Bare walls no more. Hallways in the Naveen Jindal School of Management are transforming into a gallery-like setting with the recent installation of 34 contemporary works of art by emerging and mid-career Texas artists. The art — part of a collection previously gifted to the University of Texas at Dallas by collector Joan Davidow — complements Jindal’s growing array of works by Texas artists.
“It was my vision when the first JSOM building opened in 2003 to have art installed on the white, bare walls of the fabulous building,” said Dr. Diane S. McNulty, JSOM’s associate dean for external affairs and corporate development.
In 2014, McNulty and Erica Yaeger, assistant dean for development and alumni relations, conceived the Artistic Impressions of Management art gala, an April fundraiser to launch the Jindal Art Collection.
In anticipation of the December 2014 opening of its second building, JSOM began acquiring art from prominent Texas artists. Alumni and friends also gifted pieces. The school commissioned Dallas artist Jim Bowman to create the large glass and steel sculpture that now hangs in the atrium of the new addition. Works also came from Richardson-based artist Jon Flaming and Dallas and San Francisco-based painter and sculptor Janet McGreal.
The collection also grew with the addition of outdoor pieces such as Wise, a mirror-polished stainless steel sculpture by Dallas artist Brad Oldham and Big Bend, a 23-foot-tall, 5,000-pound steel sculpture by Dallas artist Mac Whitney.
But inside, most walls stood bare.
“This past fall, Joan Davidow found herself wandering around the JSOM buildings and wondering why wall art was not in place,” McNulty said. “When she asked, she found that fewer than 10 pieces of wall art had been given while about six sculptures had been placed around the courtyards of JSOM. She decided that about one-half of the total art gift she had previously given to the University should hang in the Jindal School.”
Davidow collected the works over a 20-year period. In all, she has given 140 original paintings and sculptures to UT Dallas, and other pieces from that collection are on display at the Erik Jonsson Academic Center.
“Her collection embodies art from prominent young Texas artists and sculptors adhering to the contemporary tastes of many,” McNulty said. But, she acknowledged, not everyone is a fan of all pieces — and some may not like any.
Still, McNulty added, “we feel that, coupled with that left-brained quantitative side of management, right-brained art has a place. Where better to gain and engage with art than where you are being challenged in the academic sphere of influence? As students evolve, so do their appreciation and understanding of culture as it contributes to art and business.”
After works from the Davidow Collection were hung, Kristen Lawson, a Jindal School senior lecturer in organizations, strategy and international management, sent McNulty an email. “I was so excited to see the new art popping up on the walls of JSOM this semester and think it makes such a great contribution to our collective spaces,” Lawson wrote.
As a faculty advisor for LOTUS, a project to display student artwork in various places all over campus, Lawson explained: “I’m already a bit biased to be supportive of art, but its value and need for inclusion in JSOM was brought home to me just now as I walked back to my office from classes, trailing a group of students.
“They were complaining about a particular piece (no surprise — not every piece is liked by every person), but to hear students talking about art and its purpose was very refreshing.”
Davidow, an educator and director emerita of Dallas Contemporary, personally selected the pieces for Jindal and oversaw the installation. The next step will include adding descriptive labels that not only will name each piece but also will offer a thought-provoking question. Davidow hopes the questions inspire viewers to “think more deeply and reflect on what the art says – visually, intellectually and emotionally,” she said.
“Art is a catalyst for ingenuity and entrepreneurship,” said Steve Guengerich, a clinical associate professor and executive director of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “The art collection at UT Dallas’ business school is an explosion of contemporary and abstract images.”
The Davidow and Jindal Art Collections add a cultural experience to the world-class education students receive at JSOM, McNulty said. “It instills in the students who are learning business knowledge from our school an appreciation for the arts in general, and gives them something to look at and perhaps be inspired.”
The Jindal Art Collection totals about 50 pieces, which include paintings, photographs and sculptures. McNulty said there is no specific goal for growing the collection. “We are just grateful for the pieces we have — and the quality of them,” she said, “and hope to receive more.”
— Rachel Stowe Master