Archive for November, 2010

Seldom Scene: Installing Eliasson

Dallas Museum of Art preparators Mike Hill and Lance Lander fine-tune the installation of Olafur Eliasson’s The outside of inside. This work of art, recently acquired by the DMA, is included in the new exhibition Big New Field: Artists in the Cowboys Stadium Art Program, which opens this Sunday, December 5.

Olafur Eliasson, The outside of inside, 2008, projectors, spotlights, color-filter foil, stainless steel, and control unit, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2009.1.a–aa, © 2008 Olafur Eliasson

Photography by Adam Gingrich, DMA Marketing Assistant

Celebrating the Silver: The Reves Collection at Twenty-Five

We just celebrated the silver anniversary of the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection and ever since its opening twenty-five years ago, it has been one of our most visited galleries. Featuring more than 1,400 European artworks and decorative objects, including masterpieces by Renoir, Manet, Degas, and Pissarro, this remarkable gift from the Wendy & Emery Reves Foundation, Inc. on behalf of Wendy’s late husband, Emery, transformed the Museum’s collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century European art and European decorative art.

What’s also amazing is that visitors see this collection in a 16,500-square-foot wing made specifically for it.  Built in 1985, this is not the run-of-the mill gallery space. These rooms are a faithful reproduction of the couple’s villa in the South of France. Named La Pausa, it was built in 1927  for that ultimate fashionista Coco Chanel, who directed its design. For example, the patio and the hall were built specifically to remind “Mademoiselle” of the Romanesque convent outside Paris where she boarded as a child. Many of the furnishings in the Museum’s Reves wing, including a chair in the living room, were part of Chanel’s original décor of the villa.

DMA architect Edward Larrabee Barnes meticulously re-created the library, dining room, salon, bedroom, hall, patio, and central courtyard from this  luxurious—and historically fascinating—Mediterranean retreat.

On this silver anniversary here’s a look back:

Today, visitors to the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection can access a DMA smARTphone tour of highlights from the collection. On it, Wendy Reves shares memories of life at Villa La Pausa and of her and her husband’s passion for collecting art.

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

Seldom Scene – A Penguin’s Night at the Museum

To help us celebrate our exhibition African Masks: The Art of Disguise, the Dallas Zoo’s Animal Adventure Program made an appearance at Friday’s Late Night with a few animals that call Africa home. Donny, the Black-footed Penguin, was a big hit with the DMA staff (see the BIG smiles) and with visitors too.

Backstage with Arts & Letters Live

Many people have asked me, “How do you plan Arts & Letters Live?” Here’s a glimpse into the process of how we “produced” this year’s series.

In July DMA colleagues Helen Seslowsky, Katie Hutton, and I spent five days in a very hot and humid New York meeting with nearly forty publicists from all the major publishing houses to learn the scoop about new book releases on the horizon for 2011. When we got back to Dallas, we met for about twelve hours to prioritize our wish list of authors and brainstorm about books whose themes resonate with the Museum’s upcoming exhibitions and collections installations. For example, Mexico’s renowned novelist Carlos Fuentes is coming to speak while the exhibition Tierra y Gente: Modern Mexican Works on Paper is on view. In March two biographers will share new insights into the lives of artists Lee Krasner and Amedeo Modigliani, both of whom have works in the Museum’s collections.

Throughout the year, we also travel to hear authors speak at several prominent book fairs—the Texas Book Festival in Austin, the National Book Festival in D.C., and the New Yorker Festival in Manhattan—to discover which authors speak as beautifully from the stage as they do on the page. I heard Annie Proulx, Simon Schama, Pico Iyer, Gary Shteyngart, and others at a variety of these festivals while planning the 2011 season and knew I wanted to pursue them.

From my front row seat at Steve Carell's interview with Tad Friend at the New Yorker Festival. At the 2010 festival, I also heard authors Tobias Wolff and Mary Karr, E. L. Doctorow, Atul Gawande, Yo-Yo Ma in conversation with Alex Ross, and Simon Schama and Annie Proulx -- both of whom we're bringing to Dallas as part of the 2011 season!

And because we want a season of events that will appeal to many people, we book (pun intended) a balance of fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry, and programs that combine art forms in creative and unexpected ways. In February we’ll feature Eric Siblin, author of The Cello Suites, who will share the story behind Bach’s missing manuscript, its rediscovery, and his own infatuation with this music. To give this evening added flair, we’re partnering with the Dallas Bach Society, and their cellist Gyongy Erody will perform musical excerpts to bring this story to life.

Our next step is to send out proposals to the publishers and anxiously await their responses. The process is like putting together a complex jigsaw puzzle—discerning which authors and performers are available and when. There’s been many a time when a requested author wants to come to Dallas, but he’s scheduled to be on the West Coast at the same time we want him to be here in Texas.

Katie Hutton (Interim Head, Arts & Letters Live) at The Library Hotel's rooftop bar after a long, but fruitful day of meetings with publicists in New York. The team enjoyed "Red Badge of Courage" cocktails!

Throughout the summer and early fall, we also spend at least one day every week vetting short stories for our Texas Bound series, where Texas actors read short fiction by Texas writers. Lone Star State–connected authors from all over the country submitted nearly two hundred stories for consideration. Our team reads them and brings the strongest contenders to read-aloud sessions with our director Raphael Parry, who many people know as the Executive and Artistic Director of Shakespeare Dallas. We debate the merits and potential shortcomings of each story. Does it hook the audience’s attention and follow a cohesive narrative arc, or does it lag in the middle? What actor do we imagine bringing the story to life? Constructing a program of three or four stories is like creating a chef’s tasting menu—a short, funny appetizer followed by a hearty, more serious entrée, and finally, a dessert.

Arts & Letters Live will celebrate its 20th anniversary season in 2011! I’ve been with the series nine of those years. It’s heartwarming to hear vivid recollections from many of you—what an author said to change your perspective or transport you out of the everyday. Or the “aha” moment you had in the middle of a performance combining art, music, and poetry. I hope you’ll share your favorite Arts & Letters Live moments by commenting on this post. Check out our exciting 2011 season lineup here!

Carolyn Bess is the Director of Programming at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Behind the Video

Check out this behind-the-scenes look at DMA staff filming the inspirational art-making videos that can be seen at the Center for Creative Connections Space Bar.

Creating MAW

Special Member Gift

Member Appreciation Week (MAW) is about celebrating and thanking members of the Dallas Museum of Art.

The Dallas Museum of Art has an event planning team, but this event falls directly to me. This isn’t just any event – it’s an entire week to personally say “thank you” to all our members. One of the best parts of my job is talking to people every day about why they love the DMA. It’s my chance to say that I’m happy you are member. Our members are pretty amazing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stopped at the mall and grocery store by members.

Our first MAW was last December. We had a great turnout, but we realized that we were competing with holiday parties. This year, we decided to have the event before Thanksgiving, so that we wouldn’t interfere with other events. We will celebrate Monday, November 15 through Saturday, November 20 so that all members have the opportunity to stop in. We have tours, scavenger hunts, story time for kids, and my favorite, the Museum Store estate sale!

I start the actual planning in July, which means a lot of coordinating with our educational staff. With the help of Arts & Letters Live, we secured an appearance with author Stacy Schiff for her new book, Cleopatra. We’re thrilled that it’s a sellout and we  hope to provide more events like this in the furture. Speaking of other events, on Monday members will be the first to shop for pearls, gold, watches, vintage brooches, rings, sterling silver pieces, pendants, and more at the second annual Art/Find estate sale in the DMA’s Museum Store.

My favorite part of planning MAW is picking out the member gift! This year’s gift is photo cubes. We’ve noticed that people love taking photos here so why not give them something to display those photos. I’ll soon be creating little squares for the photo cubes that say, “Add your photos to our Flickr page!” I’m constantly in the galleries taking photos and I add them to the Museum’s Flickr page all the time.

I hope you can make it next week, and if you do, please be sure to say hello. For a complete listing of events, visit

Wendi Kavanaugh is the Member Outreach Manager at the Dallas Museum of Art

Seldom Scene: A Weekly Snapshot


A DMA conference room where great programming ideas are born.

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