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Ogden After Hours Featuring Joy Clark

/// February 29 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Join us on February 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. for a special Ogden After Hours (OAH) celebrating the closing of Knowing Who We Are: A 20th Anniversary Exhibition.

In homage to Michael G. Owen Jr.’s painting, Leadbelly and the Artist, the Museum is excited to welcome singer-songwriter Joy Clark.

Bradley Sumrall, Curator of the Collection, states, “(the painting) seems to convey a progressive message of unity at a time when much of the South was deeply segregated. By bringing these figures into an intimate scene centered on the guitar, perhaps Owen was depicting the ability of music and the arts to bring people together.”

In addition to the live music, the evening will also include an art activity for kids and food for purchase from DA GM’s Smoke and Soul BBQ.

Tickets purchased in advance are $12, if purchased at the door tickets are $15. Ogden After Hours are free for Museum Members. Not a member? Learn more about membership perks by visiting here.


About Joy Clark

Photo courtesy of Steve Rapport

Joy Clark is a New Orleans singer-songwriter, lyrical guitarist and composer who creates soulful original compositions that celebrate peace and the undeniable power of love. Her intricate rhythms and warm melodies reveal a sweet vulnerability that enchants her audiences around the world. Like so many other artists in New Orleans, Joy’s first stage was in church. Growing up the daughter of a minister, she learned to create an atmosphere ripe for an emotional experience. So it’s no wonder she believes music is her ministry and intimacy is her superpower.

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About DA GM’s Smoke and Soul BBQ

DA GM’s Smoke and Soul BBQ’s story starts with a former all-star athlete, turned foodie (a man who nurtured a love for grilling) and a native “New Orleanian,” (a creole girl) who met that foodie and fell in love! Their love for cooking and entertaining blessed them with the opportunity to share their love for food with family and friends. Their positive feedback and encouragement pushed them to pursue their passion. Back in 2006, the Grill Master begin to make a name for himself on the streets of New Orleans during the carnival season. Parade goers enjoyed smoked sausages, burgers and pulled pork sandwiches while enjoying their favorite parade and spirited beverage. For the next five years revelers would seek out the Grill Master along the parade routes of New Orleans and beyond. In 2012, the Grill Master took his expertise and joined the growing food truck movement in New Orleans and the rest is history. The GM’s passion is serving the best BBQ in “Da Boot.” They use only the finest and freshest ingredients to create their smoked BBQ with a mix of our scratch-made sides that will satisfy your craving for good food. Come and visit – your taste buds will thank you!

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About Leadbelly and the Artist

Michael G. Owen Jr. (1915 – 1976), Leadbelly and the Artist, 1943, Oil on canvas, Roger Houston Ogden Collection

Michael Owen was born in Dallas in 1915. Although from a humble household, Owen attended the prestigious Highland Park High School. A child prodigy in art, Owen was commissioned (after winning several art competitions) to create a replica-in-soap of Dallas’ WFAA transmitter plant for the 1930 Texas State Fair. Procter & Gamble supplied the 15 year-old with twelve 700 lb. bars of Ivory Soap, and working from blueprints, Owen carved a four ton replica of the building. It was a huge hit and the Dallas art scene took notice.

Owen studied life drawing under Olin Travis and painting under Jerry Bywaters, two of the giants of Texas Regionalism. He attended the Dallas Art Institute from 1932 to 1935, and went on to study in New York and at Commonwealth College in Mena, Arkansas. In 1934, he served as a painter for the Civilian Conservation Corps in Uvalde, and worked as sculpture assistant for the Texas Centennial Exhibition. He was a designer for Southern Potteries in Dallas, and during WWII he worked as an illustrator at the Navy Yard in Washington,

Although Owen was a painter, illustrator and craftsman, he is primarily known as a sculptor of animals and figures. His first major commission was the creation of the Peruna memorial at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Peruna was the name of SMU’s mascot, a pony. The first Peruna was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver just two years into his service. Michael Owen, then only 21 years old, was commissioned in 1937 to create a memorial for the wee fallen mascot. It still stands on SMU’s campus today. Afterwards, Owen was included in exhibitions throughout the region.

His next major sculpture (and most widely celebrated) was executed in 1943. A friend of Owens invited him to sculpt a bust of Leadbelly in New York. Owens was living in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., and travelled to New York, where the famed folk musician was living, to have Leadbelly sit for the portrait bust. Owen spent the day creating a clay study of Leadbelly, while the musician sang and played guitar. Back in his studio, Owen finished a masterful portrait bust in black serpentine that is now held in the Dallas Museum of Art’s permanent collection. In a 1950 letter to the museum, Owen recounts how it all came about.

The way I happened to do the head went like this. A young fellow I had known in Dallas by the name of Ralph Knight had gone to New York a year or so after I went to Washington. He was interested in folk music and became acquainted with Leadbelly. It was at Ralph’s instigation that I did the head — he got me the stone, sent pictures (I first roughed out the head in clay at home in Greenbelt) and then arranged the sitting at his apartment in New York. Leadbelly sat for me one afternoon and I finished the clay model at that time. From that I worked out the stone cutting, only being able to work on it in my spare time. All in all it was about a full month’s work, I guess. During the time he was “sitting” for me (playing his guitar and singing) he played “Goodnight Irene,” but at that time the folk music devotees did not consider the tune “true folk music.” Still it pleased me when it became a popular song. It’s too bad Leadbelly couldn’t have lived to see himself gain such popularity.

(from a letter excerpted in the book Lone Star Regionalism, The Dallas Nine and Their Circle)

Around the same time, Michael Owen created this painting, impressive in scale and masterful in its execution. Owen depicts sinewy muscles and exaggerated features with hard-edged lines indicative of the Regionalist style popularized by Thomas Hart Benton and artists of the Dallas Nine, such as his former teachers, Jerry Bywaters and Otis Dozier. The two adult males are Leadbelly (with the guitar) and the artist himself. We can deduce that the other figures are Leadbelly’s second wife, Martha Promise, and their child, as well as Owen’s wife, Lois Schwarzwaelder Owen, and his first-born son, Michael Owen III.

The painting is filled with symbolism. In the background, Owen depicts a harsh and barren dustbowl landscape, with a storm raging against a lone tree. Yet in the intimate scene between the two families in the foreground, the leaves of a sheltering tree are calm, and the figures are situated at the mouth of a protective cave. Using the golden ratio, Owens moves the viewer’s eye across the scene – from the two strong men to the supportive women to the innocent children – placing the neck of the guitar in the center of the composition. While the young boy stares intently and with admiration into the eyes of Leadbelly, it is only the young child in the foreground that makes eye contact with the viewer. Although the painting utilizes the problematic imagery of the era (the white figures standing with shoes and the Black figures seated barefoot), it seems to also convey a progressive message of unity at a time when much of the South was deeply segregated. By bringing these figures into an intimate scene centered on the guitar, perhaps
Owen was depicting the ability of music and the arts to bring people together. Perhaps it is a statement that even in the midst of turmoil brewing in the world outside, friendship and respect can provide shelter in the storm.

Bradley Sumrall
Curator of the Collection

About Ogden After Hours

Ogden After Hours (OAH) is a monthly event that takes place on select Thursdays and features a diverse lineup of programs reflecting and celebrating the diversity of Southern art and culture. Bringing the whole family? Each OAH offers a unique art activity table for kids to enjoy!


February 29
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm