honor of our shared benefactor and art advocate Margaret McDermott; hosting several special opera season preview performances; and most recently hosting a recital by Laura Claycomb.

The success and positive response to  A Question of Light started us thinking: How can we connect the art of performance and music with the art in the galleries in a more meaningful way, and more often? After a fun brainstorming session between the DMA programming staff and the Opera’s Marketing and Education department, the idea for Music and Masterpieces was born. The DMA and the Dallas Opera will work together to choose a theme based on an area of the DMA’s collection or special exhibitions that will serve as inspiration for a performance and tour to be held on the same day. Through this pairing, visitors will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of both of these art forms and the influences they have on one another within a shared theme, era, or culture.

Jules Cheret, “Jardin de Paris”, 1890, color lithograph, Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Milton F. Gutglass, M1998.158, Photo by John R. Glembin, Milwaukee Art Museum

Next Saturday’s Music and Masterpieces program is inspired by the exhibition Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec and His Contemporaries. Nathalie Paulin*, a French-Canadian soprano, will perform music ranging from late 19th-century French opera to art songs and Parisian bistro chansons. A tour of the exhibition will follow the performance. The performance will start at 2:00 p.m, and the tour will begin at 3:00 p.m. Please arrive early as space on the tour is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis the day of the event. 

Nathalie Paulin

We have other Music and Masterpieces programs in the works as well. On January 27, 2013, we will feature Twyla Robinson*, soprano, with Charles Dillard* as accompanist. This program will be themed around the exhibition Difference? and will include music from the 20th century featuring strong feminine themes.

We hope to see you Saturday and at future Music and Masterpieces programs!

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

*Artists subject to change

Pick Our Main Stage Act

September’s Late Night theme is “iMuseum,” where you can use technology to explore the DMA and participate in new, experimental, and interactive programs. We also want you to pick our September Main Stage Act by voting for your favorite performance from our Be Our Main Stage Act contest. The winner will be announced next week.

And the finalists are (click here to cast your vote):

Daniel Hart

Veronica Lopez

Jon Meyer

J. D. Whittenburg

Little Birds

Dallas Activities Get a Splash of Color with Late Nights

As you know, our Late Nights are a staple for Dallas activities in the Metroplex. For our second YouTube video, we chose to feature what makes this program so special. If you know anyone who has not experienced Late Nights, share the video with them and plan your visit!

Thursday Night Live: An Artful Addition to the Nightlife in Dallas

Nightlife in Dallas has a touch of jazz on Thursday nights. Our weekly event, Thursday Night Live, features an exciting vibe with great Dallas jazz bands, exquisite art, and thoughtful conversations. In this video, some of our most loyal fans describe what makes Thursday nights so special in the Dallas Arts District, including live jazz, Artist Encounters, and free student admission.

Every Thursday Night Live runs from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. (unless otherwise noted).  Please leave a comment and tell us about your Thursday Night Live experiences.

Late Nights With Family, Bring Everyone Together

Trying to find new things to do with the family on Friday night can be a challenge. That’s why we want to give you the inside scoop on family-friendly activities available at Late Nights at the DMA. Held the third Friday of each month, these are fun ways for you and your family to unleash your creative tendencies. Here are ten ways to help you plan a “great escape.”

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  1. Studio Creations: Studio Creations enables you to use different media, such as paint, pencil, sculpture, and fabric, to create works inspired by Museum exhibitions. Late Night creations combine research on existing art with creation of new art.
  2. Arturo’s Nest: Our 2- to 4-year-old visitors can explore the space around them while using blocks, puzzles, and games to develop spatial learning skills in a fun and creative environment.
  3. Yoga for Kids: Children are constantly surrounded by stresses and stimuli and need a healthy way of centering themselves. Yoga for Kids helps youngsters improve their body awareness and flexibility in a fun and relaxing environment.
  4. Bedtime Stories with Arturo: Kids can dress up in their pajamas and listen to bedtime stories with our award-winning storyteller, Ann Marie Newman.
  5. Space Bar: Tap into your family’s creativity and make works of art inspired by the Center for Creative Connections’ Encountering Space exhibition.
  6. Creativity Challenge: It’s a race against the clock! Design creative pieces inspired by works of art before the time runs out. The challenges require teammates to work together with limited resources, stretching their creativity and exercising their ingenuity.
  7. Film Screenings: Each Late Night, the Museum showcases various films inspired by different exhibitions and artworks.
  8. Performances: Every Late Night features various artists doing what they do best. From instructional programs to lectures in the Auditorium, a variety of performances are available for you to experience.
  9. Tours: Our Insomniac Tour showcases works of art from our collections and exhibitions, and is led by our in-house art experts. If you can’t hold out until 10:00 p.m., take a self-guided tour as a family with one of our bite-sized tours and discover the collections in a new way.
  10. Music: From classical to modern, music can be heard throughout the galleries and in the Atrium each Late Night, enhancing the experience of art lovers.

Each Late Night is full of activities and special events suitable for children and grown-ups of all ages. The theme for each Late Night changes from month to month, so each visit to the Museum features different familyexperiences. Check out the Late Night schedule on our website for more information on our upcoming activities.


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