On April 5, an ultra-chic crowd gathered at Dallas Contemporary for its annual gala. This year the experience was called Spring/Summer 2019 and it celebrated both the museum’s 40th anniversary and two new fashion-focused exhibitions. Ahead of the fête, Whitewaller heard from co-chair Kaleta Blaffer Johnson on her relationship with the museum, what to expect from the upcoming exhibitions, and what art fills her home.
WHITEWALLER: Can you tell us a bit about this year’s Dallas Contemporary gala taking place on April 5, for which you’re a chair?
KALETA BLAFFER JOHNSON: Absolutely. The museum is unveiling a completely new gala experience that we are calling Spring/ Summer 2019. The gala will showcase the opening of our two spring exhibits, a solo show by fashion photographer Mario Sorrenti and a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Self Service magazine. The S/S19 gala will be a star-studded affair with Vogue photographer Yelena Yemchuk, German photographer Juergen Teller, and supermodel Kate Moss in attendance, among others. Gala guests will enjoy cocktails and a first look at the exhibitions followed by an elegant dinner, live auction, and special musical performance. The evening will end with a very festive “Texas meets Paris” themed after-party.
WW: The museum is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. What’s a highlight for you?
KBJ: I’m very excited to dive more into the relationship between Mario Sorrenti and his muse Kate Moss. Mario’s early black-and-white photographs of Kate Moss, some of them never before seen, will frame the show and explore their Calvin Klein Obsession campaign that became the zeitgeist for fashion in the nineties. Kate embodied it, and Mario captured it.
WW: You have a strong relationship with both art and fashion. Can you tell us a bit about how they are intertwined?
KBJ: Fashion and art both speak to people in a unique way. One you live in and one inhabits the space in which you live, but both have a pivotal place in our creative lives. Art and fashion not only connect to you, but allow you to express yourself. Fashion as a whole has always been about more than clothes. Great fashion is the culmination of creativity and artistry. The Mario Sorrenti–Kate Moss collaboration represents the intersection of art and fashion, an artistic vision created in the name of fashion. I love the growing trend of more and more museums showcasing fashion exhibitions. The public loves them, and the fashion designers become elevated more and more into the realm of art.
WW: Tell us a bit about your collection. What’s in your home?
KBJ: I have a Philippe de Champaigne portrait that was a gift from my grandmother, several smaller pieces by Houston artist David Adickes, a beautiful Marcel Gromaire, and a large “Head” painting by Joe Glasco, another Texas artist.
WW: What was your first piece?
KBJ: I was in Miami in December for Art Basel and was struck by a piece by Firelei Báez in James Cohan’s booth. Titled May 19, 2017, the gorgeous and vivid abstract oil work is painted on top of a historical map of the Robert E. Lee Monument at Tivoli Circle in New Orleans. The title refers to the date on which the statue was removed after almost 130 years. For me, Firelei’s piece goes far in capturing the high emotions, tensions, and changes taking place in the South today.