Archive for the 'Arts & Letters Live' Category

The Golden Age: Dominic Smith

The DMA hosted author Dominic Smith as part of our Arts & Letters Live 25th anniversary season, and this event is also the launch party for his new novel, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos. We are excited to be the first place where book and art enthusiasts can grab a copy of the novel and spend time with the Texas-based author. The book has already received high acclaim, including from author Ben Fountain, who praised it as “quite simply, one of the best novels I have ever read, and as close to perfect as any book I’m likely to encounter in my reading life.” Uncrated was able to chat with Smith prior to his appearance and learn a bit more about his love of art and the focal point of his novel, Sara de Vos.

Photo: Stacy Sodolak

Photo: Stacy Sodolak

DMA: Have you always been drawn to art and in particular Dutch work?
DS: I’ve always loved museums and old paintings. I first experienced the Dutch Golden Age up close about 15 years ago, when I spent a year living in Amsterdam. During my time there, I was struck by the sheer variety and output of the Dutch baroque period. Bawdy genre scenes, delicate floral still lifes, serene landscapes, austere portraits—the subjects run the gamut. And by some estimates, there were about 50,000 Dutch painters plying their trade across the 17th century; if you walked into an Amsterdam butcher shop or bakery in 1630 you might have found floor-to-ceiling paintings. A painting could cost the same as a fish at the market, or it could cost the same as a house. This period endlessly fascinates me, especially the artistic fate of the 25 or so women who were admitted to a Guild of St. Luke, the main professional body for painters. We have surviving works for only a handful of those two dozen baroque women painters.

Johannes Vermeer, Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, c. 1670–1672, oil on canvas, The Leiden Collection, Inv# JVe-100 28.2015.1 © The Leiden Collection, New York

Johannes Vermeer, Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, c. 1670–72, oil on canvas, © The Leiden Collection, New York

DMA: Tell us a bit about your character, Sara de Vos. What do you feel Sara’s response would be to a few of the eight works from her contemporaries on view in the DMA’s exhibition Vermeer Suite: Music in 17th-Century Dutch Painting?
DS: I think Sara de Vos would be very pleased with these paintings. Like the real Judith Leyster, who sometimes painted genre scenes of merrymaking in taverns, Sara de Vos belongs to a moment of Dutch painting that celebrated music as part of everyday life. In the novel, Sara de Vos mostly paints landscapes and still lifes, but she would have greatly admired Vermeer’s Young Woman Seated at a Virginal. The light from the unseen window and the dramatic shadows on the virginal and in the woman’s clothing really capture this as a moment of suspended time. Her hands look as if they’re continuing to play the piece of music, even as she’s looking directly at us. I can’t help wondering what that music sounds like.

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DMA:  Why is it unique that de Vos would have painted landscapes, and how did this shape your story?
DS: There are no known landscapes by Dutch women painters of the Golden Age. So part of the conceit of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos involved working out the circumstances under which a woman might have created a landscape. The traditional explanation for the lack of landscapes by women is that it was a genre that required many hours spent out of doors and this was not the domain of women during the 17th century. I accept this explanation somewhat. But it’s worth remembering that there were women who defied convention during this time period. Maria Sibylla Merian left behind her estranged husband at the end of the 17th century and moved with her daughter to Surinam (a Dutch colony at the time) in South America for two years. She spent her days in the jungle sketching botanical specimens. If a Dutch Golden Age woman can do that, then surely she could spend a day sketching outside by herself, in preparation for a landscape that might be finished in her studio. Maybe a brother, husband, or older son could have accompanied her. My hunch is that the masters who presided over the Guilds of St. Luke decided that landscapes would be the exclusive realm of men. The novel tries to subvert this notion and bring a landscape by a baroque woman to life.

Kimberly Daniell is the Senior Manager of Communications, Public Affairs, and Social Media Strategy at the DMA.

Ten Times Dwight Schrute Was Your Spirit Animal

Sage Life Lessons and Wisdom from the Duke of Dunder Mifflin Himself

In anticipation of Rainn Wilson’s visit to the DMA on March 19 as part of our 25th anniversary season of Arts & Letters Live, we’ve pulled together a list of ten times our favorite obnoxious beet farmer just “got us,” with a little visual help from art in our collection. For you Jim and Pam types out there, I apologize, but let’s be honest, our pre-coffee selves will always belong to this mustard shirt-wearing maven.

Calculating Speed…

Fred Darge, Survival of the Fittest, c. 1941, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift 1944.13

Fred Darge, Survival of the Fittest, c. 1941, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift, 1944.13

“I am fast. To give you a reference point, I am somewhere between a snake and a mongoose . . . and a panther.”  

Brain Power…

Salvador Dalí, Spectacles with Holograms and Computers for Seeing Imagined Objects, 1976, Etching, Drypoint, Lithograph, Silkscreen, and Collage, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Lois and Howard B. Wolf © 2008 Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Salvador Dalí, Spectacles with Holograms and Computers for Seeing Imagined Objects, 1976, etching, drypoint, lithograph, silkscreen, and collage, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Lois and Howard B. Wolf, 1998.6.1, © 2008 Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

“Through concentration, I can raise and lower my cholesterol at will.”  

Healthcare…

Edward Hicks , The Peaceable Kingdom, c. 1846-1847, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Art Museum League Fund 1973.5

Edward Hicks, The Peaceable Kingdom, c. 1846-47, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Art Museum League Fund, 1973.5

“In the wild, there is no healthcare. Healthcare is “Oh, I broke my leg!” A lion comes and eats you, you’re dead. Well, I’m not dead, I’m the lion, you’re dead!”

Flu Season…

George Platt Lynes, W. H. Auden Reaching into Garbage Can, 1947, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of William B. Jordan and Robert Brownlee 2000.375

George Platt Lynes, W. H. Auden Reaching into Garbage Can, 1947, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of William B. Jordan and Robert Brownlee, 2000.375

“The principle is sound. To avoid illness, expose yourself to germs, enabling your immune system to develop antibodies. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do this. . . . Maybe they have something against living forever.”

Water Cooler Gossip…

Susan Magilow, Seven Deadly Sins: Gossip, 1986, ink on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift 1989.126.6

Susan Magilow, Seven Deadly Sins: Gossip, 1986, ink on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, anonymous gift, 1989.126.6

“It’s a real shame because studies have shown that more information gets passed through water cooler gossip than through official memos. Which puts me at a disadvantage because I bring my own water to work.”

Stress Management…

Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich, The Satyr in the House of the Peasants, 1739, etching, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Carnegie Inc. 1940.48

Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich, The Satyr in the House of the Peasants, 1739, etching, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Carnegie Inc., 1940.48

“Nothing stresses me out. Except having to seek the approval of my inferiors.” 

Dealing with Crowds…

François–Auguste Biard, Seasickness on an English Corvette, 1857, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of J.E.R. Chilton 2011.27

François-Auguste Biard, Seasickness on an English Corvette, 1857, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of J. E. R. Chilton, 2011.27

“Why are all these people here? There are too many people on this earth. We need a new plague.”

 The “R” Sound…

Fish knife, c. 1870, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, The V. Stephen Vaughan Collection, gift of the 1991 Silver Supper 1992.7.10.1

Fish knife, c. 1870, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, The V. Stephen Vaughan Collection, gift of the 1991 Silver Supper, 1992.7.10.1

“No, I disagree. “R” is one of the most menacing of sounds. That’s why they call it murder not ‘muckduck.’”  

Utopia…

From Paintings in Old Imperial Palace, n.d., hand-colored etching, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. B. Hopkins 1964.44.9

From Paintings in Old Imperial Palace, n.d., hand-colored etching, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. B. Hopkins, 1964.44.9

“In an ideal world, I would have all ten fingers on my left hand so my right hand could just be a fist for punching.”  

Paying Attention…

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Lise in a White Shawl, c. 1872, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection 1985.R.58

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Lise in a White Shawl, c. 1872, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.58

“You couldn’t handle my undivided attention.”  

Julie Henley is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the DMA.

 

 

 

Uncrating 2015

At the DMA, 2015 was a great year full of art, fun, and visitors enjoying an array of exhibitions, programs, and events. Highlights include the fifth anniversary of two of our access programs (Autism Awareness Family Celebrations and Meaningful Moments), the presentation of four DMA-organized exhibitions (Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga, Michaël Borremans: As sweet as it gets, Spirit and Matter: Masterpieces from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art, and Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots), eleven Late Nights, an active year of paintings and object conservation, dozens of classes and art camps for kids, the hosting of our third naturalization ceremony, the topping out of the Museum’s new Eagle Family Plaza and north entrance, and more than 700,000 visitors in 2015. We can’t wait to see what 2016 brings!

 

Silver Belles Lettres

The DMA Arts & Letters Live series is thrilled to celebrate its 25th season—our silver anniversary—in 2016! As the DMA’s literary and performing arts series, we are known for presenting literary icons, and this year is no different, with authors from Hanya Yanagihara (author of one of the most talked about books of 2015), Erik Larson, Dave Isay, Daniel James Brown, Rainn Wilson, Elizabeth GilbertPadma Lakshmi, and Kate Tempest, just to name a few. We’re kicking off the season with an award-winning duo of “Memoiristas” on January 11: Mary Karr, who will discuss her new book The Art of Memoir, and Tony and Emmy Award–winning actor Mary-Louise Parker, who will play Mary Karr in Showtime’s forthcoming series Lit.

This year you may notice a new look on the cover of our season brochure, which you can view online or pick up in person the next time you visit the Museum. The DMA hosts a staff art show every two years, and I’ve always admired Cathy Davis-Famous’s (you’ve probably all met Cathy on a visit to the DMA; she is always ready with a smile and warm hello at our Visitor Services Desk) whimsical paper dolls made out of discarded exhibition rack cards and notecards. So, I invited her to create a special cover for our 25th season brochure. Here’s what she has to say about designing it:

“When I was asked if I would be interested in creating a design feature for the cover of the DMA Arts & Letters Live brochure celebrating its 25th anniversary, I was ecstatic! I couldn’t believe it–what an honor to be considered for this milestone event. During the fifteen years that I’ve been a part of the DMA, there has always been an impressive lineup of authors and great books. One of my favorite moments is meeting Nanny McPhee’s Emma Thompson at the booksigning table, where I made her burst into a roaring laugh when I told her that I still cry with her at the end of Sense and Sensibility when she finds out Edward Ferris isn’t married. I’ll never forget that!

“I was supplied with an large stack of images of many book covers of great authors, titles, illustrators, and photography, so much to choose from. Then the excitement gave way to stress and the pressure of coming up with a design worthy of this 25th year recognition.

“I had two or three ideas in mind, so I looked through past projects for inspiration but kept going back to what I enjoy creating the most, “Paperdolls.” I needed an image that could display a variety of covers. With the space that I had to work within, the best design would be the likeness of a Marie Antoinette–style, 17th-century fashion big skirt.

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“I proceeded to clip out images of book covers and arranged them and rearranged them until the pattern was suitable. Then I began to piece the paper images onto the template of the doll parts using paper glue, tweezers, and a toothpick. Time intensive but gratifying, she is outfitted with some of Arts & Letters Live’s best! Thanks for letting me be a part of the celebration.”

 

The 25th season promises to deliver several exciting one-of-a-kind experiences. We hope you enjoy this star-studded special anniversary season as much as we enjoyed bringing together these award-winning authors, actors, and performers. Visit DMA.org now to see our entire season and purchase your tickets.

 Carolyn Bess is the Director of Programming and Arts & Letters Live at the DMA; Cathy Davis-Famous is a Visitor Services Representative at the Museum.

Our Portal Into Publishing

View from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group located in the famous Flatiron Bldg

View from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group located in the famous Flatiron Building

The annual DMA Arts & Letters Live planning trip to New York provides the foundation for each season of the DMA’s literary and performing arts series. During more than 30 meetings in five days at the end of July, Carolyn Bess and I learned which authors are generating a lot of buzz for their new books, and who will be on tour during our 25th anniversary season. These meetings provide a portal into the publishing world not yet revealed to the media or to the public. Here begins the dialogue regarding the authors and books publishers want to catapult into public conversation. We share statistics and successes from our recent events as we attempt to woo such “wish list” writers as Donna Tartt, Bill Bryson, and Nick Hornby. Authors often tour to a predetermined number of cities and only for a short time following their book release date, so there can be significant competition when it comes to securing them for Arts & Letters Live. We seek to balance the type of books, speakers, and performances we feature in each season to construct a mix of literary and historical fiction, poetry, memoir, nonfiction, pop culture, and emerging authors.

Though our meeting schedule certainly kept us busy, we managed to squeeze a few excellent cultural outings into our visit. The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s acclaimed illustrated memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic was excellent and would fit nicely into our Artful Musings category (if only Alison weren’t in such high demand these days!). We enjoyed seeing Gerald Murphy’s Cocktail on view in the glorious new Renzo Piano building of the Whitney Museum of American Art as we look forward to hosting Liza Klaussmann tomorrow night at the DMA for her new fictional account of Sara and Gerald Murphy in Villa America. On a Friday evening visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we joined the Museum Hack tour for what their brochure terms “a highly interactive, subversive, fun, non-traditional museum tour.” Their strategy did not disappoint. During our three-hour tour, we learned obscure and whimsical tidbits about a select number of pieces in the Met’s collection and wandered the galleries after hours, inciting childhood fantasies of spending the night in the Met like Claudia in E. L. Konigsburg’s iconic novel, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

One of the things that impressed me most during these meetings was the number of times publishers commented on the excellent reputation of the Dallas Museum of Art and Arts & Letters Live. After working on events with publicists all year via phone and e-mail, it is gratifying to meet with them in person and to hear how much they appreciate the quality of events that we host at the DMA. The professional relationships built and fostered during this New York trip are a key component to Arts & Letters Live’s success.

Michelle Witcher is the Program Manager, Arts & Letters Live, at the DMA.

French Riviera Fête

Celebrate artist Gerald Murphy and the Roaring ‘20s on Thursday, August 13, at the DMA’s French Riviera Fête!

Gerald and Sara Murphy on La Garoupe beach, Antibes, summer 1926 Gerald and Sara Murphy Papers, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut © Estate of Honoria Murphy Donnelly

Gerald and Sara Murphy on La Garoupe beach, Antibes, summer 1926. Gerald and Sara Murphy Papers, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, © Estate of Honoria Murphy Donnelly.

In 1921, Gerald Murphy, his wife, Sara, and their three children set sail from New York to France. Their house, Villa America on the coast of Antibes on the French Riviera, became the site of legendary parties and the hub of an illustrious social circle that included expatriates F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, and many others. (Gerald and Sara were the real-life inspirations for Fitzgerald’s novel Tender Is the Night.) There, in their oasis by the sea, the Murphys entertained their friends with flamboyant beach parties, fiery debates over the newest ideas, and dinners beneath the stars.

On August 13, we’re having a French Riviera Fête of our own! Kick off the evening with jazz music by the Texas Gypsies and bring your dance partner. Come dressed in 1920s attire or borrow some of our props and take a selfie in our Murphy-inspired photo booth. Sip the featured cocktail (Gerald’s own recipe for “Juice of a Few Flowers”), and take tours of art by Murphy and those who inspired him.

Gerald Murphy, Razor, 1924, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the artist © Estate of Honoria Murphy Donnelly

Gerald Murphy, Razor, 1924, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the artist, © Estate of Honoria Murphy Donnelly

Gerald Murphy, Watch, 1925, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the artist © Estate of Honoria Murphy Donnelly

Gerald Murphy, Watch, 1925, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the artist, © Estate of Honoria Murphy Donnelly

Gerald Murphy only painted for seven years, and only eight of his fifteen known canvases survive today. The DMA is fortunate to own two of those surviving works: Watch and Razor. Murphy gave them directly to the Museum out of gratitude for the role its curator Douglas McAgy played in reviving his reputation as an important artist.

In 2008, the DMA hosted the exhibition Making It New about the Murphys; in a review by the New York Times, Murphy was called “the progenitor of Pop Art.” So after learning more about Gerald Murphy on August 13, mark your calendars for our International Pop exhibition opening in October.

duo

As part of this celebration, Arts & Letters Live will feature bestselling author Liza Klaussmann at 8:00 p.m. She will share insights into her new historical novel, Villa America. Pre-order your book and buy tickets to hear her speak. Actors will also do dramatic readings of letters between Gerald, Sara, and their friends. How about bringing your book club to enjoy this festive night together?

Liza Klaussmann has quite the literary pedigree herself—she’s the great-great-great granddaughter of Herman Melville. A former journalist, Klaussmann was born in Brooklyn and spent ten years living in Paris. She currently lives in London.

“Liza Klaussmann’s Villa America is so artful and compassionate that I couldn’t fail to love the Murphys and everyone who fell into their orbit during those Lost Generation years, all of them fascinating and flawed and human. This is a beautifully rendered story.”―Therese Anne Fowler, author of “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald”

Want to read more about Sara and Gerald Murphy? I highly recommend these books too:
Amanda Vaill, Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy, a Lost Generation Love Story, 1998
Linda Patterson Miller, ed., Letters from the Lost Generation: Gerald and Sara Murphy and Friends, 2002

 

Carolyn Bess is the Director of Programming and Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

A Soft Touch

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This evening, in advance of our special DMA Arts & Letters Live event with Rebecca Alexander, who will discuss her memoir about losing her vision and hearing due to a rare genetic disease, we will host our first Touch Tour for adults in the Museum’s Sculpture Garden. Last summer, the DMA hosted a similar tour for a group of children with visual impairment; you can explore photos from the event below and learn more about the history here.

Tonight, artist John Bramblitt will lead participants to three works of art and then discuss his process as an artist who happens to be blind. The all-inclusive tour for those attending the Arts & Letters Live event (those with full vision will be given blindfolds for the tour) begins at 6:15 p.m. Visit DMA.org for additional information about tonight’s program and to purchase tickets.

Amanda Blake is the Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA. 


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