Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Museum State of Mind

I can remember the first exhibition that made me fall in love with museums. I was a junior in college studying art history and I had an assignment to do an exhibition review on a Kerry James Marshall exhibition (One True Thing: Meditations on Black Aesthetics) at the Birmingham Museum of Art.
The show seemed to go on forever, each piece more interesting than the last, on all white walls and in several different galleries. It was amazing and I went back to learn more and see the show as many times as I could before it closed.
It only takes one exhibition, one artist, one museum visit to start a life-long love affair with museums. I not only became more interested in Marshall’s work, but also gained a new appreciation for the experience of viewing art and visiting museums.
I think that Jean-Louis Forain: La Comédie parisienne is going to be the exhibition that provides that experience for a lot of Memphians. This city is fortunate to have the exhibition here for three months which provides any and everyone the luxury of seeing the show over and over again. Everyone at the Dixon is excited about the opportunity for the Forain show to spark that life-long love affair with art and museums that can stick with you forever and we wanted to provide you with everything needed to enhance your visit and make that possible.
Jean-Louis Forain, French, 1852-1931, Woman with a Mask and Black Gloves, 1894, Watercolor and gouache, Les Arts Décoratifs, musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris, Photos Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris/ Jean Tholance

Every department at the museum is working to perfect every detail: from the wall colors, to the vocabulary used in the text panels, to the plantings in the gardens, we want you to be able to view Forain's work in the most educational and enjoyable experience possible.
Café Forain opens on June 28.  

We know that spending an afternoon walking through the galleries can stir up quite the appetite and we, along with Just for Lunch, prepared for that as well.

The effect that some of these changes will have on the museum is temporary and the colors of the wall will eventually change again. The visitor's memory of this show, however, can stay with them for a life-time and create the desire to see more shows, view more art and experience museums in a new way.

- Chantal Drake, communications associate

Friday, June 17, 2011

To top it all off....

Lemon zest or a small bunch of basil on the top of a delicious dish
That perfect piece of jewelry to compliment that fantastic ensemble
The dash of lime or the sprig of mint to enhance the taste of a cool beverage
The ornate napkin holder to spruce up a table setting

Finishing touches can add that special something, a unique addition and an unexpected surprise to the most ordinary of events and normal occurrences. The finishing touches can make a huge difference in the way something is perceived or taken in and can affect the impression of everything that is to follow.

With only one week away from the opening of Jean-Louis Forain: La Comédie parisienne, the Dixon staff is putting the finishing touches on the galleries, entrances, gardens and much more.

Beautiful banners have been installed on the Dixon residence and our fences.

Café Forain is coming together with the area mapped out and being prepped for tables and chairs, along with the redesign of the plants.

Along with much needed Garden maintenance and additions, we are also making the grounds extra safe and special for all of our guests.

We are one week away from the most ambitious exhibition in the Dixon's thirty-five year history.

Join us!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Preparation is key!

My parents used to have a huge gathering for Independence Day every year. Immediate and extended family, plus close friends would come over for food, volleyball (water guns, slip n slide and bike riding for me, my sisters and cousins) and fireworks. Each year my sisters and I would dread the preparation for the cookout (on steroids) that we called Fourth of July.

My dad would cook and we would clean EVERYTHING. We would help our mom with her red, white and blue decorations. We also had the luxury of raking cut grass into huge piles onto a wheel barrow to be taken to the “unkept” section of the yard. (I am from Harvest, AL)

Each year my sisters and I moaned and complained about the tasks that we had to complete and the ridiculous manner my parents behaved, as if we were expecting royalty over for a dinner that would affect the future of the free world. But each year, my aunts and mom’s friends would go gaga over her décor. My dad would bask in the compliments of how tasty the food was and how great the yard looked. And to be honest, it is a lot easier to run from a water gun and ride a bike without a grass pile in your way.

The preparation was worth it. The process was tedious and boy did we sweat, but in the end, the results always came out great.

The preparation for Jean- Louis Forain: La Comédie parisienne is underway and everyone here at the Dixon has been hard at work. The location of Café Forain has been decided and preparation for a tasty menu for all of our visitors is being planned.

The garden staff is transforming and reconfiguring the gardens with new trees and fantastic designs at the entrance booth.

Our front banners have gone up and look great.

The painting in the interior is almost complete, with even our Mallory and Wurtzburger galleries getting a facelift.

By June 26, we will look around and know that the preparation and overtime was worth it. The exhibition will look amazing, but so will the Dixon and all of the promotional materials, gardens and other small details that go along with it.  We look forward to everyone seeing how all of the hard work pays off!

Watch the blog for more on the transformation …..

Chantal Drake, communications associate

Friday, June 3, 2011

More than a fresh coat of paint!

Whenever I spruce up my house with flowers from the yard or a quick spin with the vacuum it helps me feel refreshed, relaxed, and ready for the next few days to come. Even if no one special is coming to visit, just changing the furniture around, replanting a few pots on the front porch, or fixing something I know has been broken for months can set in motion a pattern of productivity, satisfaction and excitement for the future.

At the Dixon, this pattern was set in motion in March and will continue to move through the next three weeks until the opening of the Forain retrospective. To welcome all of our summer visitors and members and art arriving from all over the world, we will be sprucing up in more ways than one. Between last week and the weekend of June 26, a large portion of the grounds and museum will undergo a complete transformation.

Watch the blog to see these numerous exciting changes taking place—some large, and some small, made with paint, vacuums, construction, plantings, lighting, signage, shovels, flowers, furniture, color, people and of course, art. All things combined will produce a visitor experience to the Dixon and to the Forain retrospective to rival any in the past.

The first renovation took place in late March near the museum entrance. After installing new signage on the façade of the building, the garden staff planted parterres, a method of imposing geometric shapes on the landscape with plants. These parterres were inspired by a design found in an 18th century French gardening book. Be sure to take a close look at these the next time you visit---they contain 500 boxwoods EACH. New elements in other areas of the garden include the hornbeam allee, connecting the admission booth entrance to the Ceres sculpture, and a generous helping of hydrangeas, lavender and coneflower. Following suit with the French, the Dixon raises gardening to a high art.

Then, we re-painted the auditorium a dark charcoal gray in order to better highlight our pewter collection and create an optical illusion of a higher ceiling.

Next we’ll move outside to Garrott Court and the gardens to watch our new café root from a lovely patch of green grass and the residence take on color, rhythm, and life.

- Emily Halpern, Associate Director of Communications