Alternative rock band Weezer’s second album, Pinkerton, was released in 1996 to little fanfare. Panned by critics and lackluster sales, the sophomore entry was a far cry from the band’s multi-platinum debut, the self-titled Weezer with the hit single “Buddy Holly.”
Retrospectively, however, the album has become a cult classic and is regarded as one of the most significant albums of the 1990s. Exemplifying this polarity is the fact that Rolling Stone readers voted Pinkerton as the third worst album of the year in 1996, yet six years later in 2002 voted it the 16th greatest album of all time.
A modified image of a print from Ando Hiroshige’s Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō, a copy of which is in the DMA’s collection, was chosen for Pinkerton’s album cover. Kambara: Snow at Night depicts a snowy evening in Kambara village—an unlikely scenario, since Kambara was located in a temperate area.
Hiroshige’s romantic enhancement of reality for emotional effect makes the woodblock print a fine choice for Pinkerton, since it is such an expressive album. Angst-filled, youthful poets so often tend to exaggerate events for greater dramatic impact. Interestingly, examination of the resulting production style and various thematic elements in Pinkerton inextricably link it to Zen Buddhism and other aspects of Japanese culture.
Pinkerton features a very raw and abrasive sound in an effort to evoke a live performance. The recordings for Pinkerton were done in one take, meaning everything was recorded simultaneously with little to no overdubbing after the fact. For example, lead singer and principal composer Rivers Cuomo recorded the vocal tracks with his fellow band members in unison around three microphones close to one another. This recording method contrasts with the way vocals are usually recorded, in an isolated chamber after the instrumental tracks have been laid down. Instead, the band member’s vocal tracks bleed into one another much like the guitar, drum, and keyboard work do. Little if any editing was done to their singing or the instruments. The resulting quality of the album sounds extremely rugged and unrefined, which contributes to its liveliness and emotional intensity.
Rivers Cuomo spent his early years in upstate New York living at a Buddhist Zen Center. Eventually he would move to Yogaville, an enclave of the spiritual practice in Virginia, where he remained for the rest of his childhood. These experiences no doubt contributed to the direction of production for Pinkerton. The desire to create the audio effect of an energetic, live performance is reflective of the fluid, in-the-moment perspective treasured in Zen Buddhism for the creation of art.
Moreover, Zen artistic values that permeate into the culture of Japan to this day treasure simplicity and the rough. Indeed, Zen art seeks to inspire contemplation of human existence as something that is ephemeral, lonely and melancholic through its emphasis on imperfection.
In this way a crooked, shabby cup is perceived as more attractive than an immaculate, symmetrical, and fastidiously constructed bowl made of fine material. This perspective results from the fact that the malformed cup encourages reflection on the nature of reality instead of merely being aesthetically pleasant to look at, like the “perfect” bowl.
Due to Pinkerton’s initial poor sales and critical reception, Weezer nearly disbanded, going on hiatus for 5 years until 2001’s Weezer (Green Album). With this new release onward, the band has not recorded in the atypical fashion they had on Pinkerton, instead choosing production enhancements that resulted in greater polish and clearness. The Zen artistic values of spontaneous creation and greater emotional depth achieved through imperfection serve to illuminate the artistic brilliance and relevance the band was able to achieve at that moment.
- Ando Hiroshige, Kambara: Snow at Night, 1834, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Marcus.
- Deep Bowl for Tea Ceremony (Mukozuke), Japan, A.D. 1568-1615, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard D. Haynes.
McDermott Intern for Asian Art
Made with inexpensive materials like tin or sheet metal, exvotos are devotional paintings offered in gratitude by everyday people. Individuals who experienced everyday miracles–being cured of an illness or saved from an accident–expressed their gratitude by creating an exvoto composed of both a visual and written description of their experience.
After the Center for Creative Connections installed eight exvotos from Mexico as part of Maria Teresa Pedroche’s Staff Point of View, we invited visitors to reflect on their personal experiences and prayers by creating their own exvoto in the Interactive Gallery. Visitors can take their creation home with them or add it to C3’s collection of visitor exvotos by placing it in a binder for others to read.
Since we first launched this activity in December 2015, hundreds of visitors have made exvotos expressing gratitude for their family members, their smartphones, their pets, their city, their schools–the list could go on and on! Take a look at a few of the recurring themes that we’ve found in some of our visitors’ exvotos:
McDermott Graduate Intern for Visitor Engagement
Leapin’ lizards! Some of the McDermott Interns celebrated Leap Day by putting a little spring in our step, following the footsteps of past interns and staff inspired by Jumping in Art Museums. You don’t need to wait another four years to join the fun–the next time you stop by the Museum, take your own jumping photos (from a safe distance of course!) and share them on Twitter or Instagram!
We came to get down, we came to get down, so come to the Museum and jump around!
- Rufino Tamayo, El Hombre (Man), 1953, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association commission, Neiman-Marcus Company Exposition Funds
- Rober Rauschenberg, Skyway, 1964, Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund, The 500, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. Mark Shepherd, Jr. and General Acquisitions Fund, © Rauschenberg Estate/Licensed by VAGA, New York
- Barbara Hepworth, Sea Form (Atlantic), 1964, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark, © Alan Bowness, Estate of Barbara Hepworth
- Mark Di Suvero, Ave, 1973, Dallas Museum of Art, Irvin L. and Meryl P. Levy Endowment Fund, © Mark DiSuvero
McDermott Graduate Intern for Visitor Engagement
McDermott Graduate Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching
McDermott Graduate Intern for Family and Access Teaching
We’ve all heard about the importance of STEM–science, technology, engineering, and math–to our education system in a technology-focused world, but what about the creative thinking that goes hand-in-hand with these subjects? With this in mind, the Rhode Island School of Design began a push to include art, transforming STEM to STEAM. As an educator, you can find many great STEAM resources here at the Dallas Museum of Art!
For several years, DMA Education Staff and our group of STEAM Docents have been working together to develop and test STEAM tours and activities for multiple three-hour long visits by eighth grade students from Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School. Themes for their visits include Art and Innovation, Design, Engineering, Conservation, and Nature and Art.
The objective of their time at the Museum is to emphasize the connections between art, science, technology, engineering and math, especially in how artists and scientists invoke similar practices and ideas. One of their visits explores the innovative design of Frank Gehry’s “Easy Edges” chair. Students learned how Gehry layered corrugated cardboard to a two inch thickness to create an object that is aesthetically pleasing while still maintaining the ability to support considerable weight.
Two of our amazing STEAM docents, Susan Behrendt and Susan Fisk, asked their Rangel students the following question to see what they had learned about STEAM:
How does ART relate to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)? How do they relate to you?
Art relates to STEM because as you think and make the art you have to think about all of the things in STEM. Carefully analyzing the piece and including those things make it more eye catching. They relate to me because the art makes a study. – Genesis, May 2014
Art relates to STEM because we use it everywhere and it’s used to describe some of the events in history. Because of art we know far past back in history. We have to know all of these subjects for a good education. – Gallea, May 2014
Art is in everything. An example is geometry. Geometry incorporates art, science, and math. Another example is architecture. Architecture uses art, math, and engineering. It relates to me because I want to be an architect. – Isabella, May 2014
This spring, we lead our first STEAM in-service training for 170 art teachers from Fort Worth ISD, and released a comprehensive STEAM guide to our docent team. You can schedule a docent-guided tour or a teacher in-service yourself, and come explore the many connections between art and STEM here at the Museum!
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs
The Teen Advisory Council (or TAC for short!) was created to extend engagement and involve the teen perspective in creating new artistic experiences for visitors. We currently have fourteen members: Shirui, Won, Mo, Emma, Nathen, Carson, Maddi, Christina, Bethany, Taylor, Claire, Nikki, Riya, and me, Jierui. Our mentor, Jessica Thompson, is the Manager of Teen and Gallery Programs at the DMA.
Founded in 2014, the TAC has been involved in a variety of endeavors at first with JC Bigornia at the helm. On our first project, we partnered with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and artist Brittany Ransom to create a window panel mural celebrating the fusion of the arts and sciences. The mural featured a tableau of microscopic views of everyday objects.
Our next stop was a partnership with Big Thought through their City of Learning program with the goal of preventing summer education loss. In a series of Turn Up events, our booth created a My Dallas Is… board (inspired by the Before I Die Wall) to better understand our fellow residents’ perspectives on our city. Later, Eliel Jones, a former McDermott intern, engaged us in his Experiments on Public Space project. The resulting Alternative Signage performance art piece used cardboard signs to break the barriers between the public and the Museum.
The June 2015 Late Night marked our biggest involvement with the Museum as we planned tours, haiku slams, scavenger hunts, speaker talks, and other superhero themed activities. Lastly, our most recent January Late Night Creations workshop with Jessica returned to our interest in the intersection of the arts and sciences. We used LED lights in conjunction with batteries to illuminate beloved works of art from the DMA’s permanent collection.
So what’s in store for the TAC? Your next chance to hear from us–after reading our lovely introduction to the blogosphere–is at our February Late Night Creations workshop entitled Rest On Your Laurels on February 19th. Join us as we celebrate your individual virtues and vices in the spirit of Classical tradition! We are also in the process of planning a teen workshop and other programs in the community. Although we may be relatively young, we are excited to add our mark to the vibrant canvas of the DMA!
Until next time!
Teen Advisory Council member
Here at the DMA, we owe a lot to our wonderful volunteers. They give of their time and talent to help lead student visits, access programs, and adult group visits. Oftentimes, they’re the public face of the Museum, welcoming our visitors and helping them make meaningful connections with the works of art. The DMA simply would not be as special as it is without them!
One of my favorite paintings is Watch by Gerald Murphy. That was a magic time in Paris when painters, writers, and musicians worked together and inspired each other. The Murphys were a fascinating couple and his hard edge, hyper realistic paintings of everyday objects influenced later artists. He painted briefly, and out of about a dozen works, we own two, given to us by Murphy himself. There are letters from him about the gift in our archives. -Diane Roberts
I have a long standing love affair with Rufino Tamayo’s El Hombre. I use it 4-5 times a month, maybe more often than that. I wrote a paper in graduate school on its acquisition by and significance to the DMA. I use it interactively on my tours to teach three ways of looking at art: eyes, mind, and heart. – Kelly Breazeale
My new favorite work of art is the Daruma scroll by the Zen priest Hakuin Ekaku, because I love the simplicity and the meaning behind this form of art. The idea that it expresses the “true or formless self” appeals to me and some of my personal beliefs. Before I came to the Museum, I didn’t like or respect the work of Jackson Pollock, but after our session about him and his work, I gained a small glimpse of what he and his work are about. Then after hearing the lecture from Devon last week about the Zen Buddhist art, it began to make sense to me. I think that the Daruma scroll with its cartoon like appearance would appeal to children. I also think it would be fun for them to try their hand at drawing a picture in the style of the scroll. – Penny Hardy
Be sure to check out some of our docent’s favorite works, and many more, at the Dallas Museum of Art. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs
For the last few months here at the DMA, we’ve been proclaiming “Pollock for all!” From toddlers to teens, and grade schoolers to grannies, the exuberant and lyrical works of “Action Jackson” have inspired thoughtful discussions, messy art, and even a dance performance! As a museum educator, one of the things I love most about Pollock’s work is his approach to putting paint on a canvas by splattering, flinging, dripping, and dropping (a process we often refer to as action art). When you have a bunch of squirmy three year-olds, Pollock makes all kind of sense! But Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots goes beyond Pollock’s all-over paintings and explores a body of work known as the black pourings, in which Pollock’s trademark action is tightly controlled, sweeping and swooping over the canvas to create figures that almost seem to be hiding amidst black lines, puddles, and splatters.
The exhibition has inspired all kinds of Pollock-ing in the studio, proving that no matter how old or young you are, Pollock is for all ages! Read on for some Pollock-inspired ideas you can try at home.
Our Art Babies class wiggled and giggled our way through the Pollock exhibition, then enjoyed sensory play inspired by the artist’s work. Pollock’s all-over paintings often remind me of a tangle of lines, with one line twisting and turning over another, so I created a sensory bin of “Pollock lines” for the little ones to explore. One little guy couldn’t get enough of throwing fistfuls of “noodles” into the air as high as he could. Recreate this at home with a large bin of either plastic cording or cooked spaghetti noodles (follow this helpful DIY recipe). But remember, since babies tend to put everything in their mouths, this activity does require grown-up supervision!
Toddlers and Preschoolers
If you are feeling brave, suit up your children in their messiest clothes, cover the floor with a drop cloth (or paint outside), and let them go to town, dribbling and splattering paint onto paper. If that idea has convinced you that Pollock is not for you, here are some less messy alternatives.
Marble painting is a fun way to get a feel for the energy and action Pollock might have used, while containing the mess. Place a piece of paper and a marble in a large box or box top, squeeze puddles of paint onto the paper, then have your child tip and shake the box back and forth to roll the marble through the paint. In no time at all, you’ll have a Pollock-ing, rollicking masterpiece.
Or if you want to avoid paint all together, substitute markers, yarn, and contact paper for the messy stuff. Have your child throw, dribble or drop pieces of yarn onto a piece of paper to create some Pollock-like lines. Cover the entire piece of paper with clear contact paper to seal the yarn in place. Then use colored markers (permanent works best on the contact paper) to create puddles of color. Pollock’s Convergence served as our inspiration for this project, and the children loved the layered effect.
Elementary & Middle School
The Pollock exhibition at the DMA features an entire gallery of paintings Pollock created on paper rather than canvas. We tried a similar approach using Japanese paper, droppers, and liquid watercolor. Layer two or three sheets of paper together, then gently move the dropper around the paper, squeezing watercolor as you go. Watch as different colors swirl and puddle together, then separate the individual pieces of paper to discover what images have soaked through.
At a recent Late Night event, we used scribble bots to create a modern take on Pollock’s work. All you need is a plastic cup, a toy motor, a battery, and a brush to make your own painting robot! The motor sends the robot skittering across the paper, and the paintbrush “captures” the movement in visual form. Download step-by-step instructions here: Scribble Bot Instructions.
This final project is as mess-free as you can get! And it provides the most amazing results. Since November, we’ve been privileged to be a part of the Dance for Parkinson’s Disease program. We’ve hosted a wonderful group of individuals who have regularly visited the Museum galleries, and, under the direction of Misty Owens, choreographed a dance performance inspired by Jackson Pollock. As part of the choreography process, the group created light graffiti using laser pointers, flash lights, and a DSLR camera. It’s like painting in the air! This tutorial gives some great tips on creating your own light graffiti. To see Pollock in dance form, join us for the Dance for PD performance in the Center for Creative Connections on Friday, February 19 at 2:00 p.m.
So are you convinced? Ready to join our “Pollock for the People” crusade? We’d love to see what Pollock inspires you to do. Share your Pollock creations on social media with #DallasSpotsPollock and tag us @DallasMuseumArt.
Manager of Early Learning Programs