Dallas is for Art Lovers
How did the Big D become a global player in the cultural arena? Catherine Marcus Rose, the doyenne of Dallas art, takes us on a tour.
After moving back from New York in the 1990s, Dallas native Catherine Marcus Rose has seen her hometown transform itself into one of the world’s leading cultural destinations. The heart of Dallas’s cultural efflorescence is a vibrant 20-block district on the northeast edge of downtown. There, in a recent span of 10 years, other museums, concert halls, parks, restaurants, and all-around dazzling architecture—an opera house designed by Foster & Partners, a daring 11-story museum of nature and science by Thom Mayne, Morphosis Architects—have all sprung up. “It’s bustling, too” Rose says. “Restaurants stay open late. Sports loom large, of course, but it’s significant that the new AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, has amazing art by an array of contemporary artists like Anish Kapoor, Jenny Holzer and Olafur Eliasson. It’s worth a trip in itself!”. Longtime board member—and current board president—of the DMA, Rose’s boundless enthusiasm for the arts has placed her at the vanguard of Dallas’s cultural shift. She led fundraising for the museum’s pathbreaking new education initiative, the Center for Creative Connections, whose pride-of-place, first-floor interactive gallery draws in museum-goers to engage with art, decorative objects, and design.
“Culturally, Dallas offers surprises,” Rose says. Here, she shares a few of her favorites.
The globe-spanning collections at DMA
The encyclopedic galleries inside DMA, which formed the linchpin to the downtown’s artistic metamorphosis, hold works by the likes of Gauguin, Mondrian and Matisse. Rose loves the works by 20th-century American artist Gerald Murphy. “A Jazz Age expat in France, Murphy painted for less than eight years, and little more than a handful of his pictures survive. But he created modernist masterpieces. Watch is one of them: monumental in scale, remarkable in detail.”
Rose also recommends the Wise Collection of Ancient South American Art, with its 1,000 pieces of gold. “The masks, necklaces and pendants from indigenous cultures in present-day Peru, Colombia. and Panama are extraordinary.”
Finally, she suggests the evocative painting The Icebergs by Frederic Church. “If you visit during the summer when it’s hot in Texas, standing in front of it will lower your body temperature by a few degrees!”
A play at Dallas Theater Center
“Seeing a play at the Dallas Theater Center, which won the 2017 Tony Award for best regional theater, is a must, both for the imaginative stagecraft by its artistic director Kevin Moriarty, and for the dazzling building designed by REX/OMA architects Joshua Prince-Ramus and Rem Koolhaas.”
The gardens at Nasher
Opened in 2003, Nasher Sculpture Center is home to one of the country’s pre-eminent collection of modern and contemporary sculpture. “Sitting amid works by Miró, Hepworth, and di Suvero, looking toward the rear of Renzo Piano’s luminous building for the Nasher, is a special experience,” says Rose. “You are in a landscape of tranquility in an increasingly dense downtown. Also, children really enjoy the garden, where they don’t feel restrained or the need to be as quiet as in a museum.”
The Design District’s galleries…
The Design District is a new name for a once-industrial warehouse area just northwest of downtown that’s fast becoming a destination for restaurants, bars, shops, apartments, as well as furniture and antiques dealers.“My three ‘don’t miss’ are the Barry Whistler and Conduit galleries, for work by regional and national artists, and PDNB (Photographs Do Not Bend), which features local and international photography from the twentieth century to the present.” A bit further in the new Trinity Grove area is the Erin Cluley Gallery. “Cluley is a talented dealer with an experienced eye, who shows emerging and mid-career artists in a space that was at one time an auto repair shop.”
…and its food
“You have to eat to have the energy to look at art,” Rose observes. In the Design District, she recommends Rodeo Goat for a great burger. Her favorite: the Oh Whitney umami burger.
“For Mexican food, I go to El Bolero for queso fundido and enchiladas verdes. I love the outdoor patio with its vibrant mural. Wheelhouse, a new gastropub, has a full menu, including salads and house-made sausages. They also make delicious cocktails. Ascension Coffee is the go-to place for breakfast or a caffeine hit in the afternoon.”
Dressing up for popovers at Neiman Marcus
In the age of online shopping, she appreciates the experience of going downtown to the original Neiman Marcus store. Her grandfather Stanley Marcus, a pioneering cultural leader in Dallas as well as legendary retailer, established art collections throughout the Neiman Marcus stores, including the flagship’s restaurant, Zodiac. “I confess a soft spot for the consommé and popovers that are a tradition at Zodiac.”
Dallas Museum of Art: 1717 N. Harwood; 214-922-1200
Dallas Theater Center: 2400 Flora Street; 214-880-0202
Nasher Sculpture Center: 2001 Flora Street; 214-242-5100
Barry Whistler Gallery: 315 Cole Street; 214-939-0242
Conduit Gallery: 1626C Hi Line Drive; 214-939-0064
PDNB Gallery: 154 Glass Street, Suite 104; 214-969-1852
Erin Cluley Gallery: 414 Fabrication Street; 214-760-1155
Rodeo Goat: 1926 Market Center Blvd.; 214-741-4628
El Bolero: 1201 Oak Lawn Avenue; 214-741-1984
Wheelhouse: 1617 Hi Line Drive, Suite 390; 214-307-5690
Ascension Coffee: 1621 Oak Lawn Avenue; 214-741-3211
The Zodiac Room, Neiman Marcus: 1618 Main Street; 214-741-6911WHERE TO STAY