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.



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.