Black Paintings Matter
The creation of the pieces on display in the new Dallas Museum of Art exhibit “Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots,” opening Friday, practically killed the abstract expressionist painter. These “black paintings,” or “black pourings,” reduced Pollock’s palette to black paint used on unprimed cotton duck, whereupon he employed a “pour” technique straight from the can. They were done immediately after Pollock’s celebrated period of “drip paintings,” characterized by colorful, rhythmic “drips” of paint. The departure from what was very well received to what wasn’t easily relatable was not welcomed at the time. “The black paintings were substantially meaningful to Pollock, and their critical and commercial failure struck him hard,” said Gavin Delahunty, a DMA curator who organized the exhibit. “His output was drastically reduced after 1953 and he died in 1956. The black paintings were his last great artistic statement but sadly, were revealed at a time they could not be understood.” A total of 31 black pourings made between 1951 and ’53 constitute the focal point of the exhibit, which is the largest ever assembly of its kind, appropriately named “Blind Spots” because these paintings are overlooked in Pollock’s oeuvre. There are also works on paper and five of Pollock’s extant six sculptures as well as a sample of drip paintings juxtaposed with the black paintings for comparison. The Dallas Museum of Art, one of the first American museums to acquire Pollock’s work, including Cathedral (1947) and Portrait and a Dream (1953), is the only U.S. location to host this exhibit, which was previously displayed at Tate Liverpool, in England, where Delahunty is formerly head of exhibitions and displays. “Most startling for critics was the reappearance of figuration in the black paintings, where biomorphic forms, faces, and body parts emerge,” Delahunty said. “This was seen at the time as a step backward in the developing field of abstract painting. However, looking at Pollock’s earlier work, we see similar motifs and forms returning in [nineteen] fifty-one to fifty-three, which indicate an artistic pursuit that Pollock had not yet satisfied.”
Dallas Museum of Art, November 20 to March 20, 2016, dma.org
It’s probably a good idea to finish eating your barbecue before the screening of Blazing Saddles on Friday at Salt Lick’s Pecan Grove. That’s because Mel Brooks’s 1974 satirical take on westerns is full of hilarious scenes that could cause you to spit your food out with laughter, such as the one where a campfire dinner of beans turns into a legendary farting session. The movie, starring Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little as unlikely defenders of a frontier town from railroad track developers, will be screened as one part of Lone Star Beer’s Western Weekend at the Salt Lick, including, as you might imagine, brisket, ribs, sausage, and cold beer, plus live music. The second part occurs on Saturday night, with a screening of John Landis’s 1986 movie Three Amigos. This spoof on Blazing Saddles involves three Hollywood actors, played by Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Chevy Chase, who are unwittingly enlisted to protect a small Mexican village against El Guapo and his henchmen. It’s a chance to size up two of the best western comedies ever and, based on the audience’s regurgitating of lines—both screenings are quote-alongs—decide once and for all which has the stronger following.
The Salt Lick, November 20–21, 5:30 p.m., drafthouse.com
Welcome to the Nuthouse
Seguin, the Pecan Capital of Texas since 1962, has officially gone nuts. In 2011 the town of roughly 25,000 reclaimed its status as home to the World’s Largest Pecan, with a nugget weighing in at 2,300 pounds and measuring sixteen feet long by eight feet wide. (No, it’s not real. It’s fabricated out of fiberglass and other materials, but still.) On Saturday Seguin will ratchet up its obsession during a dedication celebration for the opening of its Pecan Museum, complete with a turkey dinner and hopefully, some off-the-charts pecan pie. Seguin is located in Guadalupe County, one of the top pecan-producing areas in the state. The museum will focus on that fertile agricultural history, emphasizing growing techniques, harvesting equipment, and the varietals of pecans to be found in the region. There will, of course, be an array of nutcrackers on display but none big enough to crack the World’s Largest Pecan, which will greet visitors at the museum’s entrance.
Big Red Barn, November 21, 10 a.m., texagedu.org
Pentalum, the new “luminarium” made by Architects of Air, the English collective of pneumatic sculptors, is bound to be selfie heaven. Luminaria are domains comprised of interconnected inflatable structures awash inside with bright neon colors, creating the sort of ambiance that falls somewhere between an alien spaceship and a James Turrell skyspace. The walk-in edifice, constructed with colored, translucent PVC pipes that transmit light from outside the luminarium, is modeled after Islamic architecture and Gothic cathedrals. Testimonials from past visitors express an out-of-this-world contentment that’s experienced as one gets lost, literally, in the tunnels, or lost, figuratively, in the bosom of one of the alcoves, alone with their thoughts. Since 1992 more than 3 million people in 41 countries have gotten lost in luminaria. The creators say that no two experiences are alike because of circumstances such as changing weather and light patterns outside the luminarium, so there’s no need to worry about duplicate selfies popping up on your newsfeed.
The Long Center, November 20–29, thelongcenter.org
From the MLK Parade, in January, to the Rodeo Parade, in March, to the Art Car Parade, in April, to the Pride Parade, in June, Houstonians spend a good portion of the year getting ready for the granddaddy of them all, the Thanksgiving Day Parade. This twenty-block spectacle of floats, balloons, and entertainers, first organized in 1949, is arguably the oldest if not the biggest parade in the city and according to the Travel Channel, ranks as one of the top five Thanksgiving parades in the country.
Downtown, November 26, 9 a.m., houstontx.gov/thanksgivingparade/
Christmas in November
Say it ain’t so, Fort Worth. You’re really joining the disturbing trend of celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving by moving your annual Parade of Lights from Black Friday to the Sunday before Turkey Day? To make a bold decision like that can mean only one thing: the show, with more than one hundred acts, is so good at spreading holiday cheer that a spectator wouldn’t dare miss it out of spite alone.
Downtown, November 22, 6 p.m., fortworthparadeoflights.org