Dallas/ Fort Worth


I realized that I had been to see my cousins, H and M, many times, and they live just outside Fort Worth, but I had never visited the Kimbell Art Museum, designed by the American architect Louis Kahn (widely regarded as one of the outstanding architectural achievements of the modern era.  [The Kimbell Art Museum] is especially noted for the wash of silvery natural light across its vaulted gallery ceilings.)  Plus, after many years of trying to decide how to double the size of the museum,  the renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano was chosen to design a companion building, which opened November, 20131.  Here is the model, Kahn’s building on the left, Piano’s on the right:

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Can’t see much from what used to be the entrance (now facing the addition with the new entrance on what used to be the back, seemingly an afterthought from the parking lot), as there are so many trees.  Hard to get a good photo without a helicopter.  Photo of me and H by the previous front.

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Denver Dallas 144But took lots of photos of the details, which my cousin said that he would never have noticed.  The sliver of light on the edge of the vault of Kahn’s building.  The handrail.




The overhang on Piano’s building.  And the way he inset the entry mat and air vent with the glass entry walls and door stop.

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In addition to the pristine buildings, the collection is pretty awesome.  Here a Rembrandt, Bust of a Young Jew.


The artists include Bellini, Bernini, Boucher, Braque, Caravaggio, Cézanne, Corot, Courbet, Cranach – Lucas the Elder, Degas, Donatello, El Greco, Fra Angelico, Fragonard, Gainsborough, Gauguin, Goya, Frans Hals, Léger, Maillol, Manet, Matisse, Michelangelo, Miró, Mondrian, Monet, Munch, Noguchi, Picasso, Pissarro, Rembrandt, Reynolds, Rubens, Sisley, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, Titian,Turner, Velázquez, and Watteau.1



Denver Dallas 165Photo of my cousins in the Kimball’s buffet restaurant with 5th century mosaics on the wall behind.



Then walked one block to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, which was designed by Philip Johnson.  Johnson is known, among other buildings, for his glass house, built in 1949 (photo left from Architectural Digest), “universally viewed as having been derived from” the Farnsworth House design, now  just as famous as the glass Farnsworth House Mies van der Rohe built in 1951 (photo right). 

johnson's glass housefarnsworth house

But the Amon Carter Museum is not one mentioned in architecture classes (where we were taught to worship at the Kimball).  I didn’t even bother taking a photo of the front.  (This from the museum web site2.)

amon carter museum
Denver Dallas 172Preferred Johnson’s addition (left).  I am more partial to the Pennzoil Place, a set of two 36-story towers in downtown Houston, Texas (below left)designed by Philip Johnson and John Burge, for which Johnson was awarded the 1978 AIA Gold Medal and became the first laureate of the Pritzker Prize in Architecture.  Unfortunately, Johnson and Burge also designed New York’s Sony Tower (below right), fondly know as the Chippendale Building after the open pediments characteristic of the famous English designer’s bookcases and other cabinetry.  (All photos from the Web.)

pennzoil-place-01chippendale bldg

Oops, I’ve gotten away from Dallas/ Fort Worth and am into an architecture lecture.  Sorry.

The art collection was very nice, including this Thomas Hart Benton depression art, an O’Keefe and a large Louise Nevelson.

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My favorite (just a detail here) was Denver Dallas 167Ease (1882), by William M. Harnett.  (You must click on this to see the detail.)

…he painted trompe l’oeil (fool the eye) still lifes, arrangements of life-size objects rendered so realistically as to seem three dimensional.  In Ease, which was commissioned by James Abbe, a Massachusetts businessman, he offers a glimpse into a Victorian gentleman’s library.  Harnett selected items that would best convey his patron’s emotional, intellectual, and spiritual sides,  The owner is a very real presence in this interior.  He has momentarily set down his lighted cigar and will return, we feel certain, before it burns through the newspaper.


We spent most of the day at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden3.  (Two Botanical Gardens in a week – can you tell I’m studying landscape architecture?)  This was A Deal.  H bought the parking ticket online at half price ($5), and we got in for only $1 each during August Dollar Days!  M, having broken a toe, was wearing The Boot, but she was a real trooper as we tromped around most of the 66-acre gardens, in the heat, 100° with the humidity over 30% (uphill both ways).

These are labor-intensive gardens, with huge swaths of flower beds replanted each season.  H and M had moved back to Fort Worth 14 years ago, and had never been to the Gardens.  They have vowed to go back next season.  (Yes!  I took these gorgeous photos.)

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We had lunch in blissful air-conditioning at the DeGolyer Estate, and then took a tour of the house – two photos here.

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We saw all these, I believe: All America Selections Trial Garden, Boswell Family Garden, Crape Myrtle Allee (but we didn’t walk down to the  pool at Toad Corners), Jonsson Color Garden, Lay Family Garden, Martha Brooks Camelia Garden, McCasland Sunken Garden, Nancy Clements Seay Magnolia Glade, Nancy’s Garden, Nancy Rutchik Red Maple Rill, Palmer Fern Dell, Paseo de Flores, Pecan Grove, Rose Mary Haggar Rose Garden, Trammell Crow Visitor Education Pavillion (where we saw a short video on what the gardens look like each season – this was at the end and the room was air-conditioned!), Trial Gardens, A Woman’s Garden, Crape Myrtle Allee, Jonsson Color Garden, Karen’s Gazebo, Lay Family Garden, McCasland Sunken Garden, Poetry Garden, Rodriguez Gazebo, The Lower Meadow, Cissy Thomsen Welcoming Water Wall, Dann Talley Kincheloe Courtyard, Fogelson Fountain, Magnolia Allee, Orchid Hollow, Junkins Fountain, Palmer Fern Dell Bridge, Wind Harp, A Woman’s Garden Pool, A Woman’s Garden II Bridge, Grotto, Octagon Fountain, Indian Courtyard Arbor, Wolf Brothers Urns,  Rodriguez Gazebo, and the Woolf Circle.  Phew!  (Can you tell that a lot of rich people donated?)

Denver Dallas 219Got a photo out of the car window of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge over the Trinity River in Dallas, designed by Santiago Calatrava, a world-class architect. (OK, I won’t go into projects that he has done.)

Denver Dallas 220Also, through the window,  Fort Worth’s City Center Towers Complex, comprised of two towers designed by noted architect Paul Rudolph.  (When you google famous architecture in tucson az you get Mission San Xavier del Bac, founded in 1692.)


We spent the morning taking a tour of the Bass Performance Hall4 in Fort Worth (the crown jewel of a city which boasts the nation’s third largest cultural district4).  The symphony was practicing in the hall, so we only got to peek in (no photos).  Art deco.  Ceilings painted by Scott and Stuart Gentling.

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Two 48-foot-tall angels sculpted by Marton Varo from Texas limestone grace the Grand Façade.

That evening H and M’s daughter and her new husband came for dinner.  Lots of chatting about The Family.  H and M are doing significant research into our Blair family.  More about that in the next blog.


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