Nasher installation sparks dialogue about nature of art

On a pleasant evening as long shadows began to fall across the garden, the Nasher Sculpture Center welcomed about 100 guests to explore its galleries and art. The annual private event allowed new members to meet each other and take a guided tour of the Center on July 18.
“A friend told us she enjoyed being a member because there are so many interesting lectures,” said Estelle Odell, a new member from Irving. “This is a private tour with a curator and a wonderful wine and cheese reception before. You don’t get those opportunities often. And you have an opportunity to meet new people. It is fun just to have different experiences.”
Some of the evening’s most talked-about work was WUNDERBLOCK, an exhibition of works by Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse. In the lower gallery, WUNDERBLOCK includes a work of art consisting of a room filled with mounds of spray painted dirt surrounded by spray painted walls.
“This is always an interesting place to see,” Estelle’s husband Fred said. “My favorite exhibit so far was the colored dirt I walked through. I enjoyed the vivid colors. It was different when you were in it than when you were looking at it from outside the exhibit.”
“I just thought it was bizarre. I had a little trouble getting the mood,” Estelle added.

“We are fortunate to have the Nasher here. New York wanted it very badly,” Fred said. “Dallas is one of the few cities anywhere that has all of the arts basically in one location. You’ve got the Nasher, the Meyerson, Winspear, and the AT&T Performing Arts Center all in one corridor. This is unique.”
One large, eye catching piece of WUNDERBLOCK seems to slice through one of the Nasher’s glass walls, resting partially outside the museum near the garden area, while another piece claims its spot in the garden. Catherine Craft, adjunct assistant curator for research and exhibitions, explained a little about the artist’s work.
“Katharina Grosse really thinks of herself as a painter, and Jeremy Strick, our director, had seen some of her large scale installations. He was very interested in seeing what she could do in the context of the Sculpture Center,” Craft said. “Katharina works in large scale, and she uses spray paints. She often sprays architectural spaces in temporary installations, but she is also becoming interested in painting larger objects.
“This is a work made especially for the Nasher’s space. It is a two-part structure. The forms are basically cut Styrofoam that is then laminated with fiberglass. The outer part matches up perfectly on the glass so it looks like it is penetrating the glass.
“If you come here a couple of times while this show is up until the end of August, you will see that all the colors change. It can be interesting or difficult to read what is happening on the surface of the object. It is sort of like a painting in space.”
“We enjoy the Nasher’s garden, the focus on sculpture and the whole ambiance,” Lee Gibson said. “I like the WUNDERBLOCK. It is sort of bizarre.”
His friend, Annie Cooper, disagreed with his taste in art.
“I think it looks like it belongs at a construction site,” Cooper said. “I like the Dubuffet (Tower of Lace). And this new piece right here (Head of a Woman by Pablo Picasso).
“The Nasher is gorgeous. The grounds are beautiful. It is peaceful and inviting. The Nashers have been important collectors forever, and they have contributed so much to Dallas.”
A love of art and landscaping led Paul Burek and his wife to become members.
“My wife and I really enjoy art, so I bought her a membership for Mother’s Day,” Burek said. “She is a landscape designer, so she likes the whole art in the garden concept. It kind of reminds us of when we were in Paris a couple of years ago, and we went to Rodin’s Garden.
“This is a venue where you don’t have to invest all day to enjoy the art. You can come for an hour, and it is nice. They change their displays often, and I enjoy that too.”
Sporting a lovely garden, world quality artwork, children’s events, speaker series, music events and private functions for its members, the Nasher Sculpture Center has inspired a love of art for nearly 10 years.
“The Nasher Sculpture Museum is one of the finest museums in the world,” said Jill Magnuson, Director of External Affairs. “The Patsy and Ray Nasher collection has about 300 works in its permanent collection. But at any time, you will see just a fraction of that on display, which is what is really nice, because come time and time again to the Nasher and you will see the collection rotating. In addition to the permanent collection, we have a rotating series of special exhibitions.”

About the Author

Jess Paniszczyn
Jess discovered an aptitude for writing in high school. After earning a B.A. degree in English he joined the ranks of the working class where he quickly found he did not work well in a corporate environment. He took a series of technical writing contract jobs working for such companies as AT&T, Sykes Enterprises – where he worked on IBM projects – and Lomas Mortgage. To support himself during lulls between contracts, he began working with the Dallas Morning News in operations where he worked part-time for several years, eventually migrating to the Irving Daily News in its final year of publication. Jess was the first writer hired by The Rambler Newspapers and has been with the company since the publication of the initial Irving Rambler Newspaper. He has found a home at the newspaper that as a young writer he never thought would ever find working ‘in the real world.’