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Dallas Is for Art Lovers
By Sandra Scott
Dallas is not the first place — or even the second or third — that comes to mind when considering an artsy destination. For many the word "Dallas" conjures up images of a cow town where the women sport puffy bouffant hairdos, the men wear 10-gallon hats and cowboy boots, and everyone says "Howdy" and "Ya'll." In reality, Dallas is a vibrant city with the world's largest urban art area and fascinating museums.
The 3.3-mile Public Art Walk starts at the dramatic Cancer Survivors Plaza, where three figures emerge from a gate symbolizing their triumph over cancer. Not only are the 30 artworks on the walk diverse, but so is the architecture. The 1902 dark-red brick high Victorian Gothic Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral is just a block away from the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, designed by I.M. Pei, with the "de Musica" sculpture outside. The flowing red tiles of the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House contrast nicely with the nearby Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, which is clad in shiny aluminum tubes.
At the entrance of the Dallas Museum of Art is the colorful mural, "Genesis: The Gift of Life." Created by Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias, the mural depicts the four elements: earth, fire, water and air. The museum has a representation of art from the four corners of the Earth. The limestone relief of a Mayan woman in an elaborate headdress from the eighth century is just one display in the Ancient American Gallery. Other galleries have artwork from Asia, the Mediterranean, Europe and the Pacific Islands that spans 3,000 years. The museum has 25,000 pieces of art with only 10 percent on display at any given time.
The museum's Wendy and Emery Reves Collection is especially impressive as it displays gifted artwork in a contextual setting. The museum complied with the Reves' wish by creating a replica of four rooms, the stairway and foyer of Villa La Pausa, their home on the French Riviera, as the setting for their donated artwork. It's like sitting on the couch doing the Sunday crossword puzzle and glancing up to see Camille Pissarro's "Bather With Geese" on the side table, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's "Dog" on the bookshelf and Claude Monet's "The Pont Neuf" on the wall.
Just steps away from the Dallas Art Museum is the Crow Collection of Asian Art, where visitors are greeted by "Seated Daoist Deity," a 17th-century Chinese bronze statue. The first floor is devoted to Japanese art and features a tea garden. Most impressive is the Jade Room in Gallery II, which houses one of the largest collections of jade in the United States. Jade has been in continuous use in China for nearly 7,000 years. During the Qing Dynasty, jade artistry reached its highest artistic level. Jade pieces range from small hairpins to intricately carved pieces to massive throne screens.
Near the Crow Collection is the Nasher Sculpture Center, which featues two dozen sculptures amid the live oaks and other greenery. Also in the Art District is the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, with a gallery featuring student artwork. The performance arts including the opera, symphony and live theater are well represented at the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts. The Dallas Art District will be even more impressive when the 5.2-acre deck park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway connecting the Dallas Art District and Downtown with Uptown and Victory Park is completed.
Other museums are but a DART ride away. The Dallas Holocaust Museum is a small but powerful museum with an unusual approach to the Holocaust. The focus is on events in three locations on one day - April 19, 1943. On that day in Belgium three young men rescued Jews bound for the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland by derailing the train. Meanwhile in Poland the residents of the Warsaw Ghetto rose up in revolt. In Bermuda on the same day British and American government officials met to discuss the problem of refugees from Nazi-occupied countries but took no action. The museum's Upstander Program challenges people to stand up for what is right and not be a bystander. The sign at the entrance quotes Albert Einstein. "The world is too dangerous to live in — not because of the people who do evil, but because of the people who sit and let it happen."
A short walk from the Holocaust Museum is the Old Red Museum, which is housed in a massive 1846 Romanesque Revival building with excellent exhibits on the development of Dallas. On display is a neon Pegasus, the flying red horse, similar to the one seen atop the Magnolia Hotel on the Public Art Walk. The nearby Sixth Floor Museum at Dealy Plaza vividly recalls the day President Kennedy was assassinated in photos, movies and interviews.
IF YOU GO
I stayed at the Sheraton Hotel because it is the perfect base for visiting the city's art venues and other attractions. There is no need to rent a car or take a taxi because the hotel is just a few steps away from the 19-block, 68-acre Dallas Arts District. The Pearl Street DART station adjacent to the hotel provides access to the Historic District and elsewhere. The hotel is also connected by a sky bridge to the Plaza of the Americas with boutiques, shops and an indoor ice-skating rink. Neiman Marcus is just down the street: www.sheratondallashotel.com.
For more information: www.publicartwalkdallas.org, www.dm-art.org, www.crowcollection.com, www.dallasholocaustmuseum.org
Sandra Scott is a freelance travel writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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