Saturday, July 19, 2008

Big Art in Big "D" at Nasher Sculpture Center

If you’re traveling to Dallas in the near future, and you haven’t been there of late, you’ll be amazed to see how the city is rapidly changing for the better. I grew up there, but haven’t been back in five years. This past week, I was there for work being interviewed by Paige McCoy Smith on the subject of summer reading for kids on “Good Morning Texas” (watch clip here).

This time around, I was amazed at all the fun and cultural stuff there is to do there now. Of course, there has always been fabulous theatre, via the Majestic Theatre and the Dallas Summer Musicals at Fair Park Music Hall, but there is some spectacular art to feed your soul, if you take the time to seek it out. Whether you’re heading to the Meadows Museum at my alma mater, Southern Methodist University (they have one of the largest collection of Spanish art outside of Spain), or the Dallas Museum Art, there is much beauty in Dallas.

While in the arts district, my good friend from high school and college, David, and I went to the Dallas Museum of Art. I hadn’t been there for years, probably since the opening of their Pre-Colombian art wing, and I had the opportunity to, not only reminisce as I walked through familiar collections, but see some new things as well. The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, designed after their home, is a wonderful glimpse into how "the other half" lived with some of the most beautiful impressionist art and European decorative arts in the world—not to mention some engaging correspondence from Winston Churchill, as well as some of his art.

The trip also included a visit to the new Nasher Sculpture Center next door. This is one of the most beautiful art facilities I have ever seen, and it has such a calming energy about it. It would be easy to imagine a Dallas business executive quietly slipping away from his or her office downtown for respite in this extremely serene place. The collection is also fantastic.

There, I saw this most interesting sculpture that brought back fond memories of the production of The Mikado that I did at the now defunct Dallas Alliance Theatre in Deep Ellum, with its vibrant blue color and closed fanlike shape. I remember our director bringing in a box of paper fans that had been donated to our production by Pier 1. Her words were "Be very careful with these--they were VERY expensive. I got them for free!"

This sculpture reminded me of the kind of man that I am looking for in my life—strong, in shape, and eternally quiet! Actually its Rodin’s The Age of Bronze, ca. 1876.

Of course, no sculpture garden would be complete without the work of contemporary master George Segal. He has always been one of my favorites since I was a child and experienced his realistic and impressive work at the Milwaukee Museum of Art. The Crowd is very reminiscent of one of his pieces The Commuters, Next Departure (1981), which is located in New York City’s Port Authority.

Similarly, Magdalena Abakanowicz brings true human energy to her Bronze Crowd, 1990-91, which occupies a prominent spot in the Nasher Outdoor sculpture garden, on the opposite side from Segal’s work. They seem like human bookends.

Finally, add Jonathan Borofsky to my list of favorite artists. His unique sculpture, Walking to the Sky, 2004 was a highlight of the visit. It suggests people leaving the Earth for Heaven or perhaps just the resiliency of everyday people in reaching their goals.
Borofsky is highly associated with pieces like his Hammering Man sculpture, but multiple Borofsky works are on exhibition at the Nasher Sculpture Center for visitors to enjoy.

For lovers of Calder’s mobiles and Picasso in all mediums, there is plenty to see. There is also a lovely exhibit in the basement gallery, which contains sculptures and sketch studies that were gifted from the Estate of Jacques Lipchitz.

For more information on the Nasher’s permanent collection and special exhibits, visit

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