The Arts in Fort Worth and Dallas in a Day

13 03 2009

A couple of Saturdays ago, Rob and Amanda came over early with breakfast tacos from Tamale House (on Airport — the BEST breakfast tacos in Austin) and by 7am we were on I-35 heading north, travel mugs filled to the brim.  We found ourselves in Fort Worth around 10am or so and, after navigating around an apparent marathon (i.e. lots of coned-off roads) we pulled into the parking lot of the Modern Art Museum and found ourselves face to face with one of our favorite Richard Serra sculptures — Vortex. 

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The Modern Art Museum itself is modern art — it was designed by Tadao Ando and is a simple structure of concrete, glass, and steel, with lots of natural light.  I love wandering throughout the museum and looking from one room across the pond through another and into yet another.  There were two exhibitions this time — one was a sampling of works from the collection (“The Collection and Then Some”) and the other was a small exhibition of works by Jeff Elrod.  There were some interesting pieces, but I was most interested in seeing how each piece played off the structure of the building.

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I do love Ladder for Booker T. Washington by Martin Puryear…it plays with perspective and you can see it from two different levels.

After walking through the first floor of the museum, we decided to break for lunch at the Café Modern.  Chris and I have always loved this cafe — it is to your right once you enter the building and is situated right on the pond.  While dining you can look out the glass walls, across the pond, and back into the museum itself.  The food is generally terrific and very reasonably priced.  It was here a year or so ago that we discovered the duck pb&j.  We had to order it just because it sounded so strange — and it was absolutely wonderful.  A combination of flavors I had not tasted before.  Unfortunately for us this sandwich was not on the menu the next time we came (they change their menu seasonally), but in talking with the chef I learned this was a Susan Spicer recipe and I have now tracked it down and hope to try to make it myself.  It was so good.  But back to this trip…and lunch.  I ordered the lobster and shrimp macaroni and cheese and a glass of Riesling.  How decadent is that for lunch?  It was very good…the aged Gouda and fontina sauce was very creamy…and the lobster taste really came through.

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Chris had the Asian PB&J — a sandwich of Asian vegetables with plum jelly and a spicy peanut spread served with Szechuan potato chips.  The chips were delicious.  The sandwich was good — but not the most exciting thing we’ve ever tasted.  In some ways it tasted like a spring roll…not a bad thing, I love spring rolls.  I was hoping for a bit more, though.

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After lunch we headed up to the second floor of the museum to wander a bit more.  My favorite area of the second floor is the little sculpture garden…

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Next we jumped in the car and headed East toward Dallas.  Once we got to town we did a quick drive through Dealey Plaza and the grassy knoll and looked at all the people taking pictures of a little x on the ground or looking up towards the School Book Depository trying to figure it all out.  I’ve been to the 6th Floor Museum before and it is really well done — very moving.  If we had had more time we would have gone in, but we were on a tight schedule today.  So after taking a look at the sights from the car we headed over to my favorite museum in Dallas, the Nasher Sculpture Center.  I love this place not only because it is home to another of my favorite Richard Serra sculptures (My Curves Are Not Mad) but also because the sculpture garden out back is beautiful.  The landscaping is beautiful — it almost doesn’t feel like you’re right in downtown Dallas.  On top of that, the collection is great.  I have photographed it many, many times, so this time I focused on subjects I have not photographed as frequently, like elements of the grounds I think are beautiful…

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Or pieces I revisit every time but try to photograph in different ways…

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La Nuit by Aristide Maillol is perhaps my favorite piece there (other than the Serra) and I try to shoot a different angle every time I come…

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And then this guy…La Caresse d’un oiseau (Caress of a Bird) by Joan Miró.  Miró is one of my favorite artists, but for some reason, I cannot look at this and NOT see that wine-holder guy you can buy from the catalogs on airplanes…the one that’s like an Italian waiter made from iron with places to hold wine bottles and glasses.  I’m sorry, Miró…if I had never seen that stupid wine guy think I never would have thought that….

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After the Nasher we headed toward the sculpture garden at the Dallas Museum of Art via the back of the museum where you can find a huge, beautiful mosaic mural by Miguel Covarrubias – Genesis, the Gift of Life.  Here are a few details…

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And then, on the sculpture garden.  The Dallas Museum of Art sculpture garden is also an impressive collection of works, but the grounds have nothing on the Nasher. 

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After walking around the sculpture garden we found ourselves inside the museum and decided to check out the extremely cool exhibit we had been eyeing from outside — Take Your Time by Olafur Eliasson.  The exhibition consisted of large-scale installations of cool light and color environments.  The first piece we experienced was the One Way Colour Tunnel into a room filled withvivid yellow light.  The color tunnel was like walking through stained-glass that changed the further in you walked.  And the yellow room was…kind of insane.  It made the world look black and white, except for anything that was black — which became purple.  We all stared at each other in this room and it was literally like being in black and white world.  It also made our vision ultra-clear, and the guard in the room suggested we look at ourselves in the mirrored exterior of the One Way Colour Tunnel.  That was…eh…perhaps a mistake.  With the ultra-clear vision and all. 

Once we left the museum we took turns changing into fancier duds in the car and enjoyed an early, leisurely dinner at Aló – a Peruvian and Mexican tapas-style restaurant.  The Sips menu is loaded with fantastic-sounding cocktails, and I tried a few.  My first was the jimador margarihna (muddled limes, sugar, citronage, and crushed ice).  Delicious.  Next, I enjoyed the granada (lime, orange, sugar, white wine, and pama liqueur).  Also, delicious.  Third cocktail, the pomosa (cava and pama pomegranate).  Very, delicious.

Ordering about three plates at a time, we devoured a tuna cebiche, sweet plantains and crispy plantains with three different salsas, crispy calamari potato causas, ribeye and wild mushroom gringas (corn tortillas), Peruvian tiraditos (raw tuna), pork carnitas tacos, tempura crispy shrimp tacos, and chaufachino latin0 rice with chicken (perhaps the only real miss of the night — it just tasted like fried rice). 

And after dinner, it was time for the grand finale — the symphony.  The symphony is the original reason we were coming to town.  The night’s performance was entitled To Russia with Love, and featured a young, beautiful pianist, Yuja Wang, performing the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 first.  I was brought to tears…twice.  First, by the beauty of her playing…she moved so easily from soft and gentle to fierce and frenzied.  It blew me away.  The second time I was brought to tears I was just trying to imagine what it must be like to be up there in front of an entire symphony orchestra, with however many people filling the Meyerson, and to be the center of attention.  I played the piano for 12 years growing up and played in quite a few recitals, and I was often a nervous wreck at those things.  I cannot imagine what it must feel like to take the stage, sit down at the grand piano, and nod to the conductor (in this case, guest conductor Arild Remmereit) that you are ready.  Wow.  After Intermission we were treated to a Prokofiev (Symphony No. 7) and Khachaturian (Suite from Spartacus).  Just beautiful.

Once the symphony was over we got back into the car and headed back home.  Roughly 3 1/2 hours later we were back in the comforts of our house and the long DFW arts day had come to an end.

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