“Stop the Glare” Debate Still Continues

Unfortunately, the mediated talks between the Museum Tower and Nasher Sculpture Center did not conclude with a mutually agreed upon way to fix the tower’s highly reflective glass and resulting glare into the Center’s galleries and sculpture garden.

Museum Tower glare seen from inside Nasher garden(photo: Brandon Thibodeaux | The New York Times)

Museum Tower glare seen from inside Nasher garden
(photo: Brandon Thibodeaux | The New York Times)

As a Dallas resident, I’m concerned the debate will linger interminably, damaging both sides and our city’s reputation. Since the gag order lifted, the debate has been taken to the public arena – both locally and in the national press. From this, we know the Museum Tower rejected adding retractable louvers to their building. We also know that the Nasher can’t redesign the barrel-vaulted roof because this step doesn’t address the garden and will reduce the interior ambient light to an unacceptably dim level for viewing the art.

Dallas sun is tricky and requires special attention and materials.  Architect Renzo Piano and his team studied the Nasher site and sun’s path for a year before designing the current unique roof which diffuses the naturally harsh sunlight into a uniform, soft natural light and protects the art. Now, glare from Museum Tower’s reflective mirror-like surface causes dappled, polka-dot light in the afternoons, as seen in the photo below:

Artist: Rodin | “Age of Bronze”photo: Brandon Thibodeaux | The New York Times

Artist: Rodin | “Age of Bronze”
(photo: Brandon Thibodeaux | The New York Times)

It behooves the developer and owner, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund with $200 million invested to-date, to propose alternative solutions to their building that the Board of Trustees and the Nasher find acceptable. If the Museum Tower’s solution is do nothing except delay that would be very good to know.

As we wait for the next round, I have these thoughts:

  • The Museum Tower, whose name derives from its proximity to the Nasher’s world-class collection of modern and contemporary sculpture, will have trouble credibly promoting itself as a champion of the arts.
  • The stance taken by the Tower’s owner – which is basically “We don’t have to do anything to change our building” – continues to make it difficult for potential buyers to seriously consider purchasing a condominium.
  • A positive return on the Pension Fund’s investment looks less and less likely. Maybe they have already written-off succeeding with this property and don’t want to sink any extra funds.

A few weeks ago, the Director of the Nasher Sculpture Center, Jeremy Strick, and a group of Nasher supporters began public dialogue and outreach campaigns to ask people, like me and others like you, to write or talk with City Council representatives and Trustees on the Dallas Fire and Police Pension Fund expressing our point of view. Museum Tower should fix their building design to stop the glare emitted by the glass materials selected to cover the yet-to-be-completed residences.

Please click on the link in Jeremy’s “Call to Action” letter below to easily find your City Council person to contact. Post your support in a sentence or two and the “Call to Action” link on your Facebook page and other social media and talk with your friends about Museum Tower fixing their mirrored glass façade.

Dear Friends,

“Yesterday, 11 prominent Dallas civic leaders lent their voices to an Op Ed published in The Dallas Morning News. (Read full letter here) These leaders expressed pressing concern about the damage Museum Tower continues to inflict upon the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Dallas Arts District and the reputation of the city itself. They called upon the leadership of Museum Tower to fix their building by adopting the louver solution without further delay. This practical 100% solution would eliminate dangerous reflected light at its source, protecting the Nasher’s interior and exterior galleries.

Over the past 14 months, as this issue became known and stories about the damage Museum Tower is doing to its neighbors have appeared locally and nationally, many of you have asked us what you can do to encourage a positive resolution. If you live in the city of Dallas, I would ask you to make your Dallas city council representative aware of your opinion, whether by letter, email, or telephone. (Find your representative here) If you live outside of the city and care about Dallas’ cultural institutions, voicing your support and opinion to our elected officials is also welcome. The leadership of Museum Tower needs to recognize their responsibility to our community, and your council representatives can play an important role in resolving this matter .

I’d like to reaffirm that we at the Nasher are advocates for the development of the Arts District and support the goal of Museum Tower to add residencies to this neighborhood. Ray Nasher has given our community an incredible gift by building an unparalleled museum in the heart of the Dallas Arts District and making his extraordinary collection accessible to all. The Nasher is an invaluable educational, cultural and economic resource for the people of Dallas and visitors from around the world and we need your support and your voices to ensure its future contributions to the region.”

With thanks, as ever, for your interest and support,




With this time of year full of travels, parties and activities, I’m taking a hiatus from blogging for the foreseeable future. I truly know it is the end of the year, because last week a Mother and Papa squirrel moved into my backyard “Wild Birds Unlimited” owl home to start breeding and a family. Happens every year like clockwork.

(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Have a wonderful holiday season and to a happy 2013.


The Dallas Arts Community – It’s Pretty Fantastic

Looking back on last week, it reminds me once again that Dallas has matured into an interesting city with both breadth and depth in the arts – enriched by  a wonderful community of museums, galleries, philanthropists, developers, educators, artists and overlapping circles of networkers all of whom are open to sharing their talents. Here’s a snapshot….


Monday night was a déjà-vu event for two of my friends who are artists and aficionados of well-done independent or documentary films about artists.  Anita Horton recently wrote her weekly blog about the film gatherings she and others organized in the late 1990’s. She really missed these viewings. Coincidentally, another friend Elle Shuster, a jewelry designer and photographer, decided to organize a film group on Monday night. She wanted to see Spike Jonze’s The Fall again, and sent a viewing invitation which I extended (with permission) to Anita. More friends were made – the creative circle expands.



I’ve had this particular Tuesday Evenings at the Modern on my calendar for months. In case you can’t tell from my previous blogs, I am a big Lucien Freud fan and have been to the Modern many times to see his portraits. Well, last Tuesday several friends and I carpooled over to Fort Worth to hear Martin Gayford, the British critic, writer, curator and subject of painting, “The Man in a Blue Scarf” (see image above).

Gayford traveled 60 miles from his home to Freud’s studio one to three times a week for six months. Freud, being attuned to slight variations in color and a stickler for consistency, required that the same pink shirt, blue scarf and other clothing be worn for each sitting. Gayford owned two blue scarves which looked the same to his eyes; but on arriving at the studio one night, Freud knew the blue was off, and asked if Gayford had worn the wrong scarf. He had.

I whole-heartedly recommend the next talk at the Tuesday Evenings at the Modern where the artist Bruce Nauman, a pioneer in many multi-media disciplines, will speak on November 13th at 7:00 PM. It’s free – get your ticket when the front desk opens at 5 PM.

And, notice the large (you can’t miss it) sculpture at the main entrance. The artist is Brooklyn-based KAWS and the piece is called “Companion (Passing Through).”


The Dallas Center for Architecture (DCFA), located on 1909 Woodall Rodgers near the Northwest corner of the soon-to-be opened Klyde Warren Park, hosted another Wednesday Film Series. Women in the Dirt: Landscape Architects Shaping our World won Best Feature Documentary in the 2011 Columbia Gorge International Film Festival. The paths of seven professional women, who are the grand dames in the field of landscape architecture and trendsetters in California, were traced. After the movie, Greg Brown, DCFA’s energetic Program Director, facilitated an engaging discussion.



One of my favorite special interest groups is the Avant-Garde Society (AGS) at the Nasher Sculpture Center. The AGS mission is to provide opportunities to learn more about modern and contemporary sculpture and architecture in a welcoming and informal environment. Thursday was the second year for Art Y’All, the annual members’ party, which has – as the name implies – a Texas two-step, fun vibe. Once again, photographer Steve Wrubel was the entertaining auctioneer, selling three sculptures to raise funds for the AGS and innovative Sightings exhibitions. Curator Jed Morse asked three well-known, local artist couples to collaborate and make a sculpture to be auctioned. Couples from left to right in the image above: A big thank you to Tom Orr and Frances Bagley, Benito Huerta and Janet Chaffee and Terri Thornton and Cam Schoepp for their three pieces of art that warranted the evening’s competitive bidding.

For anyone who wants to join this group, the next event is December 5th at The Mason Bar for the annual Holiday Happy Hour. January 12th is an exclusive tour of the Art Warehouse owned by art collectors Rachofsky and Faulconers. And, on March 2nd, we’ll take a day trip to see collections and studios in the Big Easy City, New Orleans. Click here for membership information.


I’m a DCFA docent who’s trained in the history and architecture of the Dallas Arts District. On Saturday, I gave a special tour to three visitors from Denver who were a delight and very knowledgeable which is not surprising given the guests were Curtis Fentress, founder of Fentress Architects which won the AIA’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture, the CEO Agatha Kessler and CFO Colin Lewis who had previously worked for the City of Denver and on the growth of their Arts District. Mr. Fentress knew the Wyly Theater well because he was a member on the AIA Jury that conferred the 2011 Institute Honor Awards for Architecture on this innovative theater.

The four of us walked back to the Nasher where they continued with an audio tour; and I had lunch before a lecture in the Nasher’s 360 Speakers Series.

Dr. Catherine Croft, Adjunct Assistant Curator at the Nasher, presented the themes in her recently released book, An Audience of Artists: Dada, Neo-Dada, and the Emergence of Abstract Expressionism. She posed questions: Was Dada a movement or an attitude? Can an artist looking at and responding to another artist’s work create original art?

After Catherine’s presentation, I talked with Karen Weiner, gallery owner of The Reading Room, who had been a panelist at The MAC on Thursday night. Complementary themes were discussed by her panel titled, “The Anxiety of Influence,” a term coined by literary critic Harold Bloom. The panel explored Bloom’s tenet of creativity: Since we are all influenced by something, this phenomena can cause self doubt in a poet (or artist) about the possibility of making any truly original works of art.

“The Anxiety of Influence” was part of “Spin Off: A Series of Panel Discussions” sponsored City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs. The MAC (McKinney Avenue Contemporary) | 3120 McKinney Avenue

The last stop before heading home on Saturday afternoon was with Connie Chantilis, mosaic artist and owner of Two Sisters Catering, and her studio which was open to the public as part of the annual White Rock Lake Studio Tour. Her Little Forest Hills’ studio complex sits behind her custom-designed, eco-friendly contemporary home.

Enjoy your week…I’ll be back in two weeks on October 28th.


Assignment – Abstracts from Nature

Remember the art consultant who gave me an assignment based on her client’s specs? She asked me to snap images that organically suggest Texas outdoors. Here is a collage of some of the photos I took over last week, undeterred by the 100+ weather.

Notes on the Olympics:

Gabby Douglas makes Team USA Proud and lives up to her last name which is an anagram, “USA Gold.”

Michael Phelps deservedly sets an all-time record winning his 22nd medal.

PDA between Kate and Will. I really find them exemplary in many ways – a classy couple having a lot of fun together.

Until next week. Enjoy the Olympics – Go Team USA. Closing ceremonies are this coming Sunday.


An Assignment – How A Commission Begins

The other day an art consultant asked me about the photo below which I had taken as a self-portrait and posted on my website: http://www.megfitzpatrick.com/artistbio.php

Landscape | Marfa, Texas 2010 (photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

That’s me and my shadow cast over an agave growing in arid, Marfa, Texas soil. The consultant gave me an assignment based on her client’s specs: Snap more images that suggest Texas outdoors. Gravitate towards plants and settings steeped in sepia tones (no bright colors). Create a visual experience of nature through organic, abstract shapes.

That’s an assignment I’ll be completing throughout the week. Next Sunday, I’ll share the results on my blog.

In the meantime, Olympic fever has hit my home and friends. My favorite opening ceremony moment was when the Queen and her Corgis welcomed James Bond, Agent 007, into her offices at Buckingham Palace. The clip was actually filmed there with the real Queen Elizabeth and two of her Corgis. Agent 007 and she (body doubles, both) parachuted from a helicopter into the stadium. She’s the new “Bond Girl” and a good sport.

Note: In a later chat with London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, the Queen said she hadn’t watched the video with the stadium audience. She just hoped it got a laugh. I think she’s funnier and wittier than her stoic face, purse and pumps will ever let us know.

Queen, played by herself, with Agent 007, played by actor, Daniel Craig. They are headed to the helicopter which transported them to Opening Ceremonies at the Olympic Stadium (photo: BBC)

Until next week. Enjoy the Olympics – Go Team USA.


Lucian Freud: Portraits – Only Showing in USA

The only stop in the United States for the spectacular exhibition, Lucian Freud: Portraits, is in Fort Worth at the Modern.

Kudos to Michael Auping, Chief Curator at the Modern, who collaborated with the National Portrait Gallery, London and Freud over many years to mount this show of 90 works, dating between 1943 and 2011.

I want to share one of the many stories Auping told us during an opening week tour.

As we entered the second room, Auping pointed at the three paintings mounted on the right far wall.  He nicknamed the trio, “Jockey, Owner, Bookie.” Here’s why.

Lucian (1922 – 2011) loved horses. His fascination started at an early age, learning to ride at an English boarding and finding refuge in the school’s stables. In adulthood, he continued riding, painted portraits of horses and frequented the tracks to place bets – lots of bets – on the horse races.

In the Stable, 2003
(photo: David Dawson, Lucian’s studio assistant for 20 years)

The “Jockey, Owner, Bookie” paintings….


“Guy and Speck” (1980 – 1981) | oil on canvas | Private Collection, Ireland (photo: Lucian Freud Archive)

Guy Hart had a career as a successful jockey, the type Lucian would befriend at the tracks.  Guy remained a passionate follower of horseracing and became an antiques dealer.

“Man in a Chair” (1983 – 1985) | oil on canvas | Thyssen-Bornemisza Collections (photo: National Portrait Gallery, London)

The portrait above features Baron H.H. Thyssen-Bornemisza, a wealthy international industrialist, art collector and horse owner.

Note the pile of grubby rags at the Baron’s left elbow. At the start of each session, Lucian tore a clean piece of white cotton from a pile of decommissioned hotel sheets, which were purchased in bulk from a recycling business. He’d tuck the cloth under his belt to serve as an apron where he wiped his brush clean after each individual brush stroke. Every stroke you see in the portraits is a precisely mixed oil color.

The Big Man (1976 – 1977) | oil on canvas |Private Collection, Ireland

And, the third painting captures Lucian’s bookie, the guy who enabled an alluring and expensive habit.

One day Lucian asked his New York City dealer, William Acquavella, to settle the balance of his gambling debts with his bookie, “The Big Man.”  Mr. Acquavella agreed thinking it would be a fairly modest sum, and was shocked when the bill was £2.7 million. Rumor has it that the bookie’s family owns numerous paintings which Lucian exchanged for reducing his tab. Today, the holdings are estimated at $50 million on the open market.

All topics Lucian Freud is the focus for the speakers invited to the Fall 2012 Tuesday Evenings at the Modern lecture series. I think it is well worth the 60 minute drive from Dallas to hear these firsthand accounts:

  • September 11th  David Dawson. Lucian’s assistant for 20 years and painter.
  • October 9th   Martin Gayford. British critic, writer and curator, Martin is the subject of the painting, Man in a Blue Scarf (2004).
  • Oct 23rd   Michael Auping. Chief curator at the Modern worked with London’s National Portrait Gallery curator, Sarah Howgate on Lucian Freud: Portraits. He contributed an essay to the exhibition catalogue and a series of interviews with the artist. These interviews, completed between May 2009 and January 2011, were the last with the artist before he died.

Lucian Freud: Portraits runs through October 28th. For fans of this artist, I recommend a trip to Fort Worth and the Modern.

Until next week, enjoy.


Trip East – Remembrances

Of course, at the top of my list is time spent with friends and family reminiscing about the past, what’s going on now, and just hanging out together.

Next on my list, I would have to say is eating a lobster roll. Not just any lobster roll. It has to be a genuine New England-style version. The type where the meat is unadulterated by mayo or butter. Betty, who is my Mom, knows this and keeps her ears open. She had heard of a new place to try, a fishing shack right on the water in Guilford, Connecticut. The lobsters were caught a few hours ago, boiled to the right consistency (not too mushy or too tough) and shucked immediately from the shell.

New England-style Lobster Roll: It was so fresh, yummy and pure.

Growing up in Connecticut and near Long Island Sound means that when I visit I welcome any chance to be near, smell or touch salt water. So, Mom drove me to a favorite spot – the Stony Creek ferry landing which is the starting point for trips to the Thimble Islands (see photo below). They’re a series of roughly 100 really small, granite rock islands which, in the last century, were popular yet complicated places to build summer homes. They were summer-only family escapes when I was a kid, but many have been winterized for year-round use.

Stony Creek Harbor in Connecticut. You can see one of the older Thimble Island homes is in the distance. (photo: New York Times | George Ruhe)

I also visited with my longtime friends, Melinda Stein and Tom Tobin, who live in Rye, New York which is another Long Island Sound community. Aren’t I lucky? Water again! Melinda and I had lunch at a neighboring town’s waterside café on Steamboat Road. We could see the ferry below which I took every summer to Island Beach, a two-mile ride from the town’s shore.

Island Beach ferry | Greenwich Harbor, CT.

Melinda and I also had the chance to visit the Bruce Museum and see “White on White: Churches of Rural New England,” an exhibition of large format, black-and-white photos of New England churches. I have many pleasant childhood memories of the old town greens I’ve seen with their pristine white wooden houses of worship.

Old First Church in Old Bennington, VT. as seen in the exhibition
“White on White: Churches of Rural New England” | Photographs by Steve Rosenthal
Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT.

Melinda and Tom are sailing enthusiasts and had planned a treat they knew I would like, and invited my brother Pete to join the merriment. We had drinks and dinner at a beautiful spot, the American Yacht Club, overlooking the Sound. You’re getting the theme that my friends and family are consistently feeding my love of nature and water found back East.

Drinks on the patio at the American Yacht Club | Rye, NY

Lightnings – 19 feet craft | Class of sailboats we raced as kids on Long Island Sound from the Milford Yacht Club and Camp Avalon on Cape Cod (Chatham, MA.)

But, not all my time was spent on the water. I also enjoy revisiting New Haven and looking at the buildings that made a big impact on me as a kid. At the time, I didn’t realize the architecture was so iconic and significant, but I did know that I was mesmerized by how it looked and felt. I felt great inside architect Eero Saarinen’s Ingalls Rink where Dad taught me and my three siblings how to skate. Because it seemed – it really did –that you were inside the belly of a whale. Hence, it was nicknamed by others as the “Yale Whale.”  See what I mean in the photo below:

“Yale Whale” (opened 1958) with its spine rising from an imagined sea| Architect: Eero Saarinen (1910-1961) | Photo: Tory Burnside Clapp

“Yale Whale” – Sketch from Yale University Library archives which has cataloged and preserved its extensive collection of drawings, photographs, and other materials by Eero Saarinen

Then, there is another building that meant (and still means) a lot to me.  It’s the Louis Kahn-designed Yale University Art Gallery which was the architect’s first major commission. He shook things up in New Haven. He forever changed the look of Yale which until Kahn had only honored the traditional Neo-Gothic and Georgian architectural styles. When I was in grade school, this is where I took my first art appreciation classes.  The outside and inside construction was like nothing else I had ever experienced; and I liked it, plus the art and teachers.

Yale University Art Museum (1953) | Architect: Louis Kahn (1901 – 1974)

Part of the purpose of my trip East was to celebrate the 4th of July with my brother, Pete. We watched the town of Nyack’s fireworks. Across the Hudson River on the opposite bank, we saw other small towns light their firecrackers, the timing slightly staggered in their launch to keep the light show going longer.

Fireworks over the Hudson River | Nyack, NY

It also seemed fitting for my July 4th Independence Day trip to visit the 9/11 Memorial. Pete and I did this together on my last day in New York City.

Site of World Trade Center: Aerial view of the 9/11 Memorial.
South and North Pools were built over the footprint of the two fallen towers. (Artist rendering by Squared Design Lab) 

Note to my Dallas friends: Peter Walker, who is the landscape architect for the Nasher Sculpture Center, designed the 9/11 Memorial landscape. You’ll sense the similarities in the grid layout.

A thirty foot waterfall drops from beneath the black railing where the people, in the photograph above, gather to read the names of those who are commemorated.

The 9/11 Memorial is inclusive, honoring all 2,982 who died in terrorist bombings at the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001, those who were on the planes hitting the North and South Towers, Pentagon and Pennsylvania field, and the First Responders working in the line of duty or volunteering. An online guide maps and locates all the names inscribed in the black granite railing. See close-up below.

Photo: Getty Images

Here’s an important tip for all of you who plan on seeing the 9/11 Memorial. Get your tickets online for a specific day and time (30 minute intervals) because you will otherwise stand in a long line with no guarantee of gaining access that day. Tickets are free. Here is the link: http://www.911memorial.org/

The day after I got home, I returned to one of my favorite Dallas radio shows. KERA’s Think with Kris Boyd. She interviewed Dave Isay who was promoting his new book,  All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps. Dave founded StoryCrops as a way to record and document as many Americans “at their best” life stories as possible. The focus is on the positives of love, courtship, commitments and the importance of others in one’s life. People are invited to talk about how they found love and meaningful connections. The underlying message is that we all matter to someone. (Here’s a link to the uplifting podcast.)

The message completed the circle of this trip East where I was able to eat and laugh and be with those who mean the world to me.

Until next week, enjoy.


Havel on Havel

Joseph Havel (American, b. 1954) was the featured artist at the Nasher Sculpture Center’s 360 Speaker Series this Saturday.

I’ve admired this Houston-based sculptor’s work for many years, attended his openings at Talley Dunn Gallery in Dallas, and was thrilled to learn more about his background, thought process and career path.

Joseph Havel was appointed Director of the prestigious Core Residency Program at the Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 1991. (photo: Mayra Beltran, Houston Chronicle | chron.com)

As usual, I’ll share several stories that resonated with me. Hopefully, you will also find them of interest.

He said that this was a special talk for him. One that propelled him to remember, revisit and show images of early work because Dallas has special and historic importance for his career path. He came to this area from the East coast for his first post-graduate teaching position at Austin College in Sherman, TX. The town is only 60 miles North of Dallas. He found himself driving most nights into downtown Dallas, specifically Deep Ellum where there was a very happening, active arts scene in 1979. This was a place where his work was embraced and recognized – a place of many firsts:

  • His first show in a non-profit space was at 500X, which still operates as an Artists’ Coop in Deep Ellum.
  • The Dallas Museum of Art was the first museum to acquire his work.
  • He completed his first sale to a private collector, who happened to be seated in the audience on Saturday and was visibly proud to be part of Havel’s life story.
  • The first cast bronze sculpture he sold was to a Dallas collector.
  • Michael Auping, Chief Curator of The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, asked Havel if he planned on casting a cloth curtain sculpture in bronze. Havel quickly responded, “Of course!” Most likely he would not have taken this next step without Auping’s prodding. The outcome of the story? This bronze piece was museum-ready and was selected for the 2000 Whitney Biennial in New York. The biennial is an art showcase known as a career-making vehicle and acknowledgement that an artist has arrived on the national scene.

In the photo below, notice the draped sculpture to the left. It resembles the work Havel carried – literally carried – to a Paris show at Le Palais de Tokyo.

Joseph Havel: A Decade of Sculpture | Authors: Peter Doroshenko, Alison de Lima Greene . (source: Scala Publishers)

Havel told us he wanted to pack an entire gallery exhibition in two suitcases – no professional handlers, no complex customs and tariffs, the fewest of encumbrances. He did this by making “soft sculpture” art – like the large square “mesh” of hand-sewn shirt labels in the image above. The square was hung from one of its corners, causing a fluid drape that extended from the gallery’s ceiling beam to the floor. This renowned artist rolled two suitcases through the Tuileries Gardens en route to the gallery space. I was amused by Havel’s motivation, careful planning and desire to schlep a manageable load.

Tuileries Garden | Paris

Paris was the subject of another story he shared with us. He was there for a solo show on September 12, 2001 – buffered by the Atlantic Ocean from Ground Zero and 9/11 terrorist attacks. Havel was so moved by the condolences from Parisians when they realized he was from the USA that he knew his next show in the “City of Light” would have an American theme. Stars and stripes from our flag were repurposed into striking objects. Below are two images from these explorations which are still ongoing.

Cut-up American flags, needles and thread | 36” diameter
(photo: William Shearburn Gallery, St. Louis)

Single Star (2007) | Bronze with patina | 26 x 16 x 12 inches (photo: Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans)

Joseph Havel is one of many who’ve visited the Nasher Sculpture Center to talk about work and life as an artist. For people intrigued by the creative process, I highly recommend the next 360 Speaker Series guests who are:

  • The Art Guys on July 14th
  • Kathryn Andrews on August 25th

I’m taking a short summer vacation – be back July 15th.

Stay cool,


Illustrating Books – A Recent Commission Completed

I finished six paintings which will illustrate a book of poems to be published next year titled, A Crop of Riddles©. In it, the author Jack Veeger reflects on his long life of 85 years. His daily routine is to sit at his desk, pen in hand, ask himself questions and voice his opinions through the written word. His words, to me, are akin to a songwriter’s lyrics because of their easy flow.

Below are the paintings that will be scanned and digitally submitted to the publisher. Unlike most of my paintings, the project came with guidelines about certain dimensions required for book formats. Scale considerations are of utmost importance when print is involved.

Here’s the title page. The question marks front and center seemed appropriate for this collection of poems.

My Blue Silver Abyssinian cat, Tobit, was the subject matter used for illustrating the poem, “Hush.” A verse talks about a gently purring, very custodial cat.

Another image came from cattle that roamed a Johnson City Ranch where I once hiked. The poem’s called “Bells that Distance.”

For “Taming of a Boisterous Sea,” photos I took of the Atlantic Ocean crashing on rocks below a patio terrace were the source for this painting.

As I read the manuscript and realized Mr. Veeger is a master of asking complex questions that deserve long pauses for contemplation and have multiple answers, the image of thought bubbles – many of them – kept (appropriately) popping up in (not over) my head. See a translation in the illustration below for “Dubious Chance.”

For A Heaven of My Own, the line about “ferns and moss and Lilies-of-the-Valley” inspired a line drawing of that fragrant flower. Plus, the poet’s European background conjured graphic images of Bauhaus and a Mid-century Modern aesthetic which inspired the color and composition of this illustration.

Until next week, enjoy.


Illustrating Books – How to Start?

A few years ago, I illustrated a book of children’s poems. Written by Uve Friederich, M.D. as a legacy to the wonderments of childhood, he titled it “The World of Bridgett and Emily: Poems for All Grandchildren.”

My source of inspiration was the author’s granddaughter, Bridgett.  Her sparkly, dark eyes and hair – both almost jet black – and facial expressions were the starting point for the paintings. Then, I used the images Uve’s words conveyed. Most described Mother Nature along the rocky New England coastline that surrounded his family and him – the sights and smells of the seaside, its tides, shells, ladybugs and snails.

Here’s one of many source photos I took of Bridgett, and then some of the published paintings:

Bridgett – Grandchild as a muse
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Illustration for poem, “Bumble Bee Queen”
Gouache and Indian ink on Arches paper | 10” x 14” | Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick

Illustration for poem, “Lady Bug”
Gouache, Acrylic paint and Indian ink on Arches paper | 14” x 13” | Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick

Poem “Rest by The Brook” | Acrylic, Watercolor and Indian ink | 10-1/2” x 14” | Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick

Now, I’ve been commissioned to illustrate another book of poems. Once again I ‘m deciding on the best way to translate the author’s words into images.

So, I decided to spend this Saturday at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) to get inspired. The museum held BooksmART, a daylong festival for kids, families and adults to hear authors and illustrators talk about their books and how they create them.

Featured guest and winner of the 2012 Caldecott Medal for A Ball for Daisy, Chris Raschka invited kids to join him on the stage and act out his stories as he read this book.

Chris Raschka welcomes a young admirer to the stage after he drew images of his two cats, Alma and Alaska Wolf Joe which are behind him.
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Known for his role on the TV series, Private Practice, Taye Diggs teamed with illustrator Shane W. Evans, recent winner of the 2012 Coretta Scott King Book Award, to create the popular book, Chocolate Me!. Shane (see below) gave a drawing demo, and then instructed the children who packed his workshop to draw stars and dreams of their imagined future.

Shane Evans, co-author of Chocolate Me!, serenades the kids and families as they draw.
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

For the next two weeks I’ll be finishing the paintings – six in all – for the book, A Crop of Riddles. Fifty poems, in total, explore an 85-year old gentleman’s musings about a world and life full of so many questions and so few answers.  His sharp intelligence, mature age and European background have nudged me towards sketching and layering images with a mid-century modern aesthetic in both color and design.

One poet, Uve Friederich, M.D., inspired me to create a world of childlike delights. Another poet this time has led me to series of compositions with a very different style. Next blog post will be examples from this particular journey.

Until next time in two weeks, Sunday, June 23rd.

PS:   I did see Moonrise Kingdom and recommend another beautifully filmed, soundtracked and edited Wes Anderson film. He stays true to his quirky exploration of outsiders looking in.

Signs of Summer

Memorial Day is behind us. Signs of the June 20th Summer Solstice approaching are abundant, such as…

My little Eastern Screech Owl has flown the coop from the confines of his (or her) tree house.

Adolescent Eastern Screech Owl peeks into my studio. This was the last time I saw my friend before its flight.
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Replacing owl sightings, I discovered this little bat napping under the patio umbrella outside my studio.

Bats in the belfry
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Close-up beauty shot: bats do sleep upside down.
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

On Saturday, the City of Dallas hosted its annual Water-wise lectures and landscape tours. Four residences won recognition for their use of drought-resistance plants. These garden yards, plus 14 winners from previous years, were open to the public.

City of Dallas promotes xeriscaping to save water.
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

“Bear’s Breeches” (acanthus mollis) do well in the shade of my backyard, and are considered a “water-wise” plant. Its acanthus leaf pattern was used in classic architecture design to cap Corinthian columns.

Also on Saturday, the White Rock Rowing Club threw an open house where folks could row in shells, test the water (so to speak) and join the club. This is much harder than it looks. Believe me, last time I tried and got quite wet.

Recruiting new club members
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Taking a spin
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Well-used oars in the boathouse
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Summer blockbusters are part of my routine. (Note: I don’t need hot days to see a flick. Movies rule regardless of the season or temperature.). Over the long Memorial Day weekend, I enjoyed Men in Black 3. Josh Brolin joins the franchise and morphs seamlessly into a young Agent K, doing a spot-on mimic of Tommy Lee Jones’ voice, facial expressions and body movements.  Next on my list are Snow White and the Huntsman, and some smaller, more subtle films like The Intouchables and Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.

Enjoy your week.