Archive for the 'Exhibitions' Category

Supporting Art

Hopi Visions: Journey of the Human Spirit is a new year-long exhibition highlighting a forty-eight foot mural by Hopi artists Michael Kabotie and Delbridge Honanie. The mural, titled Journey of the Human Spirit, depicts the history of the Hopi people from their mythic emergence to modern day. Included in the installation are numerous works from the DMA’s permanent collection, carefully curated to enhance and highlight the story told by the mural. Many of the objects included are ceramics ranging in dates from 950 CE to the late 20th century. As can be expected with such a range of dates, the condition of the objects varies from pristine to reassembled fragments. A question that must be answered prior to installing works like these is how to best display the work while not compromising its structural integrity. This problem is often solved by building specialty mounts.

A mount is a support, backing, or setting on which an object is fixed for display purposes. There are multiple types of mounts, but the one utilized most for Hopi Visions is a custom built brass mount. Russell Sublette, who just celebrated his 39th year at the DMA, is a Senior Preparator and the Head Mount Maker at the Museum. He is responsible for the majority of mounts you see (or rather, don’t see) within the permanent collection displays.

During exhibition planning, the curator and designer work together to determine how they wish to display an object. Do they want to show a bowl placed flat on a surface in a way that reflects its utilitarian purpose or do they want to display it at an angle to better highlight the design on the interior? Once these decisions have been reached, it is up to Russell to turn these wishes into a reality. He carefully inspects the object, looking for fractures, breaks, and any other issues that might affect its structural integrity, in order to determine the best contact points between the mount and the object. He then takes measurements and works on design. Russell’s goal is to create a mount that provides maximum stability while maintaining a minimal profile. In other words, the mount needs to be as invisible as possible. It is a job that requires focus and precision.

Russell begins with long rods of brass that he cuts down and shapes to follow to contour of the object. He uses extreme care when working on the clips—the part of the mount on which the object rests. It is imperative that the clips do not put too much pressure on the object as that could lead to cracks and breakage. Once he has completed the fabrication of the mount, Russell hands it over to fellow preparator, Sean Cairns, for the finishing touches. Sean’s job is to make the visible parts of the mount disappear. He paints the mount to match the object’s design as closely possible, layering colors and making sure to inspect the piece from multiple viewpoints. When Sean’s work is done, the mount should blend seamlessly with the object.

A good mount maker is a great asset to any museum. Mount making requires skill, talent, and artistic abilities, all of which abound in Russell and Sean. So, when you visit Hopi Visions, please appreciate the objects on display, but then take an extra moment to appreciate the mounts that support the art.

Katie Province is the Assistant Registrar for Collections and Exhibitions at the DMA

Building on Truth

As visitors go through Truth: 24 frames per second, they will notice some truly unique environments that were created just for this exhibition. Some of these works have very specific requirements for how the artist wanted them to be installed; although the film or video is its own type of “world,” the artists are very sensitive to how it is experienced in space. The exhibitions team worked directly with some of the artists to realize very specific visions of built environments.

Ben Rivers drew inspiration from Jake, the subject of his film, who had corrugated metal sheets in various colors on his roof and siding of his “hut.” This shelter in the forest is shown in the film, but as it is black and white, the physical structure in the exhibition brings the playful character of this shelter to life. It has the added benefit of creating a more intimate place to view this voyeuristic narrative. Rivers first provided us with a hand sketch, which I drew up to scale, and we determined that we needed to adjust the size to make it more accessible to all of our visitors. The team built the internal structure out of two by fours, and scouted for used corrugated metal. During the process, the artist decided to mimic the colors of Jake’s roof instead of the patina on the metal, so we ended up buying corrugated metal sheets and painting them. Seeing the finished piece draw in visitors with its curious color palette and flicker film inside has been a wonderful reward for our hard work on this piece, and Ben Rivers was very pleased with this iteration of his work as well.

Creating an environment around John Gerrard’s Western Flag followed a somewhat similar process, although he has a very involved working studio. They provided us with detailed and precise fabrication specs  to emulate and adapt to our space. The result is a beautifully seamless surface, projected from inside of a cube. The cube appears to float ever so slightly off the floor, which adds to the perfect otherworldliness of the computer-generated reality portrayed in Western Flag.

Discover more about Gerrard’s work from the artist himself during State of the Arts: New Media and the Future of Art on Thursday, January 25, when the artist joins KERA’s Jerome Weeks in conversation with SMU Assistant Professor of Media Arts Amber Bemak.

Skye Malish-Olson is an Exhibition Designer at the DMA.

What a year!

What a year 2017 was at the DMA! Below is a brief look back on some of our memorable moments.

January
The launch of the C3 Visiting Artist Project.
The DMA Teen Advisory Council organized and debuted their Disconnect to Reconnect program.
The launch of Sensory Scouts, a monthly program designed for teens and tweens on the autism spectrum.
The 26th season of DMA Arts & Letters Live kicked off on January 14 with Zadie Smith.
The DMA welcomed Anna Katherine Brodbeck as The Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art.

February
The DMA launches its first ever crowdfunding campaign, Destination Dallas: Bringing México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde to Dallas, bringing in more than $100,000.
The DMA’s Speakeasy was the bee’s knees, celebrating the Shaken, Stirred, Styled: The Art of the Cocktail exhibition.

March
México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde opens at the DMA on March 12, presenting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the greats of Mexican modernism in Dallas.
The first of a total of 12 DMA Family Days launched on Sunday, March 26, with a total of 39,778 visitors on those days, with almost half being first-time visitors.

April
The 52nd Art Ball raises more than $1.3 million.
The DMA is proud to be the recipient of the second annual Dallas Art Fair Foundation Acquisition Program, which included the addition of work by Justin Adian, Katherine Bradford, Andrea Galvani, Matthews Wong, and Derek Fordjour.
The Keir Collection of Islamic Art Gallery opens to the public, marking the largest public presentation of the collection to date.

May
Aruto’s Nest got a new look.
Visions of America: Three Centuries of Prints from the National Gallery of Art and Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion open, kicking off our summer fun.

June
Works of art centered around the idea of communication went on view in C3.
Twenty-four DISD students with vision impairment participated in the DMA’s first indoor touch tour of the Museum’s European sculptures.
Six hundred and fifty sleuths help solve our sixth annual Museum Murder Mystery evening.
President and Mrs. Bush explored México 1900–1950 with DMA Director Agustín Arteaga.

July
More than 1,000 people participated in our Guinness World Record attempt on what would have been Frida Kahlo’s 110th birthday during the DMA’s Frida Fest, with almost 6,000 visitors in attendance.
México 1900–1950 welcomed 125,894 visitors before it closed on July 16.
Visitors went gaga for our Iris van Herpen-themed Late Night featuring a Lady Gaga costume contest.

August
Guerrilla Girl Käthe Kollwitz discussed the groups iconic work during the August Late Night
The Junior Associates celebrated the last days of summer during their August 25 Kickoff Party.

September
The DMA celebrated the first anniversary of Agustín Arteaga’s tenure as The Eugene McDermott Director.
DMA Members got to be the first to step into infinity during two weeks of preview days for Yayoi Kusama: All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins.
More than $17,000 was gifted to the DMA during North Texas Giving Day.
The Dallas Cultural Plan held a kickoff event at the DMA to help shape the future of arts and culture in Dallas.

October
Yayoi Kusama officially opened and immediately became an Instagram sensation.
Truth: 24 frames per second, the DMA’s first time-based media exhibition, opened.
TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art, benefiting amfAR and the Dallas Museum of Art, raised over $7.3 million.
It was Potter-mania during a spellbinding Second Thursday with a Twist.

November
The second annual Rosenberg Fête featured an evening themed around François Lemoyne’s The Bather from the Rosenberg Collection.
More than 7,000 visitors took part in our three-day Islamic Art Festival: The Language of Exchange celebrating the Keir Collection of Islamic Art.

December
Asian Textiles: Art and Trade Along the Silk Road goes on view in the Museum’s Level 3 gallery.
We traveled to a gallery far, far away during the final Second Thursday with a Twist inspired by Star Wars
The DMA reflects upon a year of amazing art, events, and visitors!

The Art of Installing Media

Truth: 24 frames per second took a team of DMA staff to create and Lance Lander, Manager of Gallery Technology & Innovation, shared the nuts-and-bolts logistics of putting together  the challenging installation with Uncrated.

What are some past media installations you’ve mounted and how were they special or different from Truth?
The first large scale installation that I did was Fast Forward in 2006. I had fourteen media based works of art to install and maintain. One of the works was “I like it here better than in Westphalia,” El Dorado 1968-1976 by Lothar Baumgarten which is three slide projectors and sound. The piece is a beautiful work of art that uses technology to convey the beauty found in nature. There is a soundtrack that controls the advancement of the slide projectors. So you have the sounds and visuals of nature and the sounds and visuals of the mechanical slide projectors. The projectors require a lot of maintenance and I spent many hours keeping that thing going. In retrospect, working so hard on that piece made me fall in love with the job.

Other large scale installations I’ve done include Phil Collins’ the world won’t listen, and the exhibitions Private Universe and Mirror Stage.

What were some of the major time consuming tasks that you had to complete before installing the works of art?
For a typical video installation like the Rachel Rose, Omer Fast, or Steve McQueen, where you have a single channel video with sound, I like to have 5 days for installation. For this exhibition with 24 works of art we had a mere three weeks. We worked late nights and weekends all the way up to the opening. Because the exhibition is in two galleries at opposite ends of the building I was walking eight miles a day!

From 16mm projectors to 12-feet-tall LED screens, Truth encompasses a range of diverse technologies. Were there any works especially challenging to install? Do you have a favorite?
I really love the historical connection we made in the Bruce Conner REPORT space. Our Exhibition Designer, Skye Olson, was able to procure 6 original seats from the Texas Theater which is where Lee Harvey Oswald was captured.  But the most difficult piece, and my favorite, is Western Flag by John Gerrard. It is also the only piece in the exhibition that is not a film or video. It’s a software based simulation of a landscape. Essentially, it’s a non-interactive video game. Mr. Gerrard sent very precise drawings and stated that if it was even 2 millimeters off we would need to rebuild it. Our carpenter, Josh Harstrom, built the walls of the cube and Tom McKerrow and Brian Cahill built the frame of the projection screen. The preparators stretched and stapled the screen. When Mr. Gerrard arrived he was impressed with all the work we had done.

This exhibition was truly a cross-departmental collaboration that has involved every branch of the Museum. Can you call out some MVPs who helped you knock it out?
Mike Hill was the Head Preparator for this show and he did, as always, an incredible job. He took over the Anne Tallentire Drift and Dara Birnbaum Tiananmen Square installations. He also installed all of the acoustical material and covered them with fabric in the James Coleman space. Doug Velek has assisted me on everything I’ve installed since I started working here. I couldn’t have done it without him. All of the preparators stepped up to make the exhibition happen. John Lendvay, Mary Nicolette, Sean Cairns, Erik Baker, Ellia Maturino, Marta Lopez, and Russell Sublett all served a vital role. Registrar Melissa Omholt was so great to work with. She kept the flow of information going and kept me on track. There was also the design that Jessica and Skye came up with. Some of these pieces require specific room dimensions and I am amazed they were able to make it all fit and have all of the artists agree to it. I would be remiss to not mention Joni and her equable style of managing complex exhibitions with aplomb.

But I really can’t stress enough the indelible impact that Sue MacDarmid had on the exhibition. I first met Sue in 2007 when she came to install the world won’t listen. She represents and installs for Willie Doherty, Phil Collins, Steve McQueen, and others. When we started discussing an all media show I knew that she would be an integral part. I was able to reach her early enough to schedule her for three weeks. She is one the best media installers and she inspires me. I have so much trust in her that whenever she had an idea I would make it happen.

Chelsea Pierce is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant, Contemporary Art at the DMA

Take a Seat

Truth: 24 frames per second opened this past Sunday to the public at the DMA and is on view through January 28, 2018.

The exhibition features 24 works of time-based media, spanning more than six decades. The overall experience is designed to provoke more questions than answers; some of the themes of these works include political unrest, pop culture, and news media. Bruce Connor’s REPORT, created 1963-67, explores media coverage of the JFK assassination, and is the first work visitors will encounter upon entering the exhibition. This piece from the DMA collection is a captivating collage of television broadcast footage, sound, and flickering light, that sets the tone for the rest of the exhibition. The theatrical and traumatic portrayal of the Kennedy assassination, when viewed through Conner’s installation, calls to attention how we absorb information through the media.

Each installation in this show was designed with specifications from the artist or artist’s estate as to how it should be portrayed, giving near scientific precision to the subtleties of viewing the work. For REPORT, in addition to those specifications, we were able to obtain historic theater seats from the Texas Theatre. Given that the actual subject matter depicted took place in Dallas, and Lee Harvey Oswald was subsequently arrested at the Texas Theatre–we were pleased to be able to combine efforts with Texas Theatre to add these pieces of material culture and historic connection to the experience of the film. The seats’ vintage dates to the time period when Oswald was actually caught there during the screening of a movie.

The chairs, kept in storage at Texas Theatre since its later renovation, were re-assembled by Lance Lander and our team of preparators, as well as cleaned and cared for by our assistant objects conservator, Elena Torok. The final installation space contains two symmetrical rows of theater seats, facing REPORT, its strobing black and white footage making the setting feel very dramatic and palpable. We felt that adding these vintage red theater seats, with their notorious connection, would lend an authentically Dallas-specific component to the installation.

Thanks to the Texas Theatre and the DMA staff members who made this collaboration possible. Come see Bruce Conner’s REPORT on view through January 28, 2018.

Skye Malish-Olson is the Exhibition Designer 

Exhibition Throwback

More than fifty years after their Dallas debut, several paintings by South American artists are on view at the Dallas Museum of Art. These works first appeared on the Museum’s walls in 1959 as part of the exhibition South American Art Today at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in Fair Park (DMFA). Now they reside in the terminus of the Tower Gallery, which formerly housed a portion of México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde.

Sue Canterbury, The Pauline Gill Sullivan Associate Curator of American Art, selected thirty works from the Latin American art collection and private collections to fill the walls of this T-shaped gallery. The front portion of the gallery contains twenty works by artists living in Mexico from the 1930s to 1950s.

Perpendicular to this space is the high-ceilinged gallery featuring ten works by South American artists. Eight of these entered the Museum’s permanent collection following their presentation in South American Art Today—an exhibition scheduled during the 1959 State Fair of Texas, when the DMFA’s Fair Park building welcomed thousands of fair-goers.

For the assembly of the show, DMFA Director Jerry Bywaters hired Dr. José Gómez-Sicre, a Cuban art critic and writer who was the Chief of the Visual Arts Section of the Pan-American Union (now the Organization of American States). Following the end of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, public enthusiasm for international solidarity and cultural exchange increased. Though some in the United States still feared the political influences of Communist-controlled countries, Bywaters and DMFA patrons embraced the need to expand awareness of contemporary art practices in South America.

To curate the exhibition, Gómez-Sicre traveled to ten countries and selected works by seventy-one artists. Following the close of South American Art Today, the DMFA purchased sixteen of the works; another four paintings from the exhibition have remained in the collection as long-term loans.

Humberto Jaimes Sanchez, Composition in Blue, by 1959, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1959.57

The eight paintings now on view in the Tower Gallery as part of the Latin American art collection were produced by artists in Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Peru, and Uruguay. In his introduction to the 1959 exhibition catalogue, Gómez-Sicre described his intention for the works to demonstrate that “the creative talents of Latin America have acquired a world vision which enables them to express national themes in subtle accents, rather than by raw, literal reproduction.”

Today visitors can enjoy these works from South American Art Today with the benefit of hindsight on the 20th-century movements that surrounded mid-century artists. The art historical context of Abstract Expressionism is readily apparent. Color, scale, and gestural brushstrokes predominate in this throwback to 1959.

Emily Schiller is the Digital Collections Content Coordinator at the DMA.

Making a List and Checking It Twice—A Day in the Life of a Registrar

The DMA recently installed Yayoi Kusama’s All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins (2016), one of the artist’s immersive Infinity Mirror Rooms. As its name suggests, the room features pumpkin lanterns that are reflected in mirrored panels, creating the illusion that they continue into infinity. The effect is both intimate (a maximum of two guests may enter at a time) and mesmerizing.

Yayoi Kusama, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016, wood, mirror, plastic, acrylic, LED, Courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London, © Yayoi Kusama

A lot of planning takes place behind the scenes before works of art go on view to the public. That is where registrars (like me) come into play! Registrars (also sometimes called Collections Managers) are responsible for both the logistics and physical care of art as well as collection-related documentation.

For most exhibitions or rotations of works of art in the galleries, we’re working with multiple pieces that come together as a group; however, with installation art like Kusama’s, we need to keep track of all the details and components that make up the piece as a whole. For this project, it meant coordinating the safe transportation of the many room components and the 62 pumpkins that go into the space once constructed.

First, we double-checked that everything traveled according to the packing list and carefully examined every single pumpkin to ensure they were ready for installation. These condition reports are like an artwork’s health chart. It’s an important ongoing part of our job because a condition report records the object information (also known as tombstone data), a general description or photo of the artwork (or pumpkin in this case!), and, most importantly, a detailed summary of the overall appearance and condition at a specific point in time.

In the months leading up to install, registrars collaborate with team members in other departments to finalize the gallery layout, installation schedules, wall text (or didactics), and any special opening events. Once the installation begins, the registrar serves as air-traffic control to help make sure the team stays, to the best of our ability, on track according to the installation schedule.

Registrars also take step-by-step notes and pictures to document the process, especially for an installation like Yayoi Kusama: All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, which requires very specific construction. Installations can be a little tiring but the end result is so rewarding! You get to see a project come together literally from the ground up and then share it with the community.

The pumpkin-themed mirror room will be on display from October 1, 2017, through February 25, 2018, with DMA Members getting a sneak peek up until the opening (DMA Member tickets are available here). Visit our website for details and to purchase tickets: DMA.org/Kusama.

 

Alicia Chavez is the Collections Assistant at the DMA.


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