By Reneé Cagnina Haynes
I don’t know how any of these elements could fit together in any other instance than in the art, personality, and hobbies of artist Dario Robleto.
Dario was invited by the Nasher Museum’s education department to participate in a teachers’ workshop last week. Thankfully he accepted!
A few minutes into his presentation a very interesting and atypical bit of info was divulged. “I’m a big Cowboys fan,” he said.
Wait, did he just say he’s a Dallas Cowboys football fan?
A couple years ago, my husband Morgan and I attended the Cowboys vs. Panthers game and all that I remember was the fans. They invaded Bank of America stadium; many of them traversing four states to see a game where a win was nearly inevitable (sorry Morgan). On that day I learned Cowboys fans, although some quite brash, are just as committed to the game as the athletes who play. And who could blame them? The Cowboys have been in the NFL since 1960, they’ve seen eight Super Bowl Championships and spawned some of the most remembered athletes and coaches in American football history: Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Parcells, Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Tony Dorsett, Emmit Smith, Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders, the list goes on.
The sound of such screaming fans, a sound to which a description gives no justice, is like that of the crackles in a vinyl record. They are the soundtracks to our lives.
For me a cheering crowd not only reminds me of the days in which I played collegiate soccer, but also gives atmosphere to the memories of crisp, sunny, carefree Sundays as a child. My father would open the front door to let in the sunshine and flip on a football game while he folded laundry (maybe the sound of cheering fans fulfilled the praise he always wished to have received from the family or maybe it just simply lessened the agony of conducting a menial, yet necessary, task on such a beautiful day).
Later after the teacher workshop, a few of us took Dario to dinner and I had to ask him the question, “So you’re a Cowboys fan huh?!” He replied with “and I’ve never missed a game.” A sports discussion ensued, but I won’t bore you with the details.
This very answer only furthered my understanding of Dario’s personality and thus his art.
“Lamb of Man/Atom and Eve/Americana Materia Medica,” a work currently on view in The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl, perfectly parallels such dedication. In this work, and throughout his oeuvre, Dario has labored over every detail: the colored paper precisely folded and cut into hundreds of beautifully crafted flowers; the catalogue of songs and record covers from which he has pulled; and the history of American culture that Dario is likely to have read twice over. This dedication feeds the intention of every cut, every word, and every method to which he creates a single piece of art.
Another work “Shaker Apothecary,” not seen in the exhibition, is what Dario might say epitomizes such devotion. Unlike some artists, Dario rarely commissions the skills of outside labor. He conducts extensive research and appreciates the authenticity in teaching himself the skills required to execute a work that he has envisioned.
During a hiatus from college in a stage of self-discovery one dark lonely day, he locked himself in his room; before his father left for the day he put the Beatles’ album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” on the stereo. Wisely, he put it on repeat. If you haven’t listened to the album lately, the title song features triumphant sounds of trumpets and simulated cheers of passionate Beatles fans filling in the down tempos. Maybe just as my Dad needed a throng of cheering fans to get him through the labors of domestic life, so did Dario. They, as well as art and music, were his anodynes.
At first I was stunned to find out that Dario was a sports fan (it’s not something you normally hear from artists), but upon further inspection, it only makes clear sense that Dario has never missed a Dallas Cowboys football game and understands both the effects of fandom and the rigors of the sport. He was the captain of his high school football team.
So as a sports, art, or vinyl record fan, I leave you with two You Tube clips. One that’s a 78rpm record and the soundtrack to a new NFL commercial (it sparked my idea for this posting – what can I say it was a crisp, football induced Sunday) and the other that quite possibly could be the soundtrack to Dario’s life.
IMAGE: R. Cagnina Haynes’s re-imagination of album cover Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles.
Sources: Profile of Dario Robleto by Douglas Britt of the Houston Chronicle
Email conversations with artist Dario Robleto on October 4th and 5th, 2010
The Jazzy Song In That NFL Commercial by Patrick Jarenwattananon