Queer sculptor Anne Whitney’s marble ‘Lady Godiva’ was a long-forgotten masterpiece rediscovered and donated to the DMA by feminist art historian Alessandra Comini, who dedicated the gift to her late partner, Eleanor Tufts.
For its June Late Night, the DMA shows all the colors of the rainbow
ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Executive Editor
Over the years, the Dallas Museum of Art has always taken its mission of community involvement seriously, with a variety of programming that goes beyond asking patrons to plop down some coin and wander through its galleries. From Arts & Letters Live to Summer Art Camp for kids, to Gallery Talks every first and third Wednesday, the DMA has always been more interactive than standing still and staring at walls.
One of its most social programs has long been Late Nights, when, on the third Friday of each month, the museum keeps its doors open from 6 p.m. to midnight, so that patrons can see a different side of what the DMA has to offer. And this month, for the first time, the museum is really showing its Pride.
Not just pride in its collections, but its gay Pride. There’s a lot that Dallas’ LGBT community has to offer the arts scene, and the DMA is actively cultivating it for a huge block party.
Pride Late Night debuts on June 15, with an eye toward highlighting for the community at large the contributions made to the arts by LGBT folks.
The process has a longer tail than you might imagine. The seed for a Pride event started last fall, when the museum’s staff noted its September Late Night coincided with Dallas Pride. But “our timeline was too fast to [make it work],” according to Stacey Lizotte, head of adult programs at the DMA. “Later we had a light bulb moment [when we realized] our Summer Block Party Late Night in June [dovetailed] with National Pride.” And because Dallas has fewer June Pride events, it allowed the DMA to make use of many local groups.
Lizotte and her staff began planning in earnest for Pride Late Night in January, reaching out to queer arts and civic leaders. That led to series of meetings where the DMA solicited ideas for programming, cooperation and performances. Ultimately, well more than a dozen community groups contributed to the planning of Pride Late Night, including The Rose Room, The Turtle Creek Chorale, Uptown Players, Arttitude, The Dallas Way and Resource Center. (Dallas Voice was also involved in the process.) The result is a summer block party whose rainbow flag flies high.
The evening kicks off at 6 p.m., with an ensemble from the TCC delivering a “happy hour” concert in the atrium. Later, Verdigris Ensemble will perform a set of highlights from bisexual composer Leonard Bernstein, and vocalist Chris Chism sings. There will be film screenings (The Bird Cage, the new documentary Transpose) and a music showcase from the Rose Room cast. Cassie Nova will even host Drag Queen Story Hour.
“The Rose Room cast did a performance in 2012 for [gay artist] Jim Hodges exhibition [because] Hodges was very excited to include a drag performance, but I think [Cassie Nova’s Story Hour] will be a first,” Lizotte says.
Another first — and the thing Lizotte herself is most looking forward to — is a lesson in vogueing as members of United Black Ellument demonstrate how to hold a Kiki Ball.
But it’s not just inviting groups into the museum; it’s also showing off the collection itself. Throughout the evening, at the top of each hour DMA experts will conduct Spotlight Talks, mini-tours focusing on works by LGBT artists in the collection. Queer artists have long held a place in the DMA halls; indeed, when you enter the DMA from its main entrance, in addition to the massive Chihuly glass exhibit, you’re greeted by an enormous work from out artist Robert Rauschenberg, dominating the wall of the café. But lesser-known works will get their due, courtesy of the DMA staff.
“We did a call-out to our staff to talk about a piece on display they had a personal connection to,” Lizotte says. Among those featured will be trans sculptor Anton Prinner as well as avant-garde visual artist Felix Gonzales-Torres, who died from complications from AIDS in 1996. That piece, Untitled (Perfect Lovers), was specifically taken from storage and displayed for Pride Late Night, turning a party into a truly proactive exploration of gays in art.
“We of course want everyone to have fun that night,” Lizotte says, “but hope they learn something new, too.”
Pride Late Night at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 Harwood St., June 15. 6 p.m.–midnight. $10 ($5 for students, free for DMA members). For a full schedule, visit DMA.org/programs.