Posts Tagged 'painting'

Foxes and Fireflies: An Interview with Mel Remmers

When we found local artist Mel Remmers’s Instagram account, we were drawn to her distinct artistic style. With her wide-eyed, emotionally captivating portraiture, witty captions, and some sneak peek shots sprinkled into the mix, she reveals her work and process to her growing following in an engaging and down-to-earth way. Because we noticed elements of fashion, whimsicality, nature, and experimentation with textures and colors in her work, we were eager to invite her to a viewing of our Laura Owens exhibition. Inspired by Owens’s works, the paintings Remmers created welcome you into a fantasy world of their own.

 

Photo Credit: Stevie Hudspeth

Check out our interview with Remmers about her process:

Tell us about yourself as an artist.
In February 2015, I bought a child’s paint set from a grocery store. Seeking to find a creative therapy after battling cancer and needing emotional repair, I posted my first attempt at painting on Instagram and I was shocked and excited by such a positive response. I was hooked! This started Instagram becoming part of the creative process. As my following grew fast, I sold my first painting after four weeks, and as of November 2017 my 400th sold.

My paintings started out as fashion-inspired female figures, and in time I added motion to them. Now I paint portraiture that provokes a mood with either dark shadows or the expressions in the eyes. I am also fascinated by light and have focused periods with black-and-white paintings as well as ink. The majority of my paintings consist of multiple mediums and tools such as gold foil and others as I have discovered them. Hand-painted wallpaper with a nature-inspired theme has become my most requested commission and my new obsession.

What was your first impression of the Laura Owens exhibition?
As I walked into the exhibit, my eyes drew on the immense scale, the bold and playful works. Then as I moved closer I was lost in the details of unexpected elements, heavily sculpted paint textures, and her no-fear use of PINK.

What did you find most inspiring about this exhibition?
Most notably, the grand scale of her work. I have a strong desire to “Go Big”—paint on walls or just use a larger canvas than usual. This connection brought that buzz to continue on that path.

Another inspiring spark was the variance of her work. The abstract collages flowing to whimsical childlike characters of animals was a delightful scene.

I was also thrilled to see her unexpected three-dimensional elements and use of materials like felt, and her beehive painting where it looked like bees were buzzing above the canvas.

What was the painting process for your pieces like?
As I walked away from the exhibit, reflecting and imagining this collaboration, I knew to go with my gut response. Fireflies were my first whisper, and I wanted to play off the forest scene where you find animals peeping throughout the painting.

Since I usually do not plan or sketch, I started with the trees and then water emerged. All of this is evolving while I am filming to Instagram, and my specific music choices have come to set the mood of where I am in the process.

RemmersDMACollection Reflections-1

I am a fast painter so I wanted to be patient and take my time. That equaled four days of nine hours at a time, and that also included a second painting that I felt told more of the story. The water, with its intense color and light reflection of the first painting, became the continuation of the story in the second painting and introduced a new character, the glitter fox.

These paintings are made with acrylics, some oils, chalk, pastel, and ink, and the fireflies are made of tiny crystals and glitter glue.

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Remmers GlitterFox1

What elements or themes from Laura Owens’s work did you incorporate into your pieces?
My collaborative theme became nature. I wanted to bring a sense of belonging. I usually focus on a feminine theme, and now she became a living part of it. Her dress inspiration was taken from a large impasto glob from one of Laura’s abstracts that I found crazy good. So her dress looks like a dripping, thick waterfall floating into the water.

Do you have any other takeaways from this experience?
My takeaway is LIMITLESS. In a world where the trending word is “brand,” Laura Owens does not have a limit to her visions or exclusivity. She goes from sky high drawings of cats to a wild abstract collage. Laura’s work has calmed my doubts of risk taking, opened a larger vision, and given my creations a wider world to live in and explore. And, glitter glue IS a medium.

Hayley Caldwell is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the DMA.

Starting with a Blank Canvas: Preparing Steichen’s Rare Murals for Display

If you have wandered past the Barrel Vault Quadrant Galleries during the initial stages of the Edward Steichen: In Exaltation of Flowers conservation project, you likely saw a lot of beige—new stretchers, plain cotton-duck fabric, and backsides of paintings—and five women hammering, measuring, and stapling away. A handful of visitors have asked us what we are doing or if we are the artists, so we thought we should explain a bit about the initial and necessary steps in the conservation of these magnificent murals. While the most glamorous parts of conservation treatments are usually the final steps like inpainting and varnishing, the beginning of a project often includes a lot of preparatory work and a healthy amount of elbow grease, and it is just as important that we are precise in these first stages of treatment as we are in the final steps.

The seven large paintings that make up Steichen’s In Exaltation of Flowers were commissioned by Agnes and Eugene Meyer for their townhouse in Manhattan. Due to financial difficulties, however, the murals were never hung in their intended environment (read more of the history here). The paintings were shown as a set only once, in 1915 at the Knoedler Gallery in New York City, and have not been shown in a series since. Records indicate that two or three of the paintings were shown individually in exhibitions between 1915 and the present, and one painting arrived at the DMA already stretched. Aside from this, the paintings were stored rolled before coming to the DMA, accumulating dirt and dust for over 100 years.

Keara Teeter using a soft brush and vacuum attachment to remove dirt and dust from the reverse of a painting.

In order to help remove a century’s worth of grime, we vacuumed the reverse sides of each unstretched painting. This process is likely not what you are picturing; we don’t take the Dyson out of the closet and roll it over the canvas, wheels and all. Instead, we use a soft-bristle brush to sweep particulates into a vacuum attachment nozzle, with the vacuum on a low setting. When the painting is unstretched and on the (clean, paper-covered) floor, as these are, vacuuming can involve a bit of body contortion and a lot of ab muscles to ensure the nozzle and brush reach all areas of the canvas while the motor of the vacuum and our knees do not.

Six out of the seven paintings came to the DMA unstretched, and with their original stretchers nowhere to be found. Shiny new stretcher bars were ordered from Simon Liu, Inc. in New York, and it took all of our project interns to assemble six of these massive supports for the paintings.

Diana Hartman and Keara Teeter assembling a stretcher.

Once the stretchers were assembled, we created what is known as a loose lining. This involves attaching plain cotton-duck fabric to each stretcher, using canvas pliers and arm muscles to make sure each one is taut, and securing each one with staples. Later in the project, we will stretch Steichen’s paintings over these loose-lined stretchers, and the first layer of cotton-duck fabric will serve as a sort of bed for the paintings. Even though the canvases are in very good condition for being centenarians, they are somewhat weak where they have been folded over stretchers in the past, and the fibers have aged and become more brittle. The loose lining provides support and protection for the original canvas, and ensures that we do not have to pull hard on the original canvases to achieve planarity when they are stretched.

The next steps in our treatment will involve attaching edge linings to the original canvases, stretching the paintings over the loose linings, and performing some analysis with X-Ray Fluorescence in order to determine what elements are present. Stay tuned to learn more about these processes!

Pamela Johnson is a Conservation Intern at the DMA.

 

 

 

Off the Walls: Erminia and the Shepherds

The DMA’s galleries house art from around the world, and each work has a story. Olivier Meslay, the Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs and Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, shares insight about the recent acquisition Erminia and the Shepherds, by Guillaume Guillon Lethière. After you learn about the artist and the history of the painting, visit the work on Level 2 for free!

Five, Six, Seven, Eight

Chagall: Beyond Color opens on Sunday, February 17, and the highlight of the exhibition is sure to be the costumes designed by Chagall in 1942 for the production of the ballet Aleko. The ballet’s première took place in September 1942 in Mexico City, followed by the Ballet Theatre of New York production, and the costumes have not been seen in the U.S. since. Recently, DMA staff whipped out their jazz hands and did their best mannequin impersonations to assist in the installation of the Aleko costumes.

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Facing Off

Our exhibition Face to Face: International Art at the DMA is composed of never before seen pairs of objects drawn straight from the Museum’s collection. They are joined across cultures, great distances, and centuries of time to present an entirely new way to experience and celebrate a collection that is thrillingly diverse and over one hundred years in the making.

David Smith’s Cubi XVII and Aristide Maillol’s Flora

Organizing Face to Face required the collaboration of every member of our curatorial staff. Dr. Anne Bromberg, our curator of Ancient and Asian Art, spearheaded its sprawling course, spending weeks and weeks stalking the galleries, storage areas, and even her own colleagues to negotiate across departmental divides and ensure that what came to fruition was groundbreaking.

The result is a rare chance to see some of our “greatest hits” in lively and entirely new contexts. Visitors are welcome to speculate for themselves upon the many ways paired works might be related. I expect there are no right or wrong answers to these investigations, and that the discoveries one can have touring Face to Face are essentially limitless.

Peruvian Panel and Ellsworth Kelly’s Sanary

This is the first pair to welcome you to the exhibition. The composition of both works relied upon geometry and the stunning experience of pure color. The ceremonial textile from the Huari culture of Peru is beautifully composed of hundreds of blue and yellow macaw feathers—the yellow offering soft complement to the naturally iridescent shimmering of the blue.

Sanary, by American artist Ellsworth Kelly, presents a more complex pattern created from recycled paintings. No two colored squares repeat side by side, and like the feather panel, their summation elicits an explosive though carefully controlled punch of pure color. Their paired visual impact must be seen to be believed.

Egyptian mummy mask and Amedeo Modigliani’s Portrait of a Young Woman

Of all the pairings, Dr. Bromberg has said this one raised the most eyebrows among her colleagues, but after placing them side by side for the first time during installation, it became clear that though derived from wholly different civilizations and made for completely different purposes, they were easily relatable as unique expressions of the very human desire to immortalize beauty through portraiture.

Male figure from Nigeria and Naum Gabo’s Constructed Head No. 2

There’s much to be learned—things you may never have noticed before until you’re faced with this unique installation. This pair in particular enables audiences to reflect upon decisions the artists made in depicting their subjects abstractly. One might spend hours ruminating over their own visceral reactions to their striking features.

Eugène Delacroix’s Portrait of a Woman in a Blue Turban and Standing femail figure from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Our Exhibition Design Coordinator, Jessica Harden, worked closely with Dr. Bromberg to create specific lighting, color, and spatial treatments for every pair in Face to Face. Its dynamic installation highlights the need to take one’s time in the exhibition. Here each artwork can be appreciated more intimately on its own terms.

This is particularly true with the pairing of Eugène Delacroix’s Portrait of a Woman in a Blue Turban and the standing female figure from the Luba peoples of Africa. Lengthy meditations over the artists distinct but relatable choices in depicting their subject’s tranquil and quintessentially feminine beauty are highly encouraged.

An entire case in Face to Face is dedicated to things that sparkle! And here it’s true that not all that glitters is literally gold. The DMA maintains a strong collection of decorative, functional, and ceremonial objects fashioned from precious materials by a variety of cultures for an even greater variety of reasons.

Shiva Nataraja from India and The Dharmapala Vajrabhairava from Tibet

Face to Face’s broad representation (albeit in a small space) of the DMA’s expansive, internationally renowned collection is inspiring. The exhibition not only draws our attention to the mysterious nature of creating and studying art but also to that lesser realized art form of building a collection.

While exploring any museum, it’s easy to forget that a collection is built by people, and at the DMA these people have for over a century now nursed a vision that not only tells the history of art but also the story of our great museum.

Auriel Garza is the Curatorial Assistant for Ancient Art, Non-Western Art, and Decorative Arts & Design at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Two Debuts

Our exhibition, Concentrations 54: Matt Connors and Fergus Feehily, opens soon (Sunday, April 3 to be exact). I’ve been lucky enough to work on this show from start to finish with Jeffrey Grove, The Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art. Each artist has their own dedicated space in the Marguerite and Robert Hoffman Galleries. The first museum exhibition for both artists, we worked closely with them to decide the works presented as well as the logistics of each installation. Berlin-based Irish artist Fergus Feehily is integrating three objects from the DMA’s collection into his installation: a bead, a dressing cabinet, and an Indian miniature. New York artist Matt Connors, on the other hand, is installing 10 completely new paintings (finished very recently, as a matter of fact) and also a work of his that we acquired in last year Soul Error (Vertical), 2010.

We’re really excited to have both artists in town for the installation and opening events. See for yourself…

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On March 31, 2011 at 7:30 pm, Jeffrey will join both artists for a discussion of their work. Hope to see you there!

Erin Murphy is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant for Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art

Discovering a Romney

You might have heard about the recent discovery of a George Romney painting in the Museum’s collections. Olivier Meslay, Senior Curator of European and American Art and The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art at the DMA, shared the story about the discovery with us last month. You can visit the painting in person in the European Galleries on Level 2. To read more about George Romney and Young Man with a Flute, click here.


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