Museum Tower Begins Visual Assault on James Turrell’s Tending, (Blue)

Last December we noticed that the cranes from the construction of the 42-story Museum Tower condo development in the Arts District were beginning to obstruct the view from the aperture of James Turrell’s installation at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Tending, (Blue). Those photos were a follow up to an initial story in the September 2009 D Magazine which raised the potential conflict between the new condo tower and Turrell’s well-loved art work.

Jonathan Borofsky and Museum Tower

In that article, Willard Spiegelman and Tim Rogers conducted an experiment, ingeniously utilizing a giant red balloon to test whether or not the new building, when completed, would be seen from the interior of Turrell’s piece.

Now a balloon is hardly needed. Although a sign and rope at the Nasher indicates that Turrell’s work is currently closed to the public, photos taken by FrontRow show that Museum Tower is beginning to make its way into the view. In fact, the photo above shows that the tower is clearly visible from Tending, (Blue) even though it is only the 24th story of the new building that has been constructed. There will be eighteen additional stories constructed before Museum Tower is complete.

Kristen Gibbins, a spokesperson for the Nasher, confirmed that the exhibit space is closed because the crane from the construction could be seen from Tending, (Blue). Gibbins said that the museum has been in conversations  with James Terrell about the progress on the tower, and that the artist will soon make a trip to Dallas to determine how to address the intrusion of the tower on the piece. The timing of that trip has not yet been set, she said.

Gibbins added that Museum Tower has been “very much involved” with the status of Tending, (Blue), and that they are committed to being a “good neighbor,” but said it was too early to comment on whether the museum would ask for financial assistance to modify Tending, (Blue).


  • I guess they’ve closed it to mollify Turrell, but seeing these pictures actually makes me want to go visit the installation. When the tower is finished, it will clearly destroy what Turrell intended. But right now the Museum Tower is like a giant, living Alexander Calder mobile. Men are crawling all over it, that crane is swinging around, unpredictably entering the view from the “Tending” aperture.

    Come on, Nasher. We want to watch.

  • willard spiegelman

    And as we pointed out in D last year, Dallas now has the distinct eminence of having two site-specific works that either have been removed or are in danger of being removed. The other? Claes Oldenburg’s “Stake Hitch,” commissioned for and formerly located in the barrel vault of the DMA. It is the only Oldenburg in the country to have been de-installed. The DMA has made promises, thus far unkept, to reinstall it some day. But when?

    As for the Turrell room, we pointed out two years ago that it seems highly unlikely that a modest tweaking of the circumference of the sky-window in the Nasher piece will be able to clear the sky of the looming tower over head.

  • Former Texan

    Willard, I just read your 2010 article on Stake Hitch. I moved away from Dallas in 2001 and didn’t know that the work had been removed. For me, that piece is synonymous with the DMA. I’m sorry to learn that its sitting in their basement. I hope they will decide to reinstall it.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t been back to the DMA since Tending, (Blue) was installed, so I’ll never see it in its original form.

  • Something about this ironically reminded me of Chapman Kelley.

  • @DM: You and me too

  • Mark

    Put it in CenterPark at NorthPark. Nasher owned and it’d prob be even more popular because its available to the masses (and I imagine the snobs will oppose that, but it would be great for the art scene in Dallas)

  • willard spiegelman

    I am not sure whom Mark means by “snobs.” Most of the arts lovers I know in Dallas are missionary in their zeal for having as much art as possible in public places, or otherwise available to as many people as possible. Putting Terrell’s room in the garden at NorthPark is a brilliant idea, but probably not realizable.

  • db

    Thanks for another mention of the “Stake Hitch”. Sometimes i think that i am the only one that thinks it is a travesty that this is gone. What a loss for our Children.

  • Paulette

    I am glad that others miss “Stake Hitch.” It is so sad to see unique pieces like that one and “Tending (Blue)” be unavailable.

  • I spend my weekends at the DMA and people ask for “Stake Hitch” constantly, I hope along with all of you that the DMA re-installs it. I know they are sensitive to the public’s desire for it’s return, but the fact that they have to put a whole in the floor to re-install it may be a strong cause for the delay. It certainly holds a strong place in my memory growing up here in Dallas.