At NorthPark Center, art is as important as shopping.
“We view NorthPark as a ‘shopping museum’ with over 150 modern and contemporary artworks on display,” Nancy Nasher, President and Owner of NorthPark Center and 2017 TACA Silver Cup Recipient, said at the TACA Silver Cup Award Luncheon in March. “It is our hope that by providing free access and exposure to the arts at NorthPark, that our patrons – 28 million each year – will be enriched by what they see and hear, and will be inspired to learn more about the arts, and make the arts a part of their everyday existence.”
Making the arts a part of NorthPark Center visitors’ daily existence is the job of Taylor Zakarin, NorthPark Center’s Manager of Arts Programming. Zakarin wants everyone to have the same access to fine art she had growing up in New York City, only blocks away from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“My visits there began more as just an over-energetic toddler and my parents didn’t know where to bring my brother and I if it was raining or snowing outside. We would go to The Met so we could run around and be somewhere spacious indoors,” Zakarin said.
Those visits to the world-famous art museum sparked an interest in art history. Zakarin studied Art History and Visual Media Studies at Duke University and the exhibition she worked on for her thesis was shown at the Nasher Museum of Art on Duke’s campus.
After graduation, she moved to Dallas to intern at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Four months after joining the Nasher Sculpture Center, she became NorthPark Center’s first Manager of Arts Programming.
Zakarin helps select the artwork on display and leads tours.
“There’s no real science to both the timing and how the pieces are chosen so we are very much unlike a museum in that regard. We don’t plan major exhibitions years out in advance,” Zakarin said.
Pieces are often selected to fit a specific vibe of the center and take advantage of the center’s wide hallways, abundant natural light and warm tone concrete floors.
Some pieces like Jonathan Borofsky’s “Five Hammering Men” have been on display for 30 years while other pieces may only be on view for a few months.
Zakarin has further developed NorthPark Center’s arts programming to engage the community.
“In so many ways, I feel like NorthPark feels like a community center. It feels like a community meeting place as opposed to a place to go run errands,” Zakarin said.
In 2015, she launched ArtROCKS!, a program where local artists lead projects based on the works of a specific artists. The program is held on a Saturday afternoon, every other month and has focused on artists such as Matisse, Monet and Warhol. There is music, tours of NorthPark’s art and 300 – 400 kids create art projects while actively learning art history.
Zakarin works with Uplift Education, a free public charter school network, to introduce students to fine art. NorthPark Center sponsors bus transportation for 3,000 to 4,000 students from Uplift Education. Students take ownership of the art they see and often return with their parents to show off their newly-gained knowledge.
This year, NorthPark Center partnered with the Dallas Art Fair. As a result, over 50 new works were installed at NorthPark Center and a new free monthly art tour series began. Art figures lead their own curated tours of the art collection with their distinctive focuses.
“I usually lead the art tours here, so to go on these art tours, it was fascinating for me to see other individuals in Dallas explain the art at NorthPark and the importance of the art at NorthPark through their lens and get to see everything from a different perspective,” Zakarin said.
Zakarin has created many of the newer labels on the art, there is an art map on NorthPark Center’s web site, a mobile app about the art has been developed, and tours can be requested.
“It’s about exposure. Having the ability to make someone’s day a little bit more beautiful, a little bit more enriched by having the same fine art you would see in any of the best museums in the world is pretty incredible. You can pick up a pair of Nike shoes and see a Warhol,” Zakarin said.
Zakarin routinely walks around the center to see how people are interacting with the art. One day, she noticed a couple showing their grandson the water tower sculpture, “This Land is Your Land,” by Iván Navarro. She stopped and asked if she could answer any questions about the sculpture. The grandparents urged Zakarin to ask their grandson what his favorite part of NorthPark is. His response reminded her of her own childhood. “The sculpture,” he squealed.
Kimberly Richard is a North Texan with a passion for the arts. She’s worked with Theatre Three, Inc. and interned for the English National Opera and Royal Shakespeare Company. She graduated from Austin College and currently lives in Garland with her very pampered cocker spaniel, Tessa.