Texas – Days 1-2: Car Dealerships, Peaceful Places, and Art Museums in Dallas

Brittany Swanson   February 25, 2016   Comments Off on Texas – Days 1-2: Car Dealerships, Peaceful Places, and Art Museums in Dallas

On the drive to Texas I had my third, well, this may be the end of my trip moment. The first was when I lost my wallet in Rhode Island. The second was when my back was hurting so much in Tennessee. This time it was when the dome light in my car came on and wouldn’t shut off…again. Now, I know that doesn’t sound too bad, but bear with me for a moment. The same thing happened last year. I dealt with it for like six months. Eventually, it started draining my battery and my car wouldn’t start. So I took it in. The first time they didn’t know what was wrong with it. The second time they said they fixed it. For $400 they better have fixed it. So, when it happened again on my drive to Texas, a massive state with long stretches between civilizations, I freaked out a bit. Especially because putting another $400 into a car I only paid $5,000 for and only needed to last five more months seemed ridiculous. Especially for something so silly.

Aside from a flat tire in Florida, I, thankfully, haven’t had any car troubles. When I got my flat tire I was with my mom, so it really wasn’t a big deal. I’ve been super fortunate and lucky so far on the trip and I could just see everything going downhill from here. I called Meghan to vent about my bad luck and tried to calm myself down and relax before meeting my Dallas hosts. I managed to fein a little bit of energy and after dinner with some wine and a trip to get ice cream I was feeling much better.

I called the Chevrolet dealership the following morning to see if I had to make an appointment or could just show up and the lady said they had an opening at 11, an hour from then. I quickly worked out, showered, and got dressed and then made my way to the dealership. I, fortunately, had the forethought to take out my backpack with my computer in it and grab a snack for while I waited. In another stroke of luck, the waiting room had free wifi so I hunkered down and got to work. I sent out at least twenty couchsurfing requests for the next few weeks and after two hours went to ask the lady at the desk if she knew how much longer my car would be. This was after all my only full day in Dallas and I hadn’t really planned to spend the whole thing working. She said it’d be another hour and a half. Oy.

I’d sat at a table in the sun and by the time they finally called my name to say my car was ready I was so hot. I’d stripped off all my outer layers, but unfortunately happened to be wearing a black skirt, black leggings, and a dark green shirt. Nice and toasty.

When I walked up to the counter I mentally prepared to sign my life away. It’d been three and a half hours. Their hourly rate was like $120 or something – I’d seen it on the wall when I was giving the first guy my info and explaining the problem. The lady said, “just sign here.” I quickly skimmed the paper trying to see what the damage was and deciding I could probably do without my left arm and then saw that total said $0.00.

She handed me my keys and the paper, which I looked at again, sure I’d misread it somehow. Then I skimmed the notes and saw the words “no work done” and my heart sank. They hadn’t fixed it and I’d been here half the day! I kept reading to figure out why. Then it said, “flipped off override.” Seriously?! Flipped a switch? Literally. That’s it?! That was it?! I’d been here for three and a half hours and all they did was flip a flipping switch?!

According to the receipt they also did a maintenance check and washed my car, but all it took to solve the dome light problem was to flip a switch?! Where was this magical switch?! Could I flip it next time? Hopefully there wouldn’t be a next time, but still. Also, could they have just flipped the switch the last time when I paid $400 to get it “fixed”?!  When I got back in the car and the dome light came on I panicked slightly, but it faded shortly after I closed the door. Yay! Problem solved. Car washed. And all for free! If only I’d remembered I also needed an oil change…oh well, can’t win them all.

In an attempt to salvage my day, I drove downtown immediately after leaving the dealership. I wanted to check out the Crow Collection which houses Asian Art, then go hang out in Thanks-Giving Square, and maybe wander down to the West End and see Dealy Plaza where JFK was shot. That was the plan anyway.

Can I just say I hate driving in big cities. I really do. I hate trying to find parking in big cities even more. I also hate that parking meters often don’t tell you how much time a quarter will buy you. It’s really annoying to deposit a quarter only to realize it only bought you six minutes. Yeah, no thanks. I drove around downtown Dallas for maybe fifteen minutes. I parked twice before realizing I’d have to move in an hour because it was almost four and there was no parking on the street from 4-6. The third time I decided to just roll with the one hour time limit and see what happened. Unfortunately, I was like a 15 minute walk from the Crow Collection which would’ve meant I’d get a whopping 15 minutes in the museum. So I decided to skip it. I went to Thanks-Giving Square and checked out the fountains and sat and relaxed for a bit. I tried to go inside the chapel, but it’s only open from 11-3, so I’d just missed it.

Chapel in Thanks-Giving Square, Dallas, TX.

Chapel in Thanks-Giving Square, Dallas, TX.

It was a little chilly sitting in Thanks-Giving Square, so I decided to check and see how long it’d take to get to the West End and Dealy Plaza. I had just enough time to walk there, check it out, and walk back before I had to move my car. So I put on my power-walk and booked it. I made it right on time, checked it out, turned around, and got to my car with two minutes still on the meter and my clock at 3:59 p.m. Whew.

Next I decided to go to Dallas Contemporary, a museum my host had recommended. They had three different exhibits. In the first, artist Aura Satz had a film and a projector sliding through images to celebrate the work of females in astronomy and ballistics. It was kind of trippy – lots of flashing shots and quick changes in scenes, I watched for a while but it started to make my head hurt.

The next exhibit showcased artist Jeff Zilm who used film as paint. He literally ground up film and mixed it in with his paint. I wasn’t a huge fan of his work. The paintings were mostly black and white and not terribly visually interesting. He also had these long skinny lines of shorthand writing that I didn’t understand and so didn’t find very compelling. He also had a few sculptural things: some found antennas and movie film and something I don’t even know how to describe. As well as two videos. One of the videos was of a shed and then this other image would flash and superimpose over it but like subliminally. I nearly missed it the first time. I stared for at least five minutes, but the added picture stayed on screen such a short time that I couldn’t figure out what it was though it looked human-ish. The other video had two side profile pictures of men facing each other and then a one to three word speech line would appear next to their mouths. Like, “Hey,” “Air is trouble,” and “triangle”. What? Oh, and there was a word wall of just nonsensical I don’t even know what. I read some of it, but then realized I was zoning out because I wasn’t processing anything so I moved on.

The one on the left is the one I didn't know how to explain, Jeff Zilm's art at Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, TX.

The one on the left is the one I didn’t know how to explain, Jeff Zilm’s art at Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, TX.

The final exhibit was called Black Sheep Feminism: the Art of Sexual Politics and it displayed works from four artists, Joan Semmel, Anita Steckel, Betty Tompkins, and Cosey Fanni Tutti. Tutti’s story was interesting. She became a porn star in the U.K. and then opened an exhibit called Prostitution using the images she’d posed for as her art. Apparently the public was enraged by this and took the issue to Parliament. That seems a little extreme to me. The exhibit didn’t say what Parliament did or did not decide to do about the public’s outrage…

Overall, I liked the Black Sheep Feminism exhibit the best. The sexuality didn’t feel objectifying, except maybe the porno ones, and even then I feel like they were reclaimed since Tutti did it with intention. The paintings were cool. Interesting colors. Very detailed, but not hyper sexualized. I loved a quote on the wall from Steckel, it said “If the erect penis is not ‘wholesome’ enough to go into museums – it should not be considered ‘wholesome’ enough to go into women. And if the erect penis is ‘wholesome’ enough to go into women, then it is more than ‘wholesome’ enough to go into the greatest art museums.” Seriously, though, why does society place such shame around sexuality and nakedness?

On the drive back to my host’s house that night I passed a restaurant called Start: Real. Food. Fast. I was intrigued so I Googled them. Like I had assumed, it was fast food using healthy ingredients. The menu looked pretty good so I went there the next morning. I’d forgotten the descriptions I’d read the night before so didn’t get what I’d expected, but it was definitely better than regular fast food and about the same price.

I drove to the museum area in downtown Dallas again and found parking right around the corner from the museums. As an added bonus, when I put my money in the parking meter two hours only cost me $0.75! Huzzah! Go Dallas! I went to the Nasher Sculpture Center first since it’s only free on the first Saturdays of the month and I just happened to be there on the first Saturday of February. There was a lower exhibit and an outdoor garden area and then another upper level exhibit.

By far the coolest sculpture was this interactive colorful room you had to wait in line to get into. The walls were made of colorful plastic. One side was red, one blue, one yellow, and one white. Inside was filled with fog and as the light passed through the walls the fog changed colors depending on where you were in the room and which colorful wall you were next to.

Blue, Red, and Yellow, 2001, Ann Veronica Janssens, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, TX.

Blue, Red, and Yellow, 2001, Ann Veronica Janssens, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, TX.

They only let six people in at a time and it was a little trippy because I could hear the other people in the room, but not see them until they were about three feet away from me. They just popped into view out of nowhere. It was startling. I really liked this piece. The artist was Ann Veronica Janssens and it was called Blue, Red, and Yellow.

This is what it looked like inside Blue, Red, and Yellow, 2001, Ann Veronica Janssens, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, TX.

This is what it looked like inside Blue, Red, and Yellow, 2001, Ann Veronica Janssens, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, TX.

Across the street from the Nasher Sculpture Center is the Crow Collection of Asian Art. I had a funny mishap getting to the Crow Collection. The sign for the Crow Collection was at the base of a big set of stairs which had a large sculpture at the top. Naturally, I figured the museum was at the top of the stairs. I was right behind a couple who tried the doors and couldn’t get in, so I paused. A guy in the building opened the door for the guy behind me. I waited a few more seconds and chose to follow the couple who had started walking around the building. We looped around the building seeing some outdoor sculptures in a garden-type area. When I’d finished my loop around the building a facilities lady opened the door for me and a security guard came to ask if he could help me. I knew something wasn’t right, so I asked him how to get to the museum. He smiled and said this was actually an office building and the museum was the building down below and the entrance was at the bottom of the stairs. I thought they were the same building…whoops.

You can see my confusion right? Clearly the museum should be at the top of the stairs...Crow Collection, Dallas, TX.

You can see my confusion right? Clearly the museum should be at the top of the stairs…Crow Collection, Dallas, TX.

I’m glad I made it to the Crow Collection. They had some really interesting pieces. I especially liked the intricate wood carvings and the exhibit of work by Bireswar Sen. Sen does tiny paintings. Tiny like I legitimately needed to use the provided magnifying glass to really see the paintings. They were probably smaller than a playing card. I have no idea how Sen managed to work on such a small scale and still use details. Crazy awesome.