ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Museums, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Blind Spots at the DMA

Jackson Pollack 001
Detail from DMA invitation to Exhibition Preview


Judging from the turnout for the Blind Spots Exhibition Preview on Friday night, Jackson Pollack is going to enjoy a popular visit to Dallas.  The last time I remember such a crowd was for Jean Paul Gautier.  Here’s my confession: The line was so long Bill and I didn’t even visit the exhibition gallery.  However, I’ll tell you about the party.

Attire: Black is the New Black

I am happy whenever I open up my mailbox and find an invitation from the DMA.  Admittedly, I enjoy some exhibitions better than others, but I always like a reason to party at my museum.

All dressed up with somewhere to go
All dressed up with somewhere to go

The invitation usually includes a hint about what to wear and the hint is often quite tongue-in-cheek. For Jackson Pollack the mandate was “Black is the new black” and here’s why.  Pollack, sometimes called “Jack the Dripper,” is most well-known for his huge paintings comprised of colorful drops of paint spread across the canvas.  However, he also has less-known works in black and white and these paintings are the focus of the DMA’s Blind Spots.

So, the party was a perfect reason to drag out my leathers and animal prints.  I wasn’t alone in my choices.  Black really was the new black and pretty much everyone wore some version of it.

Cool Vibes

Upon entering the museum we were drawn to the crowded atrium where chic patrons swarmed the bars and swayed to the sounds of a band offering retro hits from the Rat Pack and other hep cats.  We’d been listening to the Barbra Streisand on Pandora as we drove the museum, so we were already in the vibe.

We joined the crush around the hors d’oeuvres and filled our small plastic plates with an interesting variety of offerings – cheese, crackers, hummus and less recognizable bits with tiny desserts.  It was OK – not the DMA’s best night, but who am I to complain about free food; especially when chocolate was involved.

Not So Cool Vibes

Then we looked around for somewhere to alight.  I saw some chairs, but those seats were reserved for Texas Instruments.  I’d seen the logos on the chairs, but had wrongly assumed the chairs were provided by, rather than exclusively for, TI.  The help shooed us away.  Across the room I saw some more seats and they were without logos.  Those chairs were reserved for Bank of America and we were once again turned out.

Please understand, I am very grateful to companies which support the arts, but I thought the set up was a little tacky.  Perhaps there were signs which were intended to inform us of the exclusivity of the seating.  If so, in the crush of people, the signs were invisible.  We had to endure being banished.  Also, the TI and BofA folks had not exactly shown up in droves.  Someone should have checked to see if anyone was actually coming before they saved the best quarter of the room for absent patrons.

Overpopulated Pollock 

After standing and juggling our plates with the rest of the peons, we headed towards the exhibit, only to discover at least half of Dallas waiting in line to enter the gallery.  So, we stood in a shorter line to take advantage of the photo booth.  I’ve posted the result below.

Thinking the line might become more manageable if we waited a bit, we decided to wander through the main concourse.  That’s when we ran into the other select group we weren’t a part of – The DMA Circle.  Just as I’m grateful to corporate sponsors, I’m also very glad other people can afford to donate more money to the museum than I do, but whoever came up with the idea of plopping them smack-dab in the middle of the concourse wasn’t doing anyone any favors.  Here the crowd was thin enough for us to to see signs warning we were about to cross a no-peon zone, but since people were entering and exiting from doors all along the concourse, why did the Circle’s area straddle the concourse?

We strolled through the Circle area, up and down the full concourse and then back through the Circle area to discover the exhibit line was no shorter.  So, we visited the retail opportunities.  Near some elevators, we found seating not already sequestered for other patrons and did a little people watching while we watched the line not move.  What would we do next?

Pollack Party 001

Our Executive Decision

As my regular readers know, I’m not a fan of modern art.  I’m interested enough to drive down to the museum to take a look, but when things become increasingly inconvenient, I discover I’m not actually all that interested in hanging around.

Someone once asked a previous director of the DMA why we didn’t have more of the Old Masters at the museum.  The director pointed out that pretty much all of the Old Masters already belonged to someone else when the DMA started its collecting.  He also waxed eloquent on the opportunity Dallas had to be at the forefront of collecting modern art.  More and more the DMA embraces this philosophy and extends their modern outlook to their choice of exhibitions.

I am very grateful to the museum for the wonderful special exhibitions that have come through their galleries:  Impressionists, Oriental masterpieces, Parisian posters, floral masterworks, treasures from Egyptian tombs, Pompeiian wonders… The list of amazing exhibitions I’ve seen there as a member is almost 50 years long, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s going to get much longer.

While Dallas exhibits International Pop and Blind Spots, over in Fort Worth, the Kimbell offers Caillebotte and Castiglione.  Next year the DMA will host a single Vermeer exhibited with six painting by his contemporaries, but the Kimbell will offer 60 Monets.  In the Sadek economy, it might make more sense to belong to the Kimbell instead of the DMA.

I hate to think of abandoning an institution which has been such an important part of my life.  Seriously, that’s where Bill and I met.  But in many ways I feel the institution is abandoning me.  On Friday night we made a decision to put off our viewing of an exhibition.  Our next decision will be a serious consideration of how we are spending our cultural dollars.

Whatever we decide to do about our museum membership, I hope you’ll decide to keep coming back for more Travel Talk.

5 thoughts on “Blind Spots at the DMA”

  1. I LOVE Pollack and I would have gone too and been just as disappointed with all the corporate mucky muck – been there, done that, LOL! But I have to say, you did look great – fabulous outfit, LOL! In times like that, when I’m stuck in the “peon zone, I always laugh, thinking of how the artists themselves were the ultimate peons. Great Post – I really enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sheryl, the DMA has come a long way in the five decades my family and I have been visiting. Not only have they moved downtown from Fair Park, but there was a time when the preview parties were chips and salsa with a fruit plate. Forget live music and photo booths, but we did used to get a complimentary glass of wine as opposed to the cash bars they have nowadays. The events are ever so much more exciting these days, but I’m old school. I really enjoyed it when the events were geared towards educating us about the exhibition as opposed to entertaining us. Obviously, I’m in the minority.


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