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

A Museum Sort of Afternoon

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.

Photograph from DMA.com

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.

Other Things

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.

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

What’s Doing at the Dallas Museum of Arts?

Cats & Cocktails at the DMA

TRAVEL HERE: ARTFUL DELIGHTS AT THE DMA

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.

Shaken | Stirred | Styled

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.

Architecture, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

A Hot Sunday Afternoon in Dallas

The old Republic Bank building from http://www.dallaslibrary2.org/texas/photogallery/downtownliving/republic.htm
The old Republic Bank building from http://www.dallaslibrary2.org/texas/photogallery/downtownliving/republic.htm

TRAVEL HERE: DRIVING AROUND AMONG OUR MEMORIES

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.

The old Sheraton in the shadow of the Southland Life Building
The old Sheraton in the shadow of the Southland Life Building

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.

Robert LeeI 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!

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Museums, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Facelift for the DMA

Now the DMA patio welcomes visitors to the magic of Kylde Warren Park.
Now the DMA patio welcomes visitors to the magic of Kylde Warren Park.

TRAVEL HERE: DALLAS MUSEUM OF ART CONNECTS TO THE ARTS DISTRICT

OK, so I’ve been a little hard on the DMA as of late.  I loved Bouquets and  Body Beautiful, but while I found other exhibitions, like International Pop interesting, I was less than in love.  What’s more, as I traveled around enjoying delicious meals in other museums,  I bemoaned the culinary choices at the DMA.  I won’t even talk about how I was contemplating a change of membership to the Kimbell Art Museum.

Things Have Changed

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.

The patio also invite people visiting Klyde Warren Park to visit the musuem.
The patio also invite people visiting Klyde Warren Park to visit the musuem.

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.

New counter space
New counter space

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.

20160604_134344
Is Bill right? Should we bulldoze it?

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.

 

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

Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty at Dallas Museum of Art

Focus on Fashion
Focus on Fashion

TRAVEL HERE:  NEW EXHIBITION GOES FAR BEYOND BEAUTY

I do love fashion and Dallas is a great place for it.  NorthPark, The Galleria, Highland Park Village, The Dallas Design District – these are just a few of the places Dallas offers to the fashion-minded and until mid-August, the DMA is another stop for the fashion-forward.

The DMA Does Fashion

I can’t believe the Jean Paul Gautier Exhibition was five years ago!  It seems only yesterday I was popping into the DMA at every opportunity, showing off the strolling mannequins and crazy designs to anyone I could drag down there.  The Gautier exhibition was not the DMA’s last nod to fashion, but it will always be one of my favorites. 

That’s why I was so excited when I heard about this latest exhibit, Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty.  I haven’t been all that fond of some of the recent exhibition offerings, so I was ready to love something.  Unfortunately, I was not in town for the kick-off party, but I was invited to a lecture about Penn, so I waited until I knew more to take a peek.  The lecture was last Tuesday, so I’ll share a few tidbits.

Highlights of the Lecture

20160524_190437Sue Canterbury, The Pauline Gill Sullivan Associate Curator of American Art and presenting curator for Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty in Dallas, was the speaker.  While the delicious Harlequin Dress pops off the signage for the exhibition, Ms. Canterbury chose  a very different type of photo to use as the intro slide of her lecture.  The message?  This isn’t your usual fashion photographer.

Becoming a famous fashion photographer was not the overriding passion of the young Irving Penn.  He studied drawing and painting in college, but fell into an internship at Vogue magazine.  Yeah, it makes me crazy, too – like Samantha Brown falling into her job as a TV travel host.  I’m still waiting to fall into whatever my destiny is and I’ve been waiting a long time.  It isn’t that either of them was undeserving of their luck, I just wish they’d smear a little of it on me.

Anyway, after his internship he slipped down to Mexico to give drawing and painting a try, but instead spent most of his time on the business end of a camera.  The interlude convinced him that he was in fact a photographer, so he came back to the States and was welcomed back into the bosom of Vogue.

20160524_201855Far from being an elitist artiste photographer, who showed up late for a shoot and reduced the models to tears, Irving Penn embraced his job.  He admired the models who he said trained him in fashion and always named them in the photo credits.  He worked hard designing his shots long before he got into the studio.  He became a virtuoso in the dark room, practicing his own brand of alchemy.  When it came to equipment, he became an engineer, not only training himself to know everything about f-stops and lenses, but inventing modifications to get his cameras to do what he wanted them to do, even if they weren’t originally designed to do it.

Then there was his work.  At the time he joined the industry, fashion photography was somewhat of a mess.  The scenery added to the frame was so fussy and crowded that one was hard-pressed to see the actual subject of the photograph.  Penn stripped all that away, leaving only the fashion against a stark background.  You see it all around you today and don’t realize who to give the credit to.  Well, you can thank Irving Penn.

You may be wondering if you’ve seen any of his work.  Seen a Clinique ad lately?  Well, he gave them their clinical vision.  As Ms. Canterbury flipped through the slides I saw many that made me think, “I remember that!”  But Irving Penn was a lot more than a fashion photographer.

He was a voracious photo diarist.  Wherever he was, he endeavored to capture the essence of what he saw, often by adding a flavor of Dadaism.  While other photographers in Paris clamored to capture the obvious beauty of the city, Penn sought out beauty in unlikely places, like in the flour dust on a pastry chef’s shoe.  Back in the States, he hired models who usually posed for art schools and brought them into his studio for geometric studies which stare so closely into the crotch of the model, with such technicality, that you forget what you are looking at and begin to see the geometric form.  In Peru, he hired out a studio usually patronized by the native population for holiday photographs, then paid the customers to let him shoot them in their unique costumes in poses of his choosing.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture (I’ll admit, pun intended.)  If you love fashion, you’ll love this exhibit, but so will people with an interest in photography who have no interest at all in fashion.  Marketing types will have a field day.  So obviously, I think you need to get down to the DMA and see this exhibit.  I’ll be joining you myself, soon.  They’d shuttered the exhibition when the lecture was over, so I have to get down there and see what I was writing about.

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

DMA Offers Artful Summer Choices

Capture VermeerTRAVEL HERE: DALLAS MUSEUM OF ART, THE MYSTERIOUS VERMEER AND MORE

The Dallas Museum of Art is all stocked up for a great spring and summer. Abstract Impressionist Jackson Pollack’s Blind Spots will be on view until March 20, then on April 17th Irving Penn‘s iconic fashion photography will take center stage.  The beautiful Spirit and Matter Exhibit from the Keir Collection of Islamic Art remains in place until the end of July.  To complement the installation of a Rebecca Warren sculpture in the soon-to-be newly renovated Eagle Family Plaza, an exhibition of her work will be showing from March 13-July 17.  The really big news, however, is a very small work currently on exhibit in the Focus II Gallery, the Dutch Master, Vermeer.

What Can You Say About Vermeer?

Though highly esteemed in the art world, the painter Vermeer is somewhat of a mystery, according to Olivier Meslay, Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs and co-curator of Vermeer Suite: Music in 17th-Century Dutch Painting.  We don’t know who he studied with and we don’t know who he trained.  We have a few details from his life, but they are mostly mundane data like who he married and how many children he had.  Of course, since he had 12 children, that’s a pretty significant piece of data.

What’s more, only a handful of his works are known to exist.  Did he paint very slowly?  Or are there still Vermeers out there, hanging about in granny’s living room, which would thrill the art world, if only they knew the works existed.  I’m all about granny’s living room.  To feed 12 kids, this guy had to be a virtual factory.  Though meticulously painted, all his works are very small and the subject matter is quite ordinary

The most famous painting by Vermeer was made that way by a novel, The Girl in the Pearl Earring.  Vermeer’s painting titles are as everyday as their subject matter:  A Girl Reading a Letter by an Open WindowThe Glass of Wine and A Lady Writing.  Most have a gray wall, a piece of furniture and a woman in a room lit by a window.  Sometimes the window is visible.  Sometimes it is not.  You can only see the effect of the light from it.  There is nothing remarkable about his models or their costumes.  It’s as if he were trying to be both invisible and anonymous.

In Spite of All This, He’s Famous!

There are however, two odd bits about him that make him quite memorable.

The van Meegeren episode started back in 1935 and ended in 1947, when the forger was sentenced to a year in jail.  A review of the ensuing years reads like a mystery novel.  For an entertaining afternoon distraction, start with the article I’ve linked to above and then google your way around the internet.

Penn Jillette’s contribution to the Vermeer story revolves around the question of whether or not the artist made use of a camera obscura.  The question is more interesting than the mundane subjects Vermeer chose to paint – with or without a camera obscura.  The movie, Tim’s Vermeer, is a good way to invest a couple of hours.  When you’ve watched it, you can come to your own conclusions.

So What’s the Musical Connection?

All that being said, why is the name of the exhibit Vermeer Suite: Music in 17th-Century Dutch Painting?  Well, with only a few Vermeers existing in the world, getting even one of them to visit your museum is quite the coup.  Having landed a Vermeer, the DMA wanted to provide some kind of context for it to help the viewer appreciate what they are looking at.  So, since it was unlikely they could get any other Vermeers, they rounded up a collection of similar paintings by his contemporaries and tied it up with a musical bow.  They got the musical ribbon from the references to music in the other paintings.

Should you go to the exhibit?  Well, I’m always for visiting a museum and the Irving Penn exhibition looks like it will be pretty wonderful.  So, why don’t you plan on seeing the Vermeer when you go to Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty!

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Gardens, Museums, Music, Performing Arts, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Visit Dallas HolidayUpdate

DABS santaTRAVEL HERE:  WHAT TO DO IN DALLAS FOR THE HOLIDAYS

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

Blind Spots at the DMA

Jackson Pollack 001
Detail from DMA invitation to Exhibition Preview

TRAVEL HERE: POLLOCK’S BLIND SPOTS EXHIBITION OPENING AT DALLAS MUSEUM OF ART

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

Attire: Black is the New Black

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

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

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

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

Cool Vibes

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

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

Not So Cool Vibes

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

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

Overpopulated Pollock 

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

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

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

Pollack Party 001

Our Executive Decision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRAVEL HERE: A DAY OF MUSEUMS INCLUDES SPIRIT & MATTER AT THE DALLAS MUSEUM OF ART

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

International Pop Explained

Program Guide for International Pop Exhibition
Program Guide for International Pop Exhibition

TRAVEL HERE: DMA TALK EXPLAINS WHY INTERNATIONAL POP IS ART

About a month ago I went to a party to kick-off the International Pop Exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art.  It was a fun party, but I didn’t love the art.  To complicate my appreciation of the exhibition, the museum changed their MO.

In the past, exhibition-opening parties included a brief talk about the art, so even if I didn’t love the works, I could at least understand why I should appreciate them.  For some reason, for this exhibition, the museum separated these two components.  Recently, I was invited back to the museum for a little pop education.  This is what I learned.

Why the Exhibit is International, Not Global

Global, International, World-wide – whatever – right?  Well, not exactly.  While the words may be synonymous, they are not necessarily repetitious.

I’ve always liked the word “International.”  International airports.  International arrivals.  International departures. International Man of Mystery.  What’s not to love?

I haven’t been as fond of “Global.”  Take Global Warming, which they morphed into Climate Change.  Or the Global Economy, which is never in very good shape.  Really, what is there to love?

Gabriel Ritter, The Nancy and Tim Hanley Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art and curator of International Pop, explained why “International” was the appropriate term for the DMA’s Pop Art Exhibition and it made a lot of sense.  It also sounded like another reason why I prefer “international” to “global.”

Today’s world is global.  A tree falls in the Ecuadoran rain forest and within moments a tree hugger in Big Sur knows about it.  The tree hugger has never been to Ecuador, may never have spoken to anyone in Ecuador, may not even know anything about the type of tree that fell, but through the world wide web he/she can have a finger on the global tree population.

The spread of Pop Art was international.  Artists and art works traveled between countries sharing ideas in the first person.  They collaborated in real time in the same room.  Online meetings, email, texting, social media – it’s all great, but one of my hobby horses is that there is nothing like really being there.

I’ve taken online classes and I’ve been in the brick and mortar classroom.  The brick and mortar classes are superior experiences in my book.  I learned more, still retain more and enjoyed the classes more.  Just as I love checking Facebook to see what is up with my buddies, but I like sitting down with them even better.  So, just call me pro-international.

What Impressionism and Pop Art Have in Common 

Don’t blame Gabriel Ritter for this, because he did not say it, but I walked away from the lecture understanding Pop Art better, when I realized it had things in common with Impressionism.  Impressionism, which is one of my favorite genres, was not universally embraced when it first came on the scene and people like me still don’t embrace Pop Art, but both movements were a reaction to what was happening in the world.

The Impressionistic movement, was a reaction to photography, which gave painting a run for its money.  A box of technology could perfectly capture a scene in a way centuries of paintings could not replicate.  Almost immediately the influence of photography showed up in paintings.

Degas, a prolific photographer, is famous for his paintings of ballet dancers.  It seems to me that in many of these paintings he was experimenting with angles, like a child randomly snapping photos, capturing parts of instruments in a painting of dancers and then getting dancers legs in a painting of the orchestra.  Yet he also has pictures where he carefully sets up his subjects to capture a certain type of light or to utilize a mirror for a special effect, just like an accomplished photographer would.  I see these experiments as his impressionistic response to photography.

Since cameras could duplicate the visual details of a scene, Impressionists endeavored to impart other information with their work.  I’m particularly fond of Van Gogh, because his staccato stabs of paint and distinctive swirls suggest fragrance, light, wind movement and sound in a way traditional paintings and the newfangled photography of his day never did.  Looking back at these artists, I love what they were doing and the chances they were taking in their art.  Perhaps if I’d been alive at the time, I would be as persnickety about Impressionism as I am Pop Art.

Just as the Impressionist reacted to the photographic images of their day, Mr. Ritter explained how Pop Artist reacted to the pervasive visual media of their day.  The photograph had turned into television and movies.  Newspapers and magazines were awash with photography.  Advertisers were trying to spin our tastes wherever we turned and we Americans were assumed to be the worst offenders of this taste intrusion.

Pop Art pushed back.  It made light of the serious business of media.  In his talk, Mr. Ritter went through a series of slides (some of works in the exhibition, some images from elsewhere) and described how each work responded to something happening in the world during the Sixties (and the years immediately before and after the Sixties.)  I just wish they would have pushed back with more attractive images.

My Instincts Were Not Wrong

The lecture helped me understand the Pop Artists a little more.  I could see what they were trying to say, but what I learned didn’t create a greater affection for Pop Art.  See, I disagree with the ancient Greek philosophers.  They prized ideas over technology.  A sculptor was merely a gifted craftsman.  I prefer the work of the craftsman and I elevate him to the position of artist.

Modern art returns to the opinions of this aggrandizement of the idea over execution of the idea.  Who cares if the execution of an idea is imperfect, if the idea is original and slightly provocative?  Well, actually I do.

Down the street from the DMA, the Crow Collection is exhibiting works by Andrew Gorlizki, who comes up with ideas in New York which are executed by artisans and craftsmen India.  I understand why museum curators consider  Andrew Gorlizki to be the “artist”, but to me, those guys with the single bristled paint brushes are the real artists.  Gorlizki is more like a patron, offering ideas and a studio.  However, I’m merely a travel and lifestyle blogger, not a specialist in the arts, so I don’t count.  (Thankfully, I also get to state my opinion without having to back it up with volumes of proof.)

In addition to my preference for craftsmen, I find the ridicule the Pop Artists intended towards America stings me a little bit.  America is a large target for disdain and in spite of all our noble endeavors, it seems as if the world chooses to focus on our faults.  It’s an old song and I’m weary of it.  I sensed the artists’ disdain, even before I was informed of it.

My initial reaction to most of the items in the International Pop Art exhibition was, “Really?  Are you serious?”  My informed reaction is not very different.  Once I was in on the joke, my opinion of several of the pieces rose and a few tickled my funny bone, but I still find most of the items downright ugly and many are still offensive.  I hear what they are saying, but I would respect the message more if there was more craftsmanship.

Here’s my bottom line.  When it comes to art, you don’t have to like everything you see, but you should at least try to understand it.  If, after you understand it, you still don’t like it, that’s OK.  What do you think?