Forget your spiced latte — here are two places where pumpkins are elevated to works of art

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  |  Executive Editor
[email protected]

For a few years now, autumn means pumpkin-spiced-everything, from caffeinated drinks to enemas (we’re assuming), and most of us are sick of such basic crap. It only muddies the reputation of the iconic gourd for which the spice (and, you know, you can make it yourself with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger) draws its name.

GourdousPumpkins hold a symbolic space in the Zeitgeist. They can be magically turned into carriages for princesses (and we all know our share of princesses). They can be carved into expressive jack-o-lanterns to scare and amaze. They form the basis of a pie that conjures memories of home and family. And in at least two locations in Dallas right now, they achieve a status of art.

Over at the Dallas Museum of Art, an exhibit by Yayoi Kusama — a visual artist almost as well known for her bouts with mental illness as she is her signature Infinity Mirror Rooms — turns the simple squash into a cosmic experience.

All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins is Kusama’s latest installation, which reflects her own preoccupation with gourds, semi-circles, repetition and phallic imagery … and of which converge into an immersive, 45-second “visit” inside the enclosed, under-lit space that illuminates 62 delicate acrylic pumpkins, but which multiply countless times into a seemingly endless expanse.

Patrons will need to line up to enter the box two at a time, during which they will have 45 seconds to contemplate the majesty and meekness of the pumpkinverse, a meditative and magical experience. It runs through February, but go early — you won’t want to miss it.

A different kind of exhibit occupies the annual pumpkin patch at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. All of these pumpkins, zucchinis, acorn squashes and their genetic cousins are real vegetables… and unlike the DMA’s mere 62 that look like infinitely more, nearly 100,000 separate gourds decorate the grounds. The theme this year is as gay as it can be: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. You can walk the Yellow Brick Road, see a Cowardly Lion made of corn, a Scarecrow who is an actual scarecrow and even an Emerald City. It’s enchantingly autumnal — something every Friend of Dorothy should do at least once.        

Dallas Museum of Art,
1717 Harwood St.
Yayoi Kusama: All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins, Oct. 1–Feb. 25.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden,
8585 Garland Road. Pumpkin Patch through Nov. 22.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 29, 2017.