Several years ago, I read about the installation of a sculpture, Walking to the Sky by Jonathan Borofsky, at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Since then I have wanted to visit the Nasher to see this piece but never got around to doing so. Finally today, Mr. JJ and I got a chance to visit the Dallas Arts District where the Nasher is located, for a couple of hours.
The Nasher Sculpture Center is home to an extensive collection of modern and contemporary sculptures belonging to Raymond and Patsy Nasher. Over 300 pieces are featured in the permanent collection and several others are displayed on a rotating basis. The Nasher Foundation built the center at a cost of $70 million, designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano and the outdoor landscape by Peter Walker.
The glass windows, travertine stones and the cast aluminium sunscreen of the roofs all come together to create a space that allows abundant sunlight and opens up both the indoor and outdoor spaces, creating a smooth transition. There are three galleries on the upper level and one on the lower.
Gallery 1 delves into classicism and colonialism, with art work that borrows from the classic Greco-Roman sculptures as well as colonial influences on continental artists by smaller colonies.
Gallery 2 displays are related to the influence of WWI and WWII as well as the industrialization of modern societies. The Lower level gallery deals with minimalism and radical forms of expression in a world of ever-changing technology and scientific innovations. The corner gallery explores art and nature and was the most interesting in its simplistic design yet with a deeper meaning. There is adequate space for one to enjoy and explore the art from different angles and the plaques on the walls give just enough information to make sense but is not overwhelming. Photography is allowed but use of flash, tripods and selfie sticks are prohibited.
The outdoor area is superbly landscaped with plenty of shady trees, serene water features and well-appointed sculptures. There are plenty of benches to sit on and ponder the pieces. I loved the outdoor gallery especially, with its interplay of light, shade and the sight and sound of the water features. There is a harmony that exists here between the man-made sculptures and the natural surroundings, creating an oasis in the midst of a busy downtown.
Unfortunately, the main sculpture I came to see had been taken down and sent back to its sculptor for re-engineering in 2010, is what I gathered from the staff. Apparently they are searching for a new home for the sculpture in Dallas. The Center also features Nasher Cafe by Wolfgang Puck. It offers vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free choices. The Nasher Store sells gifts, arts, accessories and books among other things.
The Center is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm and closed every Monday and a couple of other major holidays. Admission is $10 per adult, ($8 if riding DART). Children under 12, military personnel with ID, first responders and members have free admission. The Center is easily accessed via the Dallas North Tollway, the D-Link Bus, the M-line Trolley and DART. Parking is free at the nearby DMA parking garage for members. The DMA charges a flat rate of $12 for non-members. Metered street parking is available on surrounding streets. For the tech-savvy, the Center offers an app that may be downloaded prior to the visit.
We parked at the DMA since the area was busy and we couldn’t find any street parking despite driving around a few times. We spent an hour and a half browsing the sculptures at the Center before walking across to the Klyde Warren Park where we took in the lively scene. Food trucks parked at the side of the street were busy serving patrons. A variety of cuisine including pizza, burgers, Italian, Mexican and Vietnamese were available and almost all trucks offered at least one vegetarian option. Many Dallas residents were out enjoying a light snack or an early dinner in the shade of the trees lining the sides of the park. Kids played in the children’s park featuring fountains and a treehouse structure. We passed a couple of other areas with small water features and a splash pad where little children sought relief from the sun. It was a pleasant Texas afternoon to be out. The Park also had a sit-in restaurants that appeared busy. The Pavilion stage was unoccupied this afternoon but we have seen performances there in the past.
Walking back to the DMA, we saw the M-Line Trolley barreling down towards us and decided to take a free ride on the Trolley. The McKinney Avenue Trolley connects Uptown Dallas with the Dallas Arts District. Rides are free 365 days a year, donations are welcomed. The motorman drives the streetcar while the conductor watches for passengers at stops and keeps count. A bell in the car allows passengers to signal when they wish to get off at an upcoming stop.
We went all the way to the Uptown Station where the trolley had to make a 180 degree turn so it could return to downtown. It was cool watching the process as the trolley went a half circle on a turntable of sorts. The trolley was half full for most of the ride. What I did not like was that the windows were covered with a translucent, patterned film making it difficult to see the sights outside. The trolley itself was clean and the ride was fun.
Enjoy some pictures from our day out at the Nasher Center, the Klyde Warren Park and on the M-Line Trolley.