Friday, April 29, 2011

Why join the Dixon? Let me count the ways

I am Maggie Murff and I work in the Membership/Development office at the Dixon.  The Dixon has been a big part of my life and I feel that it can only make you a better person, it has for me.  Whether you come to learn, to be inspired, to meet friends, or just to relax, the Dixon is an unbelievable facet of the Memphis community, and everyone should take advantage of the access we have to this world class organization. 

So you ask ‘Why join the Dixon?’ Well, let me count the ways…

1. Discounts on various programs and events throughout the year like Symphony in the Gardens, Yoga in the Gardens, Floral Arrangement workshops, Mini Masters, and Shakespeare in the Gardens going on now!
Symphony in the Gardens in 2010 - May 7 is the date for this year, Get your tickets now
2. Free admission to the gorgeous 17 acres of gardens right in the heart of East Memphis.

3. Free access to world premier exhibitions like Jean-Louis Forain: La Comedie parisenne coming June 26 or our Mallory Wurtzburger exhibitions that are dedicated to local artists.

Jean - Louis Forain, Woman breathing in Flowers, 1883. Pastel on Paper. Museum Purchase

4. Free admission to Art After Dark, our monthly Thursday event, where you can meet artists, hear amazing musicians, drink delectable drinks, relax and wander the galleries and gardens after work, and more.  During the Forain exhibition, Art After Dark will be every Thursday night! 

5. You receive at least 10% off your purchases from the Dixon’s Museum Store all year round.  Buy beautiful jewelry, pottery by local potters, the adorable baby and children toys, garden accoutrements and so many other wonderful must have items. 

6. Invitations to exclusive Dixon events such as Art on Tap, Art on Fire and many many others.

Young at Art - Artini 2011
7. You would be supporting one of Memphis’ best outreach programs.  The Dixon is a bit of an unknown gem when it comes to outreach.  We take art and garden programs to over 20,000 school children all over Shelby and Desoto County through Art-To-Grow; offer art therapy to Alzheimer patients with Reflections, at-risk teens with Teen Studio, and Exceptional Art for adults with special needs; and we help schools bring their students to the Dixon by offering Busing Bucks.  Our motto is the Dixon is for Everyone!

8. You can use your Dixon membership card at other museums and gardens around the country with reciprocal programs that we participate in.  

9. Access to some of the most brilliant minds in the area in Art and Gardening.  Bring your art and gardening questions to us – we certainly have lots of tried and true experience. 

10. You will be the first to know about the Dixon’s exciting programs by receiving the Quarterly Newsletter.

These are only 10 of the exciting reasons to join the Dixon, I could go on all day, but now let me ask you a question – Have you joined yet? 

If you have any questions feel free to email me at

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Education is making moves at the Dixon!

Hello all!
My name is Margarita Sandino; I am the curator of education here at the Dixon and a first time blogger. I hope that through this media we will be able to communicate, share ideas and talk about upcoming programs. I would love to know what your experiences are here at the Dixon, or with our outreach programs. Please tell me how we can better serve you, your family and your students, and keep in mind that most of our programs have been created as a result of your feedback.  If you have a great idea, a comment or a suggestion we will take it very seriously. Share please!

The past month has been full of farewells and hellos at the Dixon’s education department. Our Art to Grow program said goodbye to Sarah Hall, coordinator and instructor for the program for over three years. Sarah’s creativity and eagerness to share the arts reached over 50, 000 students in the area! We wish her the best in her new life and we are certain that she will remain part of the Dixon family. Good Luck Sarah!
From left to right: Erica McCarrens, Whitney Stem, Margarita Sandino and Sarah is the one with the red bow!
And so, it is with great joy that we greet Bryony Petch our new Art to Grow coordinator. She comes to us from England with a double major in Education and Sociology from the Newcastle University and a Postgraduate Certificate in Elementary Education from the Northumbria University in the UK. She has taught students all ages and has a natural talent for the arts. Bryony has also been volunteering at the Dixon for the past year and a half, helping us with all our education programs. We are confident that she will bring much creativity and enthusiasm to our outreach program. Welcome Bryony!
 Here are a few things that we are working on that I thought you might like.
Spring is still keeping us busy, but, there is no time to waste. Summer is coming quickly and we are already bringing out the sun block and the slip n’ slides!  For those of you who like to plan ahead and are already looking for a fun but educational summer camp, we have just the thing! Paint it! Plant it! Paris! Summer camp is now accepting children ages 6 to 10. We will be offering camp for two weeks, so if you can’t make it to the first you can always sign them up for the next. We are, of course, designing the camp to complement the beautiful exhibition that opens June 26, Jean-Louis Forain: La Com├ędie Parisienne. Oui, oui, a very French camp experience with great art projects and gardening opportunities. What kid doesn’t like to get messy with paint or dirt? Ok, I guess a few don’t like it, but if your youngster enjoys it, bring him/her over! You will find more information and details here
I also wanted to tell you about a new adult program that launches this coming Monday, April 25th, Reflections Through Art. The Dixon’s Alzheimer’s art program, inspired by the Meet Me at MOMA Alzheimer’s Project, is offered to individuals with dementia and their caregivers. Lead by licensed art therapist Catherine Harris, the monthly session will encourage participants to discuss themes and different artists during an interactive tour in the galleries. At the end of the session there will be time for social engagement and hands-on activities. We offer the class on Mondays, when the museum is closed to the public; we open some galleries just for this group. It really is a great opportunity to see works of art in a peaceful and quiet environment. So, if you have a friend or family member that is in the early to middle stages of dementia, loves art and would like to see beautiful things, sign them up today for this class. Click here for more details

I am looking forward to my next blog entry. Until next time!
Margarita Sandino

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Art After Dark, Earth Day and Easter!

The Dixon will be open late on Thursday night, April 21, for Art After Dark: Splendor in the Gardens. Guests will be able to enjoy the abundance of blooms with a sunset tour of the gardens with Director of Horticulture Dale Skaggs, music from the Clifton Brady Jazz Trio, Biere de Garden beer from Boscos  and complementary hors d’ouevres. Tour begins at 7:15. Two for one admission this month! All of our Art After Darks are sponsored by Suntrust Bank and Boscos.

On Friday, April 22, get into the Dixon for free on Earth Day. In recognition of Earth Day 2011, the Dixon is offering free admission all day. Come by the Dixon on Friday, April 22 and enjoy the gardens, Made in Dixon and the permanent collection for free. Remember that Saturday mornings are free as well.  Enjoy the galleries and gardens for free from 10 am - 12 pm every Saturday.

The Dixon will be open on Easter! Celebrate Easter in the gardens, with Made in Dixon in the galleries, and our permanent collection in the residence. A perfect day to bring by the little ones for personal Easter photos on the South Lawn and in the formal and cutting gardens.

Shakespeare in the Gardens premieres next week. Get your $15 seats NOW for Romeo and Juliet's first preview performance on Wednesday, April 27 at 7:00 pm under the stars in the Dixon Gardens, sponsored by FedEx! The April 28 preview is almost sold out. Bring your family into the gardens early for a picnic on the lawn before walking the woods with Juliet and Romeo at night. You can purchase tickets to any other performance now for $20 in advance, before they rise to $25 on the day of the show.

Click here to purchase tickets.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Last Weekend for Joe Jones

Hi everyone!
My name is Julie Pierotti, I am the Assistant Curator here at the Dixon.  I am thrilled to be sharing with all of you the exciting and fun things going on in the Dixon's Curatorial department.
Now that the bad weather has come and gone today, it's going to be a great weekend to visit the Dixon.  As you may know, April 16 and 17 are the final two days for our current exhibition, Joe Jones: Radical Painter of the American Scene.  This show, organized by the St. Louis Art Museum, has been so much fun for us--we have all loved exploring the art created by this incredibly passionate self-taught artist during America's darkest years, the Great Depression.  
Joe Jones, American, 1909–1963; We Demand, 1934; oil on masonite; 48 x 36 in.; Collection of The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio. Gift of Sidney Freedman 1948; © Heirs of Joe Jones
After having started his career as an artist painting Art Deco-style portraits and cityscapes, in the summer of 1933, Joe Jones decided to dedicate his career to creating art with a social message when he joined the American Communist Party.  From that point on, Jones created canvases that gave a visual voice to the men and women struggling to survive in the grips of the Depression.
If you haven't seen Joe Jones yet, there is still time!  I know once you see the show, you will love it just as much as we do.  In the curatorial department, we tend to get attached to the works of art that visit us for special exhibitions, and when they leave, it's a bit like sending your kid away to college.  So we're sad to see everything go!  It truly has been a privilege to reintroduce this amazing artist to the Memphis public.
Over the next two weeks, starting this coming Monday, April 18 through Saturday, April 30, the Curatorial department will be busy changing out exhibitions, sending the paintings in Joe Jones back to their owners and then installing our next exhibition, Private Memphis
Dixon Registrar, Neil O'Brien, and Assistant Preparator, Eric Bork, hanging a painting from Joe Jones
The installation process of an exhibition is always hectic, complicated, and stressful, but it's also a lot of fun.  For security purposes, we have to keep the galleries closed, but I've included a picture of our Registrar, Neil O'Brien, and Assistant Preparator, Eric Bork, hanging a painting during the installation of Joe Jones for a behind-the-scenes sneak peek.  
For Private Memphis, we will be installing nearly 100 objects from private collections around Memphis.  With works by artists as diverse as Camille Pissarro, William Merrit Chase, Damien Hirst, Milton Avery, and many many others, I know there's something for everyone in this show!  There really is a lot of exciting and colorful work in Private Memphis by some of the most important artists of the last four centuries, I hope you'll come check it out when it officially opens on May 1.
Paul Camille Guigou, Environs of Martigues, 1869; Oil on board; Collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Hugo Dixon, 1975.27
Until then, please remember that the residence will be open featuring some rarely-seen works in our permanent collection (including one of my personal faves, Paul Camille Guigou's Environs of Martigues--LOVE that painting!), and the Dixon's Mallory and Wurtzburger galleries are filled to the brim with work produced in our many education programs in the 2nd annual Made in Dixon exhibition.  And of course Dale and the gang in the gardens are keeping everything looking GORGEOUS outside.  The azaleas are really beautiful right now!
Hope to see all of you in the galleries soon!

Julie Pierotti
Assistant Curator

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One very busy weekend!

April 8 and 9 were busy days for the Dixon. There were several events taking place this weekend and it took a lot of effort and a lot of hard work from everyone at the Dixon to make each event a success.
Our Wildflower Plant Sale began on Thursday evening for our members and continued through the weekend from 8 am - 4 pm on Friday and Saturday. All of our garden staff and volunteers worked hard to provide great plants, flowers, trees and other goodies for the sale. Then they worked even harder to give our visitors the best customer service imaginable in the large crowds and spring heat. It was a great weekend to stroll through the gardens and purchase plants for your own garden. We hope you enjoyed it!

Wine Down on Friday night was a huge success! Guests were able to taste wines, see the gardens, and take in the performances of the flamenco dancer, Isadora Gennari T. Belmonte and Latin Jazz singer, Marcela Pinilla. Great wine, great food, great company, great event!

On Saturday, the Dixon grounds were full of cats, butterflies, and Batman....... all on the faces of the children here for Family Day! Our face painters were not the only busy ones. Easels were set up for everyone to paint En Plein Air, stilts were provided for adult and children entertainment, along with games and performances,  relay races and scavenger hunts! Our Education staff worked very hard to provide a fun activity for everyone in the family either indoors or outside in our beautiful gardens.The band, Side Street Steppers and jump roping team from Riverdale Elementary were the icing on this very large cake that we called (Radical) Family Day! We can't wait for next year!

The Dixon staff had their hands full all weekend, but the success of the events and the positive feedback from our guests were more than enough to get us in the groove for our upcoming events. Thanks for the support - Chantal Drake

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mother Nature is in Control

This spring came on quickly, but it has been frost free and, following a cold winter,  the spring daffodils and tulips were exceptional, especially since this year they were flowering in unison with the azaleas and dogwoods. We had huge crowds of guests admiring the staff’s and nature’s handiwork. 

All of our excitement ended on Monday, April 4, when a severe storm blew through, causing many of the tulips to shatter or face south with twisted stems. It also laid level three large trees and several small flowering trees at the Dixon.  Fortunately no one was hurt and by the time the sirens went off, the damage was done and the severe storm was gone, replaced by a gentle rain. 

I tend to err on the side of tree preservation in my maintenance schedule; I often will give a tree a chance to succeed in lieu of taking the ax to it unless it is an obvious hazard. I also consult more than one professional when seeking advice about a tree. Much thought and consideration goes into each and every tree that is removed from the Dixon grounds. It is a huge responsibility that I do not take lightly. My former occupation as the urban forester for the City of Bartlett gives me a good background in tree risk assessment. Many of these trees have been on this earth longer than we have, so we need to be respectful of them.
The most tragic thing about this damage is the 15’+ Florida flame native azalea (Rhododendron austrinum) that caught the large cherry tree that toppled in the woods. This plant with amazing fragrant honeysuckle- like yellow blooms   held in beautiful trusses were in full bud with some blooms beginning to open just in time for our Plant Sale.  It was a very old specimen in our living collection and added so much to the Woodland Garden, where it arched over the pathway like a graceful arbor. 

We also sustained damage to a large Southern Magnolia tree that served as a screen in the Woodland Garden and a key feature of my new fountain design, completed with an International Paper Grant in 2010. It was undoubtedly planted by my predecessor, Diane Reed, who valued the tree for a screen in shady places, one of her numerous contributions to the gardens.  Although it has fewer blooms under these conditions, it works well for screening purposes.   The tropical-looking big leaf Magnolia macrophylla with  up to 3’ leaves, which was itself a root sprout from a plant that was once cut back for some reason, was also severely damaged and will be cut back to regrow again. 

The enormous cherry tree in flower when it fell had beautiful wood which was revealed as scar tissue on the sheared truck.  Many gardeners hate these cherry trees because they attract tent caterpillars and defoliate early in the late summer. But in terms of native habitat it is an important plant hosting numerous insect and bird partners. From the bees to the cherry-tent caterpillars to the birds that eat the seed, this plant has much to contribute for the ecology of the Mid-South even if it lacks ornamental merit.  I heard recently heard Dr. Doug Tallamy stressing the importance of habitat plants at the joint meeting of the Little and Memphis Garden Clubs meeting this winter.
Even though all of this might sound very negative, it is a part of the natural world and creates opportunity. Think of the precious light that fuels natural systems that would reach the forest floor  creating life when a storm-toppled tree falls in a forest.  In some cases the decaying log itself provides a nurse log giving life to tree seedlings. Part of a cycle.
We as gardeners are the eternal optimists and view these events as opportunities to direct nature for our gardening purposes.  Several years ago a few large oaks went down at the end of the Whispering Bench Allee. 

We relocated some huge Chinese fringe trees and planted clover in this area, which is now one of my favorite sites of the current bulb exhibit.   

I know that very soon we will be planting plants in the spot that presented an opportunity during the April 2011 storm in the Woodland Garden. I can’t wait to see how it will turn out. 
Come see the opportunities nature has created at the Dixon, and find opportunities for your own garden at our Spring Plant Sale this weekend – Dale Skaggs