The Dallas Arts Scene Is Ready for Its Close-Up

As the fiftieth anniversary of the JFK assassination approaches, the eyes of the world will be upon the city, and its cultural leaders are prepared for the attention.

In November 1963, in anticipation of President John F. Kennedy’s visit to Texas, a group of Fort Worth cultural leaders hatched a plan, to both honor the president and upend their city’s reputation as a sleepy, unsophisticated backwater. They brought together a collection of locally-owned artwork and mounted a mini-exhibit inside the president’s suite at the Hotel Texas in downtown Fort Worth, where he spent the night on Nov. 21, 1963.

Thomas Eakins’ “Swimming” and Pablo Picasso’s “Angry Owl” were among the pieces President Kennedy saw before he was killed the next afternoon.

When Olivier Meslay, the French-born associate director of curatorial affairs at the Dallas Museum of Art, first learned of this historical footnote, he sensed a unique opportunity for a

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