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.
TRAVEL HERE: BRIGHTENING AN OTHERWISE DREARY SUNDAY
So I was just about done with my local art museum. Lately, every time we showed up for an exhibition, we’d look at each other and ask, “Really?” I had already tossed the most recent renewal of membership letter into the trash, but a still small voice asked, “Do you know what special exhibitions are coming?” I didn’t, but I assumed they’d be more of the same stuff which had been disenchanting us for a couple of years. I was wrong. Berte Morisot is coming! Berthe’s exhibition won’t be here at least a year, but I couldn’t abandon the museum when they were organizing a fairly incredible exhibition. Besides, some of the smaller productions on exhibit right now seemed of interest. So, I renewed my membership and decided to go to the museum as soon as we could.
All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins…or Not
Arriving at the Dallas Museum of Art on a recent dreary Sunday, I dropped by the information desk to confirm the location of the exhibits I wanted to see. We only had two hours before closing – plenty of time to view my wish list, but not if we wandered aimlessly. What I did not plan on viewing was an installation created in 2016 titled All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins. I mean that’s the same vintage as the cheap wine in the grocery store. Galleries are where you go to see the latest in art. I think museums should focus on more proven vintages that have been laid down for awhile. Obviously, there are plenty with another opinion. All the general public tickets had been sold for the day and only my membership would get us a timed appointment for that particular afternoon.
Taking the bait I bellied up to the membership desk to claim my free, timed viewing ticket. We had half an hour until our slot so we strolled up the concourse. We’d seen Truth: 24 Fames Per Second and didn’t need a repeat showing. We’d also been to the latest installation in the Keir Collection several times since April. We stuck our head in the gift shop and dropped by the small Focus Gallery exhibiting Hopi Visions. Interesting, but not among our favorite genres, so after a few minutes we were back on the concourse.
My husband likes to touch things, so he detoured into the Center for Creative Connections. Tagged C3, this is the area where kids of all ages can make art rather than just look at it. We looked over the shoulder of a few budding artists, handled a few touchable objects and then returned to the concourse. We were still a few minutes away from our designated ticket time, so we checked out the Barrel Vault. This area is ground zero for Contemporary and Modern Art, so we don’t usually spend much time here – you know my vintage issues. However, one of the side galleries had just what I was looking for, Edward Steichen: In Exultation of Flowers.
In Exultation of Flowers
Love a good story? Back in the Twentieth Century an artist started painting a mural commissioned by some wealthy New Yorkers. These members of Art’s Inner Circle knew all the best people and had their artist friend paint these friends of theirs lolly-gagging among flowers. What’s not to love? One wants to imagine them and their friends draped across art deco furnishing sipping cocktails and discussing the pros and cons of the completed murals – especially the one featuring Isadora Duncan in the nude. But that’s not what happened. By the time the murals were complete, the art patrons were in a bit of a financial bind and had to sell the apartment the murals had been painted for. The murals were never installed and it’s been over 100 years since they were displayed together.
Enter the DMA, famous among art people today for their restoration and conservation abilities. The DMA was commissioned to work their magic on Mr. Steichen’s murals and as part of the deal, the DMA would display the finished project. Museum Girl loved this exhibit. In truth, the gallery was a little small for the seven monumental murals, but they were delightful to behold, so all was forgiven.
The Psychedelic Portion of our Afternoon
My watch said it was time to view the pumpkins, so we headed to a nearby gallery. Joining the line outside the large white box containing the installation, we listened to the instructions announced by a docent. We’d have to put our stuff into the cubbies provided. We’d be allowed inside the installation for 45 seconds, during which time we could take pictures, but we could not trade places with one another once the door was closed, because there was a falling hazard. Hubby was whispering derisive comments into my ear, predicting how much we were going to hate this.
He was wrong and he was the first to admit it. The charming time keeper engaged Bill in conversation as we waited our turn and she made all the difference. Bill stepped in, oooh and aaaahed for 45 seconds and then we erupted into the rest of the museum. Later he admitted it was his favorite item of the day. I still prefer the murals, but the installation is worth at least 45 seconds of your life.
On Level Two we found Paris at the Turn of the Century. Featuring a few tidbits from the Posters of Paris exhibition of a few years ago, these small beauties are displayed in a tiny darkened gallery and did not evoke the joie de vivre of the full blown exhibit. On Level Three was Art and Trade Along the Silk Road. I’d forgotten that we’d seen it before. It’s lovely, but we weren’t covering new ground. From there we went on to the Reves Collection which continues to be one of our favorite things at the DMA, no matter how many times we see it.
From the DMA we wandered to East Dallas to try out Smokey Rose. Great ribs, great atmosphere and we can’t wait until the weather is better to try out the patio, but the brisket and mac-and-cheese were less than amazing.
So I’ve been in the process of catching up on my adventures. We’ve been to Gruene TX for a girl’s road trip, Birmingham AL for business and Fort Worth for Monet. All this leaves me with yet another confession. If you missed the Devine Felines at the DMA, mea culpa. If you miss Mexico 1900-1950, then that’s going to be your fault.
A Busy Autumn Break
My autumn disappeared in a haze of responsibility.Global Heart Ministries had a tea, a video shoot and a fundraiser. I also went on that trip I haven’t been able to tell you about. So they kept me pretty busy. I sort of disappeared out of my life until the October 22 fundraiser happened. After all that, I was just about ready for a life and I took on a project that I could do completely at home. I needed a break.
That’s when the invitation to the opening of the Art and Nature exhibition came along. Bill and I put the event on our calendar and zipped downtown to take a gander. We spent a perfectly lovely evening at the museum. The art focused on the Middle Ages and as such pretty much everything in the exhibit was related to the Catholic faith. There were reliquaries, crosiers , crucifixes, stained glass, etc. etc. etc. The workmanship was exquisite and we thoroughly loved the whole thing.
Perhaps our favorite thing was the Scavenger Hunt. Yep – a scavenger hunt. Now many museums and such offer scavenger hunts, but they are usually for kids and they’re offered in black and white on a piece of copy paper. Nope, that wasn’t it at all. Instead on beautiful slick paper in the richest colors possible, we were challenged to identify 14 various images, each of which were only a small part of a larger work. Not only was it a lot of fun, but it inspired us to take a long, deep look at things we might have just glanced at and then walked away.
After the Scavenger Hunt we checked out the offerings at the refreshment table, but didn’t see much to our liking, so we headed home. Here’s the good news. It will be at the museum until the 19th of this month, so please hurry in to see it.
A Pleasant Sunday
But the exhibit about the Middle Ages wasn’t all that was happening at the DMA, so we made another visit. Confession! I know it had to happen after the opening of Art & Nature, but if I was forced to testify as to when, I would be in trouble. We walked back through Art & Nature and then strolled down to Shaken| Stirred |Styled. This is a small exhibition in a side gallery that would be easy to miss, so if you go between now and November 12th, please be sure to ask someone where it is.
The entire exhibit is a collection of bar ware from the 19th century and it’s cool – really cool. There are punch bowls and martini glasses, but perhaps the most fun is cocktail shakers from the Prohibition Era.
We also took a look at Divine Felines, which is now closed. The collection of Egyptian cat mummies and other feline related items was interesting, but not compelling to us, so I don’t feel quite so bad about allowing you to miss it.
Since our goal was to kill the afternoon, we also strolled through the South American and American galleries, enjoying old favorites. Since this is where Bill and I met, all the art seems like friends of the family. Truly a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in Dallas.
Don’t Miss Mexico
One final note before I go. A new exhibition just started at the museum, Mexico 1900-1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Jose Clemente Orozco and the Avant-Garde. I am really sorry to report that once again Global Heart Ministries has interfered with my love of art. Last week I had to miss the exhibition’s opening party to help with the video shoot we were filming. I love GHM, but it’s tough when I have to make decisions like that. The good thing is that the exhibit just opened and it will be here through July. Even with my crazy schedule I should be able to make it.
So it was a hot Sunday afternoon in Downtown Dallas and we were hungry. We’d spent several very enjoyable hours re-familiarizing ourselves with the American galleries at the Dallas Museum of Art, but it was about to close. I mentioned Trinity Grove, but also pointed out it was far too hot to take advantage of the al fresco dining that seems to be a primary draw to the area. So Bill decided to drive around downtown for a bit and visit old haunts.
Downtown Ain’t What It Used To Be
Back in the Twentieth Century, Bill and I both used to spend a lot of time downtown. In the seventies I was in credit card banking with a small independent bank and Republic Bank processed our transactions and cards. I made frequent visits to the building topped by a rocket and covered in star-studded metal panels. After branch banking came to Texas, I moved on to the copier industry and found myself downtown even more often – almost daily in fact, as I popped in and out of offices training folks to use copiers, fax machines and phones.
Bill had his days downtown, too. His first venue was the Hilton where he financed his schooling by waiting tables at The Beef Baron and helping out at banquets. Then he started his computer company and like me, popped in and out of downtown buildings. He was selling, delivering and installing computer equipment to feed the copiers and fax machines my company sold.
We both have fond memories of those days so as we pulled away from the DMA, Bill took a drive through downtown. First, we drove by the Hilton. The venerable old motel is being transformed into a multi-use development with stories and stories of apartments.
We were impressed by the rail system and the many parks which have been inserted into the landscape. Both of these additions are great improvements to the downtown we remembered, but we weren’t crazy about all the one-way streets. Thankfully there wasn’t too much traffic or we might have grid-locked the whole place.
We drove over to the Omni Hotel to see their new multi-restaurant venue, but we weren’t tempted to hassle with the parking or valet, so we ignored our growling stomachs and decided on some more sight-seeing.
Neither are The West End and The Brewery
Bill decided to visit the West End. A few old standards like The Palm and Spaghetti Warehouse were clinging to the sidewalk, but it was a sad tourist trap. We regretted the loss of those days when all the hot restaurants were clustered in the West End and complimented by a multi-story shopping and entertainment venue.
I fondly remembered another Sunday afternoon when we happened upon Robert Lee Kolb, one of my favorite local entertainers, playing on the outdoor stage. As I stood on the edge of the crowd Robert Lee began singing the song he always used to play when I’d walk into Beethoven’s, his club in the Bachman Lake area. The strains of the familiar tune startled me. I looked away from my husband who I’d been chatting with to find Robert Lee staring right at me with a huge grin on his face. It’s one of my favorite Dallas memories.
Disappointed to find the West End is about to become yet another multi-use development, we drove over to the Victory Park area and tried to figure out how to find our way into The Brewery, another hang-out we both loved before we knew each other. For many years, The Brewery was famous for The Starck Club, a place where I have spent many an hour, but I was a regular to The Brewery before The Starck Club made it famous. Newport’s was once one of my favorite seafood restaurants and it inhabited one end of the complex for decades.
Before The Starck Club appeared in The Brewery, I discovered Robert Lee Kolb down in an establishment called The Cellar, because it was a cellar. From there I followed him to The Greenville Avenue Bar & Grill and further down Greenville Avenue to Dick’s Last Resort, before it moved to the West End. Friends tell me he was playing at The Dixie House down in Lakewood back when I was in high school, but that was years before I hit Dallas’ clubbing scene. My friendship with him began at Beethoven’s, where I’d show up with one or more members of my gang several times a week.
So that was the Sunday afternoon nostalgia tour. Now Bill and I were hungrier than ever. It was about 5:30, so the heat was unbearable, but we decided to go to Trinity Grove anyway. come back next week and I’ll tell you about it!
The last few times we visited the museum we had to maneuver our way around construction. I was glad to see the renovation going on. The shrubs along the north side had overstayed their welcome, but I had no idea just how amazing the face-lift was going to be.
Klyde Warren Park is one of the best things to happen to Dallas in a long, long time and now the DMA has plugged into the vibe. The construction re-directed traffic in front of the museum and opened the Atrium up with patio seating for their Atrium Cafe and a new outdoor cafe. The DMA got there before the rest of the Arts District, but had sort of fallen out of the energy flow. I think this new patio will breathe in some much-needed life.
As we entered the museum’s driveway, the first thing I noticed was the patio, but when we got inside we were really able to appreciate it. The gorgeous Chihuly hanging in the window is one of my favorite pieces on exhibit, but it seemed like a boundary between the museum and everything else. Now the atrium spills out onto the new patio through a door beneath the Chihuly and there’s a line of sight to Klyde Warren Park. We were drawn outside into the Eagle Family Plaza and I’m sure others will be drawn into the museum from the park.
And There’s More
The opening up of the Museum doesn’t end at Klyde Warren Park. What used to be the rear of the DMA gift shop is now a wide-open counter space connecting the Atrium with the Fleischner courtyard, which faces Flora Street. Glass doors in a glass wall between the cafe counter and the gift shop allow traffic to flow between them. I’m hoping
Connecting the Atrium to the outside from two directions is genius, but so far the museum has decided not to take advantage of the possibilities. One hopes this is a temporary situation. The museum used to charge for admission, so they limited the points of access. Now general admission is free, so it makes sense to provide entry to the museum that intersects with the traffic in the Arts District. The museum is still fairly inaccessible from St. Paul Street, but I guess they have to have someplace for loading and unloading art – both new acquisitions and pieces for exhibitions.
Some Things Haven’t Changed
Modern art continues to be an emphasis at the DMA. As a one-time director pointed out, by the time the DMA came along, pretty much all the Old Masters already had a home, so we had to look elsewhere for ways to cover our walls. I accept this, even if I wish it were not true. I’ve been listening, so I know why all this modern art is important, but I haven’t quite developed a taste for it. To borrow an old saw, I try to eat the meat and ignore the bones.
My husband is a little more vocal about his distaste. Prominently featured on the Eagle Family Plaza is a sculpture by Rebecca Warren. While it’s not my cup of tea. Bill thinks someone should get after it with a bulldozer. I think the sculpture is safe. Last time I checked, Bill wasn’t up to speed on operating heavy machinery.
Here’s a few more shots we took. I hope they’ll inspire you to go down to the Dallas Art District for a visit.