The Crow Collection of Asian Art sits squarely in the Dallas Arts District, a neighbor of the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center. The collection, amassed by Trammell and Margaret Crow, is housed in the office building that bears his name and contains art and artifacts from China, Japan, Korea, India and Indonesia.
The recent opening of the Sculpture Garden at the Crow Collection upped the ante in the district quite a bit. Many years in the making, the new garden contains twelve artworks from the 9th to the 21st centuries. They are outdoors in the newly landscaped and very beautiful Japanese inspired garden, which winds around the exterior of the building one level above the street.
The blending of old and new is evident as soon as you approach the Flora Street entrance. Off to one side, on the sidewalk, is one of three commissioned sculptures by contemporary Chinese artists. Liu Yonggang’s “Buddha” is an in your face, 18-foot-tall, lipstick red steel sculpture that shows a connection to traditional calligraphy without depicting a particular “character.” It’s a marvelous interplay of solids and negative spaces, a simple, yet commanding, presence.
The “Deified Laozi”, sitting at the foot of the entrance stairs, is a bronze sculpture from 17th century Ming China. It is quite a contrast to “Buddha.” You pass it as you ascend the stairs leading up to the sculpture garden where you begin your leisurely stroll among the other sculptures.
This bronze “Bell” from Japan’s Edo period is struck with a large piece of wood instead of a clapper.
I wound my way around the building, enjoying the well thought out areas of plantings, rocks and stones and came upon another striking contemporary sculpture by Qin Feng. His “Shi of East & West” is massive. It relates to the traditional use of pairs of carved stone lions as guardians outside entrances in China. These stone lions have been cut in half and separated, each half attached to a piece of plate glass etched with calligraphic brushwork. Looking through the open areas of the glass I could see the cityscape beyond. Simply magical!
The sculptures are placed on either side of the Ross Avenue entrance to the building, itself a striking piece of architecture.
The third commissioned piece is “Sweepers” by Wang Shugang, another Chinese artist. Three life size bronze sculptures depict Tibetan monks in the act of sweeping. One is bright red and two are black. They are anonymous and meditative.
There is a specially commissioned (non permanent) piece inside the building, which is not to be missed. Ma Jun is a Chinese artist, who comments on the consumerism taking hold in China in his “New China” series of objects, including cars. He paints the surface in a detailed style traditionally used for ceramics. “china.porsche”, a Porsche 911 carved in wood, then cast in fiberglass has incredible detail painted all over it. Catch it while you can (to May 24).
The Crow’s Sculpture Garden can be enjoyed any time of year. It is a respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown Dallas and is FREE and open to the public. Nice!