Artists & Designers
William Lewis Lester (1910-1991)
Born in Graham, Texas on August 20, 1910, William Lewis Lester came to Dallas in 1924. After graduating from high school in 1929, Lester studied art with Alexandre Hogue at his summer camp at Glen Rose, Texas, and with Thomas Stell at the Dallas Art Institute. He also spent some time at Olin Travis' art camp in Arkansas.
In 1932, he was given a one-man show at the Joseph Sartor Art Galleries and became an active member of the newly formed Dallas Artists League. He executed two mural commissions in Dallas for the Public Works of Art Project, one at Woodrow Wilson High School (from which he had graduated), and the other at Boude Storey Junior High. The former depicted the commercial development of Texas; the latter portrayed elements of local industry, from cotton farming to electrical development. A few months later he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps as a staff artist and spent six months at Palo Duro, painting the countryside and creating many detailed sketches for later incorporation into his work. In 1938, Lester married Sylvia Bachrach; they had two children.
Lester was at the forefront of local art activities, exhibiting at the Texas Centennial Exhibition in 1936 and participating in the Lone Star Printmakers group. He exhibited notable and highly praised work at both the New York World's Fair and the Golden Gate Exposition in 1939. In 1940, he began teaching at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts and was given a large one-man show there. He began winning numerous regional prizes and purchase awards in this period, and he exhibited widely. In 1942, Lester moved to Austin to join the fledgling art department at the University of Texas, becoming chairman ten years later from 1952 to 1954. He retired in 1972 and remained in Austin until his death in 1991.
- Rick Stewart, _Lone Star Regionalism: The Dallas Nine and Their Circle (_Dallas Museum of Arts: Dallas, TX, 1985), 174.
- Earl D. Weed and Paul D. Lester. “Lester, William Lester.” Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association, accessed February 16, 2018, https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/flezr.
Lester, William, Texas State Historical Association Biography
Read more about William Lester on the Handbook of Texas Online (published by the Texas State Historical Association).
Dallas Nine~ Read more about this group on the Handbook of Texas Online (published by the Texas State Historical Association).
Southern Methodist University's Digital Collection
View a collection of Lester's works digitally in a local university collection (organized by Southern Methodist University's Central University Libraries Digital Collections).
A Guide to the Collection
Learn about the scope of the William Lester collection at Southern Methodist University (organized by Texas Archival Resources Online).