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Uncovered: The Art of George Dahl

You never know what you’ll find in those old storage lockers.
By D Magazine |
Image
photography by Kris Hundt

Adrienne Faulkner was picking through her parents’ storage locker when she came upon some boxes marked “George Dahl.” She was excited, but who wouldn’t be? George Dahl was one of the 20th century’s most influential American architects. And he was also her grandfather, a sort of distant but kindly man. Curious in a wonder-why-granddaddy-saved-all-of-this-stuff way, Adrienne opened the boxes. (This is where, in the film version, the actor takes a very deep breath.) Uncovered: sketchbook after sketchbook of watercolors and line drawings from Dahl’s three years traveling across Europe as a Harvard fellow, a book of magnificently rendered portals, and a detailed diary. But it wasn’t the architecture that had her in tears; it was the artwork.

As it turns out, George Dahl, the famed architect who designed more than 20 buildings at the University of Texas, all of Fair Park for the Texas Centennial Exposition, and the downtown Neiman Marcus—just to name a few—was probably an even more brilliant artist.
“Growing up, our walls were covered with Granddaddy’s butter-paper drawings, fantasy sketches of Fair Park,” Adrienne says. “They were everywhere: buildings, ideas, plans dashed off in pencil. We all knew he could sketch, but the work that was buried in the storage locker falls into the realm of ‘important.’”

Adrienne, a respected commercial interior designer and architect in her own right, has hired a team to catalog most of Dahl’s artwork. She has also reproduced a collection of his European drawings and the fantasy drawings he used to secure the design contract for the Centennial Exposition through a high-level digital replication process called “giclees” (pronounced jee-clays). She plans to negotiate with major institutions to stage exhibitions that will draw architects and art lovers alike. Dahl fans can purchase the giclees at Ken Knight at the Quadrangle.