The Dallas Cowboys Art Collection
A few years ago, when we first heard about a contemporary art collection being housed at the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium, our curiosity was piqued. Since then, Jerry and Gene Jones have created an incredible collection of contemporary works and site-specific installations by artists like Teresita Fernández, Gary Simmons, Ellsworth Kelly, Jenny Holzer, Eva Rothschild, and Anish Kapoor, whose Sky Mirror welcomes fans into the arena from the outside. Whitewall spoke with Mrs. Jones about her innovative idea to offer sports and entertainment fans an access to museum-quality contemporary art and how even her children and grandchildren have become art enthusiasts.
WHITEWALL: Why did you initially want to put contemporary art in a football stadium?
GENE JONES: We truly wanted our stadium to be more than a place to watch a football game. Our desire from the very beginning was to create a building that we would play football in and have different types of entertainment—from rodeos to concerts.
I grew up in a small town that didn’t have a museum, so it’s nice to think that people who may not get to go to museums can get a touch of some really wonderful art. That has been our goal with the art that we have in the stadium. We did want it to appeal to young people and older people, but with quality art that could be shown in great museums.
I know for our family, now that our children and our grandchildren have had the opportunity to know about the artists that we have at the stadium, they’re now collecting art themselves.
WW: That must be so rewarding to see your children and grandchildren find their own interest in art.
GJ: It is amazing. It’s really rewarding for me to see that they’re so interested. Plus, I personally have learned so much with the recent edition of Ellsworth Kelly to our stadium. Ellsworth Kelly was just wonderful to do a TV interview where he talked about his career, and about his recent honor at TWO x TWO [in October 2015]. Even someone as prominent as Ellsworth Kelly was very touched and very excited to think that some people would get to see his art on television. That’s the exciting thing to me about what we do with the art collection in the stadium. We have the networks talking about the art and it’s showing on national TV all over the world. People wherever can tune in to these ball games, and if the Cowboys are playing, they get to see a little art, as well as the football games. That’s very rewarding to me.
WW: How would you describe the focus of the collection?
GJ: Jerry and I collected, and have a nice collection of sports art at our home, but when we were faced with the stadium, we thought, “No, that’s not going to work in the stadium.” We need living artists, and it needs to be contemporary because of the type of building it was. We’ve acquired many pieces, but it’s all about the art of our time and asking artists to do site-specific pieces. We have to find someone who has had experience with large works of art, and in the beginning, that was a little challenging.
With Anish Kapoor, we wanted to have a big sculpture outside our stadium from day one. Millennium Park was being built about the same time, and once I saw Cloud Gate, I thought, “We have to have something like that at our stadium!”
WW: Has it changed at all the way you personally collect, or the way you look at, art?
GJ: Absolutely. Now we go to Art Basel in Miami, and we’re going to different art shows. Now we are following these artists and keeping up with up-and-coming young artists, as well as artists who are established like Anish Kapoor. I’m really proud to be part of what’s happening in art and what’s happening in this area.
This article is published in Whitewaller Dallas, out this week for the Dallas Art Fair.