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.


Kent and Tracy Rathbun’s 9th Annual Art Party – Tickets Sold Out

Since this was the 9th year for the Rathbun’s Art Party, artist Scott Harben used the Chinese symbol for nine in his invitation design.

Back in 2001, the restaurateurs and art connoisseurs Kent and Tracy Rathbun threw a housewarming party to thank the crew who helped build their new home. For that night, they created a “pop-up gallery “ – well before this term and art venue were all the rage – by inviting local artists, some of whom worked in the couple’s restaurants, to exhibit their art for sale.

 Kent said he saw the event as…”a business model for a new way of selling art…artists can be presented with so many obstacles and financial barriers. Why not just make it fun? The way it ought to be.”

Ever the visionaries and known for pushing the boundaries, Kent and Tracy asked themselves: “Why not make this an annual event and raise funds for a good cause and continue showcasing local artists?”

The idea took hold and worked.

Tonight’s 9th Annual Art Party’s tickets sold out weeks ago. All proceeds raised from ticket sales benefit the Dallas March of Dimes whose mission advocates research, programs and education to ensure stronger and healthier babies are born.

 The line-up of featured artists proves the Rathbuns have an ongoing loyalty to a stable of local talent. Some of whom have worked for the couple in their restaurants and catering business are invited back each year:

  • Mindy Collins, painter
  • Rick Griggs, painter
  • Scott Harben, sculptor and photographer
  • Ron and Chris Marrs, glass workers
  • Tamara White, painter

Here’s more about each artist.


Tracy Rathbun called this piece, which was a surprise gift at the 2001 housewarming party, “delicious.”
(photo: Mindy Collins website)

Her paintings large and small are hard to miss, and you don’t want to because the colors are arresting and the resin adds a slick, textured sheen.


Artist Rick Griggs tonight in front of his paintings. (photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Rick earned a reputation in Dallas among the “foodinistas” as a notable pastry chef for his culinary creations first at The Mansion on Turtle Creek and then at Abacus. Scott paintings are shown at Abacus and Jasper’s, both Rathbun enterprises. Kent has said that “Rick has always been one of the greatest pastry chefs I’ve ever worked with and turns out, he’s an incredible artist as well,”

Between painting and baking, Rick says “I see a lot of similarities. I use a palette knife because I realize there is a technique similar to putting icing on a cake. A lot of my work also has that splattered paint like I have used with sauces. It’s a lot of the same fluidity and control.” (On a personal note: His desserts tonight were delicious.)


“Onomatopoeia” Series | powder-coated 16 gauge steel
(photo: Scott Harben website)

The Rathbun’s are a catalyst for established commercial artists like Scott to experiment. For him, the 7th Annual Art Party marked a change in work style. He created 3-D powder-coated, 16 gauge steel wall sculptures of words known as “Onomatopoeia.” Words like these have been used in comics and graphic novels for years to create a visual sound effect, like “BLAM” or “KRUNCH.”

Tonight Scott presented his metal assemblages. See image below.

“LS-Cell” | Artist: Scott Harden
(photo: Scott Harben website)


“Platters” | hand-blown glass | MarrsArt
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Ron and Chris, a father and son team, are both practicing architects – with degrees in Architecture from Texas Tech University – and glass blowers. They’ve worked in their studio on weekends for the past 15 years, steadily building a reputation and gaining commissions.

Chris notes that “Kent’s been incredible, even outside of the Art Party, in connecting us with clients who might be interested in our art, in our style”. Their patron base has exploded in part thanks to the Rathbuns’ support and the rise of artists such as Dale Chihuly who has single-handedly changed the perception of glass into a fine art medium.

“The Light of God” | blown glass | Ron and Chris Marrs, owners MarrsArt
Congregation Shearith Israel Dallas
14’ x 5’
(photo: AIA Dallas website)

Not on display tonight, the commissioned “The Light of God” (see image above) is worth experiencing in person at Congregation Shearith Israel Dallas. Before tonight’s party, I ran across a picture online, and told Chris I admired this work. Chris shared with me this was a labor of love for the patron, Peter Fonberg, who hired MarrsArt to make a glass sculpture commemorating his deceased wife.  Made from 49 hand-blown pieces with seven pieces representing a menorah’s flames, “The Light of God” took more than a year to produce.


(photo: Tamara White website)

Before we both became members of The Art Menu, I had seen and respected Tamara’s work at friends’ homes, such as the beautifully appointed rooms at Josy Collins, co-owner of Scott+Cooner, and public places, like Abacus Restaurant on McKinney Avenue. Tamara currently has a solo show at the Belmont Hotel.

Curious about her process because her work is a tribute to the thickness of oil paint, I had the opportunity to talk with her about her process. I was not surprised with the comment, “I believe the more the merrier; there is no such thing as having too much paint on my canvas.” Using the palette knife as an extension of her hand, she allows each color to determine what happens next. She prefers painting straight from the tube, keeping the paint as dense as possible. She’s disciplined, in the studio every morning working on many canvases at a time. When paint is left from scraping one canvas, she adds another layer to a nearby painting or begins a new one. “Each painting inspires the next.” I find her finished work like an archaeological site, connoting a geological dig with evidence ready to carbon test to determine what period in Earth’s history each layer represents.

A few weeks ago we had an excellent lunch at Rosemont, which is Tracy Miller’s new restaurant in Deep Ellum, and Tamara reminded me that I needed to buy my ticket to the Rathbun’s Art Party. And, glad I am for her notice because of the “Sold Out” status. Glad I went tonight.

Glass Bottom Boat”| 8’ x 4’ | oil on canvas
Artist: Tamara White
(photo: Tamara White website)

“Rise Above” | 16” x 20” | oil on canvas
Artist: Tamara White
(photo: Tamara White website)

You can continue mixing and mingling with art and gourmet food at one of Kent’s or Tracy’s restaurants. Just make a reservation or find a seat at Abacus, Blue Plate Kitchen, Jasper’s (Note: Kent named this place after the artist Jasper Johns), Shinsei and DUO – All Things Culinary (Note: I recommend trying the freshest tasting juices made at DUO’s Gem Bar until 2 PM).

Enjoy your week.


Extras on “Lucian Freud: Portraits” at the Modern

This is a quicker check-in than I had anticipated because my week became full of unplanned and fun activities once I bought a weekend pass to the 25th Dallas VideoFest.

So, I want to share a short anecdote about one of the Lucien Freud’s paintings. One of his smallest portraits captures a likeness of Queen Elizabeth II. It’s only 9.3” x 6” – tiny on the easel below.

Lucian Freud Painting the Queen at St. James Palace | 2001
(Photo: David Dawson)

Typically, Freud required his subjects come to his studio, housed in his Kensington London home. The Queen of England was an exception to this rule. He set up a make-shift studio at St. James Palace, not in a grand room with scarlet brocade curtains and ancestral paintings as the backdrop but in a modest, drab room that is used by the Royal’s art conservators. The setting was more akin to Freud’s own shabby studio space.

The Queen, given her responsibilities, could commit to a limited number of sittings between May 2000 and December 2001. To minimize time in the studio, a female staff courtier placed the royal crown on her head and filled in for the Queen because Freud knew that the number of faceted diamonds and complexity of the setting would be very time-consuming to paint. While there, the Queen sat and chatted about their mutual love of horses and betting at the horse track as Freud captured the likeness of her face and hair and studied her inner spirit. The work was a gift from Freud – done for free, not as a commission which was Freud’s mode of operation, giving him full artist freedom. The portrait was hailed as brave and clear-sighted by some and condemned as a travesty by others.

The painting was first shown to the public in a 2002 inaugural exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace. (Photo: Royal Collection)

How do I know this inside story? It comes from a reliable source: specifically, David Dawson who was Lucian Freud’s assistant for 21 years and inherited Freud’s’ home and studio space as bequeathed to him in the final will. (Note: Freud died last year in July 2011.)

Dawson was the first guest speaker at the Modern in conjunction with this exhibition.

The next speaker, scheduled for October 9th, is Martin Gayford who sat for “Man in the Blue Scarf” (see image below). This promises to be another enlightening talk full of back stories.

Martin suggested himself as a sitter to Lucian Freud over tea in the kitchen – not really expecting a positive answer. The best Martin hoped was for Freud to hesitate and say: “Perhaps?” Instead, Freud replied: “What are you doing next Tuesday evening?” What unfolded was 130 hours of sitting sessions in Freud’s studio, between November 2003 and April 2005, and a book about the experience.

Painting: “Man in the Blue Scarf” | 26″ x 20″

The portrait of Queen Elizabeth is not included in the current show at the Modern Art Museum Fort Worth titled Lucian Freud: Portraits which closes October 28th – it stays in her Majesty’s Royal Collection – but there is still much to see in this show, including “Man in the Blue Scarf.”

Enjoy your week.


Recent Paintings

Recent paintings of mine explore the translucency or opacity of color when layered. This is a continuation of my interest in the properties of paint and the use of simple shapes – lines, rectangles and squares – to make compositions influenced by the Bauhaus Modernist Movement and Josef Albers.

Acrylic on board
10” x 12” | Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick

For the painting above, I used Cadmium Red Medium, which is highly opaque and has a strong tint, for bottom layer (or underpainting).  The top layer is a thin wash of aluminum paint (middle panel) which is highly translucent. It is flanked by Unbleached Titanium White (more a buff, beige hue than pure white) mixed with Naples Yellow (left panel) and then Raw Sienna (right panel).

Acrylic on board
10” x 12” | Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick

I used primary blue for underpainting in the image above.  It’s translucent – a beauty, in my opinion. Again, the top layer is a thin wash of aluminum paint (middle panel) flanked by Unbleached Titanium White mixed with Naples Yellow (left panel) and Raw Sienna (right panel).

Acrylic on Arches Archival paper
15″ x 11” | Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick

Look at the painting above. I used cadmium orange, an opaque color, for the underpainting.  Again, the top layer is a thin wash of aluminum paint (middle horizontal panel) flanked by Unbleached Titanium White mixed with Yellow Ochre (upper panel) and Raw Sienna (lower panel).

Acrylic on paper
15” x 11” | Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick

primary yellow is the color of the underpainting, as seen in center square. The shape shimmers, and the effect reminds me somewhat of the lighting on the outside of One Arts Plaza. The surrounding 8 squares are all variations on Mars Black – adding a touch of primary yellow or cobalt blue or cadmium red caused subtle changes in the color. In person, you think there is more going on than solid black, but  initially you are not sure. So, you stare to figure out what is going on with the black color. The next two paintings are a continuation of this theme.

Oil on gessoed paper
7-1/2” x 7-1/2” | Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick
Cobalt blue is underpainting.

Oil on gessoed paper
7-1/2” x 7-1/2” | Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick
Cadmium red is the color used for the underpainting.

I’ve prepped one of my favorite types of canvas – raw linen – across 60” x 48” stretchers. This week I’m ready to work on a new painting which I’ll share with you next Sunday.

Enjoy your week and the Emmy Awards tonight – Go Modern Family and Downton Abbey. Homeland is on my list of need-to-see. What are your favorite TV shows?


Cause for Celebration – Dallas City Performance Hall

Projections on the walls in the lobby entrance of the DCPH logo.
The logo reflects the building’s roofline which resembles an undulating wave.
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Another architectural gem opened in the Dallas Arts District.  The gem is the Dallas City Performance Hall (DCPH). A ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday morning began a weekend-long celebration with 40 events. The concept for the new building was to provide first-rate space in the Arts District to mid-size and emerging performing arts groups who do not own their own facility. This need exists across multiple disciplines – a stage for dance, theater, music or chorale performances, as well as lectures and special events.

On Friday evening, we had the opportunity to hear individuals from the brain trust who joined forces and produced a thoughtful, high quality entry into the Arts District. Here are the professionals on the panel:

  • Leigh Breslau (now partner with Trahan Architects), Design architect, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill | Chicago office
  • Brian George, Architect of Record, Corgan Associates | Dallas office
  • Jack Hagler, Theater and Lighting design, Schuler and Shook | Dallas, TX.
  • Mark Holden, Acoustics, Jaffee Holden | Norwalk, CT.

From the panel, we learned that 70 arts organizations were interviewed to understand their specific requirements. From this feedback, the team collaborated with the City of Dallas and each other to accommodate multiple, sometimes conflicting, performing arts needs.  I observed that the panelist, who have worked together since 2004 on this project, genuinely respect and like each other.

The result is a 750 seat hall – 550 on the lower level and 200 in mezzanine. It’s proof that on a tight, 100% publicly funded budget of $40.5 million an exquisitely designed and engineered structure can be built.

When discussing the unique requirements of the DCPH, Mr. Breslau said that the design was inspired by his admiration of Renzo Piano’s Nasher Sculpture Center (down the street on Flora) and his mentor Louis Kahn’s Kimball Museum in Fort Worth. What he adopted was the layout of a series of linear pavilions. Eventually the DCPH will have three side-by-side rectangles with waving ribbon rooflines. Interaction with the urban setting, said Mr. Breslau, was the reason there is a front two-story glass lobby and minimal setback from Flora Street.  “We wanted a city or village for the arts. The patron in the glass lobby becomes one of the actors on stage.”

Phase One of Dallas Center for Performing Arts (DCPH) – west side profile.
60,000 sf on 100,000 sf site where two more pavilions will flank this one, completing the DCPH performing arts campus.
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Acoustician Mr. Holden shared with us the complexity of addressing the varying sound types, e.g. amplified and acoustic vibrations, inside the hall.  While outside and overhead, the flight path from Love Field had to go unnoticed to the audiences. He said that “out of necessity, this was most flexible hall his firm has designed.” When you enter, notice the cast-in-place concrete walls with the random patterns of “boards simulating wood.” The textured pattern was an intentional part of the sound reverberation calculations. Also, notice the walls and where the acoustic panels, which resemble “roman shades,” have been lowered or raised. To manipulate sound, 13 double-baffled wool panels can be mechanically and individually adjusted (see photos below).

Concrete walls and wool acoustic panels
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Inside view of adjustable wool acoustic panels
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

In a blog post last year, I highlighted work by the local artist Shane Pennington. Much to my delight he is the first artist commissioned by the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs to make public art for the DCPH. Specifically, he was asked to make a digital painting for the theater’s stage curtain.

Staying true to his reputation as imaginative, technically savvy and out-of-the-box, his piece titled, Points of Life, is very cool (see image below). The medium is a programmable LED curtain – an electronic 57’ long grid made of 8” x 8” squares. Each square is like a colored pixel. All squares converge optically into animated images of walking figures. It’s comparable to the way Chuck Close paints his portraits, and how we experience and see his images.

“Points of Life” – 15 minute loop of urban pedestrians | Artist: Shane Pennington
(photo: Front Burner | D Magazine)

In an interview with Peter Simek for D Magazine, Pennington talks about his summer in Berlin and being inspired by people watching in the city’s central plaza, Alexanderplatz:

“I filmed about four hours of material, and brought it back to the states. Then I went through it and hand-selected each character. As you can imagine, there are probably thousands of people really walking through this landscape, so I hand-selected each one. There are over ten thousand images that I had to go through. Each frame of every person had to be cut out and inserted.

Sitting in the plaza, obviously there are certain differences, like their (sic: Germans’) little hot dog stands, but if you really sat back and took the time to just absorb it and just watch life, it is fairly in a beautiful message. We’re all similar. It transcends boundaries and countries and all that stuff. In a sense, that’s kind of the beautiful message of this (sic: Points of Life).

“Dropped ceiling” is part of the acoustics and design which gives space for materials to muffle any overhead sound.
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Proof in the pudding (or actually hearing a performance):

I experienced the first live performance on Friday night which featured Sarah Jaffe, a soulful 20-year old North Texan singer and songwriter. I intentionally sat in the mezzanine, unexpectedly and happily surrounded by Jaffe’s fans. The sound was incredible – clear. My view from Row 11, Seat 11 – fantastic. The seat, covered with acoustically correct fabric – comfortable.

As a nice prelude to her performance, the warm-up band came from Dallas’ Arts Magnet school, conveniently located right across the street. Seven students from Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts, joined on stage by Jaffe, sang delicate acoustic tunes.

As far back as the 1990’s, the DCPH was conceived as part of the grand plan for the Dallas Arts District – a special place for emerging and mid-size performing arts organizations. The opening this weekend was a big success for the Office of Cultural Affairs – a division of City of Dallas. Kudos to OCA for staying true to its mission: “Establish a cultural system that ensures all Dallas citizens and visitors have an opportunity to experience the finest in arts and culture.”

Be back next Sunday with more on art.

Enjoy, Meg

Lots Happening on the Dallas Gallery Scene

Art season marked its start this weekend with new exhibitions at every gallery – or so it seemed given the number of shows – in the Dallas Design District.

Here is a sampling of artists’ work I’d recommend, starting with Holly Johnson Gallery (1411 Dragon Street).

(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Holly opened the season with Electric Labyrinth: New Paintings by Tommy Fitzpatrick.

After years of being asked if I knew the artist with the same last name, I finally met him. He told me, with Gaelic pride, that our name was the only “Fitz” surname of Irish origin. All others are of Norman origin, such as Fitzgerald and Fitzsimmons.

We also talked about his work (see images below).

Black Rhombus | Mock-up | Diagonal Grid
17” x 13” | acrylic on canvas
Artist: Tommy Fitzpatrick (b. 1969)
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

“Grid Form” (2012)
25-1/2” x 19-1/2” | acrylic on canvas
Artist: Tommy Fitzpatrick (b. 1969)
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

The body of work in Electric Labyrinth was inspired by a trip to Tokyo where Fitzpatrick saw Prada Store, a glamorous seven-story glass structure built in the heart of Aoyama (Tokyo’s luxury retail district).  Designed by Herzog and de Meuron, the architects’ early blueprints, models and the actual building under construction provided a framework for many of the paintings in this show. According to the artist, “I wanted to continue my investigation into the language of architecture and the flatness of paint.”

A Grand Opening: Cris Worley opened her new space on 1415 Slocum Street. (Note: Walk to the end of the side alley to find the gallery entrance.)

(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

You’ll enter a room full of the colorful, large paintings by Houston-based artist Howard Sherman in his show, List of Demands.

Howard was there, smiling and engaged with the crowd.

Back when he was a student, Howard drew cartoons for his college newspaper. He became a syndicated cartoonist, and then segued into the fine art world. He said he was thankful he found fine arts because he had grown tired of daily grind with cartooning deadlines.

His painting’s iconography, playful forms and marks are meant to be fun and humorous.

“If you don’t have a sense of humor about your work or life you are “up a creek without a paddle.” The soul of a cartoonist is still seen in each of his paintings and the smile that is usually on his face when I see him in a gallery crowd.

“Press Rewind on Fuck” (2012)
70” x 60” | acrylic and marker on canvas
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Paul Manes (b. 1948) grew up in Beaumont Texas. In 1983, he moved to New York City where he lives today and has a studio. His landscapes, like the one below, are heavily influenced by the swamp images from his Gulf Coast childhood.  With In the Heat of the Night (see image below), I saw mastery in his brush strokes, heavy application of paint and use of high contrast color values.  Manes’ work has been collected by major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim, as well as Yoko Ono (very cool).

“In the Heat of the Night” (2008)
78” x 108” | oil on canvas
Artist: Paul Manes
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Inside Conduit Gallery (1626 Hi Line Drive), there are multiple well-curated shows, which is quite typical of Owner/ Director Nancy Whitenack and Assistant Director Danette Dufilho’s visual talents.

(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

In the front gallery, you’ll be greeted by Mimi Kato‘s One Ordinary Day of an Ordinary Town (see image below). Her digital compositions are influenced by traditional Japanese art formats and her contemporary suburban childhood.  In an interview she said, “I play the role of each character, sew the costumes, create props and direct the narratives.” Theatrical performances, especially Japanese comedy theater Kyogen and the contemporary Butoh style, influence the poses and gestures of her characters.

Kato is an alumna of the prestigious Artist in Residence Program at The MacDowell Colony.

“One Ordinary Day of an Ordinary Town” (2010)
Archival Pigment Print | 7’ x 32’
Artist: Mimi Kato
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

And, in next gallery room are photographs by Texas Women’s University professor and artist, Susan Kae Grant.

Susan Kae Grant in her studio
(photo: James Bland | D Magazine)

Each piece in the exhibition titled, Theatrical Realms of the Whimsical & Tragic will make you stop, want to absorb all the details and ask, “What is happening?”

The work is a continuation of her shadow-based photographic series, Night Journey. For that show (which was also incredibly good), Grant used her interest in sleep research She actually had herself wired to study her brain activity in REM states. Dreams, fairy tales, myths and shadows are the subject matter for the sets and props she designs, stages and photographs.

Detail from “Theatrical Realms of the Whimsical & Tragic”
Artist: Susan Kae Grant
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Barry Whistler Gallery (2909 Canton Street) displays two rooms of Tom Orr’s large and smaller sculptures.

(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Tom Orr (b. 1950), Dallas native with a BFA in Sculpture from Rhodes Island School of Design, works frequently in collaboration with his wife Frances Bagley to create art. Many are accessible to the public, e.g. DART Station, One Arts Plaza Lobby, DFW Airport, Belo Corporation building entrance and a Dallas Opera commission. For this show titled, Delicious Poison, the work continues his experiments with crimping, cutting and layering materials which cause the eye to move from ghost-like cast shadows to hard surfaces to vibrating color lights to shimmering “moire” wavy surfaces.

In 2011, Tom received the prestigious Pollack-Krasner Grant.

detail from “The Moon’s Invention”
Mixed Media | 52” x 35” x 23”
Artist: Tim Orr
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Galleri Urbane Dallas (2277 Monitor St.). The young and talented artist is Jessica Drenk. Her show is Aggregated: Ordinary Objects, Unusual Sculpture (see her work below).

(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

detail from “Cerebral Mapping 2” (2012)
Cut books and wax | 122″ x 40″
Artist: Jessica Drenk
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

I first discovered Drenk when her work was exhibited at this year’s Dallas Art Fair where a friend purchased one of her “pencil “pieces – see image below – from the owners of Galleri Urbane. Drenk glues graphite pencils (the ordinary No. 2 yellow) together. With an electric sander, she shaves the shape which exposes streaks of grey on the outer skin and leaves the guts schoolyard yellow.

from “Implement Series”
Mixed media | 9.75” x 20” x 11”
Artist: Jessica Drenk
Private Dallas collection
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

For those who did gallery walk on Saturday night, who would you recommend – your favorite artist, gallery or piece of art?

On a totally unrelated note, congratulations to Serena. She won the US Open in three sets – 2-6, 6-2, 5-7.  It was a fantastic match all the way to the very last minute. Be back next Sunday with more on art.

Enjoy your week,


Concerned Dallas Citizens Unite

Eating lunch outdoors this Saturday at the Nasher Cafe, here’s my view. Picasso’s staring at a patch of reseeded dirt where there was once lush lawn.

Nasher Sculpture Garden on an overcast noon | August 25, 2012
Artist: Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) | Spanish
Head of Woman |1958
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Dallas has done so much over the twenty-five years I have lived here to elevate its cultural offerings and profile. The Dallas Arts District is a piece – a large piece – in the success of offering Dallas citizens and visitors visual and performing arts housed in note-worthy architecture. The District has grown to a 68-acre cultural and residential campus.

The Nasher Sculpture Center, which opened in 2003, is one of the District’s gems designed by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Italian architect, Renzo Piano. His team took time to study and understand the peculiarities of the Texas climate, especially the brutal summer sun. An arched glass roof with a perforated aluminum screen in an egg-crate pattern directs the natural light into the galleries and anticipates the sun’s daily arc from southeast to southwest. (See image below.)

Close-up of “egg crate”
(photo: Nasher Sculpture Center)

Another architectural firm, Foster + Partners of London, spent one year analyzing the arc of the sun before finalizing its design of the Winspear Opera House which is a 2009 addition to the district. A two-acre, steel frame canopy hovers over the Winspear as a mechanism to successfully deflect the Texas sun, especially in the summer months, and lower the ambient temperature. (See image below.)


Winspear Opera House in Dallas Arts District | 2009
Architect: Foster + Partners led by Spencer du Grey (photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

A recent addition still under construction and adjacent to the Nasher is Museum Tower, a 42-story residential building. Unfortunately, the design by Los Angeles architect Scott Johnson was not as sensitive to the climate and its impact on the surroundings as the other two architects’ previously mentioned. Clad in convex glass panels, the building is a giant column that magnifies and reflects sunlight onto its neighbors. (See image below.)
Museum Tower diverts sunlight into Nasher’s sculpture garden. Thus, the patches of dirt and brown grass at the Nasher this Saturday.
On a personal note: I find the building itself quite beautiful and elegant, but wish the surfaces accommodated the neighborhood and the James Turrell installation at the Nasher had not been ruined.

Museum Tower seen from Nasher (photo: Brandon Thibodeaux, The New York Times)

But, it is not only the Nasher that is hit. The impact is 360 degree.  I have concerns about:
  • The trees and plant life in the soon-to-be open Klyde Warren Park
  • Reflections into nearby buildings, like the Dallas Museum of Art, One Arts Plaza, Hunt Oil Tower
  • This conflict, which has received national and international press, setting back the hard-earned gains in Dallas’ reputation as an increasingly cultural place to live
  • Harming the reasons people will buy a home in Museum Tower. (Note: I want the project be a success for the Arts District, City of Dallas, its investors and the developers.)
  • Museum Tower becoming a scapegoat for any future sun damage in the area, regardless of the real cause.

There many bright minds – hopefully all are well-intended people – working on possible solutions and vetting possibilities. In my opinion, the sooner a workable solution is implemented, the better for everyone involved.

Having a personal long-term view of Dallas as a great place to live, I hope this messy, time-consuming, expensive conflict ignites a larger conversation about urban planning, communities and neighborhoods.

Why not have a thorough design review board in the City of Dallas? Why not have interested neighbors and citizens take time to review proposed buildings for any impact on their homes or institutions? In other places I have lived (granted smaller towns), a design that raised concerns and eyebrows, whether it be reflectivity or height, could be rejected by the town’s zoning commission. Why not here in Dallas?

Along the lines of a constructive dialogue, there will be a panel discussion on Saturday, September 8th at 2:30 pm at the Dallas Museum of Art.  KERA’s Krys Boyd will moderate Aesthetics and the City with panelists Veletta Lill, Executive Director of the Dallas Arts District, and Vel Hawes, a Dallas architect who served as Raymond Nasher’s representative for the design and construction of the Nasher Sculpture Center. (Updated on 9/1/2012: The panel has been postponed.)

Show your support as a citizen concerned with finding and implementing a workable solution before more damage is done to the Arts District by clicking on the petition, Stop the Glare. I have signed it because I believe this is a 360 degree issue that needs to be addressed.

I’ll be taking long weekend for Labor Day…be back on Sunday, September 9th.



Good films about art and artists

I am always looking for good films and documentaries about artists and art. Today, I thought I’d mention a few you might also find worth viewing, educational and inspiring:

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child. This biopic was filmed by his best friend, Tamra Davis, over many years. I liked it because Tamra with her daily, unfettered access shows the intensity and frequency with which Basquiat painted.
  • Julian Schnabel’s biopic Basquiat. I also suggest three other films directed by painter, filmmaker, interior designer Schnabel: Before Night Falls, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Miral.
  • The Art of the Steal is a true story about the multi-billion dollar heist of the Barnes Collection.
  • The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History is a griping documentary about American and British army men who retrieved art stolen by the Nazis during World War II.
  • Gerhard Richter Painting.  Recently shown at the Modern Art Museum Fort Worth, this is a documentary any artist interested in the repetitive, slow process of applying paint to the canvas would find riveting. Really!
  • My Architect: A Son’s Journey is a film about modernist architect Louis Kahn’s life, work and personality.
  • The Woodmans. Documentary about photographer Francesca Woodsman, a talent who died too young, and her complicated family.
  • Pollack starring Ed Harris.
  • How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster? documents the British architect’s rise to prominence. On your next trip to Dallas’ Winspear Opera House, stop and study the building design, materials and engineering by Norman Foster’s firm, Foster + Partners.

Knowing I would cover art flicks this week, I sent an e-mail to three friends who are fellow movie buffs and artists. They kindly responded with their film recommendations which I now pass long to you, starting with Karen Weiner.

Karen Weiner, arts advocate and owner of Dallas gallery The Reading Room in Deep Ellum, Dallas sent these:

  • Her “top” pick is Pina by Wim Wenders, a documentary about German choreographer Pina Bausch.
  • Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry. WeWei is today’s most famous Chinese artist because he uses social media and art to very publicly criticize the country’s political system and suffers brutal consequences.

Anita Horton, arts educator, artist, blogger and world traveler

Anita teaches a 12-week class on Architecture and Design at her school. Her objective is to expand her students’ definition of architecture to include interior design, urban planning and landscape design, and consider these as a potential careers. She recommends these films on architects as “must sees.”

  • Sketches of Frank Gehry was directed by Sydney Pollack who was an avid fan and used this documentary as a way to get to know his friend the architect, Frank Gehry, even better.
  • A Strong Clear Vision about Maya Lin. How her Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC almost got derailed has edge-of-the-seat suspense.
  • Louis Kahn, My Architect: A Son’s Journey. Again, I loved it too.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright, a PBS film directed by Ken Burns.
  • Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio. I’ve seen the documentary too, about found this inspiring man. Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee (1944 – 2001) dedicated his life, as a teacher and as an architect, to creating architecture that elevated the living standards of the rural poor and also provided “shelter for the soul.”

Here are a few more from Anita:

  • Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time. I also like this documentary and sculptor. So much so that I purchased the DVD for my permanent home library.
  • Brothers Quay, Street of Crocodiles (Note: an exhibition featuring the work of the Brothers Quay, “On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets” is showing at MoMA  from August 12, 2012 to January 7, 2013.

Designer, website master, photographer and networker among the creative set, Elle Schuster of Elle Studio suggests:

  • A recent film Untitled captures the art gallery business side. Set in Chelsea area of NYC.
  • Fanny and Alexander is Ingmar Bergman’s four-time academy awarding story “about a theatrical family and MUCH more.”
  • Baroque female painter Artemisia Gentileschi is the subject of Artemisia, a beautifully filmed, loosely-based biopic which I also vividly remember.
  • Camille Claudel recounts the troubled life of this 19th century French sculptress.
  • Of course, the biography of British painter, Francis Bacon seen in BBC’s Love is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon.

Please share your favorite films with me and others by posting them in the Comments Section. How to post? Either Look for the bubble on upper right corner. Click to access the comments sections and fire away. Or, find the “Reply” box at the end of the post and fire away.

Thanks so much for posting comments. Until next week,


Animals Galore

Friday night I attended the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) annual awards dinner. I was there to root for my many friends in the design community, particularly Gus Hinojosa and his team at Hinojosa Architecture & Interiors. They won top prize in the Design Excellence Award Institutional and Educational Category for the new SPCA of Texas facility. From first-hand experience, I can tell you it’s a beautiful building with an interior design that invites people and animals.

Hinojosa Architecture & Interiors | Dallas, Texas 
Winner of 2012 IIDA Design Excellence Award 
SCPA of Texas | Dallas

This building and the good works done at the SPCA and Dallas Animal Services (both on N. Westmoreland Road off I-30) inspired me to adopt (rescue) two kittens last week from the shelter. Here are the new furry additions to my home. Welcome “Midnight” and “Reuben.”

“Midnight” | The black short-haired cat is a very lively spirit. He thinks my house is an Indy 500 race track.

“Reuben” | Ruddy short-haired cat. With a more reserved personality, Reuben hid in a clothes closet for two days.

And, there was another animal-related activity this week.  My website was revised to include examples of the animal paintings I have done over the years. Click here for the new gallery tab.

Many of these paintings were commissioned.

The English Bulldog, “Lola,” was a surprise gift from a husband to his wife to celebrate their first wedding anniversary.  And, “Lily,” a St. Bernard, was a “just because I love you gift” from another husband to his wife.

English Bulldog “Lola” | acrylic on panel | 24” x 13-1/2” Private commission | Tampa, Florida
Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick

St. Bernard “Lily” | acrylic on canvas | 20” x 24”  
Private commission | Sarasota, Florida
Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick

After I had finished another St. Bernard portrait, commissioned by a Massachusetts couple, I painted “Doggie Day Care” (see below) for the fun of it.  The owners told me where they boarded their dog during the day while they were at work. The place took only Black Labs, Bernese Mountain Dogs and St. Bernards.  Intrigued with camera in-hand, I visited the daycare center. The source image for the painting below is a small section of one photo, tightly cropped because I liked the composition and how the dogs formed a carnival conga line and smiled at me.

“Doggie Day Care” | acrylic on canvas | 44” x 44”
Available (price on request)
Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick

Until next week, enjoy your animals, families, friends and the Olympics Closing Ceremony tonight.


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.