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Learn About the 2021 Summer Sizzlers

Below are details about each 2021 Summer Sizzler lecture.


Trabajo Rustico

August 3

Dionicio Rodríguez arrived from Mexico to San Antonio in 1924, and brought with him the art of trabajo rústico, the art of sculpting cement to appear as wood, or rocks. In France where the genre began in the mid-1800s, it was known as rocaille or faux bois. Later, the art came to Central and South America, and finally to the US. It is believed that San Antonio has more examples of the work by Rodríguez and others than any city in the US, although he worked in 7 other states, many of the sites listed on the National Register. Patsy Light spent 8 years researching him and his work, and wrote the book Capturing Nature, the Cement Sculpture of Dionicio Rodríguez in2008, lavishly illustrated with Bob Parvin’s images ad published by TAMU Press. Her presentation is a sampling of the work featured in this award-winning book. Now in its second printing, the book is being followed this fall by Artisans of Trabajo Rústico, The Legacy of Dionicio Rodríguez, which features biographies of his contemporaries and present-day practitioners. Light and photographer, Kent Rush, traveled many miles and collected a gallery of more than 100 examples of palapas (roofed shelters), benches, tables, chairs, bridges, fountains, arbors, and many other objects.

When Art needs some TLC

August 10

Since 2017, Nicky DeFreece Emery has been one of several conservators charged with maintaining and conserving pieces in the City of Dallas’s public art collection. The City of Dallas’s Public Art Program currently has over 300 pieces in the collection, ranging in all manner of media, location, and complexity from monumental bronzes such as Henry Moore’s 1978 The Dallas Piece at City Hall Plaza to the six stately concrete sculptures at Fair Park’s Esplanade constructed in 1936 for the Texas Centennial. Each piece is unique and challenging in its own way. Join us as Nicky discusses the conservation of some of these wonderful pieces of public art.

Murder It Was: The Deaths of Two Women That Shocked Dallas in the 1910s

August 17

This is the story of two murders that infatuated Dallas in the middle of the 1910s. In 1913, Florence Brown was murdered at 9 a.m. inside a real estate office when nearby sidewalks were filled with people during the morning rush hour.Was it a robbery, shady business deals or jilted love? A second woman was found in a ravine in Trinity Heights, her body neatly laid out with no visible signs of trauma and only her jewelry missing. The police were baffled: was her death by natural cases, suicide, or murder? She was last seen by her sister ten days earlier. The sister said she excused herself to meet somebody at 2:30. A train conductor recalled a woman matching her descripting getting off near the location of her death. Why was she there and who did she meet?Rene Schmidt will delve deeper into both crimes and what was discovered at that time and since.

‘Modern’ Jails of the early 1900s in Dallas

August 24

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was a national trend to provide “modern” jails instead of the cramped, poor conditions of nineteenth century jails. While occasionally controversial, newer jails provided improved and safer conditions for the detainees and jail employees. Three historic jail structures from this era remain in Dallas today – the City of Dallas Jail in the West End (1908), the Courtrooms and Jail in the Dallas Municipal Building (1914) and the Dallas County Criminal Courts Building (1915). Although greatly changed since their initial use, this presentation by Marcel Quimby offers a glimpse into the unique history, architecture and use of these historic buildings.

Traveling Texas Roads: The Legacy of Roadside Parks

August 31

Roadside parks have provided travelers with a place to stretch their legs and picnic for many years. Thanks to the work of a young immigrant from the Netherlands, the Texas Highway Department pioneered the look and use of Texas’ roadsides. Join us as we listen to Renee Benn, Sandra Chipley, and Jason Dupree, all with TxDOT, to learn about the status of these roadside parks, the history of the young landscape architect, and how you can be a part of TxDOT’s historic preservation process.

The Farnsworth House: Past, Present & Future

September 7

The Farnsworth House, designed by 20th century modernist architect Mies van der Rohe, was built in 1951 for Dr. Edith Farnsworth, a successful research physician, polymath and Italophile. The 2200 square foot glass and steel pavilion was built on a river floodplain west of Chicago and launched Mies’s American career. In 1971, the home was purchased by the British arts collector and promoter Peter Palumbo, who restored and enriched the property with a world-class collection of modern sculpture, removed prior to his selling the property to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2003. Since 2018, a new and broader mission and vision have been emerging, rooted in the property’s history as a rural retreat and center for creativity and wellness.Join us as Farnsworth’s Executive Director, Scott Mehaffey, describes the revitalization of the Farnsworth House, a National Historic Landmark that attracts nearly 12,000 visitors per year and continues to influence modern architectural design.

The Rockwall Rock Wall

September 14

Mark Russo will be sharing the smallest County in Texas biggest mystery — the Rock Wall. Is it Natural? Is it Man-made? Is it made by something Super-natural? Mark is a 17-year resident of Rockwall County,currently serves on the Rockwall County Historical Commission, and is Past President of the Rockwall County Historical Foundation.
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