SURPRISING. SUBLIME. SURREAL.
Our guide to exploring The Joule art collection
Engines encrusted in blue crystals, rescued mosaics, video shot from zooming subway cars—The Joule is filled with gems (pardon the pun) that stop passersby in their tracks. The private collection is the creation of The Joule’s proprietor, Tim Headington, who’s been acquiring art for years. When it comes to rotating the work on view and finding the perfect placement, the hotel turns to the expertise of curator John Runyon.
You likely have a favorite piece, or a few that’ve piqued your curiosity. But what about the stories behind them? Consider this your personal tour of the highlights. —Jen Padgett
Designed in the 1940s for the Mercantile Dallas Building, these mosaics were almost lost forever when the building was demolished to make way for new construction. Fortunately, Headington volunteered to preserve and relocate the mosaics. Moving and restoring the intricate designs—made of tiles from Murano, Italy—required the painstaking attention of Michael van Enter, a South African conservator based in Dallas.
Though the Pop Art superstar is best known for soup cans and Marilyn Monroe, his art has a dark edge. Electric Chair shows the deadly apparatus in an eerie setting, pretty tones of pink and orange contrasting the ominousness. Warhol was fascinated by how mass media could endlessly circulate images, be they Coca-Cola bottles or grim scenes.
Video taken on subway rides in cities across the world run in a continuous loop so the scenes run together smoothly. A conceptual artist from Argentina, Erlich is known for works that employ optical illusions. The piece’s metal frame imitates a train-car window, playing with the boundary between real space and digital image.
Growing up in New York, Kuo regularly visited the Museum of Modern Art with his mother (though he admits that, back then, the café was his favorite spot). His large geometric images respond to the history of abstract painting, but he codes them with personal reﬂ ections, longings, and regrets. His works are like emotional infographics; the key at the bottom of the painting interprets each color’s significance.
Cragg has been a revolutionary talent in the art world for decades. In 1988, he won the Turner Prize—Britain’s most esteemed honor for contemporary artists. For Outspan, he took traditional bronze and gave it a modern spin with bright yellow automotive paint. The rippling curves call to mind organic and mechanical forms, resembling both a spiral shell and an extruded factory product.
Deshayes creates using a combination of industrial processes, including anodizing (not painting!) aluminum and vacuum-forming plastic. Unlike industrial production that stresses consistency, Deshayes’ work welcomes chance and resembles organic forms. The title calls to mind both biology and machine-production: “slugs” could refer to the garden creature (often killed with sodium/salt—yikes) or the industrial disks of processed metal used in manufacturing.
For this work, Hiorns transformed two engines into something magical by immersing them in a copper sulfate solution, leaving the substance to crystallize across the entire surface. His sculptures involve an element of chance; he has no control over the crystals’ formation once the object is immersed in its chemical bath.
South Korean artist Yang uses ordinary objects in her practice, ﬁ nding beauty in such unexpected material as Spam cans and venetian blinds. In this piece, she employs the technique of collage, carefully organizing the layers of security envelopes into a mesmerizing geometric pattern.
The monumental eyeball across the street from The Joule has become iconic in the downtown streetscape, a gathering place and Instagram-worthy stop. Tasset based the fiberglass sculpture on a photograph of his own eye. Like surrealist paintings of the past, the work takes something familiar and makes it strange, astonishing, and a bit unnerving.
The Details: Tour the collection (and ask the front desk for a map) at The Joule, 1530 Main Street.