In 1963, a small group of Fort Worth art collectors were so excited about President Kennedy’s overnight visit to their city that they installed a number of paintings and sculptures in the President’s (and the first lady’s) hotel suite #850 at the Hotel Texas. (Five days prior to their arrival, descriptions of the suite were released to the public.) The art critic for the Fort Worth Press, Owen Day, believed the accommodations could use improvement. So he proposed the idea to four prominent collectors. Together they curated an exhibition that unfolded in the parlor, master bedroom, and second bedroom. Each room was outfitted with works of art that befitted the tastes and interests of the First Couple: paintings by Vincent van Gogh (Jackie loved the impressionists), Thomas Eakins, Lyonel Feininger, Franz Kline, and Marsden Hartley, and sculptures by Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore, among others.
For the first time in history, and coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the President’s assassination, all of the masterworks will be reunited and on display at the Dallas Museum of Art (May-September 2013). “Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy” will also include photographs, videos and other archival materials that document the suite prior to the couple’s arrival. It’s a happy, touching, beautiful before-and-after–which somehow does something to lighten the grim, unforgettable, much more famous before-and-after of that time and place.