“If you try and lose then it isn’t your fault. But if you don’t try and we lose, then it’s all your fault.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game
Munger & Gaston Streets, Dallas, Texas
I was planning on riding my bicycle down to The Lot to meet Nick for his birthday. At first, I was going to ride the train downtown, then out the Santa Fe Trail, but the people on the train were getting on my last nerve, so I took that as an omen and left the train early, from the underground station at Cityplace. After riding the two extensive escalators to the surface, I had to work my way through East Dallas to the lake. That part of town is a confusing maze of angled streets, and more difficult on a bicycle than a car. You have to avoid some busy streets, some killer hills, and a mistake can put you miles out of your way.
However, I’ve been there a few times recently and was able to find my way without any real problems – with an occasional Googlemaps look on my phone.
I did make a little side trip to the intersection of Gaston & Munger. There’s a sculpture there – on the corner of a redone apartment complex of a man and woman pushing a mirrored sphere. I had seen it before, but never able to stop and get a good look.
My camera was in my pack this time, so I took a quick photo of it. I don’t know anything about its title or sculptor or backstory – but I’ll try to get back and get a better shot.
It’s in an unexpected spot – and looks really cool.
“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he’ll tell you the truth”
― Oscar Wilde
Mouth Mask Probably Depicting the Head of a Rooster
Indonesia: Southeast Moluccas, Leti, Luhuleli
Wood, Boar Tusks, Clam Shell, Mother-of-Pearl, buffalo horn, resinous material, and pigment
Dallas Museum of Art
Among the rarest of sculptures from the Southeast Moluccas are small masklike objects depicting the head of an animal. The dancer held the masklike object in his mouth by the tab extending from the back of the head. This type of object is thus sometimes referred to as a mouth mask. Only four mouth masks have survived, three of which are in European museum collections and represent pigs. This Dallas mask depicts a bird, probably a rooster. The sculptor imaginatively used boar tusks to create the white feathers that rise above the head and encircle the bird’s face.
Pig mouth masks are associated with a distinctive fertility ritual called porka, which encourages increase and abundance among human beings, animals, and vegetation. The bird mask shown here was used in a war dance that was performed by men and portrayed headhunting.
“Here, are the stiffening hills, here, the rich cargo
Congealed in the dark arteries,
That hold Glamorgan’s blood.
The midnight miner in the secret seams,
Limb, life, and bread.
– Rhondda Valley”
― Mervyn Peake, Collected Poems
One of my favorite things in Dallas are the little-known Art Deco Murals along the Esplanade in Fair Park. Half-restored, few people see them, although millions visit during the state fair. They are hidden by the porticoes along the row of buildings – you have to get up underneath to see them.
And you should.
OF obedience, faith, adhesiveness;
As I stand aloof and look, there is to me something profoundly affecting in large masses of men, following the lead of those who do not believe in men.
—-Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 79 Thought
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
British, born 1937
Oil on board
When David Hockney painted Adhesiveness, he was concerned with creating works that reflected the lessons of modernist abstraction but also contained recognizable imagery. To this end, he began writing on his paintings, utilizing words, letters, and numerals as signposts to their content. This period of Hockney’s work is situated between the Expressionism of Francis Bacon and the emergence of Pop art, which Hockney would help pioneer in Europe and later in the United States.
Adhesiveness is an homage to the American poet Walt Whitman, who used the prenological term first to describe love among men and later to describe an ideal in which not only the States would be bonded, but the world at large could be unified. In the early 1960s Hockney began to allude to his homosexuality in his work, and the symbols he has included in Adhesiveness are clues to this aspect of his life. Whitman, too, was homosexual, and here Hockney borrows from the poet a childlike numeric code for initials, identifying one figure as himself (4.8 = D.H.) and the other as Whitman (23.23) – W.W.). Hockney created a number of compositions at this time that depict personal relationships (real or imaginary), a theme he has explored throughout his career and is now strongly associated with his art.
My attitude is, I make the sculpture in the studio on my own terms on my own time, and I want to see it go out of the studio and have its own existence whether it’s noticed or not.
Tony Cragg’s “Line of Thought”
Ever since I saw his exhibition at the Nasher a few years ago, I have been a fan of Tony Cragg. It was a tough time for me and visiting his sculpture meant something to me – it gave me an ethereal comfort. I think I found it reassuring that independently beauty still existed in the world.
Then I shot his work in the sculpture garden of the Dallas Museum of Art. Earlier this year, I found another work I liked in a museum in Houston.
At any rate, it is one thing to see sculpture in a museum or gallery – in a carefully-prepared setting – it is something entirely different to see sculpture in the wild… especially unexpectedly.
We were riding through Uptown Dallas at night on the monthly Critical Mass Ride, when I spotted a large sculpture out in front of a fancy office building – and it was undoubtedly a Tony Cragg. It was really cool to see, even if I had to keep on pedaling on.
Later, it didn’t take much internet searching to determine that the sculpture was Tony Cragg’s “Line of Thought” out in front of the Rosewood Court Complex. It has been there for a number of years, but I had never noticed it. Of course, that isn’t really my hood….
The weekend of the Uptown Ciclovía, where a street through uptown was closed to automobiles I made a point of finding the Rosewood Court (the Ciclovia route went right by it) and stopped to look and take a photo.
It was cool finding Cragg in the wild.
Tony Cragg’s “Line of Thought”