DMA Insight

Celebrating Texas Artists

The following excerpt comes from the essay "Celebrating Art and Artists in Texas," in _Dallas Museum of Art, 100 Years _published in 2003.


A dialogue with Texas artists has been a vital part of the Dallas Museum of Art's history and remains a dynamic exchange today. Dallas artist and longtime Dallas Museum of Fine Arts Director Jerry Bywaters' book 75 Years of Art in Dallas is an essential document of this story. In 1903 artists Frank Reaugh and Edward G. Eisenlohr helped found the Dallas Art Association, the forebear of today's Dallas Museum of Art. The DAA instituted scholarships for local artists that first year, awarding one to regional artist Clyde Chandler so she could study in Chicago with famous sculptor Lorado Taft. Sallie Griffis Meyer, President of the Dallas Art Association from 1909 to 1926, initiated the idea of annual exhibitions of work by Dallas artists, a program launched in 1928 with the first Allied Arts Exhibition of Dallas County. Other annual exhibitions at the Museum included Texas Architecture and the Southwestern Exhibition of Prints and Drawings. In 1940 the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts joined The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Witte Memorial Museum of San Antonio in co-organizing an annual competitive exhibition for artists living in Texas; this Texas General Exhibition later became the Annual Texas Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture. Many of these annuals featured cash prizes for winning artists and funds to purchase art for the Museum.


The Dallas Art Association trustees created their own Museum School (initially headed by local artist and art critic Jerry Bywaters) in 1941. For twenty-four years, the school offered classes on painting, pottery, watercolors, and sculpture by such prominent teachers as Octavio Medellin, Otis Dozier, David McManaway, Dan Wingren, and Roger Winter. Anne Truitt, a successful minimalist sculptor whose work is the subject of recent reappraisal by both critics and collectors, attended the school in 1950. ln 1943 Bywaters, who served as Director of the DMFA from 1943 to 1964, assembled works by twenty-seven Texas artists in an exhibition entitled Texas Panorama, which circulated nationally and introduced the nation to Texas artists.


Former Curator of American Art Rick Stewart's ground breaking 1984 exhibition Lone Star Regionalism inspired a second wave of interest in early Texas art. Eleanor and Tom May purchased an impressive group of early Texas material for the Dallas Museum of Art, the most significant additions since the heyday of the annual Texas art competitions. Jerry Bywaters, Otis Dozier, and E. G. Eisenlohr all bequeathed substantial bodies of work to the Museum. Local collectors made gifts or contributed to the purchase of works for the permanent collection. Patrons such as Nancy and Tim Hanley, Nona and Richard Barrett, and Carolyn and Roger Horchow have sustained a strong faith in the future of Texas art with important support of the artists. By contributing proceeds from the 1988 Beaux Arts Ball, the Museum League, together with the Barretts and the Horchows, generously established the Texas Artists Endowment Fund. In one decade alone, forty-three works by twenty-three Texas artists were purchased with monies from the fund.


In 1972 Robert M. Murdock, the DMFA's first Curator of Contemporary Art, co-organized with the Walker Art Center the exhibition Interchange: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts and the Walker Art Center, featuring local artists George Green, Sam Gummelt, and Jim Roche. From 1970 to 1978, Murdock presented the Project series, which included artists such as David McManaway, Bruce Cunningham, and Raffaele Martini. Sue Graze, who began at the DMFA as a Rockefeller Foundation Intern in 1975, became Acting Curator of Contemporary Art when Murdock accepted the directorship of the Grand Rapids Art Museum in 1978. Graze was appointed Curator of Contemporary Art at the DMFA in 1981. That same year, she initiated Concentrations, an ongoing series of project-based exhibitions highlighting the work of emerging artists active in the Southwest. Concentrations exhibitions have included many Texas artists: Ann Lee Stautberg, Betsy Muller, Andrea Rosenberg, Al Souza, Dalton Maroney, Luis Jimenez, Joe Guy, Nic Nicosia, Vernon Fisher, Bert Long, Gael Stack, Harry Geffert, and Celia Alvarez Munoz. In 1990 McDermott Curatorial Intern Joan Davidow organized Concentrations 23: Texas Figurative Drawings, a group exhibition of forty works by twelve emerging and established artists in Texas.

From 1992 through 1995, Curator of Contemporary Art Annegreth Nill presented Encounters, a series in which an international artist was paired with an artist living in Texas. The pairs included John Hernandez and Rainer Ganahl, Skeet McAuley and Gunther Forg, Douglas MacWithey and Cady Noland, Ray Smith and Renee Green, Tracy Hicks and Damien Hirst, and Rachel Hecker and Peter Halley.

In 1996 Charles Wylie, The Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art, and I [Suzanne Weaver] reintroduced the Concentrations series, which has since featured Texas artists Patrick Faulhaber, Annette Lawrence, and John Pomara. The Museum's acquisition of works by these artists has enriched the permanent collection.

The Dallas Museum of Art has organized traveling mid-career surveys of the art of James Surls (Visions: James Surls, 1974-1984) and Linda Ridgway (Linda Ridgway: A Survey, The Poetics of Form, co-organized with the Glassell School of Art of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston). The Museum has also hosted major traveling exhibitions of works by Robert Rauschenberg, Donald Judd, Luis Jimenez, and Nic Nicosia.


The Clare Hart DeGolyer Memorial Fund and The Arch and Anne Giles Kimbrough Fund were established at the Dallas Museum of Art in 1980 for the purpose of recognizing, encouraging, and nurturing artistic talent from the region. Many of the young award recipients have gone on to successful artistic careers. David Bates, a well-known and respected artist who received the 1982 Kimbrough Award, said, "Aside from the monetary provision, an honor such as this award bestows encouragement and a personal sense of accomplishment and confidence in the artist."

The Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Grant was established in 1990 to support professional artists thirty years and older in discovering ways to expand their artistic visions through travel. In a letter to Dallas Museum of Art Director Rick Brettell, one of Dozier's nieces and Denni Davis Washburn, President of The Dozier Foundation, wrote about the planning of the grant, "This is something that Sister (Velma) wanted very much to be done. Both she and Otis felt that travel opens so many worlds to the artist." Velma and Otis Dozier would indeed have been gratified by 1999 grant recipient Jody Lee's transformative experiences traveling through Bali for seven weeks on a small motorbike. In her letter, Lee says about her experiences: "The extreme beauty of the place, the paradoxical nature of its long history of visitation in many forms, were all of great interest to me. They became the subject of an archive of more than seven hundred photographic and drawn images. . . . My trip will be a resonant touchstone within my art for a long time to come." The total awarded from 1993 to 2002 was $242,704. The DeGolyer, Kimbrough, and Dozier families allow the Museum to play a significant role in recognizing and stimulating the creative growth of many artists.

The Vasari Award, begun in 1985, recognizes and encourages quality in scholarship and writing in the field of art history in Texas. It was the idea of Director Harry Parker, who wished to give the Museum's library a higher profile in the scholarly community. The jury awards a monetary sum and the recipient is also presented with a bronze medallion designed by Anne Coke, a local artist and a member of the Library Committee when the award was founded. University of Texas at Austin professor Linda Henderson received the first Vasari award for her book The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art. Other recipients include William B. Jordan, Annemarie Weyl Carr, Colin B. Bailey, William A. Camfield, Carolyn C. Wilson, Beth S. Wright, John R. Clarke, and Jacqueline Barnitz.

The Museum began its centennial celebration with Come Forward: Emerging Art in Texas, a group exhibition of eleven Texas artists at the beginning of their careers. As Director John R. Lane stated in his catalog forward, "The genesis of Come Forward: Emerging Art in Texas was our sense that the best way to celebrate the extensive relationship that the Museum has enjoyed with artists in Texas would be to make an exhibition that would be fresh, energetic, and forward looking." As co-curator of the exhibition, I [Suzanne Weaver] see its relevance and resonance well beyond the Red River. It is a fascinating picture of an emerging generation and of the enduring vigor and vitality of art in Texas; it is a reminder of the high quality of art produced here; and it is an indication of a bull market in Texas art futures.

Adapted from

Suzanne Weaver, "Celebrating Art and Artists in Texas," in Dallas Museum of Art, 100 Years , ed. Dorothy M. Kosinski (Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Art, 2003), Pamphlet number 92.

Web Resources