Contempo-Art at Cowboys Stadium

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Posted August 10, 2009 by Anthony Mariani in Blotch

Part of the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington is going to include 14 site-specific installations. Don’t expect paintings of bluebonnets. Or sculptures of iron spurs. Or anything else obvious and literal. Think: contemporary art.

A vast majority of the artists selected are cutting edge. Olafur Eliasson, Franz Ackermann, Matthew Ritchie, and Mel Bochner are just a few of them, all chosen by Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones and his wife Gene, noted contemporary art collectors, with help from an art council that counts among its members Michael Auping, chief curator of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (not “the Museum of Modern Art, Fort Worth,” as indicated by the Cowboys organization), along with the Dallas Museum of Art’s contemporary art curator, Charlie Wylie, and Texas-based collectors Howard Rachofsky and Gayle Stoffel, among others. The name of the endeavor is the Art Program at Cowboys Stadium.

“From top to bottom, we’re taking a whole new approach to what a national sports arena can be,” said Jerry Jones. “Cowboys Stadium isn’t just a place to go and see a game or a concert. It’s an experience you share with your family and your community. That will include things that a lot of people wouldn’t anticipate seeing at a stadium — like contemporary art. Football is full of the unexpected and the spontaneous — it can make two strangers into friends. Art has the power to do that too, to get people talking, and looking, and interacting. It’s not just about what you see on the field or on the wall. It’s about creating exciting experiences.”

Gene Jones said, “We’re breathing new life into a tradition that extends back to the Greeks and Romans, who integrated the art of their time in stadiums where the best athletes gathered to compete. The Art Program at Cowboys Stadium brings this dialogue between art and sport into the modern day. We’re making it possible for some of the world’s leading contemporary artists to create work on a scale unimaginable anywhere else and we’re connecting new audiences with their work.”

The pieces will be installed in “prominent locations” throughout the stadium, according to the organization, including at the four principal entries, the two monumental staircases and two pedestrian ramps that connect the seating decks, and on “huge walls” above the main concourse concession areas. Other pieces will “wrap around” stadium walls or will be located in entryways and “will be visible to fans seated in the stadium.” Most of the works will be completed by the first regular-season game: Sun., Sept. 20, against the New York football Giants.

The Dallas Cowboys Art Program was conceived, launched, and funded by the Joneses.

The Art Program also will include art tours as well as “educational initiatives for all members of the community.”

The only local contributor I know of is UNT’s Annette Lawrence.

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