Guest blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art, offering lectures, tours and program planning. She is Vice-Chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission and a member of the Public Art Committee.
I have never been to a football game. I have no idea who the star players are, but I do know that Jerry and Gene Jones deserve MVP awards in the art game. By commissioning 18 major works of art for the stadium (including two existing works), they have made it almost impossible for others to “keep up with the Joneses.”
Gene Jones has been interested and involved in the arts for many years, and she sincerely wants to share that enthusiasm with the thousands of sports fans who might not regularly visit museums or galleries. When deciding whom to commission, she wisely consulted with prominent Dallas art collectors Howard Rachofsky and Gayle Stoffel. She also invited her daughter, Charlotte Jones, niece Melissa Meeks, DMA Curator Charlie Wylie and MAMFW Curator Michael Auping to confer. Mary Zlot, a San Francisco art advisor was consulted as well.
The very credible group approached artists who had worked on large … well … HUGE spaces and could work well in a commissioned situation making art for a public audience. Not an easy job.
Yet, 16 artists accepted the challenge, and thousands of ardent fans get to see the work at every game, concert, private function (the venue is for rent) and tour. And yes, art tours will be offered. A brochure, a video, educational labels and perhaps an audio tour are in the works.
Some people will see the stadium only on an art tour. Believe it or not, not everyone is a sports fan. Case in point: on a preview art tour, one visitor said, ” This is too great! Getting to see Cowboy Stadium without having to attend a sports event or a rock concert!” However, most people will be there to watch football, a reality not lost on the artists.
New York conceptual artist Mel Bochner’s Win! (38′ 2″ x 33′ 3,” above), one of his Thesaurus series, was painted on the cement block wall at the northeast staircase by sign painters who followed his detailed instructions. The work leaves no doubt of his inspiration and its relationship to the site.
At first the work may look blatantly obvious to those navigating the stairs. However, if one looks again, the seemingly unemotional lettering is laden with nuance and emotion. The font is Big and Bold. The words are fighting words, easily screamed by coaches. And as the words pile up, the language becomes bolder, as does the battle on the playing field, ending in “kick some butt!”
Other work, such as Matthew Ritchie’s Line of Play (30′ 6″ x 20′ 5″), on the walls and ceiling of the the Main Concourse, northwest entry, is colorful and lyrical, yet it encompasses the energy of the football field. Of Two Minds (21′ x 126′), one of my favorites, by Berlin artist Terry Haggerty and painted above the Main Concourse northeast concession stand, fools our eyes and our minds to make us think the wall curves and the 2D work is three dimensional.
Some visitors to Cowboy Stadium will be fans of the art. Some will not. But regardless, since we have the unique opportunity to see it and study it, we are all winners!