When Yves Saint Laurent took up the reins of Dior from Dior, management was concerned. After all, YSL was only in his early twenties. Can you blame them? At first, everything was OK.
Trapeze to Trouble
The black dress and the floral print dress on the left were parts of Saint Laurent’s first collection on his own, called Trapeze. The exhibition guide talks about “trapezoidal” silhouettes and the “free spirit of the Sixties”, even though it was only 1958. It was a success, but but the success was short lived. In 1960 Saint Laurent called his collection “Beatnik.” Talk about the Sixties, leather jackets with mink trim! One short velvet evening dress featured bobble fringe trim. Gorgeous had almost left the building, but I think this black number with the swag of pearls might be worth its weight in silk crepe.
Yves was ushered out the door, but one wonders if the success of his own fashion house made the management of Dior regret running him off. When Yves left, they promoted Marc Bohan out of the London branch. His classical training returned the house and its clientele back to the safety of traditional haute couture without resorting to boredom. He borrowed from Russian tzars and the traditional Chinese cheongsam, keeping everyone happy for close to thirty years. Some of it is a little too Eighties for me, but I’d wear others.
Haute couture was being replaced by ready-to-wear around the world. Many of the French fashion houses had disappeared and others sold out to mass marketing. Dior remained. Enter an Italian, Gianfranco Ferre’. After Bohan’s freewheeling style references, structured suits and wafting evening gowns, Ferre’ took the house back to classicism. The exhibition guide gives him credit for everything from Baroque architecture to Impressionists, even Cubists and Surrealism.
To my untrained eye, he seemed to embody both the best of Dior himself and his successor, Saint Laurent. The simple column of the empire-waisted dress a la Josephine, which was named Palladio, spoke to me, but I think my bestie liked Glory, the black velvet number encrusted in gold, even better.
One thing I noticed about the Ferre’ dresses is that a goodly number of them had a lot of stuff on them. Like the stripped gown on the front row. I loved most of it, but then the bodice looked like someone’s granddaughter had come to work one day and glued a little of everything onto it. Same thing with the polka dot dress in the back. Just too much stuff.
And speaking of too much. How about that gray suit with puff sleeves and the really big bow. Sure, it’s too much but I love it anyway. I would hang it in my closet next to Dior’s houndstooth suit with the more conservative black bow.
Mr. Ferre’s designs finish out the first gallery of Creative Directors. Come back next week and we’ll look at three of the later directors. Meanwhile, enjoy the fashions.
Now that we’ve browsed through the entire Dior exhibit together, let’s go back and take a closer look at some of what is called fashion. I say that because to me, clothes should be designed to wear. They should look good and make me look good when I wear them. I can’t say that all the fashions in this exhibit would compliment the wearer.
Fashion and the Decorative Arts
I’ve said it before, the Decorative Arts are my favorite part of any museum. Paintings and sculpture are nice, but what I love most are practical items made sublime by their decoration. A Meissen vase can completely captivate me. My favorite museum ever was the Silver Collection at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. Such a bland name for such an extraordinary place.
Many dresses in the Dior exhibition are certainly sublime. Would that my closet had such delights! Take the black and white number with the coolie-style straw hat above. Anybody with about an ounce of clothes sense would tell you it’s not in vogue. Fully pleated wool skirts and jackets with peplums are just not the thing. I don’t care. I’d wear that anytime. Not to a baseball game, of course, but give me an excuse to dress up and I’d put that number on. And in vogue or not, ooohs and aaahs would follow me wherever I went. The black taffeta, off-the-shoulder number next to it is pretty wonderful also.
However, I didn’t feel that way about everything I saw. As time marched on the dresses were less decorative and more arty. The show is partly chronological, but then it explodes into a kaleidoscope of eras. Dresses designed to grace the form of post-WWII damselles stand next to fashions better suiting an ancient Egyptian priestess or a Zulu warrior princess. Some of the outfits didn’t look like they would grace anyone or anything. When I put on an outfit, I don’t want people to say, “My, that’s an interesting outfit.” I want them to say, “Wow, you look great!”
To see the most egregious examples of these interesting outfits, you’ll have to go to the exhibition yourself. The photos I’m using in these posts were taken by Bill during my first visit. He’s as drawn to gorgeous as I am, so he didn’t waste his focus on interesting, much. During my second visit I was so busy trying to match the various dresses to their description in the exhibition guide that I failed to get a single picture.
In the chronological part of the show, the focus is on the various directors of the House of Dior. First, of course was Christian Dior, himself. The suit on the far right with the big black bow? I want it so bad I can taste it. It’s name is Adventure.
I didn’t love everything he did as well as that one piece, but it’s probably safe to say I love everything he designed better than anything anyone else did. For instance, the black double breasted belted jacket next to MY ensemble is entirely too bulky for my frame. I’d look like someone’s living room drapes which have decided to take a walk.
Bill only took one more picture in this section of the exhibit, a lovely gala gown from 1950 called Oceanie with an ‘ over the e. The amaranth red tulle dress is embroidered with sequins and beads, so I have no idea what that has to do with the ocean.
In fact, many of the names assigned to the ensembles had little to do with the ensemble it is assigned to. Some of the directors labeled everything as a “Look” and assigned it a number. I found that as disappointing as a red dress with a blue name.
There’s more to the exhibit, of course, but let’s put Mr. Saint Laurent off until next week.
Just when I thought Dior From Paris to the World was the best fashion exhibit the DMA had ever had, I found out it wasn’t even over yet. Certainly the gallery with all the celebrity gowns had to be the climax and end of the exhibit, but no, there was more gorgeous to enjoy! Come along and I’ll share the rest of the goodies.
Pretty in Pink
My bestie teases me about my OCD tendencies when we are visiting exhibitions, bazaars and galleries. I’m very systematic about it, because I don’t want to miss anything. As alluring as this confection of evening wear will be as you exit the big central gallery with the celebrity dresses, I recommend detouring to the left as soon as you enter this gallery. Two treats wait for you there. One is called “Lengendary Photographs” and for my husband the photographer, it was one of his favorite parts of the entire exhibit. For me, it was the area called “Total Looks” that deserved all the attention.
Pictures are not allowed in this gallery, so you will have to use your imagination, but there is a semicircle of vignettes displayed. Each vignette is based on a color and is decked out with everything imaginable in that color. You could easily lose yourself for an hour trying to comprehend the items in each vignette. There is no one season or look that is focused on, so the timeless nature of Dior’s designs and their versatility is well-demonstrated. Perfume bottle is juxtaposed with a pillbox hat sporting an outrageous hat pin. Shoes, jewelry, handbags, dresses, capes – literally, you name it, is served up in delicious coordinating hues. It’s truly mind-boggling!
Eventually you will have to shake off your obsession with “Total Looks” and see the next gallery. There’s a section here called “Dallas and Beyond” which highlights memorabilia from Dior’s visits to Dallas and elsewhere. If you have room in your brain to take in more, then this is a good place to soak up some more information about the designer himself. I confess, I’ve merely glazed over it so far. I hope to go back soon and have another stab at details like this. All the galleries have displays full of idea books, videos of fashion shows, swatches of material and other items I really want to know more about, but the brain can only absorb so much at any one time.
Finally, with a guilt-free conscious you can gaze on “Splendors of the 18th Century.” According to the Exhibition Guide, Christian Dior wanted to bring flamboyance back to Paris after the dark days of World War II. His fashion house was decked out in all the glory of Versailles and the pink confection at the beginning of this post is the DMA’s attempt to capture that. It was also a chance to show off one of the DMA’s most gorgeous paintings – The Abduction of Europa by Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre.
The Final Morsel
You’re almost through, as if anyone actually wanted to be. Beside the “Splendors” display is the entry to “Field of Flowers.” This gallery is devoted to all looks floral – a floral dress for every occasion. Samples from all eras of the fashion house are displayed together. Some you will love. Others you will wonder why they bothered. I was particularly impressed with some of the handiwork. When you realized that every bead and ruffle is applied by hand, some of the dresses will blow you away.
I’m planning to revisit the exhibit as often as I can between now and September 1st. So far, hunger is what eventually dragged me out of the exhibit. Maybe next time I’ll eat BEFORE I go, rather than take a turn at the exhibit first. In fact, if you’re panning your visit, eat first. You’ll need your nourishment.
It’s taken three posts just to get you from the entry to the final gallery. To exit you’ll have to make another dash through the fashion show themed hall ways. Then you’ll find yourself on the other side of the small entry area with its red lights and samples of Dior’s Revolutionary new look. If you come back next week, we’ll talk about some of my favorite and not so favorite pieces in the exhibit.
On Saturday the 18th, Dior: From Dallas to the World had not even opened to the public yet and I was back for my second helping. It’s just that delicious. You don’t even have to like fashion or art to appreciate this exhibition. What do you like? Architecture, marketing, celebrity sightings, engineering, manufacturing? Think I’m kidding? Come take a look!
Thrilled Clear Down to My Socks
Modern art is all fine and good for those of you who like it, but I was just about fed up with the overabundance of it at my museum. Modern, pop, contemporary, avant garde and everything in between had become a steady diet at the DMA. That’s OK, with the dawning of 2019, I take it all back. I love the DMA again!
With this latest exhibition, I’ll be running down there every time I can dream up a reason to go – so Dallas friends, please call me and let’s make a date! If you go with me, I can get you in for free. Last week I told you about the great party the DMA threw to celebrate the opening of the exhibition. Today let’s talk about the “over 100 haute couture dresses, as well as accessories , photographs, original sketches, runway videos, and other archival material,” promised in my invitation to the Opening Celebration.
All That and More
On my second visit, the weather promised rain, but that wasn’t scaring away the excited crowd which waited outside the DMA. We arrived a few moments before opening and I was surprised to see so many people. I hadn’t thought of ordering my free tickets to see Dior on that particular day, because it was still members only, but I should have. At 11, the earliest we could get in was noon.
After a detour through the Berthe Morisot exhibition to kill an hour (unfortunately that exhibition ended on the 26th, for those of you who missed it) we took our tickets to the line for Dior. The first peek at the dresses took my breath away, both times I saw it – and I have a sneaky suspicion it will continue to delight. You thread your way into a relatively small hallway and on both sides of you, double-decked at eye level and above, are mannequins in gorgeous black Dior dresses against a red-lighted stage.
While no one explained the intent of the exhibition’s design, to me, the exhibition space seems reminiscent of the temporary nature of a tent set up for a fashion show – especially the behind the scenes part, where the designers and models would be scurrying about. Scaffolding can be seen through the white plastic walls and seemingly hand drawn arrows point the way to go.
Once you’ve navigated the arrows in the hallways, you’ll find an area devoted to the nuts and bolts of the design business. Twenty toiles, muslin mock-ups of drawings created by the designers, fill a wall. Most of them I would be happy to wear, as is, but a few do reveal the temporary nature of the garment. On the parallel wall, videos show the actual process of packaging perfumes, building hand bags and other wonders of manufacturing these dreams for sale. Display cases show swatches of hand-beaded cloth, sketches with fabrics attached and other bits associated with the process of designing haute couture.
Though other galleries have more eye-popping displays, the gallery to the left of the toiles has my favorite dresses. The houndstooth number with the big bow would be the one I would want to take home with me. It’s called Adventure and was from the 1948 Envol line, but the look is timeless. In the same area are dresses designed by directors Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan and Gianfranco Ferre.
To the right of the toiles is a gallery devoted to later directors, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri. I can easily say their designs are stunning, but they depart from the gorgeous craft of Dior himself and wander into that fashion world where models wear dresses I can’t imagine seeing walk down the street.
You must follow a few more arrows to see the grandest gallery in the exhibition, calledFrom Paris to the World. It shows dresses, on two tiers on both sides of the room, which have been influenced by various places around the world. Saris, kimonos and other costume-like gowns will awe and amaze you. Some I loved. Others just made me giggle. The photo at the beginning of this post, of the dresses in arched compartments, is where those who love celebrity watching will gather. These dresses were worn by Lady Gaga, Josephine Baker and Marilyn Monroe, to name a few.
You’re not through with the exhibition yet, but I have run out of words for today. There are still treats to enjoy. Come back next week and I’ll take you on a quick stroll through the rest of the exhibit. Then the following week, I’ll go back to the beginning and share more details of the exhibit.
Looking back on Mayan society, we might be quick to blame priests or kings, perhaps even warriors or ambassadors. Study history and you will know their sins are legion, but we allow the same sort of characters to control us today, as surely as the Mayans were controlled then.
Parallels I See
Mayans bound the foreheads of infants to achieve a fashionable look and we may wonder why anyone would do that, but don’t we rush out to rearrange anything on our bodies we don’t like? We may not file our teeth and set jewels in them, but we will pierce the skin under our lip and keep expanding the hole until those around us can see our gum line. We are perhaps even more greatly ruled by fashion than the Mayans.
Here in the United States we argue about our government, yet we allow the same politicians with their same solutions to dominate our legislating bodies year after year, forcing more and more regulations down our throat. Some of these bureaucrats are hired and appointed by our government, but too many are re-elected and re-elected long after they’ve proven how they fail to keep any promise that they make.
I’m guessing the average Mayan on the street wasn’t so different from me. My sacrificial pyramid is delivered to my house daily on my TV and computer screen and in case that’s not enough, I carry a phone, so I can check in on the mounting atrocities at any time. I listen to what the media tells me, just like the Mayans listened to their priests and royalty. I hate so much of what I see around me and yet, I feel so powerless to do anything about it.
The Mayans didn’t wake up one morning and say, “Hey, let’s have a society where the rich get richer, the powerful get more powerful and the rest of the population is ground under foot like ashes. And let’s create a religion where thousands upon thousands are murdered in gruesome ceremonies and we can pretend it makes the sun come back.” Their situation grew out of a series of circumstances. At some point, the tide could have been turned, but they let the opportunity slip away. Their great intellectual capacity and their amazing creativity could have been the foundation of a beautiful utopia, but instead it created a sort of hell.
I pray fervently that we Americans are not making the same sort of mistakes. I hope it is not too late to gain some control over our “priests and royalty.” I hope our religion of self-gratification does not one day demand the egregious sacrifice of our fellow citizens.
Forgive me my doom-saying. Travel is fun and filled with exposure to beautiful things. That’s what I usually focus on. But travel should also expose us to things that make us look at our own lives and think about the way the world is going around us. We should question whether we are doing the right things and promoting the right ideas.
Chichen Itza made me stop and think about my world. I promise to get back to the fun and the beautiful, but I will always try to see something more when I travel than mere entertainment. One more post about Chichen Itza and I am done.
Our return to Dallas was blissfully uneventful. I’ll spare you the details. I entertained myself with Michener’s Mexico, but as I read, another part of my brain was sorting out what I’d observed on this short vacation. My initial impressions required a lot of thought and my arrival in Dallas did not end my meditations.
Capturing My Travel Thoughts
I’ll start with the relationship between Mexicans and Spaniards. I’m actually amazed at how good their current relations are considering the history of the natives and the invaders. Spanish architecture is appreciated just as much as the ancient native sites. There doesn’t seem to be a resentment between the Mexicans and their Spanish heritage. Spain’s Catholicism has been embraced and there doesn’t seem to be any factions hoping to reignite the worship of gods who demand human sacrifice, which were the Mayans gods.
Granted the Mexicans overthrew Spanish rule during an ugly period that lasted more than a decade, but they got over it. They didn’t reject Christianity along with the rulers they ousted or tear down Spanish cathedrals. Though I am sure there was a lot of burning and looting during the war, since its been over, they seem to have developed a great working relationship. The Mexicans I have observed seem just as proud of the beauties of Spanish colonial architecture as they are of their own pyramids. Even when I visited Mexico back in the Seventies and Eighties, this seemed to be so. Most specifically, there is not the tension over monuments and flags we Americans seem to harbor in relation to our own Civil War and slavery.
I Wouldn’t Be Quite as Nice
Personally, as a Christian, I resent the Spanish for the brand of Christianity they forced down the throats of the Mexican Indians. They made most of them slaves and threatened to kill them if they didn’t convert. Not that the Europeans did a much better job anywhere else, but the Spanish Conquest of Mexico seems particularly repugnant, in both their hunger for gold and their forcible spread of Catholicism.
My guide on the Chichen Itza excursion pointed out something I’d never quite noticed before. He showed us a church decorated with serpents. According to the guide, killing those who were unwilling to convert did not seem to be all that effective with some groups of natives. So, instead the friars invited the natives to come to the Catholic Church to worship their own snake god. Though this is more humane than murder, it’s still a trick and I didn’t like to hear of it.
The Question of Christianity
Had I not mulled over the question of religion for several days, this post might have turned into a rant against the Roman Catholic Church. They’ve done a lot of things wrong from the inception of formalized religion, but in truth, little about Christianity is attractive to many outsiders today. In some places, like Central Asia for example, people are turning to Christianity in droves. They are hungry for the hope it offers, but the concept of hope is alien to Americans who see Christianity the enemy. They pull verses out of the context of the rest of the Bible and try to hold them up as messages of contempt. I fear these people miss the point.
Christianity fails any time it gains an official capacity in government. It’s one thing to have a Christian king or president, quite another to have that leader promote his faith with his power. Lead as a servant, sure. Wield your power to grow your religion – NO! Christians have made a lot of mistakes in America. They have judged others based on a faulty understanding of what they think God wants. They also took advantage of their majority and wrote laws favorable to themselves. Now we are paying the price for that power.
During the Byzantine era, the Roman government encouraged its citizens to be Christians. The emperor was Christian and he promoted Christianity in many ways, including paying bishops. Many of the subjects of the emperor joined the church, not because they embraced Christianity, but because they wanted access to their ruler. Others joined the clergy, not out of piety, but because it was a steady paycheck. The Church may have prospered under these circumstances, but true Christianity has not. The intentions may have been good, but the results were not.
Conversions which are coerced or forced in any manner are just wrong, period. A conversion to Christianity should be about faith, relationship and hope. I do blame the Roman Catholic Church for much of the antipathy felt towards Christians. It would take me thousands of words to discuss the atrocities of history, the distractions of Mariology and the veneration of saints, indulgences, Apolstolic Succession, the inerrancy of the pope, the practice of confession and absolution, transubstantiation, and so many other Catholic traditions which make me crazy. However, all Christians are human first and we all screw up really badly. Unfortunately, people judge God based on us, rather than judging us by God’s standards – and we all fall short of those.
As I stood in the plaza of Chichen Itza and considered the awful human sacrifices which were made there, it seemed to me anyone in that city should have been thrilled to learn of the God of the Bible. Instead of a stone god who expected sacrifices, the Spanish could have offered a Creator God, who sacrificed His own Son. But the message was garbled, threats were made, abuses were committed and today many Mexicans are still caught up in a religion of works, rather than a joyful relationship with the Most High God.
These misconceptions about God, Jesus and the Bible still abound. God is seen as the big killjoy of the world, because the message is still garbled. The code of conduct outlined in the Bible is seen as a list of criteria to get into heaven, but that’s a total misrepresentation of Truth. Shame on the religious people who promote this heresy.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. Next week I will leave religion and move on to politics.
Women artists have been in the spotlight at the DMA this year. The first few months of the year, Ida O’Keefe’s work was featured and I thoroughly enjoyed the peek into this woman’s portfolio. Unfortunately, her art was overshadowed by her more famous sister, a sister who tried to shove her out of the limelight. Reaching back to a pivotal player in the Impressionist movement, the DMA is now offering up selections from the portfolio of Berthe Morisot. This exhibition reveals it was the male critics of the time who tried to shove a woman artist into the shadows. Let’s think about that.
Before getting to Morisot, I’d just like to say thank you to the DMA, for offering up such delectable exhibitions as O’Keefe and Morisot. I’ll admit, I was on the brink of not renewing my DMA membership when the Berthe Morisot exhibition was announced. I fell in love with my museum through exhibitions like Pompeii and Shogun. I hurried to the edifice every time there was an Impressionist show and cried as I added to my personal visual catalog of Van Gogh’s. I’ve raved all over the world about our Reves Collection and touted our Dallas Museums of Art theory offered by Rick Brettell. I’ve haunted shows like Jean Paul Gaultier and Tut with visit after visit, dragging in anyone I could bring.
In recent years, however, I’ve felt a little betrayed. It’s been Contemporary after Modern after Pop after Modern after Contemporary. Some of it I’ve enjoyed, like Cindy Sherman’s photography, but most of it just wasn’t gorgeous – and as I’ve said before, I’m into gorgeous. The last time I was really wowed was back in 2014, when they mounted the exhibition on Nineteenth Century French Florals. Meanwhile, their counterparts over in Fort Worth, the Kimbell, offered one gorgeous show after another.
When I saw Morisot’s name, I knew someone, somewhere had heard my lament. I didn’t need every single show to match my personal taste, but I did need some breadcrumbs. 2018 had a few less than dark spots, but it was Morisot who kept me renewing. Then I met a friend for lunch at the DMA and there it was, the Ida O’Keefe exhibit. I’m a big fan of Georgia, so it took me a few moments to dial in the fact that I wasn’t looking at her work, but at her sister’s. I made several trips to the museum to oooh and aaah over the exhibit and said a prayer to the art gods to keep the gorgeous coming.
My prayers were answered in spades. Berthe Morisot’s work is delightful. When most Americans think of female Impressionists, they think of Mary Cassatt and because she was an American, we know a whole lot more about her. However, Morisot was also in the thick of things. She was married to Eugene Manet, brother to painter Edouard Manet, but don’t think she was dragged to fame by his coattails. She was in her own right an important contributor to the Impressionist movement.
The demands of society at the time limited the scope of her subjects, but not her creativity. her lovely pastel impressions of the world around her show a keen eye and a sure stroke. As keen and sharp as any of the other Impressionists, but received by the critics with significant bias. There’s a great infographic on one of the walls of the show. It juxtaposes one of Morisot’s paintings with two of the other giants of the Impressionist movement, but their painters were men. All three pictures of are women in domestic scenes, but while the men are recognized for boldness and creativity, the critics call her painting charming and sweet.
While her work is charming, she was also pushing the envelope. If you’ll notice in the picture of the woman in the gray dress above, Morisot did not take the paint to the edges of the canvas. While the rest of the world was carefully covering every inch of canvas in paint, she experimented with incorporating unfinished portions of the canvas into the finished work. She was accused of losing interest and not finishing the pieces, but it was not neglect. It was a method she incorporated over and over again.
At first, she seemed used the trick on the edges of the painting, but she became bolder, using bare canvas in the center of her subjects’ faces as if to say, “I’m doing this on purpose. The woman in the hat demonstrates this tactic.
I must be honest, I find the bare places in the center of the paintings a little distracting, but I admire her pioneering spirit. Nowadays, we see paintings with the canvas coming through all the time. When you do see it, thank Berthe Morisot.
I love this show and have already seen it several times. I hope you’ll go, too. If you love gorgeous, you’ll love it. I’ll leave you with one last piece by Morisot, which was perhaps my favorite, but that’s hard to say when there were so many I completely adored. Like Van Gogh and so many of the artists we now love, Berthe didn’t sell much while she was alive. Most of her paintings were in the hands of family and friends. I’m so glad she has been rescued from those hands and put on the walls of museums, where people like me can enjoy them.
While the rest of the world gets rich and famous with social media, I blog on in anonymity – at least for the most part. I’m famous among my real life friends and on Facebook among my followers, but beyond that it does me little good. However, anyone driven to write, the way I am, needs a place to express themselves, so I blog on. However, from time to time my blogging does get me a few perks. That happened last week.
Dallas Art Fair
If you’ve been paying attention, then you know this is my third post about 2019’s Dallas Art Fair. If not, some details about the main event are here and I also attended an introductory event I described on Monday. Last Thursday morning I reported to the FIG (Fashion Industry Gallery) for the Opening Press Conference. There among other media types, I perused the event’s art offerings and listened to a series of speeches by the designated dignitaries.
One of my favorite parts of the day was wandering around the space with a tag identifying me as “MEDIA.” My thoughts about the media are not always congratulatory, but it’s nice when a lowly blogger like me can be of service.
It meant skipping an MLS meeting, but I felt that was a small price to pay to attend the event as media. Deciding what to wear was a bit of a challenge. I’d been disappointed in my fellow females’ fashion choices the evening before, but encouraged by the men’s sartorial offerings, I pulled out a recent purchase, a long blouse from one of my favorite designers, to pair with leggings and some lacy wedge sandals.
My next challenge was making my way from my almost-rural home in Heath through the morning traffic to Downtown Dallas. That went better than I anticipated, but my hope of parking in the DMA parking lot was dashed. They don’t allow public parking until 10. I parked in the First Baptist lot, so all I had to do was cross the street to The Fashion Industry Gallery at 1807 Ross Avenue.
I was not completely ignorant of the FIG’s existence and I knew it was in close proximity to the DMA, I just had no idea it was right there, nestled between the DMA and the Fairmont. The most prominent feature on the building where I crossed the street was a restaurant. My first guess at a possible entry was a false lead, but I saw someone who looked like they knew where they were going, so I followed. Voila, I had arrived.
I have a sneaky feeling that anyone with chutzpah and a knowledge of the event could have gotten a media pass. I saw them selling tickets at one kiosk, so I went up to the next one, where the lady asked, “Media?” I said, “Jane Sadek, local blogger.” She handed me my anonymous media pass, but it was the key to a weekend of art, so I was glad to get it – in spite of the casual offering underlining I was certainly no VIP.
Inside the Galleries
Then came the pay off for missing the meeting, fighting the traffic and searching out a parking spot – I was in. I had about a half hour before the press conference would begin, so I wandered through the galleries. I’m never sure what to expect from Contemporary Art, but I was happy to discover most of what was exhibited was at least interesting. I found a little of everything, from robots to hand woven rugs. I also found craftsmanship. These weren’t just ideas thrown together for their shock factor. These were works of love, executed with skill and attention to detail. To me, that’s art.
Satisfied the exhibit was worth part of my weekend, I planned to return with fellow art lovers in tow. It was time to make my way to the press conference – which, by the way, was 10 minutes late. Someone had overlooked tagging the first piece of art in the gallery which would provide the backdrop behind the podium.
As I surveyed the room I realized the female sector of the population had resumed their domination of the fashion scene, in contrast to the previous evening’s disappointing turn out. Now, the guys were back to boring and the women were strutting their stuff. I giggled a bit to myself over the “Dallas in Spring” vibe. One woman in a fringed-wool, hounds-tooth micro-miniskirt, paired with turtleneck sweater, teetered over high rise booties. She chatted up a friend in a frilly sundresses over suede boots. A pair of Asian women, speaking a language I didn’t recognize, wore voluminous layers I couldn’t quite identify above comfortable walking shoes. Then the denim skirt with the shell anklet over Adidas joined them. I couldn’t resit taking a few pictures to respond to the rod iron shoes I’d seen in a gallery on the floor above.
A series of dignitaries made speeches at the podium, that’s when I learned I’d seen something cooler than I even realized the evening before. The whole thing is dedicated to the idea of pop-ups and a permanent home for the Dallas Art Fair. With that kind of synergy, I bet it will be a very interesting spot, so put River Bend on you list of things to check out.
On the evening before, I’d wondered about the significance of choosing 214 as the name of a gallery. It certainly wasn’t the suite number. Like the characters in The Purloined Letter, I’d overlooked the obvious – it’s the Dallas area code. Apparently in international art circles it is a familiar number, one to be proud of. That cheered me.
Then I was momentarily taken back to my previous disappointment with idea-over-craft art. As they announced the pieces which the DMA would purchase from the Fair, among the others was an odd, idea-driven installation which I’d seen at 214. To me it looked like a room which was being set up for a presentation of some kind, but the workers weren’t finished. Instead various tripods filled the space and the walls had random video showing on the screens. I peered through the glass plates attached to the tripods, but nothing was gorgeous.
I shook off my disappointment and congratulated the artist in my head for capturing the curator’s attention. Everyone doesn’t have to like something for it to be art. Thankfully, the DMA had purse-strings long enough to wrap around other pieces and many of them were enchanting, even to me.
So, I hope you made it to the event. Thanks to the Dallas Art Fair for expanding my horizons and giving me the opportunity to share the Fair with my friends.
So, on Friday, I begged you to go to the Dallas Art Fair. I hope you did. It certainly loomed large in our weekend. However, the Fair’s Opening Press Conference was actually Chapter Two. Chapter One played out on Wednesday evening. Come along and I’ll tell you all about it.
Out of the Loop
The Dallas Art Fair just had its 11th event and somehow I was completely out of the loop for the first 10. I’ve been busy, but I thought I was paying better attention than that.
However, I love me some Dallas and I take the drive over the I-30 Bridge quite frequently, usually headed down to the Dallas Arts District. My membership in the Dallas Museum of Art has never wavered. I keep my eye out for Nasher events. So, I’m not sure how I became so disconnected with an event like the Dallas Art Fair.
Back in the Loop
While I may not be as plugged in as I used to be, as a regional blogger, some organizations do keep me in the loop. The DMA, the Perot, Preservation Dallas and the Arboretum all have me on speed dial, figuratively speaking. So, when I got an email from the Cultural Counsel inviting me to an artsy thing in the Design District, it wasn’t exactly a surprise. I checked my calendar and then invited the hubby along.
Happy on All Counts
As principals of a real estate photography company, we are always interested in new construction and new developments. We arrived at River Bend eager to find out exactly what was going on in this new addition to the Dallas Design District. At first glance it was comparable to other business/retail spaces all over the Metroplex. The invitation had mentioned “Late Night Gallery Openings, Clare Woods Book Signing, and SOLUNA Performance.” Galleries we understood, but the rest had to be discovered.
The invitation had not mentioned comestibles at all, but a happy Art Fair associate greeted us and pointed us towards the serving lines. Gladly the choices were not limited to cheese cubes and bad chardonnay. Bill tried a local brewery offering from a series of kegs (I’m dieting again, so I was going to wait for the promised mineral water) and then we headed to the buffet line. Caterers were whipping out chicken and pork street tacos, shrimp tostadas and corn-on-the-cob. I loved it all, but that probably had a lot to do with the avocado crema. Bill wasn’t as crazy about the entrees. He doesn’t do avocado and I’m guessing the other offerings were a poor substitute, but he loved the corn. I’d recommend the caterers, but I never found out who they were.
Next stop was a door with a large sign advertising Soluna, the musical portion of Dallas’s Art Month, sponsored by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. I was there to get a bottle of Topo Chico Mineral Water. The space was devoted to the evening’s audio entertainment, an “Icelandic musician” with “signature trolls”. The music wafted out of the performance space and I could tell it was a little out there for me. Bill ducked his head in and his main complaint was the overuse of volume.
Continuing down the way we visited a couple of gallery spaces. One only had a few pieces and the other seemed more actively devoted to the consumption of Modelo than the presentation of art. It was time to head back in the other direction and see what we could find.
On our way back to the center of things, we focused on the ceramic murals of the exterior walls. A book signing by the murals’ artist was part of the evening’s offerings. Bill wasn’t fond of the mosaics, but I was more pleasantly effected by the thematic river vistas. Returning past the trolls, we happened upon some more gallery space and these spaces seemed to be more serious about the art portion of the event.
Our final stop was the 214 space, which serves as a gallery and as the offices for the Dallas Art Fair. Well-fed and having consumed as much as we could understand concerning the art offerings, we headed home. The next morning, I’d learn more about what I’d been looking at.
A Few Observations
I would be the first to admit that my taste in art leans toward the figurative and peters out some time shortly after the Impressionists. I find many things to like about contemporary artists who continue the figurative and classical traditions in art, however I have not given up completely on the non-figurative and alternate genres. I’m still trying, even if I don’t find myself enchanted. So, I’m not a good person to critique the art we saw that evening.
The people watching was spectacular. I was happy to observe jeans and yoga pants were not the dominating fashion statement. In fact, the gentlemen, rather than the ladies, were setting the bar. Socks were so last century for these guys and all the pants were tight and short.
Winning the award for tightest and shortest were those who wore cuffed pedal pushers. I have no idea of the proper name for these short trousers. We ladies used to call them capri pants, back in the day. But trend-setting short pants weren’t all I noticed. The top halves of these guys were also trendy. Those with longer pants had a sort of khaki/safari vibe to them. My favorite item on the men was a white straw trilby with a florescent orange band.
The women just did not measure up. They seemed more interested in volume than style, like a pair of harem pants in a loud plaid. Other versions of comfort were apparent. The crispest female fashion icon was a sweet young thing in black leather short shorts. Her long legs were shod in high-heeled platforms with an interesting collection of straps. Her other clothing and accessories were black and gold. Her hair was a slick black bob. Kudos to her for appearing to care whether anyone looked at her or not. The rest of the women certainly didn’t indicate whether they cared one way or the other.
Wednesday, we’ll head back to Cancun, then Friday I’ll chat about the press conference. Come back to visit!
It had been a very long day and there was still some left as the bus headed back to Cancun.
The Joy of a Good Book
I had read it before, but even so, I had chosen James Michener’s book Mexico, as my reading material for the trip. Unlike many of his novels, which begin even before the appearance of man in a locale, this novel focused on a modern day journalist covering a bullfight festival, who was at the same time Mexican, American, Mayan and Spanish. The book does look back at the ancient residents of the country, but instead of choosing an actual tribe, such as the Mayans, Toltecs, Aztecs or Olmecs to showcase, Michener made up a sort of conglomerate tribe called the Altomecs, allowing him to comment on them all.
So many years had passed since my last reading of the book that it seemed fresh. Occasional scenes gave me a sense of deja vu, but I was still following the plot with interest, unsure how it would end. (I still haven’t finished it as I write this post, but the more I read the more I remember, and I have recalled the end.) On the bus ride back to the Seadust, I was only a third of the way through and the Altomecs had not even entered the narrative, except a brief mention from time to time of the pyramid which was near the primary locale of the story.
It had been a long day and several times I caught myself dozing off. At one point, I woke from a dream to discover it was pitch black outside. I had been asleep for quite a while. In my dream I was back at Chichen Itza. I was among the crowds watching the sacrifices, but somehow I was doing so as a character from Michener’s book and at the same time, I was privy to all the knowledge I had accumulated in my actual lifetime. I stood on the plaza remembering scholarly data about the Mayan civilization, our own lifestyle in America and the many other civilizations I have studied and observed.
When I woke up it took a few moments to figure out exactly where I was. I soon noticed the guides were fiddling around with the technology. TV screens folded up and down as if on their own and the guides huddled over a remote control. I suspected something was up, but they still managed to surprise me with their tequila service.
The interior lights of the bus flashed on as a rather loud rendition of the song “Tequila” played on the loudspeaker. A man in a strange costume, his face covered with a stocking mask was standing in the aisle. Though I was pretty sure it was supposed to be entertainment, a part of me was still under the influence of my strange dream. It wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience, but I understand they intended it to be.
Bill had a little tequila, but I had no interest. My stomach was ready for its next meal and had no interest in alcohol. We were soon back to Cancun and we were fortunate enough to be the second stop. Unfortunately, the first stop was the Iberostar which had refused Bill entrance the previous day. Before the night was over, I was also wishing we could visit the Iberostar! Come back next week and find out why!