TRAVEL THERE: NOT DOING UNTO OTHERS AS I WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO ME
Naples is a lovely city. A traditional bus tour of the city with various stops would be a lovely way to spend the day. However, besides just being a lovely city, Naples is the gateway city for so may lovely attraction. Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, Positano, the Isle of Capri! How does one choose which Celebrity Shore Excursion to enjoy?
What I Wanted
If I had done exactly as I wanted to, I would have hired a private guide and spent the day taking in Pompeii and Herculaneum. It would be hot, it would have been crowded and I would have been walking all day long. I would have also been in heaven.
Two cities from ancient history preserved for posterity by an extraordinary volcanic eruption, lovingly researched and restored over centuries. If I had to choose between the two cities, I would have opted for Herculeneum. Pompeii is the most famous, an entire city frozen in time, but Herculaneum had been a sort of ancient Riviera-type playground for the rich and famous. The frescoes and tile floors were supposed to be out of this world.
What I Considered
I’m not crazy. I know if you drag a bunch of people around to a bunch of places they don’t care about and wear them out at the first port of call, you are not going to be the most popular person on a cruise. I needed something a little more engaging to transition my group into the swing of things.
What I really needed was a sort of overview of the whole thing. I checked into the cost of a personal guide for the day, but in order to have sufficient space in the vehicle for all six of us, along with a driver and/or guide, was prohibitive.
What I Booked
Hoping to kick things off with a bang, I decided on something that didn’t have a very exciting title, but promised a wide variety of activities – sort a something for everyone smorgasbord. Capri, Sorrento, Pompeii didn’t grab me right off, but then I read on – jet foil to Capri, funicular ride, lunch in Florence and guided tour of Pompeii! First day planned.
This is where the booking problem came in. I told you several blogs back that when I first looked at shore excursions, they were one price, but had gone up significantly a month later. I was new to Celebrity as a cruiser, so I had not antisciapted the shore excursion sale, but the Bagley’s had cruised with them many times. They let me know when the next promotion came along – 20% off all shore excursions. It was booking day.
Booking day lasted all day and into the next as I tried to guide everyone onto the same excursion at the same time. In the end, we were all going to the same excursion, but Jim and Melanie had been forced into another time for it. Not an auspicious way to start, but the hunt was on.
Frustrations be damned, we were booking excursions. Come back next week and let’s explore the opportunities in Florence.
“Better to have no taste at all than to be limited by good or bad taste.” That’s what the exhibition guide claims John Galliano rebutted when some criticized his outrageousness. I can’t say I agree with him. I kept looking for a good excuse for his (ahem) designs. I’m still looking, but let’s jump in, shall we!
Bill was so turned off by the later Creative Directors that he didn’t take a single photo, but the central gallery, which he did photograph is full of designs by all of them. Any of the dresses in the above picture that you think looks like a costume, are probably Galliano designs. Somehow, Galliano ruled Dior for fourteen outrageous years.
Galliano wasn’t thinking of ladies taking tea with the queen or attending a ball when he was designing. I think he was only thinking of his own fame. He mixed odd materials like raffia, straw, woven horsehair, metal and such with velvet, crepe de chine and taffeta. He used wooden joined hands for hats. One year his inspiration was drawn from Masai tribesmen and he didn’t wander too far out of the jungle.
He was being an artist, certainly, but not really designing dresses a woman would be interested in wearing to an important occasion. In fact, I’d probably be willing to pay you something not to have to wear one of his creations – unless it was Halloween. Then they’d be perfect.
While I certainly wouldn’t pay the fantastic prices you’d have to pay to wear a dress designed by Mr. Simons, I also wouldn’t pay you not to have to show up in public with his stuff on. The exhibition guide calls him a shape shifter and many of his designs do shift the shape of the wearers away from anything that looks like a human woman. At least they don’t look like Halloween costumes. Instead they look like something from Star Trek or Star Wars. He experimented a lot with the technology of fabric, weaving, dyes and the mechanics of clothing. To me, that’s more interesting than just being outright weird, like Galliano.
His time at Dior followed directly after the reign of Galliano, who left “amid controversy.” I bet that’s being very tactful about it. I imagine Mr. Simons proved to be a sort of buffer between the ridiculous and the sublime. His time at the house only lasted three years, but at least there was still house for him to leave and I’m not sure there would have been if Galliano had stayed.
The Breaking of the Glass Ceiling
Finally, in 2016, a woman came to the helm of Dior – Maria Grazia Chiuri. About time, I’d say, but her description of a Dior woman is a little confusing to me – “desirable, fragile, but sure of herself, with real inner strength.” Is it possible to be all those things at the same time? Her clothes seem to borrow a little from the outrageousness of Galliano – raffia, horsehair and metal, for instance – but they are not so cartoonish. Still not my style mind you (or my price range), but interesting.
To a certain extent she suffered from being at the end of the line. I was reeling from Galliano and still trying to understand Simons when I wandered over to her era. Her clothes are modern to be sure and I’m not all that modern. Perhaps when I return to the exhibit I’ll have more mental energy to process her designs.
And that finishes my review of Dior’s Creative directors. The exhibit is fabulous. While I wouldn’t wear Galliano’s clothes, they must be seen to be believed. When you see all of the dresses, but in context of time, even the worst ones begin to make a little sense, but even if they didn’t, the gorgeous stuff is worth a visit. Come back next week and see what I get up to.
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.
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!
I would apologize for failing to post last week, except that it is kind of part of the story. See, I’ve gotten to the part of our photography story where I tell you how Bill and I morphed into Spot On Images. These first two months of 2019 have been so busy for us professionally, that some of my personal pursuits fell to the wayside, including the Travel Talk blog. Today, I’m catching up.
How There Came to be a Spot On Images
Like a tree with deep roots, Spot On Images grew out of fertile ground. When someone asks how Spot On Images got started, I’m tempted to ask which version they want to hear! Actually there is only one version, but it has several chapters.
Spot On Images grew out of our real estate experiences in California. Back then, some brokerages still hadn’t embraced the online version of the MLS. They still had hard copy MLS books in their offices, but they were the dinosaurs. Some agents still didn’t know how to input their own listings, but I got it immediately. At first, we hired professional photographers to shoot our properties, but soon we figured out we had a secret weapon on our team. Bill could take better pictures than the pros. Combining his pictures with my prose was a winning ticket. While many agents settled for a single exterior shot and descriptions that read something like this: 3/2/2 in Grover Beach, partial ocean view, near elementary school; Bill and I were filling every empty slot in the photo carousel (About 11 pictures back then – It’s more like 35 now.) and writing mini-novels as descriptions – and it was working.
The only problem was, neither of us really liked selling real estate. I was making a killing at it before the bubble, but it didn’t feel as if I was doing what I was made to do. Long story short, Bill went to Iraq to be an interpreter for the Army and I moved back to Dallas to be near my parents, who were facing health challenges. In Dallas, I went back to school and the career thing was put on the back burner. Spot On Images wasn’t even a possibility we had entertained at that point, but whenever we inventoried our skill sets, to see what we might turn into a business, the same things kept coming up: real estate, marketing, photography, writing, business consulting and the internet. We just couldn’t figure out how that was a business.
Spot On Images also grew out of Bill’s love for photography and real estate. While somewhat related to the story above, this story begins when Bill was in his twenties and took an interest in photography. He took lessons, joined photography clubs, read magazines, bought equipment and all that other stuff photobuffs do. Though he pursued other things professionally, taking photos, learning about taking photos, taking video, learning about taking video and buying equipment was one of his primary preoccupations, along with real estate and making money.
Fast forward to a few years ago. A friend of ours in the real estate photography business decides to move closer to family for health reasons. Bill offers to buy the friend’s business, but instead the friend chooses to supplement Bill’s already impressive photography skills with some specific training in the real estate photography business, for free. Bill buys new photography equipment better suited to real estate and spends several months developing his particular style of real estate photography. He also buys a drone and gets his commercial drone pilot license. Along the way, he convinces Jane to quit doing marketing, social media and blogging for someone else and put it to work for the family business.
A Synthesis of Versions.
Of course, neither of those versions cancels out the possibility of the other and there is still another version, which might also have some truth to it. A neighbor claims Bill was in a conversation where her husband was trying to convince another guy to start a real estate photography business. Bill says he doesn’t remember being in that conversation, but who knows, maybe he just forgot and it influenced him to offer to buy our friend’s business.
Whatever the case, when Spot On Images started, it was mostly Bill’s thing. I helped with the website and did some cold-calling for him, but I had other fish to fry. Then suddenly he got so busy that he needed me to start processing the photos for him and I supplemented our cold calling by attending MLS meetings. I kept taking on Spot On Images responsibilities and one day I woke up and realized I was working full-time for Spot On Images. I put in more hours than our photographer does. How did that happen?
Now Spot On Images is an us thing. Bill does his things and I do my things. We’ve got great synergy and amazing clients which make work seem more like fun. And our skill sets, real estate, marketing, photography, writing, business consulting and the internet – well somehow all of those things play an important role in the work we do for our clients on both the photography side and the marketing side.
So that’s how I got from taking photos with an Instamatic camera and putting the snapshots into adhesive photo albums to being co-owner of a photography and marketing business. The roads I take never seem to be straight ones, but I seem to like where I end up. More and more of my work seems to be on social media and it’s a demanding medium, eating up posts almost as fast as I can create them. So, as has happened in other seasons, I may be a little unreliable over here on my personal travel blog. For at least for a little while, you can continue to enjoy my trip to Cancun and Chichen Itza, because I have Wednesday posts written through May for that adventure. And as usual, things will settle down and I’ll find a way to keep the blog going. so don’t you go anywhere. Travel talk will continue!