New Year 2014 begins….

Notes about how this New Year opened:

My one-person show finished at City Café, with wonderful private commissions and sales of my paintings to Dallas art collectors and animal lovers.  Fourteen paintings from my Animal Series were exhibited through the first week of this year.

Many thanks to Karim Alaoui, owner and gracious proprietor of City Café. Stop and have lunch or dinner at his restaurant on 5757 West Lovers Lane.

“Splash” at Sarasota Ranch Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick Acrylic on canvas 38-1/2” x 34-1/2”

“Splash” at Sarasota Ranch | Animal Paintings Series
Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick
Acrylic on canvas
38-1/2” x 34-1/2”

I was honored to be selected by the Dallas Museum of Art to be a guest artist at their annual Junior Associates “Curator’s Choice” event.  My curatorial pick, from the collection currently on display, was a painting by one of my favorite artists, John Singer Sargent.

John_Singer_Sargent_Dorothy


Artist: John Singer Sargent, American
This portrait was believed to have been painted in Sargent’s London where he used this chair as a prop – see chair arm to the left.

And, the February/ March 2014 issue of Patron Magazine features the home of art collectors, Jose Gomez, MD and Francis Luttmer. They own one of my paintings from my Emergent Series body of work titled, “Emergent Series – Finding Johnny Depp.” They’ve become friends who I always enjoy seeing at art and architecture events, including last year’s TWO x TWO at the Rachofsky’s home.

Patron-web-cover-shot

As 2014 progresses, I wish everyone a year of beauty and engagement in the arts, architecture, culture and kindness.

Best, Meg

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Paintings – An Important Part of Designing an Interior

From earliest memory, I’ve been intrigued with set designs – in movies, TV shows, magazine spreads, the theater. As a kid, I lived for Saturday afternoon reruns of the classics and their stage sets: Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire tapping across polished marble floors, floating by perfectly placed art deco furniture and wall scones. Katherine Hepburn basking in the elegance of a Main Line home in the Philadelphia Story.

Fast forward to adulthood, I can lose time and sink deeply into the staged atmospheres of Woody Allen’s films (note: I can’t wait until Blue Jasmine opens in Dallas next Friday, August 9th), Nancy Myers’ directorial eye (I own the DVD Something’s Gotta Give because I want to live in that beach house) and any Merchant Ivory production.

So, it is no surprise that I’ve been intrigued with the idea of being part of a photo shoot. Through a recent body of paintings which explore using drywall plaster, handwritten text, drawn images and black-out color blocks, I recently was given this chance.

The very talented Dallas-based interior designer Joshua Rice, owner of Joshua Rice Design, Inc., called to look at my recent work and selected two paintings for a magazine shoot. It was fun and an honor to be part of his behind-the-scene team. Here is the finished dining room:

Interior: Joshua Rice Design, Inc. | Mid-century modern private residence  Photo: Robert Yu | 2013

Interior: Joshua Rice Design, Inc. | Mid-century modern private residence
Photo: Robert Yu | 2013

The larger, black-and-white paintings in the middle, which are mine, were inspired by a March trip to New Orleans and an artist who lives there. She uses drywall plaster troweled and layered over pages torn from old magazines, poster-sized cartoon figures, her daughter’s grade school drawings or other discarded images. Next with an electric sander, she grinds the dried surface until ghost images appear. My work started with this technique (it’s quite messy), and then I added a narrative story by hand-drawing images and writing text messages. The black-out color blocks may have been inspired by all the NSA stuff in the press these days, but I think this convention was borrowed from works by artist, Mark Bradford, who had a museum retrospective at the DMA in 2011. I love his work. Mark’s artist talk and larger-than-life, joyous personality got me thinking about recycling old paper, building layers of colored stripes, and then partially exposing hints of the under images by using an electric sander.

The painting, “Be Still. Sit. Create.,” seen below tells the story of Steven Sondheim’s creative process as he wrote lyrics to Act I: Gang Initiation Scene in the musical, Westside Story. The resulting song is still one of my favorites, “When You’re a Jet, You’re a Jet All the Way.”

Title: “Be Still. Sit. Create.” Plaster, acrylic, graphite, ink and newsprint on canvas | 18” x 24” Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick | 2013

Title: “Be Still. Sit. Create.”
Plaster, acrylic, graphite, ink and newsprint on canvas | 18” x 24”
Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick | 2013

A detail from the second painting “Vision Quest” is below – it’s a line drawing of hands holding the promises of a future. The text used in the painting came from an old ad:

  • “When your vision is your reputation, it‘s what gets your phone ringing.”
  • “Flawless execution is what keeps your phone ringing.”
  • “When your vision is your signature.”
Title: “Vision Quest” Plaster, acrylic, graphite, ink and newsprint on canvas.  Wax finish 18” x 24” Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick | 2013

Title: “Vision Quest”
Plaster, acrylic, graphite, ink and newsprint on canvas
Wax finish
18” x 24”
Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick | 2013

On view at the MAC (McKinney Avenue Contemporary on 3120 McKinney Avenue) in the members’ show is another painting (see image below) from this exploration. Look for “Searching for Big Tex” which uses red to build the color blocks. The inspiration for this painting’s story narrative and text was the accidental burning of our beloved Big Tex at last year’s Texas State Fair.

Painting detail from “Emergent Series: Searching for Big Tex”” Plaster, acrylic, graphite, ink on canvas 18” x 24” Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick | 2013

Painting detail from “Emergent Series: Searching for Big Tex”
Plaster, acrylic, graphite, ink on canvas
18” x 24”
Artist: Meg Fitzpatrick | 2013

On the Dallas cultural front, I heard Gabriel Ritter, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, give a gallery talk about “DallasSITES: Available Space,” the current show in the DMA’s Barrel Vault and adjacent gallery spaces. This is an historic event and a welcomed one, at that: 1979 – that’s 34 years ago – was the last time the DMA had a major exhibition dedicated to local artists! “DallasSITES” is a fun, interactive and informative representation of the current North Texas art scene and talent.

RBG banner DMA logo

Until August 18th, when this show closes, each week you can watch special videos featuring different Texas artists who focus on a different decade in the Dallas art scene. Don’t miss this exhibition – support one of our major art institutions’ efforts to showcase Dallas-Fort Worth talent.

To staying cool throughout August in hot Dallas, and experiencing more art.

Cheers,

Meg

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.

Enjoy,

Meg

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.

Chihuly – The Fine Art of Glassblowing

The Chihuly glass installation finally opened at the Dallas Arboretum – fourteen outdoor sculptures, in total, are spread throughout the gardens. This is one of four public places in Dallas, that I am aware of, with his work on view. All are worth a visit to get a grasp of what this one man has done to revolutionize glass making.

Dale Chihuly (b. 1941) is considered the best glass artist in the world.

Here’s a bit more about the artist:

Dale Chihuly at 2010 TED Conference
(photo: Jurvetson | flickr)

Under a 1968 Fulbright scholarship, Chihuly studied glass making at the Venini glass factory in Venice. This stint in Italy forever changed the way he approached glass making – no longer as a solo glass blower/ gaffer, but as part of a team of 3 – 20 skilled craftspeople and apprentices. He brought this practice to the United Sates when he started a glass program at his alma mater RISD (Rhodes Island School of Design) and opened Pilchuck Glass School, fifty miles north of Seattle, Washington, the state where he was born.

In Dallas, here are four places to visit:

  • Dallas Arboretum (May 5  – November 5)
  • Dallas Museum of Art, on permanent display in the Cafe
  • Seay Biomedical at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, on permanent display in the Lobby Atrium
  • Talley Dunn Gallery. “Dale Chihuly – Recent Works and New Forms” (May 12 –August 18)

Here are photos I took at the Dallas Arboretum last week:

“Float Boat” overlooking White Rock Lake
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

“Mexican Hat and Horn Tower”
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Glass forms echo the white water lilies
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Here are selected images from Talley Dunn Gallery.  It’s an interesting show because you’ll see examples from a wide range of his series (different bodies of work).

The “Persian” series piece below shows how Chihuly became known for pushing the boundaries and limits of glass. How thin could he make the medium go? Very thin. Why be constrained by the old conventions of symmetrical forms? He wasn’t. And, let gravity do its thing allowing molten edges to flop and crimp.

“Persian” series | Talley Dunn Gallery | Dallas, TX
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

The “Chandelier” series started modestly in the early 1990’s, yet a few years later the scale and size expanded. Now, a ton of glass orbs is involved, as well as Medusa-like shapes suggestively twisted into flowers, ribbons, snakes and other organics (see below).

Detail from Ivory Feather and Amber “Chandelier” series | 84” x 73” x 73” | Talley Dunn Gallery | Dallas, TX
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Visit the Seay Biomedical Building on the campus of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSWMC). This Chihuly piece – made of 1,100 pieces of brilliant orange blown glass (see below) – rises from a pool of water and extends 1-1/2 stories high. (Note: Behind the scenes, doctors and scientists in the Seay building are working to discover the cure for cancer.)

Chihuly at Seay Biomedical Building at UTSWMC (1999)

Eat at the DMA Café and experience more Chihuly. This time you’ll be near his “Persian” series (see below) and experience another room-sized, architectural installation.

“Persian” series titled “Hart Window” (1995) | Dallas Museum of Art

On a final and upbeat note, I first discovered Chihuly when the DMA hosted an exhibition of his work. I was mesmerized as I walked into the entrance – a long tunnel with a ceiling made of plexiglass and filled with an abundance of oceanic creatures. The glass shapes in the ”Seaforms” series were Chihuly’s memories from beach combing at Puget Sound for shells, jelly fish and mollusks.

“Ceilings” at Olympic Arts Festival (2002)
We were on our feet, yet we still felt transported to an underwater colony and coral reef at the DMA installation.

Be back with a new post on June 3rd.

Enjoy your week.

Exploring Austin with the Nasher Sculpture Center

Clock Knot (2007) | Artist: Mark di Suvero (b. 1933) | painted steel | “498 x 260“x 420” | Collection: Metropolitan Museum of Art. (photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Although Di Suvero enjoys devising names, he held a contest to name this work. A New York City poet suggested Clock Knot, the winning title.

On a sunny Saturday, a group from the Nasher Sculpture Center’s Avant-Garde Society gathered in an Austin hotel lobby, Starbucks coffee cups in hand, eager to start a day full of learning more about art.

As with most field trips, we boarded a bus and turned our attention to Nasher’s Curator Jed Morse who began explaining the significance of our first stop – University of Texas Austin. (Note: Jed is proud UT Longhorn alum.)

His story was interesting.

New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has more art than they can possibly exhibit. Much is warehoused and rarely, if ever, viewed. This “embarrassment of riches” isn’t unusual for a major museum. However, what is unusual and quite clever are the partnerships the Met is forming nationwide to make their stored sculpture and art accessible to the public.

UT Austin was among the first “experiments” between the Met and a satellite location where a large quantity of sculptures (28 in total) were loaned on a long-term basis. This gesture boosted the UT administration’s and faculties’ vision of implementing “Landmarks,” a campus-wide public arts program which has proved to be a success. Plus, as the university continues construction and renovation, a percent-for-art policy has been approved whereby 1% to 2% of the budgets for building projects will go toward acquisitions of art. According to The New York Times, the campus is “poised to be a destination for modern art.”

Jed walked us through the grounds and buildings giving us highlights. On view were sculptures by well-known artists, including Mark DiSuvero (see photo above). DiSuvero has said his large-scale sculptures are really “drawings in space.” Instead of charcoal and paper, he uses steel I-beams, industrial materials, a crane and space. Favored by Dallas collectors, we have easy access to more of these bright red structures back home in the Dallas Museum of Art’s Ross Avenue Courtyard, the Meyerson Symphony Hall and NorthPark Center.

On tours such as this one, my friends and I play the game, “If you could bring one piece home, which one would you pick?”

From the UT Landmarks collection, my choice was the Ursula von Rydingsvard sculpture, Seven Mountains (see photo below). It was made by gluing and doweling four-by-four inch lumber beams, the most ordinary of materials. Next, Ursula hand chiseled the surface until it became craggy and ancient, as if Mother Nature had eroded the forms into stone cairns over eons of time. Then, graphite powder was rubbed into the surface and burnished with steel wool pads until a silvery gray sheen developed. Simply gorgerous.

Untitled: Seven Moutains (1986 - 1988) | Artist: Ursula von Rydingsward (b. 1942) | cedar and graphite powder| Collection: Metropolitan Museum of Art (photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

If you are visiting Austin, you can take a self-guided tour of The Mets’ sculptures. Just download the map available on http://www.landmakrs.utexas.edu. The site itself is a good read, full of information and easy to navigate.

Hopping back on the bus, we next headed to the Austin Museum of Art’s 12- acre Lake Austin location, Laguna Gloria which was built in 1916 as a private residence. There we played miniature golf on artist-designed putting greens. Art on the Green is a 9-hole outdoor phenomenon where all ages interact with nature and art. The set-ups were challenging, goofy and a blast, as you can see by one of us in action…

Art on the Green | Laguna Gloria with AMOA-Arthouse | March 9 – May 20, 2012 (photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

We visited the studio and home of artist, Ginger Henry Geyer who is represented by the Valley House Gallery in Dallas, stopped for lunch at Chez Zee (of course – food is a given at any Avant-Garde Society event), and then visited two private residences.

Below is the entrance to the second residence, designed by the San Antonio-based architects, Lake Flato who are famous for their Texas Vernacular Style.

The couple who lives here has been cited in ARTnews’ “Top 200 Collectors” international list. Naturally, the works we saw were first class as was the couple who were so gracious, warm and welcoming.

This was the last stop of the day – a peaceful waterfront peninsula.

Architects: Lake Flato (photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Many thanks for the fantastic organization of this day trip go to Maribeth Messino Peters and Scott Potter who Co-Chaired this year’s Travel Committee.

No matter which city is selected for the 2013 trip, I’ll go and recommend anyone who enjoys this sort of adventure also join me and the Avant-Garde Society. http://www.nashersculpturecenter.org/Membership/Avant-Garde-Society

…until Sunday, April 15th.