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Watch the Perilous Texas Adventures of Mark Dion

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Tony Maples Photography


The Perilous Texas Adventures of Mark Dion, a documentary by Erik Clapp, airs April 21 at 7 p.m. (CST) on PBS Station KERA TV Ch. 13. The documentary will re-air at selected times April 24-28. The documentary was commissioned by Amon Carter Museum.

Clapp’s documentary will follow artist Mark Dion on his journey of retracing the footsteps of four 19th-century artist-explorers in Texas. Along the way, Dion enjoyed his first Whataburger with botanist/travel companion Barney Lipscomb in West Texas.

“The Perilous Texas Adventures of Mark Dion” opened at the Carter Museum March 7, shortly before COVID-19 caused Texas museums to close.

Dion Travels

Watch the Perilous Texas Adventures of Mark Dion

Photo: Amon Carter Museum

In creating the Carter commissioned exhibition, Dion traveled to different regions of the state. Dion visited the King Ranch, the Gulf Coast, West Texas, Austin, and San Antonio. He created a sculptural inventory of items found on the extensive journey. His large-scale installation unites the past and present of artistic exploration in the state.

Dion’s travel diaries are written in the style of ornithologist John James Audubon, who visited Galveston Bay prior to finishing “Birds of America.” He also borrowed from botanist Charles Wright, who accompanied the U.S. and Mexico Boundary Survey through the Chihuahuan Desert in 1851.

Exhibition at Carter Museum

Watch the Perilous Texas Adventures of Mark Dion

Photo: Erik Clapp

Renowned artist Mark Dion is part explorer, part historian, part naturalist, and part collector of curiosities. His large-scale installations evoke the past while also addressing contemporary culture with humor. Dion follows the journeys of historic explorers in Texas like artist and ornithologist John James Audubon, watercolorist Sarah Ann Lillie Hardinge, architect Frederick Law Olmsted, and botanist Charles Wright are all featured. Their adventures, along with Dion’s, are included in an immersive exhibition. Dion’s work enhances our understanding of the past, more than 150 years after the artist-explorers he profiles.

Clapp’s documentary was commissioned by the museum to serve as a travelogue on view along with the exhibition through May 17. The film showcases Texas through the eyes of a Yankee’s first visit, as Dion creates a sculptural inventory of found items. From a descendant of King Ranch to a Comanche poet, Dion was joined by numerous guides who gave their insider’s perspective on the great state of Texas. The documentary shows how Dion’s exhibition was made, along with the spirit of exploration shared by Dion and his predecessors.

If you’re interested in finding more ways to experience art at home, try the Carter’s video series that is inspired by the museum’s collection. “Cooped Up with the Carter” brings the museum to your home. In addition to historic images from the Carter’s collection, suggested creative ideas and recipes are featured.

For more information about the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, located in the heart of Fort Worth’s Cultural District but closed to the public during the state’s COVID-19 quarantine, please visit