Must-see from the Abelló Collection

While the Meadows Museum usually features an important 1915 painting by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) in its permanent collection, currently there are two paintings and thirteen drawings spanning the artist’s career from 1902-1971 on view on the special exhibition, The Abelló Collection: A Modern Taste for Spanish Masters.

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973, Nu assis (Seated Nude), c. 1922-23. Oil and charcoal on canvas. Colección Abelló (Joaquín Cortés)

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973, Nu assis (Seated Nude), c. 1922-23. Oil and charcoal on canvas. Colección Abelló (Joaquín Cortés)

A standout in the show is Picasso’s Seated Nude, made over the winter of 1922-23. It may not be what people expect to see when they hear the name Picasso, as he is most closely associated with Cubism, a style of painting he developed with the French painter Georges Braque between 1907 and 1914. Seated Nude is part of Picasso’s return to classicism following World War I. Picasso did not abandon Cubism in the 1920s, but he, like many other artists, turned away from abstraction following the horrors of the war in a period known as the “Return to Order” (from Jean Cocteau’s 1926 book Le rappel à l’ordre). In 1917, Picasso traveled with Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, creating sets and costumes for the company. His so-called Neoclassical period followed this direct contact with ancient sites in Rome and Naples.

The painting’s monochrome palette does not lend itself to reproduction, and must be seen in person to fully appreciate it. What’s so masterful about the painting is its experimental quality. It’s as if Picasso wanted to see how much he could communicate with very little work on the canvas. The painting is comprised of a light charcoal drawing on gessoed canvas. The highlights were applied by daubing titanium white with a blunt round brush creating a stucco-like texture. Viewed from a short distance, the painting appears as a sculptural form recalling the monumental figures of Greco-Roman art. It’s unclear if the woman is modeled after a specific person. The artist may have fused the features of multiple muses to create an ideal beauty, patterning his work after the perfected depictions of the human form in classical antiquity.

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How to Get Your Artwork to Last a Lifetime

Congratulations! You finally decided to take the plunge and purchase a new piece of artwork to decorate your home. While this can be an expensive investment, it’s no doubt a worthwhile one.conservation

Once you officially take ownership of the piece, you’ll naturally want to take good care of it so you can enjoy it for years to come and maybe one day pass it on to your heirs. With this in mind, here are some things to consider for keeping your new prized possession in optimal condition.

Chances are sunlight is streaming into almost all the rooms in your house. While light is definitely a good thing for your well-being and an essential element of your home’s design, direct sunlight can fade even the most high-quality artwork over time. Observe how the sunlight hits the walls of the room at different times of the day. Choose a wall that has good light, but is not directly in the path of the sun. If you need more light on your new purchase, consider installing track lighting above or below it.

While you can’t control the weather, you do have a say over your home’s interior climate. You’ll need to keep your house cool in the summer to create an optimal environment for your artwork. If you have to store your art temporarily, make certain to rent a climate-controlled storage space or store it in a room in your home that doesn’t experience extremes in temperature or have high humidity. Do you ever wonder why museums are so cold? This is why. You won’t want your room to be freezing either, but heat can adversely affect artwork no matter what medium the artist used to create the work. Just make sure the room you choose maintains a consistent, moderate temperature.

After you buy the work and take it home, make sure the hanging hardware on the back is stable. You may want to consider re-doing it if the painting has an older frame. As long as the hardware on the back seems sturdy enough, hang your work with two firm anchors set securely into studs in the wall to protect your piece from ever falling. Also, avoid placing the work in tight spaces, walkways or hallways where guests or family members may accidentally bump into the piece and cause a catastrophe.

With just a few accommodations taken to protect your new piece of art, you’ll ensure you can cherish it for a lifetime.

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Ways for Children to Discover the Meadows Museum

10679873A museum can seem too quiet, too still for young children, but art should be enjoyed by all ages. That’s why it’s part of the Meadows Museum’s mission to create activities and outreach programs for children and families, creating a place for family entertainment, while teaching children the value of visual art.

Free Gallery Tours

On Thursday nights, the museum opens to the public for free. At 6:30PM, gallery hosts conduct free tours of the museum, and children are encouraged to get involved in the discussion. Bring the entire family and learn all about the museum’s collection. The museum has also made the galleries accessible to those with low vision. Guides are specifically trained to help guests who may have difficulty seeing the art but wish to experience the collection through multi-sensory activities.

Special Resources for Teachers

Local teachers are encouraged to take advantage of the Meadows’ teacher workshops. These classes offer guidance in the most effective methods for instructing children about the museum’s unique collection of Spanish art. Educators can exchange teaching techniques and ideas for meeting the challenges of bringing visual art into the classroom. Additionally, teachers receive materials and images from the collection so they can incorporate the art into their lesson plans.

Online Resources

Preparing for your visit online can help museum tours go more smoothly for families and field trip groups. Get familiar with the portraits in the collection by downloading free materials from the museum’s website. Self-guided materials are also available online for sculpture and old master paintings from the late 15th and early 16th centuries. This way, you can have information about what you’ll be seeing ahead of time.

By participating in the museum’s special outreach programs and activities, you can discover a whole new world of visual art and gain a new appreciation for the Meadows collection.

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Steps to Hang a Painting

Hanging a painting

Photo courtesy of Meadows Museum

The artwork you choose to purchase is not only an investment, but also a statement about you. As such, you’ll want to present it in a way that reflects your personal style, offers the best presentation and protects your investment.

Here is a step-by-step, fail-proof guide for hanging your newest masterpiece.

  1. On both sides of the artwork, one-third of the way from the top, secure D-rings to the back of the frame. The museum hangs all artwork from these 2 D-rings using 2 separate hanging hardware/hooks rather than picture wire so that the artwork will stay exactly where you put it.
  2. Next, measure the width of the wall. If you wish for the artwork to be centered from left to right along your wall, mark the center, then measure. Keep in mind that the center of your artwork should be at about eye level, which for most people is about 52 to 57 inches high. Measure the distance between the 2 D-rings and using a level mark that distance on the wall. These 2 points will be where the 2 hanging hardware/hooks are to be installed.
  3. For small, lightweight artworks, you may hang the piece directly on the wall with drywall anchors. For heavier pieces, you’ll need to find a stud for your two anchors. Use a stud finder tool to locate the stud you wish to use. Most studs are found at 16-inch increments in the wall.
  4. If you plan to center a large piece of art but can’t find a stud that allows you to hang the piece right where you want to, cut a thin piece of plywood that’s four inches wide and just long enough to reach from D-ring to D-ring of the artwork. The plywood should span two studs and be secured to them. You’ll mount your picture anchor into this plywood, so place the plywood at a height that allows you to mount the picture anchors appropriately.
  5. Once you install the picture anchor, hang your art piece.

6. Step back and admire your accomplishment!

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The Advantages of Being a Member of the Meadows Museum

How would you like to enjoy easy access to art year-round while supporting educational programs for the community? When you become a member of the Meadows Museum, you can. Membership means access to a venue offering a one-of-a-kind opportunity to appreciate Spanish art and history right here in Dallas. Your support also aids in coordinating traveling exhibits and in building a collection of art that’s unique in Texas.FamilyDay.78

The advantages of membership include: general and exhibit admission for two adults; a free subscription to At the Meadows magazine; seating at lectures and events; and a 10 percent discount in the museum’s shop. You’ll also get a subscription to the Meadows Member Messages e-newsletter, two complimentary tickets to the Meadows Museum Holiday Soiree and exclusive travel program opportunities to visit regional museums, among other benefits.

This year is the museum’s 50th anniversary, so it’s the perfect time to join because there are many exciting events planned in celebration of this milestone.

Currently on exhibit at the museum is The Abelló Collection: A Modern Taste for European Masters. Ranked among the top of private art holdings of Spain, the Abelló Collection comprises works by some of the greatest artists from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries. For more than thirty years, business leader Juan Abelló and his wife, Anna Gamazo, have searched the globe to bring together the finest and rarest of masterpieces by Spanish artists such as El Greco, Francisco de Goya, Pablo Picasso, and Juan Gris, as well as works by a variety of international modern masters spanning half a millennium, from Lucas Cranach to Amedeo Modigliani and Francis Bacon.

Another great exhibit currently on view is Human/nature. The Ridiculous and Sublime: Recent Works by John Alexander. Alexander is one of SMU’s own personalities, who was inspired by the Spanish art in the Museum’s collection, in particular the work of Goya. These contemporary works from the past 10 years are filled with an interesting cast of characters and, upon closer inspection, reveal layers of meaning, both dark and humorous.

When you join, you’ll add your name to the museum’s legacy while enjoying all the advantages of being a part of the Meadows Museum family.  Sign up today!

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Novice’s Corner: Drawing 101

Drawing from the Masters

Visitor practices drawing within the Meadows Museum galleries. Photo by Tamytha Cameron

Drawing is a fail-proof way to get your creative juices flowing, and all you need are a few simple items to channel your inner sketch artist. What’s more, everything you need is readily available at local art stores and online.

Step 1: Supplies

First things first: pencils. You’ll need a range of pencil leads with varying softness or hardness depending on the task at hand. Pencils are labeled H or B, with H being harder and more appropriate for fine detail. B leads are softer and better for broader strokes. Since you won’t know which type of drawing you’ll be doing in an instructional class, the more variety you have, the better prepared you’ll be.

There are many pencil brands to choose from, including Staedtler, Faber Castell and General. Most of the brands found at an art store are high-quality drawing utensils. Don’t forget a small portable pencil sharpener; you don’t want to be stuck with a dull tip. Also, you’ll need a range of different charcoal and graphite sticks. These don’t need sharpening like pencils, and they’re ideal for shading forms and creating larger-scale drawings.

Smudge sticks are used for smearing your graphite or charcoal for efficient coverage of large areas or for gently blending darker areas into lighter ones. Pick up a range of sizes to cover all your bases.

If you make a mistake, the best eraser to have in your drawing arsenal is a white Magic Rub. Unlike the common pink variety, this eraser won’t leave behind color streaks or unwanted marks. It lifts your marks off the page rather than just smearing them. It’s also useful for partially erasing your pencil marks to create subtle effects.

Color is best added to your drawings with colored pencils and oil or chalk pastels.

Keep your supplies in a pencil box or a name brand art bin (choose one with a handle).

This may all seem alike a lot, but it represents only half of your drawing essentials. Once you have all the things you need to draw with, you need something to draw on, i.e., paper. Again, a range of sizes offers more versatility, but a medium-sized sketchpad is a good bet for your first drawing class. You’ll need it to sketch your ideas before you make your final drawing.

Pick up a pad of more expensive, heavyweight drawing paper to use for finished drawings. You don’t want to create your masterpiece on flimsy paper stock.

All of these materials are available at local art stores, including Asel Art Supply on Cedar Springs in Dallas, as well as craft stores such as Michaels and Hobby Lobby.

Step 2: Instruction

Once your art kit is assembled, you need a beginner-friendly drawing class.

The Meadows Museum offers Drawing from the Masters on Sunday, June 7 and June 21. Artist Ian O’Brien leads you through the museum, where you’ll create drawings based on the artwork you see. All skill levels are welcome. These free classes run from 1:30 to 3PM and are open to anyone age 15 and older. Attendance is limited to 20 students per session on a first come, first served basis. So get there early and claim your spot. Don’t forget your pencils!

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Musings from the Meadows Curatorial Intern

Painting by Joaquín Sorolla, "Farm-House, Alcira," 1903

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923), “Farm-House, Alcira,” 1903. Oil on canvas. Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Meadows Museum Purchase and Partial
Gift from Alan B. Coleman and Janet M. Coleman, MM.2012.03.

Courtesy of the Meadows Museum 2013-2014 William B. Jordan Curatorial Intern, Lauren Graves

Among the many recently acquired works at the Meadows Museum are five paintings from the Coleman collection. One of these works is Farm-house, Alcira, 1903, by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923), one of the most highly regarded and influential Spanish painters. This is currently the earliest painting by Sorolla that the Meadows Museum has under its roof, but soon the Sorolla and America exhibition will allow viewers to experience even more of Sorolla’s work in depth. The exhibition, opening this month, will showcase Sorolla’s fascinating relationship with the United States through his early twentieth-century paintings for the first time. As a curatorial intern at the Museum, watching the Meadows Museum staff prepare for the exhibition has been very intriguing and a great learning experience. It is an exciting opportunity to see the exhibition come to life after all of the planning and hard work that it has entailed.

This fall, Farm-house, Alcira resided in a gallery devoted to the new acquisitions from the Coleman collection. The calm blue-grey hue of the room enhances the lush green colors of the foliage in the work and brings out the oranges filling the greenery. This painting immediately caught my eye in the gallery because of its alluring shades of green and beautiful application of color. The plentiful orchard landscape depicted is located in the city of Alcira as the title suggests, situated 23 miles south of Valencia. Sorolla painted various scenes of fruit farms from regions of Valencia, but this work is one of the most praised.

The painting almost seems to be separated into two halves: the orange groves on the left and the porch of the farm house on the right, with part of the orange grove organically invading the far right side of the porch. The porch’s white beams, which are seemingly illuminated by the sun, cause the ripe oranges to radiate from the canvas. The work is very painterly and is constructed from loose brushstrokes reminiscent of French Impressionism. The porch extends away from the viewer to the right and the vantage point makes the viewer feel as if he is standing on an extension of the patio overlooking the beautiful orange grove for which the region is famous. The viewer is invited into the picture plane to experience the magnificent, yet humble, landscape. The brushstrokes and colors that create the shading on the floor of the porch, executed en plein air, appear almost in wave-like strokes, which give the appearance of the shadows coming down from the wooden beams up above. The coral shades and shadowy browns on the porch bring even more emphasis to the oranges. The transition from greenery to light blue sky is eased by the mauve and white rooftop and tree-like outline in the distance. The groves are filled with numerous shades of green and even an almost turquoise color that creates harmony with the blue sky. As the crisply painted oranges are naturally integrated throughout the orchard, the viewer’s eye is led around the work taking in the beauty of nature.

This winter, as part of the Sorolla and America exhibition, Farm-House, Alcira will be grouped in a gallery filled with other lush landscape and garden scenes, such as Asturian Landscape (Paisaje asturiano), Rose-Bay Road, Valencia, and Garden, Alcázar, Seville (from Brooklyn Museum, a private collection, and Museo Franz Mayer, respectively), just to name a few. The exhibition will encompass over one hundred and fifty works by the artist, including beach scenes, landscapes, portraits, sketches and more. These works are being lent from private collections as well as many significant institutions, which adds to the exhibition’s variety and diverse collection. All of the works included come together to display Sorolla’s undeniable talent and fondness for America. The exhibition opens at the Meadows Museum on December 13, 2013 and will close on April 19, 2014. The exhibition will continue on to the San Diego Museum of Art and the FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE in Madrid.

Sorolla and America is the first exhibition of its kind to delve into Sorolla’s relationship with the United States and will surely be an extremely unique, as well as enlightening experience for the viewer. Come and see Sorolla and America in person to fully experience this praised painter’s connection to America before the exhibition travels to San Diego!

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Summer Musings from the Meadows Curatorial Intern

Courtesy of one of our summer interns, Ailie Pankonien:

Throughout this summer the Meadows Museum has hosted the exhibition, “Modern Mexican Painting from the Andrés Blaisten Collection.” There is a range of subject matter on view, from landscapes, portraits, and still lifes to abstract and surrealistic scenes, woven together by the shared exploration of Mexican national identity in the modern, post-Revolution era.

As an intern here at the Meadows for the last couple months, I have had the opportunity to see the exhibition more than once. With each procession through the galleries I notice something new, but upon each visit I am also drawn to the same few paintings, each time more transfixed than the last. One such piece is the large-scale oil painting Collecting Flowers (Recolección de flores), by Alfonso X. Peña. Across a large canvas, over three by five feet in size, figures work in a lush forest-like landscape. In the foreground a man and woman gather flowers as two fabric-draped and flower-laden women walk into the receding landscape in the background. The scene is portrayed in sumptuous jewel tones, figures and flora formed by patterns of layered brushstrokes. One of the things that first attracted me to this painting was the colors: rich blue-greens, purples, teals, browns, and especially the female figure’s bright coral, pink and blue clothing.

Although the colorfully rendered figures and scenery are modeled, each shape and fold of fabric also appears to be outlined, and the effect this has is flattening. There is a graphic quality to Collecting Flowers, perhaps influenced by X. Peña’s early start as a cartoonist for a periodical in Tamaulipas, where he grew up. It is as though the painting is constructed from layer upon layer, like a pop-up book. In the background two women walk, surrounded by nature, positioned behind planes of hills, leaves, and a cluster of huge calla lilies. A tree trunk curves behind the man and woman working in the foreground, and the entire scene is framed on either side by trees, purple flowers, and large green leaf faces.

Peña spent his twenties in New York with a group of Mexican modernist artists, including Rufino Tamayo, whose work is also on view in this exhibition. During his career Peña painted murals and exhibited paintings in Mexico, the United States, and across Europe. Like other artists in “Modern Mexican Painting from the Andrés Blaisten Collection,” he seems to have applied modern influences from Mexico and overseas toward a dialogue with his own sense of cultural identity. Other paintings by Peña in the Andrés Blaisten Collection, such as Mercado (Market), on display in the same gallery at the Meadows, are focused on simple scenes of daily life and work, often with small details that help to situate the figures in Mexico.

Collecting Flowers is a romanticized story of Mexican people working in a beautiful, rural Mexican landscape. It is certainly enchanting. The natural space the figures occupy appears magical to me – quiet and softly shaded by immense trees, far away from the modern city. Everything in this place is organic and curvilinear, and the leaves and flowers all seem oversized, perhaps an emphasis on the special nature of their surroundings. It is fantastical, and yet not unreal, as trees and calla lilies truly can be that strikingly large. Peña thus presents an idealized yet still realistic picture of Mexico.

Of course, this painting is only one of eighty in “Modern Mexican Painting from the Andrés Blaisten Collection” at the Meadows Museum, and it will not be on view much longer. The chance to see this and other answers to questions of national identity in the first half of the twentieth century ends on August 12.

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The Art of Being a Foodie

Museums are not just for art anymore.  They have become centers for social interaction, fabulous events, retail therapy and my personal favorite, fine food and wine.  The Meadows is no exception to this trend, hosting exhibition previews with delectable hors d’oeuvres, desserts and specially selected wine.  We have also hosted private, five-course dinner events with area chefs that sold out in record time.

Last month we presented a special tasting of wines from La Mancha which celebrated the closing of the tapestry exhibition.  An exclusive seminar was led by renowned wine expert and educator Michael Green, followed by a grand tasting of D.O. La Mancha wines from 15 wineries from around the region.  Free to members, this was a fabulous way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Guests mingled and munched on regional cheeses and meats as they sipped and soaked in the ambiance.  Everything from “knock your socks off” Syrah to delicious dessert wines made it difficult for revelers to depart.

Yes, as the Membership Manager, I must point out that these sort of events have to be some of the best entertainment values in town!  Also, after so many wonderful “foodie experiences” here at the Meadows I have to wonder, does the gorgeous backdrop here make things tastier?  My guess is a wholehearted yes!

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Wedding Ceremonies and Receptions at Meadows Museum

One of the greatest parts of my job is working with Brides and Grooms!  We love helping people visualize and plan their special day here at the Meadows Museum.

We have one-of-a-kind spaces that ensure memorable and stunning events.  Most recently we had a gorgeous couple get married upstairs in our gallery spaces.  The photos speak for themselves!

Ceremony set up in Virginia Meadows Galleries



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