Archive for the 'Guest Blog Post' Category

Black and White: Pollock’s Breakthrough Paintings

Artifacts, the DMA Member magazine,  invited Jackson Pollock’s nephew Jason McCoy to share his thoughts on his uncle’s work on the eve of the DMA’s exclusive presentation of Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots, which opens on Friday, November 20. We hope you are as delighted by his article as we were to publish it.

Breakthrough: Pollock’s Black Paintings
By Jason McCoy
Original publish date: Artifacts Fall 2015

Jackson Pollock, n.d. Photograph by Hans Namuth, Courtesy Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona © 1991 Hans Namuth Estate

Jackson Pollock, n.d.
Photograph by Hans Namuth, Courtesy Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona © 1991 Hans Namuth Estate

When DMA curator Gavin Delahunty first talked to me about his dream of organizing an exhibition of Jackson Pollock’s so-called Black and White paintings, I was of course intrigued but thought to myself “good luck.” It is notoriously difficult to organize any Pollock show, and I knew the paintings were scattered all over the world. But the good luck seems now to be ours—Gavin has pulled it all off and we have been given the great good fortune to be able to view the largest assemblage of these works together, ever. Jackson Pollock is one of the most recognizable names in modern art, but we generally associate the name not with a single image of a specific painting but rather with the idea of paintings that consist of masses of fine lines, skeined across the picture’s surface in seeming confusion.

I appreciate that the Blind Spots exhibition will present an additional view of Pollock’s oeuvre, the paintings that followed the so-called pourings. These paintings were yet another breakthrough for Jackson Pollock, because here he was able to convey the certainty and discipline of works that, for the most part, were made in one session. There is a clarity to the paintings, a minimalism and a simplicity that make it all look so easy and pre-ordained. Not so, of course, but what is revealed is a master’s ability to get it right the first time, and so let the paintings stand for themselves. They are a powerful, fascinating lot, crowned with one of my personal favorite paintings of all, Portrait and a Dream, a longtime resident of Dallas.

Blind Spots will enable all of us to reevaluate the breadth and depth of Pollock’s accomplishments. It will illuminate that there was most often a figurative element in all of Pollock’s paintings, as images of man or beast are easy to recognize in Pollock’s first gestures on the plane. We can recall a comment he made to this effect, that in these paintings the “figure is coming through.” Such recognizable forms in fact caused consternation with certain modernist critics at the time, who did not care to acknowledge less than fully abstract painting as being modern.

Blind Spots will also include examples of Pollock’s interest in scale. In 1951, with the help of his brother, Sanford McCoy, he chose six paintings not at all similar in size to be used in a suite of serigraphs, a selection of which are exhibited in this exhibition. With a computer today, this type of curiosity might seem obvious, but this was not the case sixty-five years ago.

Had Pollock stopped after his “drip paintings” of the late 1940s he would certainly still have his place in history. Rather, his creative drive was such that it continued to evolve in unexpected ways and cover new ground, as Blind Spots reveals, accentuating that Pollock’s gift was much more than one-dimensional.

Untitled, n.d., Photograph by Hans Namuth, Courtesy Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona © 1991 Hans Namuth Estate

Untitled, n.d., Photograph by Hans Namuth, Courtesy Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona
© 1991 Hans Namuth Estate

–Jason McCoy is President of Jason McCoy Gallery in New York.

For more stories like the one above, all of which were created exclusively for Artifacts, visit

(image: Jackson Pollock, Portrait and a Dream, 1953, oil and enamel on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated © 2015 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

Speakeasy Star

This Friday we’re traveling through the 20th century during Late Night with a different decade highlighted every hour. We asked one of our favorite costume gurus, Breanna Cooke (you may remember the amazing Greek Hero look she created inspired by The Body Beautiful), for tips on how to dress for a time traveling evening.

The evening kicks off with a tribute to the 1920s-30s, so here’s how you can make a flapper headband and then put together an outfit.


What you’ll need for the headband:

  • Long piece of sequined elastic, or stretch fabric, or other headband
  • Craft foam or a large button
  • Hot glue
  • Duct tape (optional)
  • Feathers
  • Bits of lace, ribbon, fringe
  • Rhinestones, buttons, brooches, or even pieces from broken earrings


  1. Make a headband
    Measure a piece of elastic or fabric to fit around your head. Then use hot glue, tape, or needle and thread to attach the ends together. If you’re taping or gluing it together, overlap the two ends. Don’t worry about the seam—you’ll glue your embellishment on top of it.


  1. Make an embellishment
    Using a small circle of craft foam (or a large button) as a base, start gluing rhinestones, sequins, and buttons on top. Get creative and use what you have lying around at home. Then glue some feathers or fringe to the back of your craft foam base.



  1. Put it together
    Using hot glue, attach your embellishment to your headband. Be sure to stick it on top of the seam to hide it.

Ideas to complete the outfit

  • Gloves
  • Feather boa
  • Long string of pearls (Hint: Mardi Gras beads work great! If you don’t have the right color, just paint them with spray paint or acrylic paints)
  • Sleeveless dress
  • Black fishnet stockings

For the gentlemen
It’s still hot in Texas, but a suit is a great accompaniment to your flapper friends. Find a bow tie, grab your fedora, shine your shoes, and we’ll see you at the DMA!

Once you have your costumes complete, come kick up your heels with the Matt Tolentino Band, who will be performing songs from the roaring 20s and 30s at 6:00 p.m. Check out the full night’s lineup online at

Breanna Cooke is a Graphic Designer, Costume Creator, and Body Painter living in Dallas. To see more of her work, visit Check out progress photos of her latest projects on Facebook.

State of the Arts: Contemporary Artists

We’re kicking off our fall season with our first State of the Arts program, our collaboration with Art&Seek and KERA. Join us Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. for a discussion with three DFW artists: Devon Nowlin, Arthur Peña, and Darryl Ratcliff.

Uncrated was able to ask them a few questions beforehand:
1. What is the most appealing aspect of being a working artist in Dallas?
Devon Nowlin (artist; founding member, Homecoming Committee): As an artist who also works full-time, I have had good employment opportunities in my field and see some good job prospects for artists in both Dallas and Fort Worth. Along with exhibitions, teaching opportunities, and other work-work, one can construct a patchwork of professional activities for one’s self here.
Arthur Peña (artist; founder and Director, WARE:WOLF:HAUS and VICE PALACE): The two very prominent aspects I can think of are pragmatic ones. First, it is extremely affordable to be a working artist in Dallas. It’s not unheard of to have an apartment and a studio for under $600. I don’t know what other major cities can offer that and also boast world-class museums and an established art scene. Second, the accessibility to the Dallas art world is shockingly overlooked. If one wanted, they could meet and shake hands with other artists, gallery directors, collectors, and museum directors at one gathering. And they would be cordial and welcoming. Try that in NYC and see what happens!
Darryl Ratcliff (artist; Community Engagement Associate, National Center for Arts Research & Initiative on Arts+Urbanism): Affordability and opportunity. The access one has to cheap space is truly unique in Dallas, and the general cost of living is far cheaper than in other major cities. Also, there is significant upward mobility in the art scene. There is a willingness to experiment and embrace new ideas and artists.

2. What is something you are thankful for in your art community/peers/scene and how it/they have contributed to your practice?
DN: I am very thankful for the Education Department of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. I have benefited greatly from their programs both as a participant and audience member over the years, and as an artist-instructor in their programs. They give professional, and yet experimental and creative, teaching opportunities to artists in the area, and I have cherished my experiences there. So that is one of the many things in my community that I am very thankful for.
AP: Quick story: The recently retired WARE:WOLF:HAUS operated on limited funds for every show and especially the last fall season. Because of its location, security was needed on top of insurance for liability purposes. Not once did I pay out of pocket for any of that. WWH was able to operate and host shows strictly through donations from my fellow artists and supporters. People would toss whatever they had into the donation bucket, or specific people in the art community donated large funds to keep the door open and allow shows to happen. Considering that WWH was not a nonprofit art space and people were throwing down hard cash, I find this willingness to support the artists and work as a truly collaborative effort inspiring.
DR: It is cliché but I am very thankful for my fellow creatives in this city. My work is collaborative by nature, so I couldn’t have had any success without the constant support and cooperation of literally hundreds of creatives and lovers of creativity over the last five years.

3. How would you improve the Dallas art community/scene ?
DN: In Fort Worth, we are also in need of the facilities and funding that Darryl would like to bring to Dallas. What we don’t have that would really help elevate the local Forth Worth scene is more critical attention in both print and online publications. If artists here could get some press, I think it could help push the dialogue in Fort Worth in ways that I see happening in Dallas. I am encouraged by a level of interaction that is happening among artists between Dallas and Fort Worth, though it tends to be a one-way street with artists going from Fort Worth to Dallas. I’d like to see us mix things up a little more!
AP: Besides the obvious need for an influx of funds either through more grants or private donors, I’m not sure how one could improve the community other than more involvement from the community at large. There needs to be a cultural and psychic shift here in Dallas, and Texas as a whole, when it comes to the arts. Without a steady stream of interest starting at the city’s top level, the city at large will continue to view the arts as pure entrainment rather than as an agent for change and critical thought. We need more artists—not just those who make but those who have the discipline and vision to want to transform this city. I don’t think it’s about improving, rather it should be about energizing, invigorating, and giving everyone a swift kick in the a**.
DR: I would create at least 500 units of subsidized studio/living space for creatives in five geographically diverse parts of Dallas, award at least two million dollars per year in small grant funding to individual artists/projects/collectives, and create an international curator-in-residence program to help top curators become familiar with Dallas-based talent.

Be sure to join us tomorrow night to hear more from these artists.

Liz Menz is the Manager of Adult Programming at the DMA.

Hypnotized by O’Keeffe

Friday is the most magical day of the year, well at least to some of the DMA staff and those in the doughnut business. Friday, June 6, is National Doughnut Day, and the DMA and Hypnotic Donuts teamed up to celebrate this tasty holiday in an artistic way. James and Amy, the owners of the North Texas doughnut store, took inspiration from the DMA’s collection and created an O’Keeffe-inspired masterpiece in frosting. We had a chance to visit with them after a gallery walk-through to spur their creative and culinary juices.


What is it about the DMA’s Georgia O’Keeffe Grey Blue & Black – Pink Circle that made you think it would make a great doughnut?
First, the shape was perfect; it had multiple circular dimensions. Next, we love the painting itself. It is very iconic and memorable.

Tell us what ingredients went into making the O’Keeffe doughnut?
We started with a base cake doughnut and then made a frosting and divided it into multiple colors and flavors. The doughnut was designed by Trevor Powers of Hypnotic Donuts. The blue is a blueberry, the pink is a light strawberry, and the green and white are both neutral.

Where there any other works in the collection that screamed “perfect doughnut” to you?
There are a lot of amazing pieces at the DMA. One thing we realized is there is a reason the works are at the DMA. These are true masterpieces and we found they are hard to duplicate, especially in doughnut form! But to answer the question, we also really liked The Icebergs and the warrior headdresses.

How long have you been making doughnut creations?
We started making doughnuts in 2010.

3-6-2014 002

What are you most excited about for National Doughnut Day this Friday?
The people that jump on board and celebrate with us. Our life is doughnuts and it is cool to have a day that celebrates something we work with for a living. We love our community, city, and, of course, doughnuts, so we have some very special things in place to bring it all together.

How can people get a peek at the Hypnotic Doughnut “DMA masterpiece”?
Like all fine works of art, they truly take time. We originally had this great plan to sell the doughnut at our store and even at the DMA; however, after the time it took to make, the fact that June 6 is already going to be a busy day, and since we will not make any doughnuts the day before, the DMA doughnut will be just like at a museum: “on display only.” We will proudly display the O’Keeffe in our glass doughnut display case for all to see. At the end of the day, we will think of something special to do with it.

Head to Hypnotic Donuts this Friday in East Dallas to see the O’Keeffe doughnut, and stop by the DMA to see the painting that inspired the sweet masterpiece.

Image: Georgia O'Keeffe, Grey Blue & Black—Pink Circle, 1929, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation © The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Kimberly Daniell is the Manager of Communications and Public Affairs at the DMA.

Nothin’ Beats the Cookie Season, and That’s the Truth

It wasn’t enough that I had purchased a flight to Dallas that arrived and departed within the same 24 hours just to see B. J. Novak at the DMA’s Arts & Letters Live event; I knew that if I wanted to thank B. J. Novak properly, I had to do just a bit more.

As an avid baker, the decision to make him cookies wasn’t a difficult one. After deciding to theme the cookies after stories from his book, I started planning. I spent hours at kitchen stores gathering supplies and ingredients; two days before I left, I started on the big project. With minutes to spare until I had to leave my home in Utah to catch my flight, I finished them. Wrapped securely in bubble wrap and placed in a box fashioned like the book jacket for One More Thing, I lugged them through the airport.

After a couple of stressful layovers, I was finally in Dallas! At the hotel, I met my friend Cherokee, who traveled from Oklahoma. We made our way to the Museum, even though it was early, Having traveled so far, we didn’t want to take the chance of getting “bad” seats. The entire day, my stomach was in knots, not only at the thought of being in the same room as someone I’ve long admired, but also about how my gift would be received. I remember relaying my story to a few individuals, Before I knew it, pictures were being sent to his publicist and the knots in my stomach got even tighter. When Cherokee and I were let inside the auditorium, we sat up front and center, not thinking it’d get any better.

After a few minutes, a woman with the Museum’s Arts & Letters Live series approached us and asked if we had the cookies. Assuming she wanted to see them, I pulled them out. She kept talking but all I remember were my eyes glazing over when she said, “He wants to invite you backstage.” Nervously, we followed her to a holding room, knocked on the door, and from around the corner came B. J. Novak.

For the next twenty minutes, words like “blown away” and “impressive” escaped his mouth to describe my cookies. I was in awe. He had learned about my travels and went on to ask what I did for a living, why I chose Dallas, and where I learned to bake. B. J. and the other guests in the room were very gracious toward methis fan that I’m sure was coming across as a nervous mess. He indulged my requests for pictures and took many himself. We talked a bit more with him about his career and thanked him for taking time out for us, and then it was time for the event to begin.

We took our seats and B.J. killed it onstage, doing readings and answering questions from the audience. Rounding off this perfect evening, he signed our books and I was sent floating home with a hug and thanks for “making his day.”

At most I wanted him to think the cookies were fun. NEVER did I think they would receive this type of reception. B. J. Novak has inspired a lot of happy memories for me; the projects he’s contributed to have influenced relationships and formed bonds. Most recently, his book has been a light during a difficult time in my life. To borrow his words, I continue to be “blown away” by what happened. I chose Dallas because it was closest, but I see now that I wouldn’t have had this experience if it weren’t for the unbelievably kind staff at the DMA. My sincerest thanks to all involvedit meant more than I could ever put into words.
Click here to discover where our title inspiration came from.

Jen Jake is a manager at a group home for adults with mental disabilities in Utah and an avid B. J. Novak fan.

New Year, New You

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Whether you set specific goals for 2014, or are just considering ways to give back to the community, the C3 Volunteer Program may be right for you. Center for Creative Connections (C3) volunteers help visitors to enjoy and explore the Museum’s collection and interactive activities, both in the C3 and in our collection galleries.

We’ve invited Kenton Visser, an artist and current C3 volunteer, to share his experiences–and a few of his works–with “Uncrated.”

The first question I ask myself when I wind up somewhere new is “Where is the art?” The Dallas Museum of Art has been the best answer I’ve found to that question in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

During my first visit to the DMA, my sister and I spent over an hour in C3. We were excited by how the Museum valued a space for visitors to not just observe art objects but respond by creating as well. The people at the DMA are aware that the Museum contains worlds to be found, and they encourage exploration with self-guided tours that focus on a particular theme or subject in various areas of the collection. As my personal take on these tours, I sometimes give myself drawing assignments in order to absorb what’s on display more fully, often surprising myself with what I can notice if I really look.


Recent changes with the DMA’s return to  free general admission and the launch of  DMA Friends  have removed barriers and made it easy for visitors to gain rewards based on a point system. Volunteering brings its own rewards (such as free parking and free admission to special exhibitions and events) as well as 500 points for every shift. Naturally, I’ve enjoyed these perks, but volunteering has been rewarding enough in itself.

Although the Museum isn’t exactly close by for me (I currently live south of Fort Worth), I’ve always found it to be worth the trip. I applied to be a volunteer this past summer, looking for a way to better connect with artistic circles. My monthly shifts have given me a recurring reason to visit the Museum, and volunteering with C3 has provided an energizing platform for interacting with visitors through art. Even though I spend a large portion of my time making art, being in the Museum (and especially in C3) gives me a unique chance to see how art is received by a wide variety of people. School groups, individuals, adults and children, those who have studied art and those who haven’t—everyone who comes into C3 has a different reaction to the art and the hands-on activities available.
I’ve particularly enjoyed volunteering at the Pop-Up Art Spot, a compact cart stocked with simple activities that shows up in different galleries each week. It’s a nice oasis in the galleries and brings creative connections to people who wouldn’t seek out the main C3 space. I’ve been able to win over a number of visitors who seem unsure about participating in an activity (usually “I can’t draw” or “Isn’t this for kids?”) but then find themselves thoroughly enjoying it. Because I’m usually drawing or working on activities myself, I often have conversations with visitors about my own art. I’ve even had a few requests to prove my abilities by drawing portraits of the visitors or popular cartoon characters. These experiences in the C3 Gallery and Pop-Up Art Spot are perfect proof of the DMA’s belief that an art museum shouldn’t be just a building full of objects but a place where art happens.


If you are interested in becoming a C3 volunteer, request an application here. The application deadline is Friday, January 10.

Kenton Visser is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and has lived in Crowley, Texas, since 2009. In addition to volunteering, he works as an illustrator, studio assistant and certified framer. His portfolio can be seen on his website.

Melissa Nelson Gonzales is the C3 gallery manager at the DMA.

Rooms Within Rooms – Stephen Lapthisophon

Stephen Lapthisophon shared with “Uncrated” what he hoped visitors would see and take from his exhibition Concentrations 56: Stephen Lapthisophon—coffee, seasonal fruit, root vegetables, and “Selected Poems,” currently on view at the DMA.
Stephen_Lapthisophon_Studio_2013_066 - Copy

This is an exhibition that can be approached in many ways. It is an exhibition about how we approach the art. How our bodies move through space, and the things, materials, and stuff we carry around with us. It is a show about closeness and distance. The exhibition is divided into two distinct but related rooms. And rooms and walls within rooms. And boxes and drawers and suitcases within the rooms and underneath the drawers. The layers of accumulated dirt, marks, stains, scrapes, and scratches are an invitation to stay. I hope the works ask you to ask questions.

Pencils, ink, cardboard, olive oil, and rust. Bacon fat, spray paint, sheetrock, nails, bricks, rosemary, and books. String, coffee, eggshells, dirt, wax, saffron, and more dirt. A desk, a ladder, and books. This exhibition exists in tribute. Reading, thinking, and acting through and with things. “Denken ist Danken.”

Before the opening, Lapthisophon sat down with us to discuss his art and process. Find out more in the video below:

What did you feel and think after visiting “Concentrations 56: Stephen Lapthisophon”?

Stephen Lapthisophon is an artist and educator.

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