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WATCH A VIDEO with aerial views of the stadium. media.cfm and huge murals covering hundreds of square feet of concrete above concession stands and in staircases. The stadium is the vision of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. But his wife, Gene, insisted on the artwork. She was inspired by what art was doing to downtown Dallas \(she’s on the executive board of the just needs to be the same quality, and do the same thing for people who enjoy fine things,” Gene Jones said. “I just wanted this to be the best of the best, and I didn’t think it could be without the art.” “We knew we were going to have a different type of football stadium,” she continued. “It was going to be very futuristic. And we thought every great building needs art in it. It needed to be contemporary art, to go with the style of the building. And it had to be huge, or you wouldn’t notice it. We wanted to be powerful, explosive, something that reflects a football game.” Jones brought together an arts panel that included curators from the state’s largest museums. They wanted to commission work that would connect with football fans, but they didn’t shy away from difficult art. One of the artists chosen by Jones and her committee was Houston-based Trenton Doyle Hancock of Houston, known for his colorful, surreal paintings. “My first reaction was, really?” Hancock said. “To have a stadium outfitted with art seemed too good to be true.” Once he realized the scale of the project, he signed on and started working on a piece called From a Legend to a Choir. His work stretches along a wall on the outer ring of the stadium, and fans can see it from several vantage points as they make their way up a ramp to their seats. The piece is incredibly dense, featuring a flowering field full of Hancock’s distinctive, zebra-striped creatures called mounds, hybrids of a sort between plants and humans. Hancock, who played high school football, worked in some gridiron references. One of the mounds is wearing a football helmet, and they’re lined up on a grassy field, just like the players on the other side of the wall. The piece is classic Hancock, but the process was different than anything he had gone through before. The arts committee was involved from the conception. “Usually, I go into my studio, and what I make is what you get,” Hancock said. “But this was a bureaucratic process; the final say was not my own. You figure out inventive ways to solve problems, and I’m happy with what we came up with.” The members told Hancock to avoid any sexual or violent imagery, which sometimes crops up in his work. And his first proposal was sent backtoo much pink. “It’s hard to find a football team that uses pink well,” he chuckled. “One thing I heard was that it wasn’t about the pink exactly, but more that it looked red, which was close to the [Washington] Redskins’ color. Whatever the case, the pink was out.” Walking around inside the stadium as the Cowboys squeaked out a win over the rival Redskins on Nov. 22, it was striking to see football fans framed by cuttingedge contemporary art. Although the game was both fleeting and miles away from Dallas proper, it felt exactly like the kind of public space that arts district officials want to create. All sorts of people mingled with each other, surrounded by great art and architecture, and they were thrilled to be here, together in a common purpose: winning the game. While the district uses art and culture to transform downtown, the stadium is using art to transform the experience of football. At times, it seems to be working. Fan Rosalind Perry relaxed in one of the stadium’s lounges after the game, near a sculpture of floating stainless-steel orbs called Moving Stars Takes Time by the hot international artist Olafur Eliasson. “It just made me feel like I was floating, like I was high,” Perry said. “I’d already had one margarita, so it just took me to another level.” But a lot of football fans told me just what you’d expect. I found Travis Smith waiting in line for food, and asked him what he thought of a red-and-white striped mural over the concession stand. It’s by the artist Terry Haggerty and called Two Minds. “Is that art? Looks like a bunch of painting,” Smith said. “I don’t have an opinion about it because I just don’t care.” When I told Gene Jones that many fans hadn’t noticed the pieces, she just smiled and nodded. “Not everyone knows it’s art, but we’ll teach ’em,” she said in her sweet Dallas drawl. “That’s our goal!” Jones believes these great buildings and art give FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: The interior of the Winspear Opera House, as seen from the stage PHOTO BY IWAN BAAN The lobby of the Winspear Opera House PHOTO COURTESY NIGEL YOUNG/FOSTER + PARTNERS. At Cowboys Stadium, Franz Ackermann’s Coming Home and At the Waterfall PHOTO BY DAVE MANN A section of Trenton Doyle Hancock’s mural, From a Legend to a Choir PHOTO BY DAVE MANN 20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER WWW.TEXASOBSERVER.ORG