”The gods of the earth and sea
Sought through nature to find this tree.
But their search was all in vain:
There grows one in the human brain.”
William Blake – The Human Abstract
I have been a huge fan of the Nasher Sculpture Center since it was built. I go there all the time. It is truly one of the most comfortable, wonderful, and amazing public spaces I’ve ever seen. Family friendly , educational, beautiful, and a marvelous host to public gatherings – it was a thoughtful and generous gift from Raymond Nasher to the people of the city.
One of the goals of creating the Dallas Arts District, of which the Nasher is a linchpin, was to attract the high-end buzz of the wealthy clientele that enjoy throwing their millions around in order to wallow in the coolness of timeless art. These folks are hard to pry away from the coasts or the ancient alleyways of Europe but a roadfull of expensive venues and billions of dollars of paintings and sculptures was the lure. And so they come. The first habitat for these rare birds is the shiny new Museum Tower, reaching skyward from an odd oval of property where a Woodall Rogers Freeway ramp arced up and around.
Now I have no problem with that. I’m not a wealthy person and will never be. I have to beg and save just to buy a pen, for example. Most of the art scene I enjoy comes on Free Thursdays and Half-Price weekend and such as that, when the upper crust retreats and allows the hoi polloi to enter and tread their hallowed halls. I depend on the charity or at least the indifference of the wealthy patrons – I exist on their scraps – like a roach under the cabinets I scurry out when they aren’t looking for any crumbs that might be left behind.
So if someone wants to build a tower and charge millions of dollars for a two bedroom apartment – so be it. I applaud their industry, toast their imagination, and do not begrudge them their profits. If they want to call their property The Museum Tower – in order to capitalize on its location right next to the Nasher, fine. If they want to charge an extra million dollars per unit simply so the residents can use the museum garden as their side yard – complete with landscaping and a billion in modern sculpture – great. There is plenty of room and if you don’t mind standing next to me, I don’t mind standing next to you.
But don’t forget what side of the bread you’re putting the butter on. Without the museum there is no Museum Tower. Without the arts, there is no Arts District. Do not roast the goose that lays the golden eggs.
It started out with Tending (blue). The high rise stuck it’s ugly head right up into the viewport of James Turrell’s skyspace sculpture, my favorite spot at the Nasher and the best place to watch the sunset in the Metroplex. But, I’ve written about that before. (go read it)
An oversight, perhaps… pretty damn sloppy, though, if you ask me. You spend that much money on a building, make that much profit, can’t you figure out ahead of time that it’s going to ruin a great work of art? Or do you realize it and simply not say anything until it’s too late. Turrell can fix it, maybe, but when? He’s got other things to do.
And now, it’s happened again. And it’s a lot more serious this time.
They have put the mirrored cladding on the building and it is reflecting so much extra sunlight into the building at the Nasher that they are having to install shades simply to allow the newest sculptures in the room. Sunlight destroys art – but is necessary for art and the Nasher has always been very proud of it’s carefully engineered sunscreen roof. The architect spent a lot of time and effort designing a structure that allowed light for viewing in while blocking the damaging direct rays of the Texas sun. It was a brilliant triumph of design and construction and made for a world-famous light and airy museum that was a strong point of pride for the entire city.
It was a brilliant triumph until a few weeks ago when someone installed a giant mirror reaching five hundred feet into the sky right next door that shot laser beams of killer sunlight into the Nasher from an entirely unexpected direction.
Read the articles:
Nobody ever clicks on links, so here’s the skinny from the Dallas Morning News:
Officials at the Nasher Sculpture Center say that reflective glass recently installed on the exterior of Museum Tower, its new, 42-story neighbor in the Arts District, is compromising its indoor galleries, destroying its outdoor garden and threatening its future as a Dallas landmark.
Now under construction at the corner of Olive Street and Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Museum Tower heralds its proximity to the “tranquil garden” of the Nasher as a prime selling point for its residential units, which cost between $1 million and $5.4 million.
This makes me so angry I could spit. There is a city code that says, “A person shall not conduct a use that has a visible source of illumination that produces glare of direct illumination across a property line of an intensity that creates a nuisance or detracts from the use or enjoyment of the adjacent property.” For years I have had city inspectors quote much more obscure bits of code than this and made places I work do all sorts of crazy stuff.
But then again, the places I have worked have only employed thousands of ordinary people. They haven’t been home to a handful folks that can afford five million dollar apartments. They haven’t been owned by the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System (that’s who bought the tower).
When the Nasher was built, there was an agreement with Raymond Nasher, part of the covenant that helped him agree to build the museum and give his personal collection to the people of Dallas that stated the building next door would be a maximum of 21 stories and have a maximum reflectivity of 15. Now it is 42 stories with a reflectivity of 44.
So here we have a story of corporate greed and hidden scandal. Men like Raymond Nasher are no more. I notice that mere months after he passed away – a new LA based architect was brought in to fuck things up and the tower doubled in size and reflectivity, causing all these problems -, about the time the City Pension System decided to make its purchase. I guess they knew then the city would not put up a fight. Mary Suhm, the Dallas City Manager says, “It’s not something we have jurisdiction over.” Well, she certainly knows which side of her bread is buttered.
Meanwhile, the art continues to bake and the goose that lays the golden egg is cooked. At least they are using green solar energy to do it.
In his defense of Obamacare, the Solicitor General quoted from the Preamble to the Constitution. I’m sorry, but I wasn’t immediately familiar with the exact wording of the Preamble – but I found this video that explains it all.
Sealand is a small country located off the British coast on an abandoned WWII artillery platform in the North Sea.
Things I want to do in Dallas (coming up)
Candy and I have tickets to the SavorDallas Wine and Food Stroll tonight down in the Arts District. I bought them for her birthday.
Free concerts in the Dallas Arts District. Unfortunately, these are on Thursdays and my writing group meets then – but I might be able to work something out.
Any other ideas? What am I missing?
For all of you Mad Men fans out there:
- Care about what you are photographing
- Learn how to use your camera and stop changing systems
- It’s not the camera that makes the shot – it’s the photographer
- Find the light first, the background second and the subject third
- If you photograph people or make pictures professionally understand that being nice is better than being good
- The best photographs in the world happen when …. there is solid, real emotion and/or love
- Serious photography is about protecting memories, telling stories, keeping moments
Sorry, I’m sure this is more interesting to me than it is to you….
I was checking my facebook ticker when I came across this event. It kept showing up posted by various local organizations from The Dallas Arts District to Bike Friendly Richardson. The event was A Bike Crawl through the Arts District on Thursday, hosted by Biking in Dallas. I was off work for the whole time between Christmas and New Year, so I had no excuse not to go.
Let’s see, Dallas Arts District, check… bicycles, check…, Crow Collection museum of Asian Art, check… taking photographs, check… and food trucks, check, check and check. There was absolutely no reason for me not to go. You could not design an event that had more stuff in it that I was interested in.
But I felt anxious. I’m in terrible shape and, even though we would not be riding very far or in any sort of difficult terrain, there would be some talented and experienced bicyclists there and I felt really nervous. I used to be a good bicycle rider, but that was many years ago and it will probably take me a year to get back into anything close to riding condition, shape, and ability.
So I had mixed feelings. Then I realized that what I was feeling wasn’t fear, it was Resistance.
So I went, and I had a great time. I thought about taking the Dart Train but ended up driving and took about twenty minutes trying to fold three dollar bills up into small enough packets to fit through the tiny slot in the parking lot thing. I packed all sorts of warm clothing but the killer Texas sun had everything so warmed up that I ended up in a T-shirt.
Everyone met down at the fountain on the end of Flora street by the museum of art. We didn’t really do a lot of bicycle riding – the Arts District is only seven block long after all. We walked through the Crow Collection – I’ve been there quite a bit lately and had sat through the entire animated film by Qiu AnXiong – but you always find something new in a museum. After that is was on to the food trucks. There were four: Gandolfo’s, Ssahm, The Butcher’s Son, and at the end, Easy Slider – a new truck. When given a choice, I always like to try the truck I’ve never tried before – so I bought some tiny hamburgers and they were very good.
Then we rode down to the end – my bike slipped a gear going up a driveway – a nasty clunk! and my pedals spun, I think I need a new chain. The dark, raked gravel from the Transcendence art installation across from the Wyly theater was still there – now all fenced in (the ice was long melted, of course).
Then we stopped at the Opera House to take some pictures, rode around a bit, and stopped off at The Nasher for a look at the sculptures. I’m always up for a trip to the Nasher.
So I had a good time, great people, and it was fun to get out. I have got to work hard on my cycling and my fitness – there is so much to do with a pedal, chain, and two wheels. I remember when it was easy.
These two were very interested in the “Bronze Crowd” by Magdalena Abakanowicz. From the Nasher Web Site:
As a child in Poland during World War II, Magdalena Abakanowicz lived through the German and Soviet invasions, experiencing firsthand the horrors perpetrated by dehumanized masses under the sway of evil leadership. Frequently addressing the theme of the crowd in her sculpture, she has said “A crowd is the most cruel because it begins to act like a brainless organism.” From a distance, the thirty six over-life-size figures of Bronze Crowd look identical, but a closer view reveals their individuality. The spaces between figures become as important to the overall composition as the figures themselves. Viewers can walk between and among the figures, penetrating the imposing solidarity of the group and, simultaneously, stepping into the profoundly solitary experience of being alone in a crowd.
Since this work is widely associated with the Holocaust – whenever I see an elderly couple looking at it I wonder if they could be survivors. At any rate, I would love to hear their story.
“You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper.” ~ William Albert Allard
The thing about photography is that, especially now, everybody has a camera. Everybody is always taking pictures.
How do you capture something different than everbody else?
I was in the Dallas Arts District and taking a picture of the Wylie Theater. Everybody in the picture had a camera.
Think photographs should be provocative and not tell you what you already know. It takes no great powers or magic to reproduce somebody’s face in a photograph. The magic is in seeing people in new ways.
I noticed a guy walking around the reflecting pool with a big camera and a woman doing a photo shoot .
Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment.
—- Elliott Erwitt
I think the best pictures are often on the edges of any situation, I don’t find photographing the situation nearly as interesting as photographing the edges.
—-William Albert Allard
All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget. In this – as in other ways – they are the opposite of paintings. Paintings record what the painter remembers. Because each one of us forgets different things, a photo more than a painting may change its meaning according to who is looking at it.—-John Berger
Photography deals exquisitely with appearances, but nothing is what it appears to be.