Dallas, Texas – February 2020

By | March 8, 2020

I’ll confess that after trips to London, New York, Lisbon, and more, I didn’t expect to be impressed by my trip to Dallas. I’d been to the city several times before to attend trade shows, but had never really explored. In fact, the best thing I did during my previous visits to Dallas was the time a few years before when I rented a car and drove to Arkansas. So on this trip, I vowed to give the place a better chance.

I flew to Dallas by way of Salt Lake City. My stopover was very short, but long enough for me to marvel at the beautiful snow-covered mountains you could see out almost any SLC airport window.

I finally arrived at my Dallas hotel late on Saturday night.

A consistent part of my business travel is that I take pictures and shoot video from my hotel window. I usually bring a tripod and modest zoom lens, and this time I even brought a gimbal for videos. But as my room was on merely the fifth floor and it overlooked the vast roofing system toward the freeway, I’m afraid there wasn’t much worth photographing from my window.

Still, I like to try to find the beauty in any scene, so here are a few exceptions:

On my first evening in Dallas, there was a lovely pink sunset.

My room windows collected condensation each night, so that I wasn’t able to see out the window at all for the first part of each day, which meant I didn’t ever see a Dallas sunrise.

I thought the coloring on the buildings during this sunset was notable.

And finally, here’s a time lapse video I shot of the sunset one day. I think the most interesting part of this video is near the end when you see two opposing “streams” of clouds flowing in opposite directions.

Dallas Arts: February 21

My meetings ended late on Thursday and my flight home was on Saturday, so I made detailed plans for Friday, including several museums, a nice dinner with colleagues, and a play (for which I bought my ticket several months in advance).

First, I took an Uber to the other side of town. I was excited when I saw Dallas’ new leaning tower and bewildered my Uber driver by taking pictures through his filthy windshield.

I’d just seen a story about this in the local paper in my hotel lobby: Only a few days earlier, a demolition company had attempted to take this building down using controlled detonations to make it implode, but the cement core of the building was so strong that the operation failed. Almost immediately the building had become an Instagram star, and the last I heard there were petitions to try to preserve it.

First stop: Nasher Sculpture Center

This small museum had a lovely collection of modern sculpture, including a Picasso, a large exhibit of the works of Barry Ball, and a fantastic outdoor space to enjoy large sculptures accented by trees and shadow. Here is a selection of my favorite photos from this place.

I loved how the grounds were designed so that the buildings around it were part of the art.

The lighting of the midday sun was not ideal for picture taking, but at least it made the shadows very intense. This gently curved wall was very large, and its contrast to the velvety lawn with the complex shadows running across it was impressive.

This artist, Barry Ball, takes careful 3D scans of objects, edits them in his computer, then uses a 3D printer to generate his art — doing a great deal of additional hand embellishing and polishing afterward. (I have probably oversimplified this, but you get the idea.)

Next stop: Dallas Museum of Art

After enjoying the Nasher, just outside the door was the Dallas Museum of Art. Even just the building with the skyscrapers jutting up behind it looked like art to me.

This was a large museum that had no admission fee (other than for one specific exhibit). I had only a little over an hour to spend here, so rather than focusing much on any one thing I just wandered about and enjoyed a little bit of everything here and there. Here are some of my favorite pics, although I also took pics of quite a few amazing paintings that I’m not uploading here.

In this last photo, I found it interesting that the sculpture represented a star with one if its points broken off, as Texas is the “Lone Star State.”

Intermission: Wandering in Dallas

I had just a little time until I needed to get an Uber to meet a buddy/colleague for dinner, so I decided to wander a bit.

When you’ve just left a museum and have spent quality time with modern art, it’s sometimes hard to tell what is art and what isn’t.

Of course, this crouching figure on a pole was intentional art…

But the old architecture of the church reflected in the modern glass building beside it is art that was not intentional… probably.

Eventually I found myself in the courtyard of some office buildings, and fell in love with this sculpture:

And having sculptures hanging about this cafe on the far side of the courtyard was a fun touch.

 

Finally, I called an Uber and headed to the restaurant. I was a bit early, so I walked around in this new neighborhood to take some pictures, wishing the light had been this perfect when I had been at the Nasher earlier.

The food at this restaurant was extremely delicious but insanely expensive. After dinner we went across the street to a place called Chocolate Secrets for chocolate desserts that were also insanely expensive (but astoundingly delicious: worth it!), then my friend dropped me off at the Kalita theater where I had a ticket to see Little Women.

I had expected it to be fluffy entertainment to cap off my week of meetings, but I was pleasantly surprised when it far exceeded my expectations. The multi-racial cast was an interesting choice, and the subtle reinterpretation of Jo’s rejection of her womanly role is something I’d like to believe that Alcott would have applauded.

What greatly elevated the experience for me was the immensely proud and impressively supportive father of one of the cast members who was seated next to me. We spent at least 20 minutes before the show talking about his son, so that when I saw Laurie on the stage, I, too, felt proud of the fine job he was doing.

Here’s more about the play. (Photo by Karen Almond)

The next day I headed home.

I’m happy to say that it didn’t take much effort to find things to impress in Dallas. From now on, when asked what I think of Dallas, I’ll talk about the wonderful art and theater scene there rather than how nice it was to rent a car and drive away.

And the bigger lesson learned is that if you find a place lacking in anything worthwhile, this might be a reflection on your own attitude rather than on the city. If you take the time to look for it, you’ll probably find something that will leave an impression.

[A final note: This trip took place exactly at the beginning of the Covid pandemic. During my business meetings on this trip, my colleagues and I were hearing stories about  this terrible virus in China that appeared to be starting its spread across the globe. I’d traveled quarterly since for this client since 2018, and yet, due to Covid, this was my last trip for them until August 2022.]

 

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