Monday, October 31, 2011

The Women's Museum at Fair Park

Today, October 31, 2011, The Women's Museum at Fair Park in Dallas is closing its doors after a decade of service in the community.  It is a sad day for women and those who celebrate their many accomplishments.  Sad for Dallas.  Sad for Fair Park, too.  An art museum once graced the fair grounds, but it became the Dallas Museum of Art and moved into downtown Dallas at the beginning of 1984.  The Music Hall at Fair Park continues to host musicals such as West Side Story that ran during this year's fair.  But with the Meyerson Symphony Center, the Winspear Opera House, and the Wyly Theater now in the downtown ATT Arts District one wonders how long musical theater will remain at Fair Park.  Same thing with the Museum of Nature and Science as the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science nears completion in downtown Dallas.  That will leave only the African American Museum at Fair Park, and I understand it is having financial troubles.

With 70,000 square feet, the museum housed an impressive variety of displays that documented and celebrated women's achievements throughout history.  I believe there were occasional art exhibits over the years. It was the museum's mission to empower women and girls through interactive exhibits, videos, lectures, and discussions. Rusty donated work one year to The Bridge Breast Network to support their fight against breast cancer, and the benefit dinner and auction were held at The Women's Museum. 

plenty of room for large banquets

I attended an awards banquet earlier this year at The Women's Museum as my friend Pat Vaughn was honored for her work in the community by the Maura Women Helping Women Award.  The Maura WHW organization has been officing at The Women's Museum since 2007.

Colorful and engaging educational displays.

there was an exhibition about chili peppers up at the museum during the State Fair.

Here's hoping it does get easier for The Women's Museum as it moves forward in rediscovering itself.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Art at the State Fair of Texas

The State Fair of Texas ended last weekend.  I managed to go twice this year.  We went once on a Friday night that was billed as "High School Day", so there were hoards of high school aged kids in groups.  It took us 45 minutes to get to the fair even though we only live less than 3 miles from the fair grounds. I went back on a weekday for a very short visit to simply take pictures of things I missed or did not have sufficient sunlight for the first time.

Believe it or not, there is art to be found at the State Fair.  Granted, most of it is what many would consider to be 'Community' art.  I find it fun to see what the art hobbyists, enthusiasts and crafters are making each year.  Sometimes they echo high art, but more often than not it is pure fun outsider art.

I'll start with the Fine Art on exhibition.
I made a special visit to the fair grounds just a few days prior to the opening of the fair to see the exhibition "Generations: A Woman's Conversation" at the African American Museum. This exhibition features the work of six women artists: Annette Lawrence, Vicki Meek, Letitia Huckaby, Anita Knox, Valerie Bennett-Gillespie and Marilu Flores Gruben.  This exhibition ran from June 4 through October 29.  These artists investigate the notion of image and its power to suggest ideas that women should embrace.

Annette Lawrence, Untitled, tape, paper, china marker, graphite

installation shot with Annette Lawrence's Untitled in the middle flanked by Letitia Huchaby's Debutante Gown on the left and Something Old, Something New on the right.

Letitia Huckaby, East Feliciana Altar Piece

This was the 125th anniversary year of the State Fair of Texas.  People do come to the fair from all over the state to exhibit their livestock and to participate in the rodeo competitions.  I'm not sure how far the "State" aspect extends into other venues however.  Case in point: Friends of Lottie Sculpture Garden.  Lottie Minick is a local artist and her husband designed the fountains that designate both ends of the sculpture garden area. I met Lottie at this year's White Rock Lake Artists' Studio Tour and she explained to me that she invites her North Texas sculpting friends to participate in the sculpture garden during the fair each year.  She had hoped for a few more of her friends to participate again this year but they were not all able due to other commitments.

Lottie Minick holding one of her sculptures on the 2011 White Rock Lake Artists Studio Tour 

The signs accompanying each of these sculptures only list the artists' name and phone number.  No title, media, size or dates of creation.  They all seemed to be made of metal, some with glass and some with tile.  There were more than these, but these are more than ample representation:

 Lottie Minick

Laura Abrams

Pascale Pryor

Justine Wollaston

David Hickman

Richard Perrin

Cynthia Daniel

Brad Abrams

Terry Jones

A caricature artist at work at the fair

Kings Handmade Embroidery

These are odd.  Silk embroidery 'paintings'. Most are idyllic representations of village scenes, beautiful women, horses, seascapes, florals - basically Thomas Kinkade 'art' done in silk.  These were for sale in the Embarcadero Building along with hot tubs, mattresses, foot massagers, and other household furniture and appliances. Oddly enough, there were red labels on the framed 'art works' that said "No Photos".  Not sure if they didn't want anyone spreading the good news about handmade silk embroidery paintings or perhaps Kings is afraid of unfavorable blog posts.  I couldn't resist, so I stood away and used the zoom feature on my little Sony Cybershot.  duh

also not exactly 'art', but exciting design on testosterone overdrive

One of my favorite exhibits every year at the fair is the Creative Arts Building.  I end up spending more time in here than anywhere.  I look for the arts and crafts that have been created by my friends from church as well as items created by students of my local art educator friends. And then there are the interesting objects that have been executed well that catch my eye.  There are also objects that have been made from kits, boxes of legos, and collectables that leave me scratching my head every year.

John Touhey, a friend from church

KeLaine Kvale, a student of several of my art educator friends

Jan Scogin, a friend from church.  Jan had three ribbon winning works in the fair.

Kent Bushart

Kent Bushart.  I've enjoyed Kent's dioramas for a couple of years now

Origami with money.  I wonder if this artist ever sees all the art-fair art that is being made of money these days?  

Oh, and don't forget the annual butter sculpture:

Bill Davenport and the Golden Treasures of the Pharaohs

Curated by Charles Dee Mitchell.  Presented at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, September 17 - October 22.

Last weekend was busy in Texas arts.  Bill Davenport kept bar at the Glasstire booth at the Texas Contemporary art fair.  An actual 'art' bar that Bill created himself and stocked with his unique hand-painted bottles.  As Houston occupied itself with the second art fair in two months time, Dallas witnessed the final weekend to view Davenport's work at the MAC.  The MAC's press release tells us that Davenport filled the large gallery with works that reference the "mysticism of ordinary man's treasures."  Davenport is a contributing editor for Glasstire and a freelance art critic for the Houston Chronicle, and he has had numerous regional art exhibits during the past decade.  Glasstire has posted a variety of articles as of late regarding the state of the Dallas commercial art scene.  It was interesting to see the demonstration Davenport presented to Dallas viewers in this exhibition at the MAC that was curated by a Dallas art critic and curator.

installation shot of Big Owl and Nopale
both are paper mache over steel, 2011
Big Owl, 108" x 60" x 60"
Nopale, 50" x 82" x 132"

Strawberry, painted ferroconcrete, 25" x 29" x 29", 2011

Moldy Cheese and Stein
Moldy Cheese, polyurethane foam and acrylic paint, 4" x 4" x 4", 2011
Stein, ceramic, 6" x 4" x 5.5", 2009

Wood Pretzel, plaster gauze and acrylic paint, 14" x 21" x 12", 2011

Big Owl

Swiss Cheese, polyurethane foam and acrylic paint, 3.5" x 6" x 4.5", 2011