Flowers are blooming, buds are popping out on the trees, and I’ve rounded up a fresh crop of excellent picture book art pairings that will put a spring in your step! From a blissfully confident giant squid to those witty talking crayons, here are four must-reads to add to your bookshelves. Each has Arturo’s seal of approval!
Giant Squid is pretty proud of everything he can draw. In fact, he thinks he is the BEST artist in the ocean. But a grumpy shark has a very different point of view. Squid’s clever solution to what could be a (shall we say uncomfortable?) situation will make young readers laugh, while caregivers may notice the illustrator’s sly nod to Picasso’s cubist style.
I’m the Best Artist in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry is a perfect pairing with our beautiful Tiffany windows. Search for starfish, sea anemones, jellyfish, and even eels, while imagining what Giant Squid would think of the jewel-like glass. At home, make Giant Squid proud with your own squid art!
“Friends shape who we are,” and square, rectangle, circle and triangle are the best of pals. They play together, they support each other, and even when they squabble with each other, they know that their friendship is what matters most.
Friendshape by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld is one of those books that puts a smile on your face and warms your heart. The seemingly simple illustrations are bursting with personality and are a perfect way to show young artists how shapes can work together in different configurations to create all kinds of pictures. One particular page spread shows the friends as a rocket blasting off to the moon, and even without the text, children instinctively understand what the illustrator has done. Read this delightful book in the Decorative Arts gallery and take a closer look at the Marshmallow sofa to see how circles have been transformed into a stylish place to sit. At home, download this printable and make your own shapes into the loveable characters from the book.
One of my favorite signs of spring is the birds chirping outside my window each morning. In Apples and Robins by Lucie Felix, we see not only birds outside the window, but apples hanging from the tree, worms munching through an apple, a birdhouse being built, and a basket for gathering apples.
The genius of this book is clever cut-outs that transform into new pictures with the turn of a page. As with Friendshape, readers will discover how shapes become something more with a little bit of creativity. The bold, bright illustrations are inviting and the cut-outs will have children eagerly turning the pages to see what happens next. Why not bring this book along with you for a quick visit to Apple Harvest by Camille Pissarro? Then at home pull out the tried-and-true apple printing project to create your own apple art. This helpful post from the TinkerLab blog has great suggestions for setting up an apple printing station at home.
You might have thought that after Duncan’s crayons famously quit, that would be the last we’d hear of them. But they are up to their crazy antics again, and this time, all they want to do is come home! Tan crayon was eaten by the dog, Maroon crayon got lost in the couch, and Neon Red crayon was left behind at a hotel on summer vacation. In their postcards to Duncan, each crayon laments their troubles and either whines, wheedles, or begs for him to rescue them. Well, all except Neon Red who has set out on its own to find a way back in The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt.
I’d like to think that the crayons would have a ball anywhere in the Museum, but it would be especially fun to visit places Neon Red sees on the journey home. New Jersey (according to Neon Red) has some great pyramids, but we all know that Ancient Egypt is the place to be for pyramids, mummies, and more. Visit our Ancient Egypt gallery and imagine Neon Red roaming through on a camel!
Manager of Early Learning Programs
Last month Go Van Gogh visited one of our favorite schools, Anderson Elementary, with our Arts of Mexico program. I assisted one of our awesome volunteers, Jan B., in the classroom. In this program we learn about art in the DMA’s collection that was made in Mexico, which ranges in age, medium, and culture of origin. We then do an art activity that is inspired by one of these works.
The week following our visit to Anderson we received a package of thank you letters from students in Mrs. Alderman’s class! Here’s a look at some of their thoughtful letters and drawings.
Thank you Mrs. Alderman’s Class for all of your “thank yous”!
McDermott Graduate Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching
Each month, we offer a variety of activities at the large tables in the Center for Creative Connections gallery. Each activity is related to a nearby work of art. One of my favorite new activities is coil basket weaving, inspired by the storage basket, bowl, and burden basket created by weavers from the San Carlos Apache tribe.
The actual materials used to create these baskets–devil’s claw, willow, cottonwood, and buckskin–are natural resources found in the Arizona region where the tribe resides. To make the materials more pliable, they are often soaked in water prior to weaving. The patterns are created by alternating dark and light.
In the gallery, we use three colors of raffia ribbon to create our coil baskets. Red is easily distinguishable, so these strands create the basket core which will be covered during the weaving process. Then tan and black raffia are used to wrap the core and create patterns.
Once you have your materials in hand, here are the steps to guide you through the process:
Once you get the coil weaving technique down, think about experimenting with other materials. The Apache weavers used devil’s claw, willow, cottonwood, and buckskin because they were plentiful resources. What kinds of resources do you have at your disposal to weave?
C3 Gallery Manager
Stained, poured, spattered, seeped, imprinted, feathered, and the oh-so-famous: dripped. Artworks in the DMA’s Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots radiate action verbs that describe both how Pollock made his art and how the art continued to transform once the paint/ink hit the canvas/paper. Spending the last few months surrounded by these works and their many verbs, I decided to take some of Pollock’s verbs into my kitchen to see where inspiration took me. And in a very big stroke of luck, I heard about and tracked down a local Dallas chef who had done the same thing!
First task on my adventure: source black “paint.” While I’m big on “eating my colors,” brainstorming black foods turned out to be tricky (how many can you name without Google?!). Trips to a few grocery stores provided some diverse and exotic options:
Second task: put black “paint” to “canvas.” Black paint absorbed into Pollock’s unprimed canvas leaving halos and burred edges around the solid poured lines in works like Number 26, 1951, shown in detail below. Fresh mozzarella turned out to be a perfect responsive canvas, and a thick, syrup-y reduction of balsamic vinegar and a little black strap molasses became the black(-ish) paint that stained and soaked into the cheese in big thick dollops. This also turned out to be a pretty tasty painting.
And much like Pollock, I got really into it, and had a bit of collateral damage as I worked…
Next, taking inspiration from Pollock’s works on paper, I rounded up some thin paper-like phyllo dough, which I left layered in sheets, and painted with a sweet coffee and black fig sauce. The sauce stained and puckered the phyllo, much like Pollock’s ink stained Japanese paper. I didn’t actually eat this one as it’s shown, but the sauce tasted good on ice cream!
And now, saving the best for last….While I had lots of fun playing around in the kitchen, going for more of a visual approximation than a dish you would whip up for dinner, I was excited to see how someone who cooks for a living would use Pollock’s art as inspiration. My chef friend Charlotte connected me with local chef Jordan Criss, of Deep Ellum’s Twenty-Seven, who had come to the Museum to see the exhibition and walked away with some great ideas (thank you, Charlotte!).
Below is Chef Criss’s West Bank Pho, a creation made from crispy fried garlic, cilantro, tasso ham, Sriracha, and Hoisin sauce, and beneath the tastiness, his inspiration for plating the dish:
The show inspired my dish by shattering my idea of contrived plating. All Of Pollock’s work is a kind of calming chaos that isn’t taught and rarely seen in culinary arts. His work pushed the limits and I feel it’s hard not to want to do the same after walking through his exhibition.
Has an artwork or exhibition ever inspired you to head into the kitchen to play with (or plate) your food? Share in our comments, and then, check out our Education staff’s collection-inspired cookies, including a masterfully Pollock-ed cookie!
Manager of Go van Gogh and Community Teaching Programs
Pie: such an integral piece of American culture that has inspired ideas of prosperity and quite a few idioms. Ironically, though, pie has been around for a lot longer than the United States, dating back all the way to Ancient Egyptians and Greeks, who made them not for their delicious taste but for their reliability. However, we aren’t talking about that kind of pie today.
The Art of Pi
Where does mathematical pi come from? This constant is the relation between the diameter and circumference of a circle, first calculated by the Ancient Greek mathematician, Archimedes.
For thousands of years, the simple circle has inspired art and philosophy from all over the world. In religious art–from Buddha to Jesus to Apollo–circles as halos adorned the heads of the divine and sacred. On the other hand, circles and other geometric shapes became prominent in early Islamic art because of an opposition to creating figures, since they could be construed as idolatrous. These circles became part of exquisite Islamic architecture, like in the immense arches, domes, and designs of the Hagia Sophia.
The Math of Pi
There is one place in which our old pal pi comes to play in the world of math and circles–the beloved radian. These are often addressed in pre-calculus and paired with the similarly adored unit circle. These concepts are often rushed with little explanation. Why can’t the world be fine with degrees? Don’t they just serve the same purpose as radians?
There is a reason for the existence of radians. They are an alternative that not only measure an angle, but the correlating arclength. One radian is the angle made when you wrap the radius along the circumference of a circle. We can visualize the internal relationship of radians as follows:
We have a circle on the xy-plane with some angle that can be seen starting from the positive x-axis to the red line. To see this concept, we can find the arclength that is highlighted by referring to our well-known equation to find the circumference (circumference = 2πr).
Let us take the circle as the unit circle and angle as π/2. From inspection and prior knowledge, we see that the arclength is ¼ of the entire circumference. In order to find this measure, we would calculate a fourth of the circumference (so arclength = ¼ circumference = ¼ 2πr = πr/2). We see that the arclength = πr/2 with a radius of 1 (due to the unit circle) and we see that – in this case – an angle of π/2 has an arclength of π/2.
This works even without the unit circle! If our radius is 2, 5, or 1,000! Knowing that the arclength of this angle is πr/2 means that we know that it is π, 5π/2, and 500π respectively.
Here’s a familiar activity: to show pi in the real world, you can take any circular object, string, ruler, and scissors. Take your string, wrap it around your item once, and cut it so that both ends tightly meet. Measure your string and the diameter. Using our handy dandy formula, the circumference = 2pi r = pi diameter. With what we have, pi should be equivalent to circumference / diameter. Take your measures and see just how close to pi you can get!
Just a tip: make sure your string doesn’t have much give as when using it to measure, its stretch will distort your calculations.
A way to see the wonderful radian–using the same materials as before–is to measure your object’s radius and cut an equal length of string. See how many times this length will fit along the circumference. You should find that 2π – or 6.283 – pieces will cover it just nicely.
Personally, though, we think everyone should celebrate the journey of the circle with a generous slice (or two) of your favorite pie and a trip down to the DMA.
Kennedy Schleicher and Nikki Li
Teen Advisory Council Members
If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you probably recognize this face! Jennifer Sheppard was the McDermott Intern for Family and Access Programs for 2014-2015 (applications for this fall’s McDermott Internship close next week! #shamelessplug), and quickly won our hearts over with her quick wit, excellent teaching, and thoughtful work. It’s always sad for us to say goodbye to our interns as they go on to new adventures, but this month we managed to get one back!
Jennifer has joined the Education team as our new Teaching Specialist and has jumped right back into the thick of things. She’s been out driving the Go van Gogh van, teaching lessons to preschoolers in the gallery, facilitating conversations with visitors attending our access programs, and adding a cheerful smile to our office.
What is she most excited about in her new position? “How do you say EVERYTHING?” (that’s a direct quote, folks!)
Welcome back, Jennifer!
Manager of Early Learning Programs
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