Exhibits on the Seventh FloorExhibits
Texas School Book Depository Sign
The original, 4-piece, three-dimensional enameled metal sign that once hung over the entrance to the former Texas School Book Depository (411 Elm Street) is now on display on the seventh floor of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
The sign, measuring 2.5 feet tall and just more than 17 feet long, was abandoned by the Texas School Book Depository company when they vacated the office/warehouse building in 1970. Removed and stored by Dallas County during building renovations later that decade, it has been part of the Museum’s collection since the formation of The Sixth Floor organization in 1983. Too large for inclusion in the Museum’s main exhibit, the distinctive sign has been in storage for nearly 30 years.
“As one of the few remaining signature architectural elements from the building’s 1960s-era decorative facade, this sign is an important part of the Museum’s collection,” said Nicola Longford, executive director of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. Supported by an American Heritage Preservation Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Museum recently completed a conservation project to prepare the sign for public display.
Photomosaics by Artist Alex Guofeng Cao
At first glance, the images appear to be single, oversized black and white portraits of President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. Upon closer examination, the magic of artist Alex Guofeng Cao is revealed as thousands and thousands of smaller images that make up each portrait become visible. Cao, a New-York based artist known for his large-scale portraits of famous figures, donated the two 9’ x 6’ portraits of President and Mrs. Kennedy to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
Called photomosaics, each pixel within the portrait is a much smaller picture of another figure – someone important to or associated with the main figure. The portrait of President Kennedy, titled JFK vs Jackie, 2010, is made up of 50,000 smaller portraits of Jacqueline Kennedy. Jackie vs JFK II, 2010 likewise creates Mrs. Kennedy through 50,000 tiny portraits of her husband.
Cao says the titles of the pieces don't imply that the subjects are adversaries, but rather indicate a relationship. In the artist’s words, the pixels and the portrait within one piece speak to each other, using the biography of one person to create a dialogue with the historic background of another. Both photomosaics contain intriguing surprises, as well. The portrait of President Kennedy includes five pixels of different images among the 50,000, representing important figures and dates in the president’s life. Mrs. Kennedy’s portrait has three different images, also representing important figures and dates in her life.
Born in China and educated in the United States, Cao started his career in commercial photography. His current work is influenced by a longtime interest in history, as well as the pop art movement. That interest is apparent as his works use some of the most recognizable faces of the 20th century such as Abraham Lincoln, Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe and Gandhi.