The Nasher and Museum Tower Should Just Take This Fight to Court Where it Belongs

Thumbnail image for SHZ_GetOffMyLawn_TitleImageV2.jpg
Sometime, just as a study of American photo journalism in print media today, go to the web site of the Dallas Morning News and take a good gander at the pictures they have published recently of anybody having anything at all to do with the Nasher Sculpture Center, and compare them to photos of anybody having anything at all to do with the the Dallas Police & Fire Pension Fund.

Just saying. Of course you know that the sculpture museum and the pension fund are locked in battle over accusations that Museum Tower, the fancy new condo tower built by the fund, is reflecting damaging light rays onto the museum. The museum is a huge favorite of the News and the Dallas mink-stole art crowd. The fund is sometimes a piggy bank for the same folks when they need its money for their own projects, but in social terms it lacks panache. Look it up.

The News sort of pretends on the surface to be covering the dispute evenhandedly, but if you know nothing more of the principals than what you see in Morning News photos, you must come to a startling conclusion: the sculpture museum is run by really cool guys like director Jeremy Strick, pictured standing jaunty and hands-in-pockets next to a Claes Oldenburg joke sculpture looking like Ben Affleck with a butch. The pension fund, on the other hand, appears to be run entirely by ogres.

Look, I feel sorry for some of these dudes, so I'm not going to name the pension fund officials and board members who look the worst in the paper's depictions of them, but let me share a bit of newspaper know-how with you, based on a way-too-long career of it. You can make almost anybody look awful if you get on the floor between their legs and shoot straight up over the belly with a perspective traveling deep into the nasal passages and a sharp focal point directly on individual nose hairs.

For the most part, very few of us are Ben Affleck. There's a reason he's in the movies and we are not. Any of us can be made to look like we were created by Maurice Sendak, especially when they focus on the insides of our noses.

The latest story is that the museum has been forced to drape its roof with some kind of shroud to prevent the pension fund building's reflected glare from spoiling an installation of the works of Kenneth Price. (See correction below.)

A story about it in the News over the weekend included another threat by museum officials to take their sculptures and blow town, moving to some other city if Dallas won't do what they want. The museum wants the pension fund to cover its building with a new skin. The pension fund wants the museum to cover itself with a new roof. And there you have it.

In the same story, reference also was made to the likelihood of litigation. I can't think of a nicer crowd for that to happen to. In fact, isn't this exactly why we have courts and lawsuits? Is court not a far better place to hammer this out than doing it through this process of invidious social pressure via the Morning News? Did the powers-that-be in this town just stop growing up after they left their fraternities and sororities?

Take it to court. Punch it out. I'd love to know what the real issues are, not merely in terms of the properties involved but also the question of how this happened. The pension fund always insists its building was fully permitted by the city to look exactly the way it does and to set off as big a glare as it does. Is that really true? Let's get some city officials in the dock and work it out down to the brass tacks.

The Nasher paints itself as a billion dollar gift to the city, now suffering a massive diminution in value because of the pension fund's condo tower. If that is even somewhat true, let's get it into court and force the pension fund to fork over every penny.

But here's the other side of the penny. The News and other proponents of the museum's cause have been quick to suggest that any mink-stole types who know what's good for them will think twice about buying one of the seven-figure condos currently being flogged in the condo tower. There has even been a bit of gloating over what may be slow sales at the tower.

If the Nasher has been hyping its case, using the News as a bludgeon for a little tortious interference with the condo sales, then the pension fund has a fiduciary duty to its subscribers to sue the socks off the Nasher. Even if the fund sells the tower sometime soon, it should still pursue compensation for whatever kind of a haircut it believes the Nasher has inflicted on it. Judging by the photos, it might be a butch.

Can we just get take this thing to court and get the whole mess out of the realm of SMU pledge night? Give Larry Friedman a chunk of it. Get Reed Prospere in there somewhere. How about Tom Mills? Somehow Royce West needs to make an appearance. Let's suit up the gladiators and put some splatter on the walls.

Last thing: what should you do if you ever do find yourself on the short end of the stick with the Morning News photo staff? This is why you see those people in the paper with their shirts pulled up over their heads. As bad as that may look, it's better than what the News will do to you. And by the way: if you think they may be shooting video with sound, repeat the F-word as fast as you can without stopping.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly asserted that the Nasher had previously only accused the tower of affecting its outdoors space, and that this latest accusation marked an "escalation." In fact, the first story about the dispute in The Dallas Morning News last March included charges by the Nasher that its indoor galleries were seriously impaired by reflected light from Museum Tower.

My Voice Nation Help
17 comments
JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

My sincere apologies to the Nasher. I wrote that complaints about light from Museum Tower harming the indoor spaces at the Nasher were new. I said, "This is an escalation of accusations against the glaring building. Previously it had been accused only of harming plants outside the museum. Now apparently the light has invaded the gallery space inside. What's next? Charred human remains?"

In fact the first story about the dispute in The Dallas Morning News last March included charges by the Nasher that its indoor galleries were seriously impaired by reflected light from Museum Tower. The recent story including the same charges, therefore, was not an escalation.

Maybe
Maybe

Maybe they don't want to be next to free museums. Maybe the Nasher is trying to force the City to take it over. I'm with Jim. Take it to court and let's find out what the deal really is.

nammer
nammer

I think you're tilting at windmills a bit here.  While the police and fire pension funded the museum tower, it was developed and built by and for the same crowd (or maybe a little more new money) that ostensibly visits the nasher and supports the arts...hence the name, Museum Tower. the people who designed the tower with reflective glass should have thought about their neighbors (you can't expect the city to do that...they can't even keep the streets paved much less worry about sun damage on expensive art)   before they built the stupid thing.   To paint this as a fight between the 75205 crowd and the rank and file fire and police employees is misleading.  And to people who say there isn't that much more glare from museum tower than one gets driving up Central Expressway, the difference is, you're not driving a priceless piece of art up and down the expressway...Given all that, I'm sure Fort Worth would be happy to have the Nasher move over there...I bet they would even pay some to move the building!

Guest
Guest

Now why is it that the PR person for the developer and manager of Museum Tower, Brook Partners, is the same PR person for Mathews Southwest? The firm who supposedly wants to buy the building. 

We all know police and fire were forced into financing the tower. Everything about its construction gets approved by everyone from the Nashers, to the City to everyone in 75205.

Before the negative PR collaboration with D Magazine, paid for by said tower builder, Brook Partners, sales stunk! Before they got the glass up, Brook Partners refused to share information on any real interest by people wanting to spend the dough. Not long after the PR piece hits, the building is suddenly the ruination of the Nasher. Everyone will believe it because it shines during certain times of the day. So it must be true, right? They can see it with their own eyes, never mind, lots of buildings in Dallas up and down 35 and 75, shine equally bright. Who better to get on your side?  Emotional artists and arts patron, who know nothing about dirty real estate deals in Dallas.

Tada.....now suddenly, there is someone else who wants to buy the building. No doubt at a SIGNIFICANT LOSS to the men and women in blue. And guess who Jack Mathews PR person is? Barbara Buzzell! 

It really is hard to believe you guys didn't see that one coming, Jim.

CraigT42
CraigT42

I was neutral on this issue until I took my son to the nasher this weekend. Having read the news coverage I was curious to see this famous glare. Yeah to be honest there were a few times I was shielding my eyes, but no worse than happens a dozen times a day while driving on 190 or 75. What put me fully on the side of the tower though was the plaque outside in the nasher garder (which looked quite healthy by the way). The plaque states that someone had determined the view of the sculpture to be "ruined" by the reflection of the tower and had it removed and that another sculpture was going up to block the view of the tower. Might I suggest a name for the new sculpture. My vote is for Whiny McButthurt.

Daniel
Daniel

Jesus Christ, again with the "mink-stole art crowd" stuff. 


Them big city  critters is just so snotty! But they cain't be all that smart: I done heard the dum fellers eat fish aigs!


Here's a pop quiz, Jim (there are no wrong answers): 


I really enjoy the Nasher, and I either a) don't own a mink stole, nor have I ever purchased one; b) am rarely mistaken for Ben Affleck; c) have been called a libtard by a cool and breezy patrician who then spit on my cheap haircut and kicked my cut-rate trousers; c) both  a and b; d) both b and c; e) a and c, but is often mistaken for Johnny Depp.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

The snooty prigs that run the Nasher should just move the damn thing if they can't get along with their in-town neighbors.  The Menil in Houston is located in a lovely, quiet community near Montrose and does quite well, far from the madding crowd.  

Whatareyousaying
Whatareyousaying

@shwhitley Brook Partners would be the people who designed and begged for the money and got help with it from the former Mayor and his cronies.  It is owned by John Shughre, who is from New York. Isn't there a building in New York already called The Museum Tower. So in addition, to getting to screw the police and fire and having the deal pushed through by the former Mayor, they aren't that original.  This is not a fight between 75205 and the Police and Fire. It's about forcing a financing and then forcing a sale and using the arts community to do your dirty work, if I'm reading Guests analysis correctly.

CraigT42
CraigT42

@shwhitley

Sorry but I care a lot more for my own life and the kid in the back seat than for a supposedly priceless lump of bronze in a grass lot.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@Daniel Schutze is a typically clueless straight male that doesn't realize mink stoles went out with the Golden Girls.

"Blanche, why are you wearing a mink stole in Miami in the middle of Summer?  Only cats wear fur in the middle of the summer!" --Dorothy Zbornak. 

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Thank you, thank you, Myrna, for solving a problem. 

All the  years I've been visiting museums I've felt under-dressed. As Jim reminds us, mink is de rigueur for the real art lover, and I don't own a single mink. But, as your timely fashion tip points out, cats have fur, too. And while I don't own a cat, several of my neighbors do, nice soft fluffy ones that visit my back yard almost every night. I have already contacted a furrier who assures me there's more than one way to skin one. He says if I come up with the skins -- he'll need at least four, more if they're kittens.-- he'll provide the stole. So look for me at the next museum opening. I'll be he one with the catnip boutonniere.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@James080 Thinking through this thing, James, it occurs to me there's really no point in skinning cats unless there's a market for cat pelts. But if cat stoles were to become fashionable -- seen at all the better museum openings... Certainly the supply is there. I think Jim and Myrna together have pointed the way to creating demand. 

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...