Category Archives: Artist Estate

Ellen Soderquist and Drawing the Nude

FAE is pleased to offer artworks by Dallas artist Ellen Soderquist. Ellen has been working as an artist since 1973, and has been teaching life drawing classes since 1979.  Highly respected as an artist and educator, Ellen is known for her exquisitely rendered and highly developed graphite drawings of the nude figure.  She teaches life drawing and lectures on the nude as a form of art explored by artists throughout history.

Ellen in the Studio, 1983
First Inspirations

Ellen Soderquist was raised in Texarkana, TX, where she showed an artistic inclination from a young age.  Because Ellen’s father was a photographer, there was always art on the walls of their home while she was growing up.  Along with his photographs, there were also drawings and watercolors by other artists, and they had artbooks in their library.  However, her favorite book was not an artbook, it was her mother’s copy of Gregg Shorthand.  She told me she “loved looking at that book and all those squiggles.  Before I learned to write, I remember writing pages and pages of squiggles.”  With amusement, her mother would later read the imaginary letters to her.

In Kindergarten, Ellen was inspired by one of her teachers who illustrated children’s books.  She would often draw her students while they were playing at recess.  During naptime, she would let Ellen peer over her shoulder to watch her draw.  Watching an artist work made quite an impression on her.

Image of a 2008 graphite on paper drawing of a nude figure and her shadow
Shadow Play: Yvette’s Gloves, 2008, Graphite on Coventry Rag paper
Why the Nude?

Ellen’s first formal art training was at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.  Unfortunately, she found her first drawing class, where they worked from still life setups, so tedious she nearly switched majors.  It was not until she first started drawing the nude from a live model that Ellen was “hooked.”  Even though life drawing was only “taught to discipline and train the eye and hand,” like the still life setups that had totally bored her, she completely embraced the challenge of drawing from the model.  She was fascinated with the discovery that “the slightest movement or nuance of pose can change everything.” To Ellen, this was a revelation.

Even though Life Drawing was not emphasized in SMU’s art program, Ellen was intent on pursuing drawing the figure. This discipline was only required for two semesters, but Ellen was able to outwit the Registrar by finding a way to take a life drawing class every semester.

The course load emphasized what Ellen refers to as the “isms,” studying abstraction, expressionism, and minimalism. These influences can be seen in Ellen’s rendering of the figure in the void, using a minimalist background to draw the viewer’s consideration to only the figure and what is being said through the body and its pose.

Vittoria Colonna #2 (yellow), 1985, Graphite and Nupastel on Rag Paper

Ellen received her Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Texas Tech University in 1968. Her portfolio included expressionistic paintings, watercolors, prints, drawings, and a few abstractions and landscapes – but more than anything the nude was the dominant theme throughout her portfolio.

In 1971, Ellen went to Austin to work for the University of Texas.  As an employee, she was able to take classes for free, so she signed up for a life drawing class in the UT Art Department.  At the same time, she was reading Kenneth Clark’s book, The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form, and came across the concept that the nude is not just a subject, but is a form of art. These realizations cemented her direction as an artist, and she decided that her art was “the nude”.

Odd Jobs and Influences

The University of Texas hired Ellen as an illustrator for academic papers and projects.  Her first job on campus was working for Gérard de Vaucouleurs in the astronomy department. Ellen was part of a team of artists that worked for NASA through the university to draw maps of Mars under the supervision of Dr. de Vaucouleurs. They worked from the Mariner 9 photographs of Mars’ topography to add in the planet’s albedo, or light and dark markings, with graphite.  Their work was published in Sky and Telescope magazine.  Ellen’s second job in Austin was working for the Zoology department, making illustrations for the professors’ published articles.  For this job she worked in ink on a kind of mylar called Herculene.

Ellen’s quadrant of the Mars albedo project, published in Sky and Telescope magazine

Both illustration jobs helped Ellen hone her drawing skills and define her later working practice.  While rendering her illustrations of fauna at the Zoology department Ellen became accustomed to working on mylar, and from the Astronomy department she worked with graphite. Drawing extensively with these materials led Ellen to her “particular technique” when she moved to Dallas and became a professional artist.

In her Dallas studio, 1983, this photo illustrates how Ellen sharpened her graphite and pencils in the same way that she learned from drawing Mars’ albedo.

In 1981 Ellen was awarded a $2,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.  With that money, she purchased a drafting table and used the rest to produce a series of three lithographs in collaboration with Texas’ finest fine art print shop at the time, Peregrine Press.

Ellen in the studio, working on lithostone in 1982.
Controversy and Censorship

Ellen knew that her choice of subject matter would occasionally cause controversy.  She recalled her first group exhibit at DuBose Gallery in Houston, where she was confronted by a gallery patron who labeled her artwork as pornographic.  Ellen said she spent time visiting with the woman explaining what her artwork was about.  She was pleased to learn later that the woman had purchased one of her drawings.

Image of a 2008 graphite on paper drawing of a figure's torso from the side
Jamie’s Torso, 2008, Graphite on Arches Paper

In 1981, Ellen was surprised that one of her works was removed from an exhibition at the Plaza of the Americas, an office building in downtown Dallas.  The show’s sponsor, The Texas Fine Art Association, had awarded the work second prize.  One of the people in charge of the building decided to exclude five works from the exhibit, including Ellen’s, saying that they were inappropriate for public view.  Ralph Kahn, a Dallas dealer who was known to not shy away from controversy, offered to exhibit the five “inappropriate” works in his gallery.  Bill Marvel, art critic for the Dallas Times Herold, wrote an article about the incident titled, “No Nudes is Good Nudes.”

Dallas Times Herald article, “No Nudes is Good Nudes,” April 4, 1981

Ellen believes that people who react to her work in this way do not understand her intention. She wants “the graphite to feel like flesh on the surface of the mylar.”  She wants the gesture to convey the figure’s inner spirit to the viewer.

An Artist’s Voice

These encounters deeply affected Ellen. She wants her figures to communicate a sense of strength, intellect, and capability.  The critiques that she is most pleased with describe her figures as “intelligent, sensual, highly developed, elegant, and provocative.”  She has examined attitudes about the nude throughout the history of art and sees this art form as a means of “understanding our humanity.”

In numerous series of artwork, Ellen has pursued a conceptual itinerary that spans the gamut of human emotions and relationships and she has explored contemporary attitudes about the nude as well as those of other cultures throughout the history of art. She strives to bring the complex relevance of the unclothed human body to the consciousness of contemporary culture.

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Available artworks by Ellen Soderquist on FAE

Detail image of an Otis Huband painting, there is a sculpture of a nude female torso in the center of the interior of a studioOTIS HUBAND: A Consummate Artist
Landscape of a farm house and a windmill by William ElliottDallas Painter WILLIAM ELLIOTT (1909-2001)
photo of a young Valton Tyler smoking a cigarette in the printroom at SMUThree Important Early Paintings by VALTON TYLER
Photo of the printmaker working in his studioYUKIO FUKAZAWA: Master Printmaker
An early painting of a male deer standing in the foreground of a deep rugged landscapeEarly Career Paintings by JIM STOKER: The Eternal Naturalist
a brush, pen and ink landscape drawing by Everett SpruceDrawings from the Estate of EVERETT FRANKLIN SPRUCE: Texas’ Most Celebrated Modernist
Watercolor and collage of an abstracted landscape by M. LeeMARJORIE JOHNSON LEE, An American Modernist
Photograph of John Albok with his cameraIntroduction to the photographs of JOHN ALBOK, Part II: the Photographic Archives Collection

 

 

To see all available FAE Collector Blog Posts, jump to the Collector Blog Table of Contents.

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For comments about this blog or suggestions for a future post, contact Madeleine at mbogan@fineartestates.com.

The FAE Collector Blog Table of Contents

The FAE Collector Blog provides easy access to more in-depth information about the Collections and Artists that appear on the FAE Website.  The FAE Collector Blog Table of Contents consists of:

  1. Most Recent Post
  2. Collections
  3. Artists

1. Most Recent Post:

An image of the artistELLEN SODERQUIST & Drawing the Nude

2. Collections:

Katherine Brimberry and Mark Smith standing behind etching pressFlatbed Press: A Texas Fine Art Institution
Andy and Beckie Reisberg stand in the main exhibition space at Phonographic Archives GalleryThe Photographic Archives Collection of Andy and Becky Reisberg
Regionalist landscape watercolor by Charles T. BowlingThe Dorothy and Mat Garland Collection

 

 

3. Artists:

An image of the artist ELLEN SODERQUIST & Drawing the Nude
Detail image of an Otis Huband painting, there is a sculpture of a nude female torso in the center of the interior of a studioOTIS HUBAND: A Consummate Artist
Landscape of a farm house and a windmill by William ElliottDallas Painter WILLIAM ELLIOTT (1909-2001)
photo of a young Valton Tyler smoking a cigarette in the printroom at SMUThree Important Early Paintings by VALTON TYLER
Photo of the printmaker working in his studioYUKIO FUKAZAWA: Master Printmaker
A mixed-media work on paper by M. J. LeeM. J. LEE Estate Gifts to the Amon Carter Museum
An early painting of a male deer standing in the foreground of a deep rugged landscapeEarly Career Paintings by JIM STOKER: The Eternal Naturalist
a brush, pen and ink landscape drawing by Everett SpruceDrawings from the Estate of EVERETT FRANKLIN SPRUCE: Texas’ Most Celebrated Modernist
Watercolor and collage of an abstracted landscape by M. LeeMARJORIE JOHNSON LEE, An American Modernist
Photograph of John Albok with his cameraIntroduction to the photographs of JOHN ALBOK, Part II: the Photographic Archives Collection

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To see all available FAE Design Blog Posts,  jump to the Design Blog Table of Contents.

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Browse fine artworks available to purchase on FAE.  Follow us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter to stay updated about FAE and new blog posts.

For comments about this blog or suggestions for a future post, contact Madeleine at mbogan@fineartestates.com.

Dallas Painter William Elliott (1909-2001)

FAE is pleased to offer works from the estate of William Elliott, one of Dallas’ most respected watercolor artists.

William Elliott was born April 4, 1909 in Sedalia, Missouri. After his family moved to Dallas, in 1928 he graduated from Dallas’ Sunset High School, and then enrolled at John Tarleton College in Stephenville, Texas where he received a degree in architecture. Upon returning home, in 1931, he enrolled in Olin Travis’ Art Institute of Dallas. He had no money for tuition so, like Everett Spruce before him, he cleaned the classrooms at the end of each day in exchange for lessons. He took classes for three years at Travis’ Art Institute cultivating friendships with other Dallas artists which he maintained throughout his career.

Artist: William Elliott, Self Portrait, 1940
Self Portrait, 1940

After Leaving the Institute, he took on his first full time job as a commercial artist, creating artwork for the Interstate Theater chain. He was provided a studio by Interstate in the Melba Theater Building. When he was not working on a project for Interstate, he would look out his window for passersby that he might be able to do convince to sit for him. He learned this technique for finding inexpensive sitters while at the Art Institute. While in the depths of the depression, most people were willing to sit for whatever Elliott was able to pay.

Artist: William Elliott, "Elections" (Dallas) watercolor on paper
“Elections” (Dallas) watercolor on paper

During this time, Elliott frequently worked in the field alongside his friends Reid Crowell, William Lester, Reveau Bassett, and Otis Dozier. They sketched and painted at locations throughout Dallas, and the surrounding rural areas together. Although he was friends with many of the Dallas Regionalist artists, he was not considered a Regionalist by the group because he made his living as a commercial artist. Amusingly, over the next 10 years, he exhibited his work alongside theirs during the Texas State Fair in Dallas’ competitive Allied Arts Exhibitions held in the Dallas Museum of Fine Art, and at the Carnegie Library in Fort Worth.

Artist: William Elliott, "Hunter and His Prey" watercolor on paper
“Hunter and His Prey” watercolor on paper

During World War II, Elliott served as a staff artist with the U. S. Army Air Corps. Elliott returned to Dallas after the war and opened his own studio. He built a successful business serving the advertising and commercial artwork needs of numerous corporate clients.

Artist: William Elliott, "Dusk" watercolor on paper
“Dusk” watercolor on paper

Because he had been so successful as a commercial artist, in the mid-1960’s he retired so he could devote himself full time to his first love – watercolor. To further his skill set, he went to the Art Students League in NYC to study with Robert Angelock and to Woodstock to study with Stefan Lokos.

Artist: William Elliott, "Snow Covered Cedars" watercolor on paper
“Snow Covered Cedars” watercolor on paper

Over the next 30 years, he became one of Dallas’ best known and most accomplished watercolor artists. His paintings draw on observations from trips through Spain, Portugal, Colorado, Maine, and along the Texas Gulf Coast. He was a long-term member of the Southwestern Watercolor Society, and during his career, exhibited in over 100 juried art exhibitions, winning over forty awards. His works can be found in the collections of Diamond Shamrock Corporation, Southwestern Bell Telephone, John Deere Corporation, and numerous other corporate and private collections.

Artist: William Elliott, "Autumn Splendor" watercolor on paper
“Autumn Splendor” watercolor on paper

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See all available works by William Elliott.

To see all available FAE Collector Blog Posts, jump to the Collector Blog Table of Contents.

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Sign up with FAE to receive our newsletter, and never miss a new blog post or update! 

Browse fine artworks available to purchase on FAE.  Follow us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter to stay updated about FAE and new blog posts.

For comments about this blog or suggestions for a future post, contact Madeleine at mbogan@fineartestates.com.

Three Important Early Paintings by Valton Tyler

In 1969, at the age of 25, the exceptionally talented Visionary painter Valton Ray Tyler painted these three extraordinary and extremely rare to market oil paintings that are now available on FAE.  At the time, although his living conditions had stabilized, he was suffering radical mood swings caused by his life-long fight with Manic Depression, or what is now known as Bipolar Disorder.  All three are different in temperament and foreshadow the direction his work would take over the next 48 years.

Image of early Painting by Valton Ray Tyler (1944-2017), Untitled (Crucifixion) 1969, oil on canvas, 40 x 48 Inches
Valton Ray Tyler (1944-2017), Untitled (Crucifixion) 1969, oil on canvas, 40 x 48 Inches
Image of Painting by Valton Ray Tyler (1944-2017), Untitled 1969 oil on canvas, 27 3/4 x 27 3/4 inches
Valton Ray Tyler (1944-2017), Untitled 1969 oil on canvas, 27 3/4 x 27 3/4 inches
Image of early painting by Valton Ray Tyler (1944-2017), Untitled 1970, oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches
Valton Ray Tyler (1944-2017), Untitled 1970, oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches

In the beginning of 1970, Valton’s life would take a radical swing towards the Manic.  His brother was desperate to try to help Valton find his way and to determine if he really had talent, or if his artwork was just self-devised therapy.  He brought Valton and a portfolio of his drawings to Dallas art dealer, Donald Vogel.  Vogel was impressed enough with Valton’s talent and creativity that he arranged for Valton to use the printmaking department at Southern Methodist University under the watchful eye of Larry Schoelder, who ran the department.  To help keep Valton supplied, Vogel agreed to purchase all of Valton’s plates and paper as long as he wanted to produce prints.  Valton became sort of an artist in residence without portfolio at SMU and worked when classes were not in session, often well into the  night.  During this intense period of productivity, by October of 1971, Valton had started editions on over 50 different intaglio prints.

Image of Valton Tylers etching titled "First Etched Stage"
First Etched Stage, line etching

Valton used themes and working methods in these three earlier paintings that he modified to use in making his black and white intaglio prints.  He used a similar cross hatching technique to give the forms he created volume and, when a figure appeared in his prints, he often elongated their limbs in a sort of hyper-Mannerist style.

Image of Valton Tyler's etching titled "Environment Man," line etching
“Environment Man,” line etching
Image of a detail of "Environment Man" showing elongated limbs as in his earlier paintings
Detail  of Environment Man showing elongated limbs as in his earlier paintings

After Valton’s intensely focused period of printmaking, he started working in oil on stretched canvas.  With these works, unlike his earlier paintings and prints where three-dimensional form was derived from crosshatched strokes,

Image of an early painting by Valton Tyler, "Decameron," oil on canvas, 48 x 70 inches
Valton Tyler, Decameron, oil on canvas, 48 x 70 inches

Valton started to render form by carefully blended smooth shading.  With practice, Valton was able to subtly render a graduated background shade that would work its way across large canvases.  He also started to place his quasi-plant and machine-like organic forms into landscape settings.

Image of the Valton Tyler Painting, "Brace," oil on canvas, 70 x 70 inches
Valton Tyler, Brace, oil on canvas, 70 x 70 inches

Before Valton passed away, he was honored with a one-person show of his prints and paintings at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas.  Below is the last large painting  Valton painted before his death.  It was donated to the Amon Carter by one of his family members and is currently hanging in a transitional stairwell.

Image of Valton Tyler's last large Painting installed in a stairwell of The Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas
Valton Tyler’s last large Painting installed in a stairwell at The Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas

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See all available works by Valton Tyler.

To see all available FAE Collector Blog Posts, jump to the Collector Blog Table of Contents.

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Sign up with FAE to receive our newsletter, and never miss a new blog post or update! 

Browse fine artworks available to purchase on FAE.  Follow us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter to stay updated about FAE and new blog posts.

For comments about this blog or suggestions for a future post, contact Madeleine at mbogan@fineartestates.com.

Lee Estate Gifts to Amon Carter Museum

On behalf of the heir to the Marjorie Johnson Lee estate, one of the dealers who is working with FAE recently facilitated the gift of seven works on paper from the Lee Estate to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas.  Six works were by Lee herself and the other was a work from Lee’s collection by the Austin artist Kelly Fearing.  Spencer Wigmore, Assistant Curator at the Amon Carter Museum said of the gift:  We’re quite happy with the selection, which should give us some flexibility to acknowledge her various contributions when we show works by Fort Worth School artists in the galleries…. 

2019.12, Circus Interior #1, Oct. 1979, Opaque and transparent watercolor, pastel, ink with paper collage pieces. Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Gift of Marjorie Johnson Lee Estate.

During the earliest conceptual discussions of FAE’s long term goals, the idea of using the platform to facilitate the gifting of artwork to museums and other public institutions seemed practical and mutually beneficial.  There are many cases were an institution, because of budget issues and priorities, would not necessarily purchase an artwork from an artist they considered worthy of adding to their collection, but would be very happy to add a representative example if it was gifted.

2019.16, Untitled [Still Life], ca. 1950, watercolor and ink on paper, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Gift of Marjorie Johnson Lee Estate.
Since many of the artworks offered on FAE come from artists or their heirs who are thinking about issues of legacy or making sure that the artworks in their care are well placed, FAE and the dealers who participate have an opportunity to help facilitate their wishes.

2019.11, Untitled [Surrealist Figure], ca. 1942, lithograph, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Gift of Marjorie Johnson Lee Estate.
Although there are several other estates that have shown interest, this is the first gift of artworks to a museum that came about because of FAE and an associated dealer’s direct involvement with an artist’s estate.   We are hopeful that this act of generosity will inspire even more artists, or their heirs, to consider making works available for gifting.  As interest in this informal gifting program expands, FAE and the dealers we work with will be reaching out to let institutions know what is being offered.

2019.13, Circus Interior #2, Oct. 1979, Opaque and transparent watercolor, pastel, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Gift of Marjorie Johnson Lee Estate.

If you would like more information on Marjorie Johnson Lee and her work, there is a blog post listed on the postings menu at left and a link to currently available works by her here.

2019.14, Untitled [Harlequin figure], ca. 1948, etching and aquatint, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Gift of Marjorie Johnson Lee Estate.

*****

See all available works by Marjorie Johnson Lee.

To see all available FAE Collector Blog Posts, jump to the Collector Blog Table of Contents.

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Sign up with FAE to receive our newsletter, and never miss a new blog post or update! 

Browse fine artworks available to purchase on FAE.  Follow us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter to stay updated about FAE and new blog posts.

For comments about this blog or suggestions for a future post, contact Madeleine at mbogan@fineartestates.com.

Early Career Paintings by Jim Stoker

THE ETERNAL NATURALIST

Valley House Gallery is pleased to offer a selection of early works by San Antonio artist, Jim Stoker.   

Jim Stoker was born in 1935 in Nash, Texas, and reared in Atlanta, a rural town in East Texas. He received a BFA in Applied Art from The University of Texas at Austin in 1957, and an MA in painting, drawing, and printmaking from New Mexico Highlands University in 1962 where he studied with Elmer Schooley. Stoker painted throughout a teaching career which culminated in a 30-year tenure at Trinity University in San Antonio. 

Jim Stoker, American, Born 1935
Jim Stoker, American, Born 1935

Most of the Stoker works we are offering range from the early 1970’s to the early 1980’s, when he was teaching at Trinity University in San Antonio. Stylistically, in the early 70’s Stoker’s oil paintings tended towards representational landscapes with figures at work. His compositions often incorporated incongruous animals milling around the workers or the tools they used.

The Hi-Ranger Rides Again, 1970
The Hi-Ranger Rides Again, 1970

In the mid-70’s the subjects and style of his work changed to flat colorful interiors, resembling paper cut out collages more than paintings.

Woman with Checkered Wall, 1975
Woman with Checkered Wall, 1975

In the late 70’s and early 80’s, he and his wife would spend the Summers in Santa Fe, NM where he painted a series of paintings focusing on the architecture and its relationship to the natural occurring and the planted flora.

House in Santa Fe, 1979
House in Santa Fe, 1979

He later said of that time, you used to see Hollyhocks everywhere in Santa Fe in the late 80’s.  You would think it was the state flower there were so many.  Now, you hardly see any when traveling around that area.

His work became more representational in style and focused more on nature and the environment. 

Jim and his wife Elouise are both naturalists who helped form the San Antonio, Texas chapter of the Sierra Club. Stoker’s efforts to protect the natural fauna and flora around San Antonio led to a series of paintings he titled No Place to Live:… The theme of this series pointed to the animals’ plight when humans are taking over their natural living spaces. 

Brown Trout, 2000/1, oil on canvas, 30 x 42 inches

Jim’s current paintings primarily focus on the riparian zone of the Guadalupe river near a cabin that has been in his wife’s family for generations.  He has created a unique technique he calls Confetti Splatter that he uses to create a multicolored dot matrix as an underpainting  for his naturalistic landscape compositions. 

*****

See all available works by Jim Stoker.

To see all available FAE Collector Blog Posts, jump to the Collector Blog Table of Contents.

To see all available FAE Design Blog Posts,  jump to the Design Blog Table of Contents.

Sign up with FAE to receive our newsletter, and never miss a new blog post or update! 

Browse fine artworks available to purchase on FAE.  Follow us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter to stay updated about FAE and new blog posts.

For comments about this blog or suggestions for a future post, contact Madeleine at mbogan@fineartestates.com.

Drawings from the Estate of Everett Franklin Spruce

TEXAS’ MOST CELEBRATED MODERNIST

FAE is excited to have a selection of drawings available from the estate of Texas’ most celebrated mid-century modernist painter, Everett Franklin Spruce, consigned from one of his four children, Henry Spruce.  Spurce is primarily known for his contributions to the formation of a unique Regional moment that started in Dallas, Texas in 1932.

Unlike the Regionalist movement that began in the upper Midwest and focused on the bucolic rural farmlands and farm life that embodied that region,  the Texas version took a different approach, focusing on the effects of improper land management that ultimately caused the dust bowl.   It was also a broadly based movement that was taken up by many Texas novelists, playwrights, choreographers, and most all other artistic disciplines.

Early image of Everett Spruce at an exhibition of his work
Everett Franklin Spruce (1908-2002)

Early Years:

Everett Franklin Spruce was born in Holland, Arkansas on December 25, 1907.  When Spruce was 4 years old his father moved the family to Adams Mountain in Pope County and then later to Mulberry, Arkansas, where Spruce attended high school.  Spruce showed artistic talent during these early years, primarily in the drawings he did of the Arkansas landscape.  His abilities were called to the attention of noted Dallas painters Olin and Katherine Travis.  The Travises had established the Dallas Art Institute in Dallas and had summer painting camps in Arkansas’ Ozark mountains.  Hearing about this young prodigy and recognizing a burgeoning talent, they offered him a scholarship at the Dallas Art Institute.  Spruce moved to Dallas and studied at the DAI from 1926 – 1929 with Travis and another Texas artist, Thomas M. Stell, Jr.  In 1934 Spruce married Alice Virginia Kramer, a young woman who was also taking classes at the art institute.

In 1931 Spruce took a position as gallery assistant at the Free Public Art Gallery, renamed the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in 1933, and was promoted to registrar in 1936 when the museum opened its doors at its new location in Fair Park as part of the Texas Centennial Celebration.

Image of Spruce ink drawing of a plant structure.
Everett Spruce “Cypress,” Pen & Ink on Paper, 17 1/4 x 17 1/4 inches (paper size).

In the early 1930’s, Spruce became one of Texas’s premier Regionalist artists.   He quickly developed a national reputation.  He was invited to show his paintings in exhibitions across the nation including the Kansas City Art Institute (Kansas City, Missouri); the Rockefeller Center (New York, New York); the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, New York); the Palace of Fine Arts (San Francisco, California); and the New York World’s Fair Exhibition (New York, New York).

His Years Teaching Art:

In 1940 Spruce, with only a high school education, joined the art faculty at the University of Texas at Austin where he began as an instructor in life drawing and creative design.  From 1949 – 1951 Spruce served as Chairman of the Department of Art, and in 1954 he was promoted to the position of Professor of Art.  In 1958 Spruce was the first artist featured in the Blaffer Series on Texas Art, published by the University of Texas Press. The portfolio, titled A Portfolio of Eight Paintings, includes the essay “Everett Spruce: An Appreciation” by Jerry Bywaters, then director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts.  Spruce was also honored by the American Federation of the Arts’ offer to sponsor a traveling exhibition of his paintings in many venues throughout the Midwest and Southeast, starting at the McNay Museum in San Antonio.

Image of a mixed media Spruce work on paper of plant forms.
Everett Spruce, Untitled (Plants), mixed media on paper, 17 1/2 x 19 inches

In 1974 Spruce retired from the Art Department as Professor Emeritus, yet continued to paint until he was 88 years old.  Spruce died in Austin in 2002 at the age of 94, survived by his twin daughters and two sons.   Spruce’s paintings were collected by many of America’s major museums including the Metropolitan Museum in New York; Dallas Museum of Art; M.H. DeYoung Museum in San Francisco; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Phillips Gallery, Washington D.C.; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, to name a few. 

Spruce’s Drawings:

Spruce’s drawings were rarely used as studies for paintings.  The vastness and majesty evoked in his paintings serve as a counterpoint to the drawings’ tighter, more detail-oriented focus.  He drew inspiration and subject matter for his expressionist landscapes from numerous weekend outings with his family into West Texas, and South to the Texas Gulf Coast.  He would pull over to the side of the road whenever something in the landscape caught his attention and, to his family’s distress, memorize every aspect of the scene for 15 minutes or longer.  From these memories of place, he would create paintings or drawings of these inspiration points in his studio, often months later.  He did not work from photographs or sketchbook, letting his memory serve as reference.   

image of a pen and ink drawing on paper of a man out hunting.
Everett Spruce, “The Gunner” Pen & Ink on paper, 12 x 9 1/2 inches

Spruce’s drawing style became freer as his career evolved, producing increasingly abstract and expressionist works.  Even Spruce’s latest drawings show an absurdness of hand and a confidence of purpose.  His evocative depictions of Texas landscape have cemented his Lone Star Regionalist status, and stand as a testament to his love of the land.

See all available works by Everett Franklin Spruce.

Texas Made Modern:

Through November 1, 2020,  the Amon Carter Museum of American Art honors Everett  Spruce with his first major museum retrospective.  The exhibition is titled Texas Made Modern, The Art of Everett Spruce.

The exhibition is thoroughly documented with a  fully illustrated catalog co-published by Texas A&M Press and the Amon Carter.  The primary essay is authored by the exhibition’s curator, Shirley Reece-Hughes.

A Few Highlights from Texas Made Modern:

 

 

 

Veteran, 1932

 

West Texas Landscape, 1936

 

Southwest Texas Landscape, 1936

 

Ozark Mountaineer, 1936

 

West Texas Mesa, 1938

 

Untitled, c.1938

 

Burnet County Landscape, 1938

 

Rain in Texas, 1938

 

West Texas Mesa, 1938

 

The Watering Trough, 1941

 

West of Austin, 1941

 

Forgotten Garden, 1946

 

Man Lighting Lantern, 1946

 

Broken Tree, 1950

 

Broken Jetty, Port Aransas, 1957

 

Abandoned Quarry, 1977

*****

 

Blogs on other Texas Artists:

Detail image of an Otis Huband painting, there is a sculpture of a nude female torso in the center of the interior of a studioOTIS HUBAND: A Consummate Artist
Landscape of a farm house and a windmill by William ElliottDallas Painter WILLIAM ELLIOTT (1909-2001)
photo of a young Valton Tyler smoking a cigarette in the printroom at SMUThree Important Early Paintings by VALTON TYLER
A mixed-media work on paper by M. J. LeeM. J. LEE Estate Gifts to the Amon Carter Museum
An early painting of a male deer standing in the foreground of a deep rugged landscapeEarly Career Paintings by JIM STOKER: The Eternal Naturalist
Watercolor and collage of an abstracted landscape by M. LeeMARJORIE JOHNSON LEE, An American Modernist

 

To see all available FAE Collector Blog Posts, jump to the Collector Blog Table of Contents.

To see all available FAE Design Blog Posts,  jump to the Design Blog Table of Contents.

Sign up with FAE to receive our newsletter, and never miss a new blog post or update! 

Browse fine artworks available to purchase on FAE.  Follow us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter to stay updated about FAE and new blog posts.

For comments about this blog or suggestions for a future post, contact Madeleine at mbogan@fineartestates.com.

 

Part II of The Photographic Archives Collection

Part II – Our Introduction to the Photographs of John Albok (1894-1982)

Our first introduction to the photography of John Albok was a life changing experience. It was an unforgettable day twenty-six years ago. A well-dressed woman walked into our gallery on Lovers Lane in Dallas with an acid-free box full of black and white photographs. She gave us the impression of a woman from another era, and definitely not a Texan.

That box contained thirty or forty Depression era 8×10 photographs, a mixture of Central Park scenes, children playing in the streets, storefronts and immigrant street vendors, political themes and more, all dating to the 1930’s and ‘40’s in New York, and all in excellent vintage condition. They were historical gems. I immediately recognized museum quality work.

And that woman was John Albok’s sixty-five-year-old daughter, Ilona Albok Vitarius, who was in fact not a Texas native, but rather a transplant from New York City. Our photography gallery had been open for five years at that time and Ilona was looking for a local venue to exhibit her father’s work. Our reputation for photographic preservation and historical photography must have piqued her curiosity to pay us a visit.

Beckie and I immediately fell in love with the work and the opportunity to introduce Dallas to John Albok. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship and working relationship for the next twenty years until Ilona’s death in 2013. Her passion for her father’s work and the desire to share his life and art with others never waned.

John Albok Merchant Tailor, 1938. 1391 Madison Avenue, NYC.

Ilona had so many stories to tell about her father. John Albok was a Hungarian immigrant who, in 1923, established himself on upper Madison Avenue as a master tailor. But his true passion and avocation was photographing his newly adopted city. Beckie remembers the countless evenings we spent in Ilona’s living room drinking Chambord or Tokaji and discussing her father’s photographs. She was extremely knowledgeable about the backstory of every image and she was very literate in photography. Every visit was different. She would surprise us with a new selection of prints that she wanted us to see. It ran the gamut from pictorial, soft focus work reminiscent of Alfred Steiglitz to gritty documentary scenes on the order of Farm Security Administration photography, and studio portraiture that her father turned to when the Depression struck.

Self-Portrait of Albok, 1938.

According to Ilona, a day in the life of John Albok would start with an early morning of greeting customers in his one-man shop, taking measurements for gentlemen’s suits and sitting behind the sewing machine. Lunch was spent hunting the streets and parks with his Rolleiflex twin lens reflex camera, then back to tailoring. At the end of the day he would draw the curtains, climb the stairs for supper with his family, then back downstairs to convert his small tailor shop into a darkroom to develop the days’ film and print photographs. Other evenings Albok would invite musicians, artists and writers to gather and discuss art and culture, and on occasion to view his latest self-made 16mm film documentaries.

The Culture Club, 1932. Musicians, artists, and writers would gather in John Albok’s tailor shop for regular screenings of his 16mm films.

Albok rotated a photography display in his storefront window, and that is how he caught the attention of Grace Mayer who curated his first one-man exhibit of photographs at the Museum of the City of New York in 1938. Gordon Hyatt, a CBS television writer and producer, also discovered John Albok in the mid-1960’s after seeing his tailor shop photo gallery. That relationship turned into an hour-long Emmy nominated documentary film entitled ‘John Albok’s New York’, which essentially exposed the world to John Albok photography. Art galleries and museums took notice and began to collect and exhibit his work.

Albok’s Store Front Gallery, 1942.
John Albok with Gordon Hyatt (left), producer and Richard Stone (right), cinematographer at the CBS studio during the production of John Albok’s New York, 1965.

Highlights of working with the Albok collection were co-curating with Ilona two major exhibits for our gallery, John Albok, An American Legacy in 1994, and For The Children in 1995. American Legacy featured sixty-five photographs and four original artworks by Albok. We enlisted Tom Southall, Curator of Photographs of the Amon Carter Museum to deliver a gallery talk after the opening. And on a subsequent evening we converted the gallery into a theater for a screening of “John Albok’s New York”.

Working with Ilona on the exhibition catalogue ‘For the Children’ was a special treat. It took months of editing and re-design because she would continually surprise me with new items that I found irresistible to include in the catalogue. Items such as hand-written diary entries, a speech he made to the New York Camera Club at Rockefeller Center in 1939, letters from museum directors and curators as well as news clips and international reviews and publications of his photography which were all invaluable in assembling his curriculum vitae.

Albok with camera outside of his shop, 1970. 1391 Madison Avenue, NYC.

Over the years, we assembled a collection of John Albok photographs representing the major themes that concerned him. Our private collection includes 100 large scale, exhibition quality photographs taken between the years 1919-1977, plus an equal number of smaller uncatalogued prints; color photographs made in Albok’s later years; the twin lens reflex camera that he used during the New York World’s Fair in 1939-40; a pair of hand-made kid skin gloves; some of his sketches and artwork; and a small clutch of original negatives gifted to us by Ilona.

Albok in the Tailor Shop, 1952.

What was even more remarkable about the first encounter with John Albok photography, and his daughter Ilona, was the fact that we lived just three blocks away from her home in north Dallas for eight years and we never knew it! What a time we would have had if the introduction was made earlier. Had we been aware of such a vast historical treasure in the neighborhood we very well may have launched our gallery years earlier than we did.

Ilona Albok Vitarius, Photographic Archives Gallery, 1995.

 

Andy Reisberg
Wimberley, TX

*****

See all available works by John Albok.

To see all available FAE Collector Blog Posts, jump to the Collector Blog Table of Contents.

To see all available FAE Design Blog Posts,  jump to the Design Blog Table of Contents.

Sign up with FAE to receive our newsletter, and never miss a new blog post or update! 

Browse fine artworks available to purchase on FAE.  Follow us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter to stay updated about FAE and new blog posts.

For comments about this blog or suggestions for a future post, contact Madeleine at mbogan@fineartestates.com.

Marjorie Johnson Lee

AN AMERICAN MODERNIST

On May 31, 1911, Marjorie Evelin Johnson was born in Upland, Texas, a small town that no longer exists, in Upton County.  Her father, a country doctor who worked for Humble Oil, constantly moved his family around West Texas to wherever Humble oil workers needed his services.  Most likely from the stress of being in almost constant motion, Marjorie’s parents divorced in 1924 and her grandmother moved the family to Fort Worth where they lived in rental housing until 1938.  Marjorie graduated Paschal High School in 1925 and that next year, at age 15, started working for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company.  That same year, pursuing her childhood interest in drawing, Marjorie started studying art with Fort Worth artist, Mrs. G.W. Greathouse.

Image of Marjorie Johnson Lee at the Art Students League
Marjorie at the Art Students League
Marjorie E. (Johnson) Lee (1911-1997)

In 1934, while still working with the phone company, Marjorie decided to attended Texas Christian University.  After taking classes at TCU for two years, she dropped out when Blanche McVeigh, a respected artist and printmaker who was a principal of the Fort Worth School of Fine Arts along with Evaline Sellors and Wade Jolly, was impressed enough with her artistic talent to invite her to enroll in their school.  Under Jolly’s tutelage, she became a skilled landscape watercolorist.  In the late 30’s and early 40’s she exhibited often with other prominent Fort Worth artists like Bror Utter and Veronica Helfensteller.  As with many serious artists in the Dallas and Fort area during that time, she traveled to Colorado Springs to take classes at the Colorado Art Center in 1942.

In the latter part of 42, to do her part, Marjorie joined the WAVES and was sent to Norman Oklahoma for training in radio communication and celestial navigation.  In 1943, she was assigned to Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida for the next three years where she taught young airmen these skills and painted and drew whenever she had time off.

Image of an abstracted floral still life
Flowers, 1971 Oil on Canvas 24 x 20 inches

After WWII, she moved to New York City to attend the Art Students League under the GI Bill.  In 1947, to be sure she could stay in the city, she took a job with New York Telephone and continued to take classes at the League through 48.

She vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard in 1950 and chose to capture her impressions of the island in pastel.  She returned in 52, and this time chose watercolor, possibly more suited to the Island atmosphere.

She continued the artistic life in NYC and in 1950, met and married an experimental film maker and educator named Francis Lee.  Marjorie’s artwork documents their vacations and trips out of NYC over the next 14 years with works from Minnewaska, New Rochelle, Carmel, East Hampton, and Woodstock in NY, Colorado, Glacier Park in Montana, and New Jersey.

Image of an abstracted edge of a river with rocks
Rocky Crossing, 1978 Oil on Canvas 18 x 24 inches

After working for the phone company in NYC for 27 years, in 1974, she moved back to Fort Worth introducing her husband to life in Texas.  Although while living in New York, she continued to show in important Texas and regional shows, retirement provided the opportunity to focus on her art.  She started exhibiting with the Evelyn Siegel Gallery in Fort Worth and entering competitive shows all over Texas.  Nine years after their move, Marjorie and Francis divorced and he moved back to NYC.

About the time Marjorie entered the Art Students League in NYC, she fell in love with color and was won over by Modernist art.  During her vacations she filled drawing books with plein-air, almost fauve like, pastels and watercolors of ebullient trees, fast flowing rivers, and assemblages of hyper-colored rocks.  Upon her return to the city, her favorite pastels and watercolors would often evolve into studies for oil paintings.

image of an abstracted still life
Untitled (Still Life) Pastel and Cut Paper Collage on Paper 20 x 26 inches

After she returned to live in Fort Worth, she started creating brightly colored collages, cut from home-made and commercial colored papers, repurposed watercolors, and often combined with watercolor washes, ink, and sometimes pastel.  They were always bright in color and evolved over time from representational to totally non-objective.

Image of an non representational collage
Swim Through the Sea of Light, Little Swimmer, 1979 Cut Paper Collage on Paper 20 x 14 inches

Marjorie gave up entering competitive shows in 1984 and her last one-person show was held at Evelyn Siegal Gallery in 1994.  She died in a Fort Worth nursing home on February 1, 1997.

*****

See all available works by Marjorie Johnson Lee.

To see all available FAE Collector Blog Posts, jump to the Collector Blog Table of Contents.

To see all available FAE Design Blog Posts,  jump to the Design Blog Table of Contents.

Sign up with FAE to receive our newsletter, and never miss a new blog post or update! 

Browse fine artworks available to purchase on FAE.  Follow us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter to stay updated about FAE and new blog posts.

For comments about this blog or suggestions for a future post, contact Madeleine at mbogan@fineartestates.com.

The Photographic Archives Collection

Part I in the Photographic Archives Blog Series:

FAE is now representing the photography collection of Andy and Beckie Reisberg, whose Photographic Archives Gallery was a fixture in Dallas, Texas from its opening in 1989 through 2006.  In their time as art dealers, Andy and Beckie befriended many of the artists they exhibited and promoted, often acquiring hundreds of an artist’s photographs for their personal collection.

The Reisbergs graciously granted an interview with us to discuss their memories of these artists, who are the focus of this blog series.  In this first installment of four, the Reisbergs share with us their background as art dealers and gallery owners.  The following three posts will focus on the friendships they had with the photographers John Albok, Myron Wood, and Andy Hanson.

Left: John Albok (1894-1982) Right: Untitled

The Darkroom

Before they were art dealers the Reisbergs spent most of their time in their darkroom on Lovers Lane in North Dallas, building a specialty photographic negative printing and print restoration service.  As the quality of their work became known and their reputation grew, they established ongoing relationships with Southern Methodist University, The University of Texas at Arlington, The Dallas Historical Society, and the Dallas Public Library.

“We were darkroom subcontractors for the main library for over 25 years.  At that same time the DeGolyer Library was fulfilling orders from the public, from their permanent collection,” Andy explains.  “I would be the one to make a copy negative of a historical print, or printing from the historical negative.  That was a wonderful relationship for about 20 years.”  When the Reisbergs decided to expand their location to open an exhibition space, their ties with these institutions provided a vast resource to draw from.

The Gallery

The Reisbergs decided to begin hosting exhibits in 1989, “for the sheer joy of photography.  Our livelihood was still in the restoration and conservation of photographs, but the gallery became a gathering place for photographers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, in particular, photography classes from high school to college level.”  In an effort to share their excitement about everything photographic, the Reisbergs “hosted many group shows for area educators and their classes.  Our calling card for the gallery read, ‘Specializing in Regional and Historical Photograph Collections.’”

“In 1991 we occupied the remainder of our 3,000 square foot building and formalized the gallery.  From 1991 to 2006 it was a regular feature in Dallas: The Photographic Archives Gallery.  I curated over 200 shows and brought together photographers, focusing on the Southwest from Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.”

Left: “Patio In Sunlight, Abiquiu, New Mexico,” 1980 Right: Myron Wood (1921-1999)

When asked about any particularly memorable exhibitions, Andy’s first thought was an exhibition he co-curated with a friend on contemporary pinhole photography they called Gleaning Light.  He recalls, “We organized a group show, with a call for entries around the country and the world.  We had artists from Mexico and Canada participate.  It turned out to be over 100 photographs from nearly 75 photographers.  This was the first time I’d been involved in organizing such a show.  It took about a year to put that show together.”

The Reisbergs coordinated gallery talks and workshops, as well as hosting travelling shows by the Texas Photographic Society.  They often produced catalogues to accompany their exhibitions, some of which are included on FAE’s artist pages, such as Andy Hanson: Another Side and John Albok’s For the Children.

Left: Andy Hanson (1932-2008) Right: “Cab Calloway,” 1978

Works from The Photographic Archives Gallery Collection are available on FAE here.  Check back for our next blog post in the series, about the Hungarian-American photographer John Albok.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to stay updated about FAE and new blog posts.

*****

See all available works from the Photographic Archives Collection.

To see all available FAE Collector Blog Posts, jump to the Collector Blog Table of Contents.

To see all available FAE Design Blog Posts,  jump to the Design Blog Table of Contents.

Sign up with FAE to receive our newsletter, and never miss a new blog post or update! 

Browse fine artworks available to purchase on FAE.  Follow us on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter to stay updated about FAE and new blog posts.

For comments about this blog or suggestions for a future post, contact Madeleine at mbogan@fineartestates.com.