Archive for the 'Arts & Letters Live' Category

Adventures with Stephen Tobolowsky

On April 18, Stephen Tobolowsky will return to the DMA Arts & Letters Live stage to celebrate the release of his second memoir, My Adventures with God. In preparation for his visit, I had the privilege of interviewing Stephen about his acting turned writing career and some of the things he learned along the way. His answers are insightful, relatable, and as always, humorous. From the aspiring artist to the admiring onlooker, Stephen offers advice, intentionally or not, for anyone interested in advancing his or her own path to success and level of self-awareness. So, what did I glean from our interchange, you might wonder? Well, as a young professional embarking on a long career ahead of me, this interview reminded me that I do not need to have all the answers, That I can trust my instincts, and that, even in times of doubt, I should cling to what gives me strength and a sense of what makes me, me. Below you can read just a snippet of our discussion and get a glimpse into what’s to come on the night of his much anticipated appearance at the DMA:

Sara: In this book, you continually return to Judaism as a kind of grounding force throughout the vicissitudes of your life. Can you speak broadly about how you understand the role of faith, religious or not, factoring into one’s lived experience?

Stephen: This is the question from which all questions come. We like to think that we are fixed quantities that move through time. We are not. We are equations with more than one unknown. I think this fundamental uncertainty about our existence is why we cling to things we feel are certain. Like science. Like art. It’s why people like cats. We are certain of their uncertainness.

The only protections we have from false prophets and the despair that grips us all at one time or another is beauty and in embracing a good philosophy. Judaism provides both.

We live in an age that popularly views religion as primitive and elevates science. I like science, even when it is wrong. I find the pursuit of answers inspirational. But for my money, I don’t care how smart Steven Hawking is or how interesting a black hole may be, if he doesn’t understand the Holiness code of Leviticus, not to curse the deaf nor put an obstacle before the blind, it doesn’t add up to much.

Judaism is a layer cake built over thousands of years. The different layers reflect that age’s relationship to truth. In some ages, it was popular to think that truth can be known. You end up with the Ten Commandments. In other ages, it was popular to think the truth was hidden. You end up with mystical works like the Zohar and the Midrash. There are very few creations of man that have existed through so many conflicting times and have survived so many hardships. The wisdom embodied in Judaism has endured. The philosophy in a nutshell? From Hillel over two thousand years ago: “What is hateful to you do not do unto your fellow man. The rest is commentary. Go and study.”

To read the entire interview, you can visit Stephen’s website, where he posted the exchange in two parts: Part I and Part II. The Museum is excited to welcome Stephen back to DMA Arts & Letters Live, so go grab a copy of My Adventures with God in the DMA Store and join us for an evening full of inquisitive minds, entertaining anecdotes, and rip-roaring laughter.

Sara Beth Greenberg is the McDermott Graduate Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

Genre Bending

Walter De Maria

“Every good work of art should have at least ten meanings,” remarked Walter de Maria, one of the major figures in the history of Minimal, Conceptual, Installation, and Land, in 1974. One thing I admire about his work is how complex and multifaceted it is (literally and figuratively); it invites us as viewers to hold in mind a few ideas at once and to consider it from a variety of perspectives.

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, January 18 to do exactly that, and to celebrate the DMA’s recent co-acquisition with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art of Large Rod Series: Circle/Rectangle 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 by De Maria at a DMA Arts & Letters Live event.

Top: author Geoff Dyer Bottom: DMA curator Gavin Delahunty

Top: author Geoff Dyer
Bottom: DMA curator Gavin Delahunty

This Artful Musings event will feature senior curator Gavin Delahunty who organized the Walter De Maria: Counterpoint installation and will provide an overview of the artist, his work, and importance; award-winning author Geoff Dyer who has written about De Maria’s work in his newest book White Sands; and percussionist Stockton Helbing, who will perform some of the artist’s rare musical compositions.

After 5:00 p.m., you can linger in the installation before it goes off view on January 22 — it’s the perfect opportunity in a quieter setting to experience the artist’s work. As Caitlin Haskell notes in her catalogue essay, “it takes time to come to know them.” There is rich resonance between El Greco’s painting of Saint Francis Kneeling in Meditation (1605-1610, on loan from the Meadows Museum) and De Maria’s sculpture. The juxtaposition of these two works creates a rich meditation on the themes of minimalism, mathematics, progression, and sensory perception.

Walter De Maria, Counterpoint

Walter De Maria: Counterpoint, 2016

Shortly after 7:00 p.m., percussionist Stockton Helbing will perform of one of De Maria’s musical compositions, with Gavin Delahunty’s and Geoff Dyer’s insights and conversation kicking off at 7:30 p.m. Dyer will then sign copies of his books, and Delahunty will sign copies of the newly published exhibition catalogue.

demaria-jackets-05

Both artist and author defy easy classification or categorization in their respective fields. De Maria was a painter, sculptor, illustrator, and composer. The New Yorker calls Dyer “a restless polymath and an irresistibly funny storyteller. . . . adept at fiction, essay, and reportage, but happiest when twisting all three into something entirely his own.”

Dyer’s newest book, White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World, showcases his series of fascinating adventures and pilgrimages across the globe. They range from searching for Gauguin’s notion of exotic paradise in Tahiti to nearly freezing and being trampled by a dog sled on a quest to see the Northern Lights. Weaving stories about recent travels with images and memories from his childhood, Dyer tries to discern what a certain place and, like De Maria, what a certain way of marking a landscape, means; he explores the power and attraction that certain places hold and what we seek in them.

My favorite chapter in White Sands is the one in which Dyer, his wife, and friends experience De Maria’s The Lightning Field in western New Mexico, where the only way to visit is to reserve a cabin on the property and stay overnight, allowing you to experience the 400 rods in at various times of day and in varying degrees of sunlight.  Reading it made me want to prioritize this as my next road trip.

Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field, Quemado, New Mexico

Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field, Quemado, New Mexico

For those who want to delve further into this topic and artist, don’t miss the opportunity to hear Walter De Maria in his own words about his land art installations as part of a free film screening of The Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art on Saturday, January 21 at 2:00 p.m. at the DMA. Explore Arts & Letters Live’s lineup of more than 30 events over the next six months here.

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

But Wait There’s More!

DMA Arts & Letters Live, the Museum’s acclaimed literary and performing arts series, announced a “but wait there’s more!” extension of its 25th anniversary season this week with six author events for the fall.

I’m particularly excited that each of these carefully selected programs dovetails with the DMA’s collection, and we’re offering pre-event tours so that people can explore connections between the featured books and art currently on view.

Here’s the scoop and a few tidbits on why we selected them.

September 11: Robert Hoge

Robert Hoge UGLY

Australian author Robert Hoge wowed us with his TEDx talk, sharing his own poignant and personal story of being born with a tumor on his face and disfigured legs. His memoir for adults and now middle grade students, Ugly addresses life, love, beauty, imperfection, and pain, so his story will resonate with a wide variety of ages. Hoge says, “We all have scars only we can own.” Our pre-event tour will focus on Frida Kahlo’s Self Portrait Very Ugly and stir discussion about self-perception and ideas of beauty.

September 15: Ross King

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1908, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, 1981.128

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1908, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, 1981.128

Ross King returns to the DMA by popular demand with his new book, Mad Enchantment, about the beloved artist Claude Monet and the creation of his famous water lily paintings. He argues that there is more than meets the eye with these serene images of beauty, examining the complexity behind them and the frustrations and challenges that Monet overcame to create them. A docent will discuss the DMA’s iconic painting of water lilies and other Impressionist highlights before the event.

September 28: Candice Millard

Candice Millard Hero of the Empire

Candice Millard’s brilliant new biography, Hero of the Empire, pinpoints the little-known story of young Winston Churchill’s Indiana Jones–like adventures, including a bold escape from prison camp during the Boer War. Millard offers keen insights on how the lessons Churchill learned in the midst of these challenges related to his achievements and legacy as prime minister later in his life. Before the event, enjoy a gallery talk about Winston Churchill’s friendship with Wendy and Emery Reves and see his paintings and belongings on view in the Reves Collection.

October 26: Yaa Gyasi and Margo Jefferson

Yaa Gyasi_credit Michael Lionstar

Margo Jefferson (c) Michael Lionstar

One of the most buzzworthy books this summer, garnering more than 250 stellar reviews on Amazon, Yaa Gyasi’s epic debut novel, Homegoing, begins with two half-sisters in 18th-century Ghana—one married off to a wealthy Englishman, the other sold into slavery—and traces the lives of their descendants to 20th-century America. (FYI: Knopf acquired the novel for more than $1 million from the then 25-year-old author!). Pulitzer Prize–winning critic Margo Jefferson adored Gyasi’s novel and will discuss it with her as well as her own National Book Critics Circle Award–winning memoir, Negroland. Before the event, join curator Dr. Roslyn Walker in the galleries to explore works of art from Ghana.

November 15: Hannah Rothschild

Hannah Rothschild PB Cover

British author Hannah Rothschild knows the art world—she comes from a prominent art-collecting family and is the first woman chair of the National Gallery in London. Rothschild is coming to the DMA in her only US appearance for the paperback release of her debut novel, The Improbability of Love. The New York Times hailed it as “a frolicsome art-world caper,” and Elizabeth Gilbert called it “an inspired feast of clever delights.” In it, Annie McDee stumbles upon a grimy painting in a secondhand shop that turns out to be a lost masterpiece by one of the most important French artists of the 18th century. While searching for the painting’s identity, Annie will unwittingly uncover some of the darkest secrets of European history as well as the possibility of falling in love again. Before the event, don’t miss the chance to hear Dr. Nicole Myers, The Lillian and James H. Clark Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, highlight 18thcentury French paintings in the DMA’s collection.

November 17: Patricia Cornwell

Patricia CORNWELL__Author Photo__cred Patrick Ecclesine

We’ve had several requests to bring in the #1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell on audience surveys, so we are excited to cap off our 25th anniversary season with twenty-five years of Cornwell’s popular high-stakes series starring medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta. Cornwell will share insights about her new novel, Chaos, involving a cyberbully; her creative process in researching and writing her books; and her theory that artist Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper. Fans can purchase VIP experience tickets that include a wine and cheese reception with the author, a hardcover copy of Chaos, reserved premium seating, and a book signing fast-track pass.

You can make DMA Arts & Letters Live your own book club—invite your friends to join you for these unique and inspiring evenings combining books and art!

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

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.

Last Painting_Layout 1-2.indd

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.

20151130_171152

“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.


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