Sunday, December 23, 2012

Day 55/60: Dallas Museums

My impression after one day of touring in Dallas is that it is an architecture-happy town, and that it has grown at a phenomenal pace in the decade since our previous visit. There are several more skyscrapers downtown with innovative profiles and materials, and several arts-type buildings by big-name architects. In one day, within walking distance of each other in the Cultural District, we photographed buildings by I.M. Pei, Norman Foster, and Renzo Piano.

We parked at the Dallas Museum of Art but we started by walking to the Myerson Symphony Center, which was designed by Io Ming Pei—his actual name is not that hard—pronounced 'Yo Ming.' Anyway, the building had elegant curves. Then we hiked around the corner to see a first rate, and huge, sculpture by Mark DiSuvero, located on a rise where traffic on a busy highway passes it. This put us in an awkward position behind a huge events center, meaning we had some extra walking. It was about 80 degrees at 11:00. Part of the events center is the Winspear Opera House, by Norman Foster and Partners. We enjoyed the reflecting pools and bold lines of the building. Then we had to hike back to the museum. We were steamy and gritty by the time we arrived.

We took a break in the museum's snack bar. I had an iced latte and fresh out of the oven ("not even wrapped yet") chocolate chip cookies. Dan cleverly drank iced water.

I am happy to say that Dallas has improved their collection quite a bit since we were here. Their American collection and their contemporary collection are pretty good; European work, both the old masters and the 20th C. masters, is spotty, but does include some good ones. Their sculpture garden has a small but tasteful collection of modern works.

Dan and I worked separately and very intensely all day. We had salads for lunch in the museum's café. Then Dan wanted to go over to the Nasher Sculpture Center about 2:00 to get good light on the outdoor sculpture. 'I said no way am I going out with the sun so high. I'll go about 4:00.'

The Nasher is just across the street from the art museum; you can buy a joint ticket. It turns out there are lots of trees in the garden creating a much appreciated island of shade. It was about 88 degrees when I got there. The garden has all the big-name sculptors: di Suvero, Barbara Hepworth, Richard Serra, de Kooning—a dozen or so pieces.

The garden at the Nasher is part of an architectural scandal here in Dallas. In response to the development of the Cultural District, some developer built a sky-scraper, but really high, called Museum Tower, nearby. The problem is the same one I brought up in Oklahoma City: too much glass. In this case, sun reflecting off the west side of the building raises the temperature of the garden 20 degrees above its surroundings. The woman who explained it to me said, "So if it's a hundred degrees, it's 120 degrees in here." Oh dear. Just that morning she had read in the newspaper that they had decided to add a louvered screen on the west side that can adjust with the sun. It will only cost $6 million. They should get that money back from the architect, because he should have been able to anticipate this problem; that's what architects are hired for.

The museum building of the Nasher is one of Renzo Piano's best works. The lines are simple and elegant. The light is lovely. The building is even less intrusive than his usual work.

Our Hilton Garden Inn is located right by a busy off-ramp/on-ramp of a freeway. It is quite hard to even get into the parking lot. Driving somewhere for dinner seemed out of the question, as was walking. So we were forced to eat in the wholly uninspiring café at the hotel. I was interested to see how Dan took control of the situation; we were the only customers. He took the table closest to the TV and demanded the remote so he could choose his news commentator; he made them turn off the loud music. The menu was limited and unappealing; deep-fried and over-sized. Dan made the waitress get the cook to negotiate a meal: a hamburger patty with a double helping of mixed veggies. The cook made a nice job of it. It was a lot like home.

I feel bad that I didn't mention the Superstorm that hit the North East a few days ago. We have watched the news coverage closely. We had just visited some of those places. Also we have friends in New York City, who are okay. Of course, we are very sad and upset, same as everyone, and worried about the future. Can't help comparing this with the big storm in New Orleans. These coastal places are more vulnerable to the effects of global warming.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Photos

Dear Friends,
For several years Dan has created a holiday greeting card featuring a few of his best photos for the year.  He takes pride in careful printing in order to create a keepsake. It's his way of making a contribution to holiday cheer.

This year, he ran into a series of technical obstacles, starting when his printer ceased functioning; in addition, his old iMac is limping like an aging athlete. So he ordered a new iMac and a new printer, but they haven't yet arrived. He plans to create a card to celebrate the new year.

I'm taking advantage of the situation to do something he would never do: to send an online greeting containing photos of ourselves.

As many of you well know, the major event of 2012 for us was a cross-country expedition to view art museums. We covered 8700 miles and toured 42 museums. We enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Another tourist took this shot of us with the Portland Head Lighthouse in Maine.
Dan photographed us in a mirror on the Ticonderoga, a passenger ship that has been preserved
at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.
The Ticonderoga, a Lake Champlain Steamer, now an exhibit at the Shelburne.
I took this shot of Dan just before he dug into his grilled flounder with sweet potato fries at Claudio's, a traditional fish restaurant in Greenport, New York. We were in the midst of taking three ferries to get from Stony Brook, NY, to
Groton, CT. This day was a highlight of the trip for Dan.
A major goal of the trip for me was to see a retrospective of wall designs by Sol LeWitt at the Massachussetts Museum of Contemporary Art, MASS MOCA, in North Adams. This was a thrilling day for me.
Here are a couple more shots I took of Dan.
Dan is standing in front of a huge old tree on the property of the Pollock-Krasner House in Springs, NY, which is way out on the tip of Long Island. It was a beautiful location with a peaceful atmosphere. Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner were important abstract expressionist painters.

Dan is at the Farnesworth Museum in Rockland, ME.
Just to balance things out, here are a couple of self-portraits.

This big mirror was part of an exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art.
This motel room was in Columbus, OH.
I hope that 2013 is full of fun and excitement for you, in addition to health and prosperity.

Happy Holidays

Joy to the World

Peace on Earth

Good Will to All

Jan and Dan