Down, Set, Hike: Contemporary Art Throws for a Touchdown

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Olafur Eliasson. Mel Bochner. Lawrence Weiner. Meet polarizing NFL general manager Jerry Jones and 80,000 screaming football fans. We learned this week that the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium, right in the seat of gun-toting, Good Book-thumping, Friday Night Lights -living country, is launching an art program, and a contemporary one at that. Connecting the general public to 14 contemporary artists of museum quality is an inventive idea, sure, but will it work?

Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes points out that abstraction in modern art is having a moment: blockbuster exhibitions this fall include Georgia O’Keeffe abstracts at The Whitney, an Arshile Gorky retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a Kandinsky survey at the Guggenheim, and the typically “safe” SFMoMA presents modern paintings from Clyfford Still’s collection. Judge for yourself whether sea change is a-comin’, after the jump.

This is actually rather heartwarming. According to Jones (or his PR rep), “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.” Jones and his wife Gene are apparently big time art collectors, so thankfully hundred-yard neon green murals were out of the question.

Instead, visitors will view works by Franz Ackermann, Ricci Albenda, Mel Bochner, Daniel Buren, Olafur Eliasson, Teresita Fernandez, Terry Haggerty, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Jim Isermann, Annette Lawrence, Dave Muller, Matthew Ritchie, Gary Simmons, and Lawrence Weiner, with Doug Aitken, Wayne Gonzales, and Jacqueline Humphries appearing in the near future. We’ve rounded up a few selections below.

Gary Simmons mural in the entry stairwell of the $1.5 billion Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX. [via ak5x on Flickr]

Annette Lawrence’s Coin Toss installation, on view in the VIP Lobby of the Cowboys stadium.

Everything’s bigger in Texas. Andrew Rosen Gallery artist Matthew Ritchie incorporated the state’s unofficial slogan into his piece Line of Play, a 100-foot-long arch soaring over one of the main entrances made of “black, linear designs combined with a mosaic of brightly colored aluminum pieces.” Dave Muller, a Pasadena-based artist, had free rein over his permanent installation, based on textbook diagrams of the solar system. In an interview with T: The Moment, he explains, “I’ve always liked diagrams or maps that spell out your position in relation to things: you are here. Combining that with my long-held interest in astronomy/cosmology and the fact that Cowboys Stadium looks like a spaceship, I came up with depicting a solar diagram with a few twists. Planets are like big balls, although they aren’t pointed prolate spheroids like football.”

Though only two of the fourteen artists currently commissioned for the art program are women, they certainly aren’t wallflower pieces. Annette Lawrence‘s Coin Toss installation, pictured above, in seen through glass doors overlooking the VIP Lobby (45 x 15 x 33 feet). 41 points connect steel cablewire in a crisscrossing arc pattern that emulates the “promising” toss of a coin at the start of a football game.

Muller’s installation Solar Arrangement spanning the wall above the main concession concourse.

Proposition Player, a Matthew Ritchie installation from 2003, as seen in the state’s Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston.

Mel Bochner’s Win, in the northeast stairwell. [via sanantoniobanderas on Flickr]

British artist Terry Haggerty working on his installation Two Lines which renders a two-dimensional surface into a perception of 3D. (AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)

Al Roker visited the Cowboys Stadium last week to get a tour from owner Jerry Jones’s daughter Charlotte Anderson, who spearheaded the art installation project with her mother. We’re not sure whether “fans of art and architecture” will be donning the blue and silver jersey anytime soon, but a noble effort nonetheless.

A full press release with information on all 14 installations found here.