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Visit Dallas HolidayUpdate


For folks dripping in family, the holidays become a blur  of Christmas recitals and family dinners.  For those of us with slimmer pickings in the family department, the holidays can make us feel a little left out.  Well, if you live in or around Dallas, there is no need to feel left out.  Dallas can keep you busier than a month of Christmases.  In a recent email from Stefanie Faulk of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau  I found an amazing list of things to do.  Find something that suits your fancy and get out there:

Special Exhibitions and Christmas Displays

Dallas Art District and Downtown

  • Pollack Party 001 Dallas Museum of Art (Now through May 20) Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots – This once-in-a-lifetime exhibition, only the third major U.S. museum exhibition to focus solely on the artist hailed as “the greatest painter this country has ever produced,” is the largest survey of Jackson Pollock’s black paintings ever assembled. Exclusively on view in Dallas, it includes works that have not been exhibited for more than 50 years from an understudied yet pivotal period in the artist’s career. ALSO International
    At the Entry of the Exhibition
    At the Entry of the Exhibition

    Pop  – Take a step back in time. Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Roy Lichtenstein are just a few of the artists included in this historical survey that chronicles the global emergence of Pop art from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s. ALSO Spirit and Matter: Masterpieces from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art

    Detail from DMA brochure
    Detail from DMA brochure

    – This unprecedented exhibition, which critics have called “stunning,” showcases more than 50 historically important masterworks from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art, one of the world’s most significant and rarely exhibited private collections of Islamic art.

  • House of Alba BrochureMeadows Museum (Now – January 3) Treasures from the House of Alba: 500 Years of Art and Collecting –  For more than 500 years, the Alba family has formed part of the most important aristocratic lineages in Europe, amassing an unparalleled collection of art through the years. In this exhibit, the Meadows
    Museum presents some of the collection’s finest works, many of which have never been seen outside
    of the family’s private castles.
  •  03._Male_firefly_model_DF.3711 Perot Museum of Nature and Science (Now until February 21) Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence – Creatures of Light explores the magical world of “living light” – mesmerizing organisms with the ability to glow – from flickering fireflies and fluorescent mushrooms to sparkling deep-sea creatures.  From dinosaurs to DNA, unwrap your holiday curiosity at the Perot Museum.
  • GorlzkiCrow Collection of Asian Art (Now – March 20) Alexander Gorlizki: Variable Dimensions – This rich kaleidoscopic experience features works of art as diverse as embroidered handkerchiefs and plant-like hand-mirrors alongside exquisitely crafted paintings with obsessive floral and geometric patterns.
  • Holiday Cheer at Reunion Tower’s GeO-Deck (Now – December 21) – Santa, his elves and furry friends from the Dallas Zoo will spread holiday cheer from 470 feet in the air. Catch special sky-high appearances at the GeO-Deck as you enjoy the view from Dallas’ most iconic structure. Experience breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views, high-definition zoom cameras, interactive touch screens, telescopes, photo ops and an indoor/outdoor observation deck that lets you see for miles in any direction.
  • Downtown Wanderland (All Season Long) – Downtown Dallas, Inc. invites visitors and locals to wander through bright and bustling Downtown Dallas and explore the city’s great retail, restaurants and bars. Enjoy season-long programming featuring holiday pop-up shops, happy hours, photos with Santa, movie screenings and more.

On the East Side

  • Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden (Now until January 3) Holiday at the Arboretum
    And a Partridge in a Pear Tree
    And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

    – Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with the magnificent 12 Days of Christmas outdoor exhibit – twelve 25-foot Victorian-style gazebos with charming costumed characters, music and more – and The Artistry of the Nativity at the historic DeGolyer House. And enjoy a stroll through the gardens on select evenings, aglow with half a million twinkling lights.

  • George W. Bush Presidential Center (Now – January 3) A Season of Stories: Christmas at the White House 2003 –  Great stories have a way of bringing families together. A Season of Stories will offer visitors a glimpse into the magical White House celebrations of 2003, including a full-size reproduction of the official White House Christmas tree and delightful décor featuring beloved storybook characters.
  • NorthPark Center (Now – January 3) The Trains at NorthPark – benefiting the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas is the most elaborate miniature toy trains exhibit in Texas. More than 1,600 feet of track takes visitors on a journey across America, from New York City to the Golden Gate Bridge. Also Visits and Portraits with Santa – Capture memories of a lifetime with one-on-one visits and portraits with Santa Claus. Children feel right at home in Santa’s cozy living room, complete with a fireplace and holiday tree. Take photos with your own camera or purchase professional portraits by Marc Robins Photography!

On the West Side

  • Christmas at the Anatole (Now – December 23) This holiday season the legendary Hilton Anatole Hotel will transform in to a winter wonderland complete with dazzling décor and festive programming. Featuring
    breakfast with Santa, face painting, Christmas-themed scavenger hunts and more, the Hilton Anatole is your home for the holidays.
ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Museums, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Spirit & Matter, The Keir Collection at the DMA

Detail from DMA brochure
Detail from DMA brochure


My poor bestie; dragged from museum to museum on her birthday.  Thankfully, it’s not all that bad.  She likes museums almost as much as I do.  I guess that’s why we’re such fast friends.  For her recent birthday  we visited three different museums (after Sunday Brunch at the ever delightful Toulouse).  I told you about the House of Alba exhibit at the Meadows Museum last week.  This week I’ll give you a taste of the DMA and the Crow Collection of Asian Art.

Speaking of Tastes

This being Texas, it’s not unusual for Deb and I to have meals al fresco, even in January, but the weather on this weekend was decidedly nasty and several al fresco choices we’d hoped for didn’t make sense in the mist and chill.  We’d actually planned to visit the Arboretum, but it was too awful.  The nastiness made adventures at the restaurants of Trinity Groves or checking out the food trucks at The Truck Yard undesirable.  So we punted and went to Toulouse, our old favorite.

Please forgive me for failing to mention Toulouse in the past, but sometimes the most familiar things are ones we forget to share.  I can’t even remember how I first visited Toulouse, but when I did I knew I’d found something.  This street-side cafe is reminiscent of Paris’ cafe-scene, but it also has Dallas written all over it.

This strip of sidewalk has seen everything from the original On the Border to a store that sold china out of dish barrels.  Patrons drive their fancy car up to the valet and stroll in wearing the latest Dallas style.  The music is jazzy French but the conversation is all Big D.

My favorite dish is the Eggs Florentine with asparagus and crab meat, but I want that with a glass of champagne and beignets on the side.  I’ve tasted other dishes from waffles to Croque Madame, but I keep returning to the Eggs Florentine.  I promise you’ll love it.  From Toulouse we went to the DMA.

Spirit & Matter

Last year, the DMA got its hands on the Keir Collection, in the form of a 15 year loan.  According to the DMA website, the marvelous pieces cover “1,300 years of creativity” in the Islamic World.  Spirit & Matter includes a mere soupcon of the 2000 plus items in the full collection, but it is a tasty soupcon.  On exhibit are jewelry, carpets, manuscripts and pottery.

Most impressive to me were the detail-rich miniature paintings and illustrated texts.  I was dying for a magnifying glass to better see the tiny details of the works.  For pure prettiness, I enjoyed seeing an exquisite rock crystal ewer. Since the exhibit is small, we were able to view it relatively quickly and get down to the Crow Collection, a museum Deb hadn’t seen yet.

Crow Collection

The first floor of the Crow is dominated by Variable Dimensions, an exhibit I’ve described in detail, here and here.  Though interesting, it’s not really our cup of green tea, so we moved upstairs to the permanent collection.  Ooooohing and aaaaahing began in earnest.  Jade, porcelain and other visual miracles, like a large crystal ball held by dragons, enchanted us and suspended time.

I hadn’t been to this part of the museum in recent months, so I hadn’t seen a new installation devoted to items Margaret Crow kept in her home, until she passed away last year.  It was interesting to see what such avid collectors chose to have around them on a daily basis.

I was pleased to discover the Crows collected in an almost serendipitous manner.  They didn’t hire someone to amass their collection or set out to develop an exhaustive survey of a particular medium or artist.  They just bought what they liked and they particularly liked jade.  They used their homes and the properties Trammel Crow developed to display their treasures.  Then they gave this wonderful collection to Dallas along with a lovely museum which is always free.  This kind of philanthropy is the reason I love the one per-centers.

Upstairs on a mezzanine were contemporary pieces which were not of great interest to me, but fit well with Dallas Art Scene’s slant to the modern.  Across a bridge decorated by a huge flock of flying origami cranes, is a gallery devoted to Indian art.  All very interesting, of course, but it was thoughts of Margaret and Trammel Crow themselves which dominated my thoughts as I left the museum.

It was time for us to head over to the Meadows for the House of Alba exhibit and you should, too, but keep the DMA and the Crow Collection on your list of places to visit in Dallas.

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

Back to Dallas’ Crow Collection of Asian Art

Andrew Gorlizki at The Crow Collection of Asian ARt
Andrew Gorlizki at The Crow Collection of Asian Art


The nice man in this picture is Andrew Gorlizki.  Products of his fertile mind populate Variable Dimensions, his exhibit  at The Crow Collection of Asian Art.  A few weeks ago I posted an article which barely grazed the surface of this artist and his works,  I promised then to give you more details.  Well, here they are.

The Artist

Alexander Gorlizki was born in London in 1967.  His family’s roots are Russian and his mother had an Asian textiles business.  At an early age he traveled to India with her and was immediately fascinated with pretty much everything, but was especially drawn to Indian miniature paintings.   He couldn’t stay away.  He was formally educated in London, but his real education was drawn from his interest in those miniature paintings, tantric drawings and textiles back in India.  Along the way he became friends with Jaipur miniature artist  Riyaz Uddin and their collaboration became the life-force of his work.  It is Alexander, with his studio in New York, that brings the imagination, but Riyaz, his apprentices and other craftsmen in India execute the designs.  Sometimes a work will pass between Jaipur and New York many times over an extended period of time before it is declared complete.Gorlzki

The Art of the Exhibition

When it was time for the exhibition notes to be prepared, Alexander and Riyaz were still working on bringing their concepts and designs together.  Still, exhibition notes are dirigeur.  Since Alexander couldn’t provide photos of completed works, they designed a pamphlet around his concepts.  I’ve borrowed heavily from the pamphlet to help describe the exhibit.

“An entity without fixed boundaries.  Shifting, multi-faceted experiences not reduceable to a single interpretation, imaginative worlds that can be viewed in different and occasionally contrasting terms – spiritual and prosaic, as clear as a cartoon, as elusive as a dream.”  That’s how Alexander describes “Variable Dimensions” so exactly how are you and I supposed to make sense of it?

The notes goes on to invite us to “Laugh at the absurdity of our urgency to rationalize, narrate, and interpret.” The artist “uses traditional techniques to subvert traditional expectations,” the program explains.  So let’s head down the rabbit hole with him.

20150910_104235The Process

Were someone to neaten it up, the inside of Alexander’s mind might look something like this.  It’s a sampling of his idea board transported to Dallas to help us understand what is happening.  Look at it carefully.  There’s a man’s suit in miniature, drawings by Alexander’s child, textiles, sketches, notes and more.  Look for connections, contrasts, whimsy, humor and colors.  Shake it together in the artist’s mind and you have “Variable Dimensions.”rolodex)

As crazy as it all seems to us, his mind must at least yearn for order.  My absolute favorite piece in the exhibition is a Rolodex that rolls itself.  Each card on the Rolodex contains a motif that intrigues the artist. I didn’t have as much time as I wanted on my first visit to the exhibition, but I  really want to study the cards and then locate the motifs within the exhibit.  I’ve promised myself that I will.

By the way, that slightly scientific looking wallpaper?  Yep, he designed that also – and carpets and all the other wacky pieces around the gallery.  One of the big incongruities of the exhibit is the amount of painstaking skill that went into creating such nonsensical pieces.

Choosing one piece to represent the whole is virtually impossible.  The mere variety of objects is overwhelming. There are sculptures, paintings, architectural features, decorative arts, found objects, video and more.  I mean really.  When was the last time you saw an exhibition where even the wallpaper had been designed by the artist?  He’d even designed the fabric of the shirt he was wearing.  Leonardo di Vinci is the last guy I knew about who was so interested in so many things.

Gorlzki fam picHowever, since it was miniature painting which set Alexander off on his artistic journey, that’s what I will show to you.  What you are looking at is a miniature painting referencing a style of photography popular in the 19th century.  Indians eagerly embraced the advent of photography and everyone wanted a family photo on their walls, but black and white was just too boring.  So they would embellish the photos with colorful enhancements, like the turbans of the men in the back of the picture.  However, the other enhancements are pure Gorlizki:  elephant heads, dancing monkeys, mythical figures and an tiger with rabbit ears.

To appreciate these paintings you will have to go to the exhibit and lean as close as you can towards them.  The fur on the animals is amazing.  The Indian artists use brushes with only one bristle to capture the exact look of the animals’ pelts.  Look closer and you will begin to appreciate the precise execution of the fabric in the turbans and the tile on the floor.

Then you must step back and look around.  Find the connections.  Where else do you see animal fur, the patterns in the cloth of the turbans, the mosaics on the floor?  Are they on the design board?  Can you find them among the cards of the Rolodex?  Are there other monkeys in the room?  Perhaps you can even find a connection to wallpaper on the wall behind the painting – perhaps.



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

Variable Dimensions at Crow Collection of Asian Arts

Now Showing at The Crow Collection of Asian Art
Now Showing at The Crow Collection of Asian Art


A new exhibit opens today at the Crow Collection.  I had the privilege of attending a media preview yesterday.  You are going to love the art of Andrew Gorlizki,  The exhibit, titled “Variable Dimensions” will transport you to a world of whimsy and wonder.

Not Your Usual Kimonos and Jade

I love the Crow Collection.  It’s a peaceful little haven of The East out here in the Wild West.  I don’t go as often as I wish I did, but every time I do my spirit releases a sigh of relief.  So, I was thrilled when they sent me an invitation to a media preview for a new exhibit.  I’ll confess I wasn’t really concerned about what the exhibit would be.  It was was art and it would be at the Crow.  I was in.

Then I read the “Media Advisory” and I wondered what I’d signed up for. Some guy named Gorlizki with a studio in New York was going to have a multi-media exhibition in a Dallas Asian arts museum.  How was that going to pan out?  Multi-media is one of those words that makes the hair stand out on the back of my neck.  It sounds like I am going to be in a room full of what looks like trash, with a light show flashing, while various unrelated movies play on the walls.  Usually those movies are of scenes I would pay not to see, so I don’t get very excited about multi-media.  Give me a nice little decorative arts show any day of the week.

A Pleasant Surprise

I won’t bore you with the details of my day yesterday, but suffice to say, I was lucky that I only arrived a few minutes late to the media preview.  Mr. Gorlizki had just begun his talk when I walked in and I was totally frazzled.  I desperately wanted to hear what he had to say, but among other frustrations, I needed the ladies room in the worst way.  I gave in to the call of nature and when I returned to the gallery I realized that I loved what I was looking at.  I just couldn’t figure out what all these odd pieces had to do with one another.  “Variable Dimensions” was certainly a good name for this show.

You enter the space through a very angular doorway with a sort of pop-art design on it.  The floor is covered with a psychedelic rug and one wall sports a collection of colorful, but odd statuettes.  Mr. Gorlizki was standing in front of a painting talking about a knitted bicycle.  On the rug was a tableaux featuring a large cloth book.  Next to it was a table with gold sunglasses, gold flipflops and a turquoise figurine of multiple phallic symbols.  Then there was the telephone table with a self-propelled Rolodex.  I didn’t quite understand what was going on, but it was making me smile.  It had to be good.

Out of the Fog 

I made myself focus on what the artist was saying and tried to align it with what I’d read in the Media Advisory.  Basically, all of the wonderful, amazing bits of whimsy my brain was trying to embrace erupted out of the mind of this mild-mannered man, who was talking about the “spellbindingly accurate” work his craftsmen in India had to incorporate to execute his designs.  And that’s how Mr. Gorlizki and his “Variable Dimensions” ended up at an Asian Museum.  His primary studio might be in New York, but the inspiration for his work and the execution of it are all about India, a place he fell in love with in his early teens.  He also has a studio in Jaipur.

It’s a good thing I majored in Performing Arts at UTD or I would have still been confused.  Before I had the benefit of my university education, I sort of thought “the artist” was the guy who actually executed the art piece and I had a pretty solid idea of what constituted a piece of art.  Then I learned that many of the works of art we all love were created in the studio of the artists and that all those angel heads were not necessarily painted by the main guy.  What’s more, I also learned that art didn’t necessarily have to be executed to be art.  Just the mere development of a concept by an artist was a work of art.  That wonderful room with the psychedelic rug, turquoise phallic symbols and self-propelled Rolodex was the manifestation of several days of discussion in my Photography 101 class.

Please understand, however, that you don’t need to understand all of this to appreciate the exhibit.  In fact, I found myself zoning out on all the art theory clap trap being thrown about and enjoying the use of commercially available egg cups holding the painstakingly executed animal prints painted onto marble eggs.  I plan to visit this exhibit frequently and seriously think about some of the concepts they presented, but I don’t want you to think you need to be versed in art to enjoy the exhibit.

Go See This Exhibit

Long story short, “Alexander Gorlizki: Variable Dimensions” will delight and amaze you.  Your brain will still be whirling long after you’ve decided what your favorite pieces are.  Go into the exhibit with an open mind and you will find you have a happy heart.

As you enjoy the wonderful, charming objects keep these things in mind.  Those miniature paintings on the wall?  They were painted with a brush with a single hair.  Then look for connections.  You will see motifs and colors repeated through out the exhibit.  A tiny pattern used in the background of a painting can be found in various dimensions throughout the pieces.  Look for anomalies.  At first glance you’ll see a row of brass hooks.  Then you’ll realize one of the hooks is quite a bit larger than the others.  Then you’ll turn and see a huge hook of the same style on a different wall.

More to Come

Believe it or not, I still have more to say about this exhibit.  I have some marvelous material from the museum I want to pass on to you, but I’m sitting in a hotel room in Oklahoma City, not my office.  That’s all part of the story I didn’t share with you when I told you I wouldn’t bore you with the details of my day.  This collection of whimsical miracles will be at the Crow until March, so there is plenty of time for me to regale you with the hysteria of my day and the wonders of the exhibit.  Come back next week and see what I have up my sleeve.

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

Downtown Dallas & The Crow

Brochure from the Crow
Brochure from the Crow


If you haven’t been Downtown lately, then you haven’t really been to Dallas.  We’re just not the same place we once were – and in some ways,  that’s a good thing.

The Dallas Arts District

It’s been three decades since I first heard someone talk about a Dallas Arts District and at the time, it sounded like wishful thinking – but never underestimate a bunch of Texans.  Slowly but surely, we’ve built something very special down there.

The cornerstone was the Dallas Museum of Art.  Then venues like the Meyerson Symphony Center, the Winspear Opera House and many others came along.  The Crescent and the Ritz-Carlton aren’t far away.    Even the DISD Arts Magnet School is down there.  Now, there’s Klyde Warren Park and the new Museum Tower. In the meantime, exciting developments have popped up, fell into disuse and been redeveloped.  We’ve gotten lost from time to time, but we’ve never forgotten where we’re going.

The Crow Collection

Dallas’s Arts District is bright shiny and new in a lot of ways, but there are smaller, quieter places that also deserve your attention.  Take for instance The Trammel and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art.  It’s been a part of the growing Arts District for over fifteen years, yet I’d bet a lot of Dallasites don’t even know it’s there.  Here’s some reasons you should visit.

First, you need to know that it’s free.  Not just from time to time or on special days.  It’s just free – everyday all day long. The Trammel Crow Building is one of the major skyscrapers in Downtown Dallas and in one of the spaces of the building, the Crow family gave us access to this wonderful collection of art out of the goodness of their hearts.  That’s just one of the reasons I’m a big fan of that nasty old one percent that’s been kicked around so much lately.  So many of the things I love are made available to me out of the generosity of some one-percenter’s heart.

The next thing you should know is that it’s relatively small.  Taking in the DMA or Nasher is going to take up most of the day, if you want to see it properly.  But in comparison, the Crow Collection is bite-sized.  Yes, there are three floors, but the footprint of each floor is small and the displays embrace the minimalism of the Far East, where Less is considered More.  At the Crow, your brain doesn’t get that same stuffed feeling your stomach gets on Thanksgiving.

The museum is also very quiet. Most museums and libraries are quieter than, say, the mall, but there seems to be an extra aura of peaceful serenity at the Crow.  You won’t feel hurried or overwhelmed.  You’ll just stroll through and see marvelous things.  And marvelous they are.  On my most recent visit, I saw a series of golden statues with a fantastic number of limbs in some fairly amazing postures.  The labels said they were in the “Mother/Father pose,” but Bill said if the statues were of parents with their children, someone should call Child Protective Services.  I’ll let you be the judge of that.  The items exhibited change with a good bit of frequency, so if you want to see the Mother/Father poses, you better hurry.

Before you leave the Crow, pop into the lovely little Lotus Shop.  Unique items in a variety of price points are available to remind of you of your visit. Then you might want to take a stroll through Klyde Warren Park before the new wears off.