Friday, December 30, 2011

As the new year approaches

....and your calendar begins filling up with all of the new responsibilities and obligations that are bound to come up during the first few months, we, at the Dixon, have a small favor to ask. Don't let the hustle and bustle of modern life distract you from the simple joys of living. The simple things are what makes life so great and its the simple things that we offer at the Dixon. 

A stroll through our galleries to look at beautiful works of art. A lecture or workshop where you can learn about something new. A special Saturday morning or afternoon spent with your children making and learning about art. A Thursday evening spent with friends drinking wine and sharing experiences. Watching the progress of different flowers grow and mature in one of the most beautiful gardens in Memphis. These simple things get pushed to the back burner once the pressures of life get in the way. We don't want you to miss out on enjoying what we have in store for you this year. 

2012 will be another exciting year for the Dixon. We will introduce new programs, such as our art history courses, and bring back old favorites, like the Dixon Gardening School. We will have some amazing exhibitions this year beginning with Rembrandt, Rubens, and the Golden Age of Painting in Europe from the Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY and This Must Be the Place, contemporary photography by local artists. Our exhibition of flowers will delight visitors from all over and Art After Dark, Family Day and Munch and Learn will all have exciting topics and activities in store for a range of age groups and interests. 

Shakespeare in the Gardens, Symphony in the Gardens, Art on Fire and all of our special events will return next year. Kiddos can enjoy the After School Art programs and Spring to Art Camp, along with each Mini Masters program and Family Studio, tours and field trips, special workshops and more!

We want you to be a part of it all and take advantage of these simple joys in life that far too often are taken for granted. Join us in 2012 for what we know will be another great year at the Dixon!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Dixons: A Stroll Down Memory Lane!

With the holidays quickly approaching, we can't help but get sentimental when thinking about how much we owe to the man and woman that made the Dixon Gallery and Gardens possible, Hugo and Margaret Dixon! The Dixon history is unknown to many and we want to take a quick stroll down memory lane to offer insight into how the galleries and gardens that grace Park Avenue were started, and the individuals that started them.

Mrs Margaret Dixon in the snow at the Dixon home -
which now houses our permanent collection
Married in 1926, the Dixon's moved to Memphis in 1939. They purchased 17 acres on Park Avenue. At the time, Park was a gravel road and Audubon Park had not yet been established.  They hired John Staub’s services as architect and soon began construction of the Georgian-style mansion.  Mr. Dixon’s only request of Staub was that his home be built of old brick obtained from a cotton warehouse that was being torn town.  Like many of Staub’s designs, the Dixon’s new home was influenced by historical designs; in this case several houses by the Greek Revival architect Robert Mills.  The house was completed in either late 1941 or early in 1942.  The gardens were laid out by the Dixons with the help of Hugo’s sister, Hope Crutchfield, who had studied landscape design.  They are influenced by traditional English, French and Italian gardens.  It was at this time, as Mr. & Mrs. Dixon began to furnish their home with appropriate furniture and decorative items, that they became interested in collecting works of art.

The Dixon residence as it looks now

In the beginning they preferred English portraits and landscapes that complemented the design of the house.  Their first acquisition was William James’ View of Venice, an obscure English artist no doubt influenced by the Italian master Canaletto.  They also purchased works by Romney, Gainsborough, Raeburn, and Reynolds.  Mrs. Dixon’s favorite colors were green and white, and many of the works reflect her taste.  As was the custom of the day, the Dixon’s would have a painting sent to their home on a trial basis.  After living with the painting for awhile, they would decide whether they would purchase the work or have it returned.  Eventually, through their travels and collecting experiences, they met the Impressionist scholar John Rewald, who helped them refine their collecting tastes.  Eventually the focus of their art collecting would become French art of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Hugo and Margaret Dixon
Throughout the years, Hugo and Margaret were both active in civic and cultural affairs. Hugo was president of the Board of Trustees of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and president of the Memphis Branch of the English Speaking Union. In 1947, he was king of the Memphis Cotton Carnival. Later, he became president of the Cotton Council International. Additionally, Hugo helped keep Memphis on the Metropolitan Opera tour circuit for many years. Margaret was a founder and the first president of the Memphis College of Art. She was also a board member of the Crippled Children’s Hospital and a member of The Memphis Garden Club. (The Memphis Garden Club is who to thank for our holiday decorations every year.) 

Hugo Dixon
Because the Dixons had no children, and therefore, no immediate heirs, they were concerned about the future of their beloved home and gardens. They established the Hugo Dixon Foundation in 1958 so that their estate would remain intact for the benefit of the entire community. After Margaret’s death in February 1974, and Hugo’s fatal automobile accident in November of the same year, the foundation established and now helps support The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, the lasting legacy of two outstanding and generous individuals. 

We want to wish everyone a Happy Holiday and we hope that learning a little more about the Dixons has inspired you to become more involved in continuing the legacy of Hugo and Margaret. This holiday season is a great time to begin or expand your relationship with the Dixon and help us inspire new audiences!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Membership....the Gift that keeps on Giving!

The holidays: a time to give and share, to be together, to spread warmth and love. Then why does gift giving bring on a case of the sweats, even on the frostiest of days?  It wasn’t always this way. I still remember getting butterflies just thinking about all of the festivities, light little lovely flutters of cheer and sparkle.  The flutters are still there, but now (especially when a trip to a mall is involved) they are more similar to a desperate stampede of the large, grassland, wildabeast-esque taxonomy.  At what point did the holidays change from excitement to survival mode?

As best I can pinpoint, I believe for me it was when I started giving gifts that weren’t purchased by my parents.  Money of course is a concern; why else do we turn into the afore-mentioned desperate stampede for a deal at 4:00 in the morning?  More than spending however, is a need to give the perfect gift, something that is not only overwhelmingly loved by the receiver but shows exactly how much they are loved, and packed with more meaning than words could ever express. Perfect. After years of crunch-time crafts and gift anxiety, I have finally discovered two things.
No 1. Stop worrying about the “perfect” gift, it’s like the elusive jackalope – probably not out there and everything else would be anticlimactic if you did find it.
No 2. Experience local.

For me, stress comes from focusing on what you give or get.  Joy comes from the experiences shared.  Giving something special from local artisans, markets, restaurants, and shops has not only created exciting experiences for me in the shopping, but it has created memorable experiences in the sharing.  Honoring someone through a donation to a local organization only widens the ripples of sharing experiences by giving back to the community.  Gift memberships are all in one. When you give a membership, you are giving unlimited unique experiences and endless opportunities to find something magical and meaningful all year long. 

You are giving inspiration. You are giving wonder. You are giving enlightenment. You are giving discovery. You are giving reflection. You are also giving these gifts to all of those who are similarly reached by the organization through your support.  It is truly the gift that keeps giving.
If you’re reading this, then the Dixon Gallery and Gardens has created some of those experiences for you.   Share what words cannot by giving the gift of the Dixon this holiday season.

Warmest of wishes from our family to yours, Karen Strachan

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holiday Open House at the Dixon and......let it snow, let it snow!

We had an amazing Holiday Open House Weekend. Our tree was lit during perfect weather at the tree lighting ceremony Saturday night. The seasonal music set the mood and the hot chocolate hit the spot as we celebrated the beginning of the holiday season.

Sunday was the official Holiday Open House. Yummy holiday treats were served and special craft tables were set up throughout the galleries for the entertainment of our smallest Dixon supporters. 

One very special Dixon supporter was present as well. Santa Claus allowed each visitor (young and old) to whisper their holiday wishes in his ear. With Santa being the jolly guy that we have all come to know and love, he took photos with each one to make the day extra special. 

The galleries were open! Each guest had the opportunity to see the exhibitions and admire the holiday decorations throughout the museum. Our Room of Wonders continued to be a big hit for the kids and the musical accompaniment, located in From Houdini to Hugo: The Art of Brian Selznick, dazzled audiences throughout the event!

Nothing makes holiday decorations stand out more than snow. Wednesday morning's snowy weather made the Dixon a sight for sore eyes as the snow settled beautifully on the Christmas tree and museum. The rest of the property was just as stunning. We can't wait for you to get in the holiday spirit at the Dixon!

Be sure to check out the Dixon website for information on our holiday hours - so you can see the tree and holiday decorations for yourself! Check back for more Holiday Open House photos and join the Dixon to be a part of next year’s festivities!