Early fall was filled with talk of the Cowboys and the Super Bowl. Now any mention of the Super Bowl does not include the Cowboys.
While that is disappointing, the focus on simply hosting the Super Bowl comes with a wealth of entertainment options to woo visitors and locals alike. Take for instance the Dallas Museum of Art's exhibit "Big New Field: Artists in the Cowboys Stadium Art Program," which opens Sunday. It is a further examination of work by artists who were commissioned by Gene and Jerry Jones for the stadium's public art program.
Pieces more than 100 feet long that hang over concession stands in Arlington have siblings that are scaled for the museum's walls. Still big, they are petite compared to works that are painted in escalator lobbies or that hang over the four stadium entrances. Mounting this show is a way "to deepen people's understanding of the art and contextualize the experience," says Charlie Wylie, DMA curator for contemporary art and one of the six local art experts on the Joneses' art advisory committee.
Seeing what the artists created for the vastness of the stadium and then visiting the museum does proffer the intended context; the stadium art is dynamic, the museum pieces more contemplative. The art reflects the venue, because it's all about location.
And none of the artists declined to make art for a football stadium, says Michael Auping, chief curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, who also sat on the advisory committee. He says, "They understand art is a part of a larger entertainment system. Artists need to make a public expression."
All of the artists for the stadium program were chosen for their ability to create large-scale works, and they didn't disappoint, which is a facet that is lost in the museum. Annette Lawrence's Free Papers, which is a year's worth of junk mail shredded into uniform strips and glued together for a wall sculpture, is reflective in a cerebral sense. The reflections off Coin Toss, the piece she made of twisting stainless steel rods for the stadium, are animated.
Franz Ackermann's boldly colored canvas My "Ready Now" is an explosion of frenetic color in the gallery, but, in comparison to his escalator well at the stadium, it barely whispers. His stadium works, Coming Home and (Meet Me) at the Waterfall, are nuclear blasts in comparison.
The most compelling aspect of the DMA's exhibit is mentally contrasting the artistic efforts in the two locations and discovering how the environment plays such a pivotal role in appreciating the nuances of a piece. Gary Simmons' artworks are very similar -- he used a primary color and white in each and the imagery was simple, but the surroundings dictate the interpretation. His Blue Field Explosions in the stadium look like cartoon marks for violent reaction, whereas Fox Plaza Inferno in the museum, painted in the red and white of a burning building, seems more a political statement than a news report.
In the stadium, the works are elemental; they are about power, movement, light and sounds. The museum works challenge the mental game. How the artists responded to both challenges is interesting, more interesting than either exhibit is on its own.
To make it easy to see both groups of art, the Dallas Museum of Art and Cowboys Stadium are offering a dual ticket good for stadium art tours led by a docent and museum admission for $16 per person, beginning Sunday, for the length of the exhibit.
Gaile Robinson is the Star-Telegram art and design critic, 817-390-7113