FAE is excited to have five mixed media works on paper from the estate of one of Texas’ most interesting polymaths, Dr. Jean Andrews, The Pepper Lady. Jean Andrews (1923-2010), was enamored with the natural world, and when she saw something in nature that interested her, she would generally become expert enough in the field to write a scholarly monograph on the subject. And, in addition to researching and writing the book, she would often create her own expertly rendered paintings, graphite and gouache drawings, and/or photographs to illustrate them.
Although she authored books on The Texas Bluebonnet (UT Press, 1986), Seashells of the Texas Coast (UT Press, 1972), and American Wildflower Florilegium (University of North Texas [UNT] Press, 1992), she was best known for her books on Peppers. Her most successful being, Peppers, The Domesticated Capsicums, published by University of Texas (UT) Press in 1984. It was considered “THE” book on peppers because, in addition to carefully illustrating each pepper plant so it showed the life cycle of each type of pepper from flower bud to mature pepper, it included scientific, cultural, and historical information. The book was so popular, the publisher produced two subsequent editions. She became known by pepper aficionados as “The Pepper Lady”.
In the Summer of 2010, in issue 86 of the American Botanical Councils publication, HerbalGram, The Journal of the American Botanical Council, Kelly E. Lindner wrote a scholarly memorial to Dr. Jean Andrews, The Pepper Lady titled: Jean Andrews (1923-2010)
The following two illustrations were drawn for Dr. Andrew’s best known book: Peppers, The Domesticated Capsicums
UT Press, Austin
Plate 12 Floral Gem
The images above and below are details of Floral Gem. They show Dr. Andrews intention to show the development of the pepper from flower bud to fully developed pepper in a single illustration. All of the illustrations she made for this book convey this concept.
Below is the second illustration
Plate 29 Datil
A detail of Plate 29 Datil
The next three illustrations are from the book: American Wildflower Florilegium
Amongst the literature that is available on the art and life of Donald Stanley Vogel, are numerous articles, reviews of shows, and even an autobiography titled Memories and Images published by the University of North Texas Press in 2000. There is, however, very little information about his philosophy and studio practice. As the middle child of three, I grew up watching him paint and listening to him talk about his work with other artists and friends. So, while his voice and actions still resonate, I though it wise to document what I saw and heard while watching him paint and listening in on his art-related conversations.
Anyone with a limited knowledge of art history can see that Donald’s style was highly influenced by the French Impressionists, the Post-Impressionists, and with a little more expertise, would include the Nabis and the School of Paris. As a young painter during the Depression, he attended the Art Institute of Chicago and practically lived in their Impressionist galleries. The country was in
the midst of what would later be called the Great Depression and most of his fellow students were painting subjects that reflected the difficult times around them. In contrast, he decided that the art he would produce from then on would lift people’s spirits like the Impressionist paintings he had grown to love.
Using His Imagination
For most of his career, unlike most of the Impressionists, he was a studio painter. He always started a painting with a direction in mind, often generated by a sketchy line drawing of a composition he thought would be challenging. After recreating the important elements of the drawing on a canvas or panel with a burnt umber or raw sienna thinned with turpentine, he would then brush in areas to establish a compositional structure before starting to paint freely with color. But like the subjects he chose, the colors used and how they were employed came from his imagination. Donald often said that he preferred working this way because once you set out to paint something that is in front of you, its presence immediately influences the direction your imagination will take.
When Donald stepped up to a new panel on his easel with brush in hand, his approach to painting was to solve a puzzle that had an infinite number of variables and an astonishing lack of rules. He considered the puzzle solved when the imaginary image that then covered his panel had become a “painting.” He defined a “painting” as a work in which the need for another brushstroke, or the removal of a brushstroke, would lessen the artwork’s overall quality. With or without that brushstroke, he said that to his way of thinking, the painting was just a “picture.”
The Figure as a Piece of the Puzzle
Although his paintings were of interiors, still-lifes, and landscapes, the figure, or a group of figures, was a ubiquitous element. To him the figure, as with all other elements, was only there as part of a composition, just another piece of the puzzle to help move your eye through the painting. He also intentionally clothed his figures in generic outfits so that the painting would appear timeless. When asked how he was able to put figures in his paintings without having a model to work from he would say that “after making thousands of drawings of the figure in my youth, it would be sad if I needed to work from life now.”
The Artist’s Palette
Donald derived his colors primarily by tinting white paint. Being right-handed, his white Formica covered palette sat on his right side. At the top of the palette, closest to the easel, was where his containers of brush wash (turpentine) and stand oil were located. Just below that was a heaping mound of white paint. He would drag a dollop of white out into the middle of his palette and then tint it by mixing in the color or colors that were laid out in a semi-circle around palette’s inner edge.
Donald created his own white paint by mixing equal parts of Lead, Zinc, and Titanium. Experience had taught him that each of these whites had positive and negative attributes and mixing them together would limit the negative aspects of each. Throughout his career, he was happy with the results.
Painting in a Frame
Often, especially with larger sizes, Donald would place a prepared Masonite panel in a frame before starting to paint. I learned over time that he normally did this for two reasons.
1. It visually separated the edge of the painting from the chaotic, painting covered wall that was opposite his easel.
2. It steadied the edge of the flexible prepared Masonite panel so it would not bounce back into his brushstroke.
For him, it made painting on panel in his studio easier. For the framer, the linen liners that he used in his frames had to be replaced often because they were usually adorned by errant brush strokes and it was not easy to convince a client that it was a plus that they were getting a free hand-painted liner with their Vogel.
Painting to the Beat
When Donald was painting, there was always classical music playing in the background. He would often talk about how music and the elements of traditional media like drawing, painting, and sculpture were similar. His brushwork was quick and direct and flowed without hesitation between his palette and painting, with a rhythm often in synch with the music that was playing. On numerous occasions he would say that if he had not become a painter, he would have liked to have been a symphony conductor.
Even though the figure was a constant compositional element in most of Donald’s work, in 1969, a distinct change occurred in how his figures were portrayed. That year, he and his wife Peggy delivered a show of his paintings to the Mobile Art Gallery in Mobile, Alabama. After Donald finished helping install, he asked Peggy if she would like to preview the show alone. After walking through the galleries, she called Donald in to join her and asked him to look around and tell her what was common to all the figures in his paintings. Since it was obvious that he did not see what she had observed, she pointed out that the figures portrayed in each painting were not doing anything, they were just either standing or sitting and idle. From that moment on, all the figures in his paintings portrayed an action.
The Greenhouse as Muse
In about 1976, Donald started to explore a subject that was not unique, but one under-utilized by other artists, and as it turned out, perfectly suited his temperament. As a young boy, he worked on an estate outside of Cary, Illinois that had a greenhouse on it. Remembering this unusual light filled space, he executed an imaginary painting of the interior of a greenhouse. He thought it such an interesting subject that he immediately painted several more. This subject provided him with an endless opportunity to investigate the lighting effects the interior of a greenhouse affords. He could explore not only the color and shapes of the blooming plants, but also the light filtering through the whitewashed windows and the visual weight of the moist air proliferating through the space. He could contrast the interior cool light he created with the warm light seen through an open door or window revealing the atmospheric juncture between two worlds. It also afforded compositional opportunities with the architectural structures he imagined that made up the enclosures. The greenhouse became a theme to which he would often return.
One is Not Enough
Donald’s painting career spanned well over 60 years. He was incredibly lucky as a painter because he worked in a style and direction totally of his own choosing and did not have to divert from this path to be successful. The greatest compliment to his legacy is how much his collectors enjoyed living with one of his paintings, often enough to have acquired a second.
If asked by another artist how he handled creating what he considered an unsuccessful painting, he would say, “Never be afraid to paint a bad painting, you learn as much from a bad painting as one that was successful.” He would then say that if he considered a work unsuccessful, it would never leave his studio.
Preparing a Support
Until 1945, most of Donald’s early work was painted on canvas. Between 1945 and 1975, he slowly shifted from using canvas as a support to painting on Masonite panels. From then on, most of his paintings from the 48 x 60-inch size size and smaller were painted on panel. With only a few exceptions, larger works were painted on canvas for practical reasons.
He liked working on Masonite because it was a hard surface to work against and it was easy to handle, store and was puncture resistant. Since Masonite is dark in color, he liked the idea of working from dark to light rather than light to dark as is often done when painting on a primed canvas. He even incorporated the dark of the Masonite into his paintings on occasion.
After cutting a Standard Masonite panel to size, he would sand the smooth side of the panel with #80 grit sandpaper in a vertical, and then horizontal direction cutting into its surface to give it a tooth that would hold the paint. (He would never use Tempered Masonite because it was soaked in oil as part of the tempering process, and from experience he had discovered that oil paint would not adhere as well.) He would then seal the panel with Orange Shellac thinned with Methanol by approximately 50-60%. This would keep the oil in the paint from absorbing into the panel and turning the pigment matte. The Shellac would dry quickly, and the panel was ready to go in an hour. (I would personally also recommend shellacking the back side of the panel. This would slow down the panel’s absorption of humidity that could make it sensitive to warping.)
Masonite comes in 4 x 8 sheets and Donald would cut the sheets into the optimum number of sizes to maximize using an entire sheet. To this end, the sizes he chose to use were standardized into 8 x 10, 10 x 12, 16 x 20, 20 x 24, on up to 48 x 60 inches. By using a size standard that suited his work, he was able to reuse frames whenever he wanted.
Cheryl McClure has always enjoyed the advantages abstract painting allows. Instead of being bound by the confines plein air landscape painting imposes, she is much happier letting the memory and feel of a place inform the direction her abstract paintings ultimately take. She is interested in the formal elements of surface, color relationships, and the design aspects of a painted surface rather than just rendering her version of reality. By following this path, Cheryl has truly found freedom through abstraction.
In 1945, Cheryl D. McClure was born in the small town of Hugo, Oklahoma, located just across the Red River from Paris, Texas. As opposed to many children who become artists, she did not spend all her spare time drawing or even showing much interest in art as a young child. However, when art did start to interest her, she remembered that from a very early age, she was oddly more interested in the shapes and colors that formed the subject of an artwork, than the actual subject itself.
At the age of 8, she decided that she would like to try her hand at painting, so her father signed her up for the only art class in town. He bought her the required artist materials, and she joined the class. To her utter disappointment, she discovered that the only painting taught in this class was how to paint my number.
Finding One’s Passion:
In her early 20’s she moved to Longview, Texas and started to involve herself as a volunteer at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts. She also started attending lectures and demonstrations sponsored by the East Texas Fine Arts Association. Cheryl said of this period that she learned a great deal about art and artists, and this interaction inspired her to attend a watercolor class associated with ETFAA. She found watercolor tedious because to do it well required a lot of compositional preplanning, but it also showed her the importance of negative space.
Developing a Studio Practice:
On her own, she explored working in other mediums like charcoal and pastel. The medium she ultimately gravitated to was acrylic. This medium allowed her to quickly layer and texture the paint on a support without having to wait the long periods between applications, that oil paint would often require. This allowed her to be more gestural and spontaneous with her paint application, an approach better suited to her preferred studio practice.
When Cheryl paints with acrylic on canvas, she does so quickly, allowing her feelings to be expressed with determined gestural strokes. After reaching a point of indecision, she will stop and spend time studying where the painting stands and determining what is needed next to advance it towards completion. She then repeats this process until the elements of color, texture, and their relationships harmonize.
In 2005, she discovered Encaustic. Cheryl was excited by how quickly a layer of wax would cool and harden, allowing her to quickly apply another translucent wax layer of color and add texture. Although it was not as freeing as using acrylic pigments, it provided another medium that was sympathetic to her preferred working method. This became another compatible medium for her to use in her quest to find freedom through abstraction.
She became well known as an artist and arts patron in Longview, ultimately living there for 41 years. As her reputation grew, she developed long-term relationships with 5 galleries around the country. In addition to an extensive exhibition history, she is asked to teach painting workshops and her work is often used to illustrate books.
I asked Cheryl what things she was most proud of in her artistic career to date. She quickly listed three things:
One of the books that was most influential on her as an artist was, A Fine Artist’s guide to Expanding Your Creativity. She was thrilled when one of her paintings was chosen to be on the cover of its updated edition titled, The New Creative Artist, Revised, Expanded Edition, a Guide to Developing your Creative Spirit.
The Poet Theodore Worozbyt asked Cheryl to collaborate on a book of his poetry titled Smaller Than Death, published by Knut House Press in 2015. In addition to the book’s cover, 15 of her graphic wax resin paintings were illustrated in color. They were from a series of paintings she did titled Johnson Creek Field Notes, inspired by walking along a creek that runs through her property.
In 2011, she was a finalist for the Hunting Art Prize, an annual event to award $50,000 to a Texas artist for excellence in drawing and painting.
For the past 12 years, she has lived on a farm located just outside New London, a little town Southeast of Tyler, Texas. Her three room second floor studio has a room set up for painting and a dedicated well-ventilated room set up for her to work in Encaustic when she wants a change. She works most every day either producing or thinking about producing her next adventure into her world of abstraction.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
Otis Huband is a consummate artist in every sense of the word. When engaged in conversation, he is very sociable and will talk about art in most any form, however, he is far more interested in producing art than talking about it. Otis’ mother vividly remembered when her son returned from his first day of kindergarten and announced that he was going to be an artist. Otis said she thought it was very cute at the time, but, when he had not changed his mind as a teenager, she worried that Otis would have a hard time making a living.
Now at 87 years of age, he has still not changed his mind, nor has he lost his Virginia accent despite spending most of his life in Texas. Otis confirms his decision, To this day, I have never pursued any other course in my life. Nor was I ever tempted to do so. Nothing to me was ever as interesting or nebulous as art.
EDUCATION & EDUCATOR:
Otis transferred from the California College of Arts & Crafts, located in Oakland, to the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond in 1958 to finish his requirements for a BFA. During this time, he became proficient in all the traditional fine arts media. He loved being a student and said of the experience, I know that I learned more from my fellow students than from our well-intentioned and likable instructors. I would say that being in an environment five days a week with a congenial and, for the most part, serious group of seekers made a profound impression on me.
In 1961, Otis received his MFA, also from Virginia Commonwealth University, and shortly thereafter traveled with his new bride, Anne, to Italy where he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Perugia for a year. When funds ran low, they returned to the US, settling in Houston, Texas, where Anne was offered a job teaching math. In 1967, Otis became an Art Instructor at the Houston Museum School of Fine Arts (now Glassell School). He left the Museum School in 1971 determined to focus on his own work.
During the 70’s I wanted to find a unique voice uninfluenced by current styles or fashions. Something based on universal aesthetic principals that apply to all painting, both ancient and contemporary.
Otis retired from teaching in 1982 after working as an art instructor at the Art League of Houston for 11 years.
Six years before Otis retired from teaching, he had become so frustrated with the commercial side of the art world, he stopped making any effort to show his work in art galleries. Instead, he opted to focus on painting and sold his work privately.
During this period, he was invited to have solo shows in non-commercial settings in Houston such as the University of Houston and the Health Science Center in 1985, the Goethe Institute in 1889, and the Museum of Printing History in 1993. He did not show his work again in a commercial gallery until art dealer and collector William Reaves offered him a retrospective at his new Houston gallery in 2010 when Otis was in his late 70’s. Valley House Gallery in Dallas began representing Otis in 2014 and produced a monograph on his work in 2019.
Otis’ studio practice begins each morning by creating a series of small collages, before he starts to paint. The act of assembling the collages allows him to …make the transition from cognitive thinking to perceptual impulses, in other words, to bypass thinking in favor of impulsive feeling. The collages that result, made from any two- dimensional material that has been touched or altered by human interaction, are not studies for paintings. Otis states the collages, establish an emotional relationship to the materiality of being, seeing, and feeling, and they adjust his mindset for approaching the canvas that awaits him.
Although his early work was painted with brushes, his later works are composed primarily with oil stick. He loves the freedom oil stick provides as it allows continuous lines to be created without having to interrupt an inspired passage by reloading a brush.
For Otis, the hardest thing is placing the first mark on a pure white canvas. Once that first gestural line or shape is established, sometimes without even looking at the canvas as it is applied, he can then explore all the possibilities it suggests. As the painting evolves, each mark informs the next, figures, or parts of figures often emerge to become elements of an abstracted whole.
For me, painting is like an archaeological excavation. Unexpected treasures are sometimes found, truths revealed, and aesthetic vistas open up exciting possibilities. Banalities disappear. One almost becomes a conduit for aesthetic states which are not always under the complete control of the artist. That is the mystery and the fascination of art. It is mystical!
In Otis’ earlier work, the figure would often be the subject, rendered in a representational three-dimensional style, whereas the abstracted figuration that emerges in his later work is distinguished by two-dimensional shapes and patterns that play off the other elements in his paintings.
My paintings are flat and not illusionistic. An honest celebration of a flat surface which is characteristic of most modern art which celebrates paint itself and the flat surface to which it adheres.
THEN & NOW:
In 2021, Otis will have been a professional artist for 60 years. During his career, he has participated in over 60 group, and 30 one-person exhibitions. In addition to showing in galleries across the country, Otis has had one-person exhibitions at the Lynchburg Fine Arts Center in Virginia, the Oak Ridge Art Center in Tennessee, Wisconsin State College, the University of Houston, and Palazzo Ferretti in Cortona, Italy
When asked what makes a painting successful, he replied, The major requirement of a successful painting to me is that it be saturated with the vulnerabilities and frailties of humanity. The exact opposite of “cool” indifference. I want my fingerprints all over it. It is my testimony to passing through this world in this time and being involved with it in a deeply personal way.
I wanted to return to the pure art impulse that I experienced as a child in kindergarten. The honest independence of a child! I still work towards this goal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
Yukio Fukazawa was born on July 1, 1924 in Yamashina Prefecture, Japan to Hidensuke and Umeno Fukazawa. Hidensuke was employed by the Japanese government and shortly after Yukio’s birth was reassigned to a post in Korea where he moved his family. Yukio entered Seishu Grammar School from which he graduated in 1937. While in school he met another student named Hiroo Nakahara and they became best friends. After graduation, at age 15, Hiroo went to Kyoto, Japan to study business and two years later, Yukio traveled to Tokyo, Japan to attend the Tokyo Fine Arts School. With these moves and their intense involvement with their new schools and eventual careers, they had no communication between them for the next 26 years.
Although Yukio started out to be a painter, in the mid-40’s he damaged his knee. Because he was not able to stand at the easel for long periods of time to paint, he chose to focus on Intaglio printmaking where he could work sitting down. While he was still attending school, in 1947, he married Kakkiko Kojima. He graduated in 1949.
From 1949 to 1962, Yukio became one of Japan’s most revered print makers and teachers exhibiting in numerous print shows throughout Japan and winning many awards. In the early 60’s, he reached out to the mother of his Grammar school friend Hiroo Nakahara in hopes of reconnecting. He discovered that Hiroo had become a successful businessman in Dallas, Texas working for the Japan Cotton Company that bought cotton in the US and Mexico and exported it to Japan. They started corresponding and when Hiroo found out in 1963 that his old friend had been invited by the Mexican International Cultural Association to come to Mexico City to teach copper plate printing techniques, where his company maintained an office, he arranged to meet with him there. They again became good friends.
When his teaching stint in Mexico ended, Yukio then traveled to New York City. With Hiroo’s financial help, he was able to continue his journey on to Paris to continue his own study. He returned to Japan at the end of 1963.
Once back in Japan, he became a part time instructor at Fukuoka Gakgei University. Through the 1970’s, he became a board member of the Japan Print Artists’ Association; returned to visit Mexico and traveled to Guatemala; was a juror for the Japan Modern Arts Exhibition; became a part time instructor at the TAMA Fine Arts School; and then chairman of the board of the Print Arts Association.
In 1986, Yukio took a position as a full-time professor at the TAMA Fine Arts School. He was so busy teaching, lecturing, and exploring other fine art mediums like etching glass, clay, and acrylic painting, he did not have time to print his intaglio prints. He asked his daughter, Akiko, who had an art degree from the same art school in Tokyo he had attended, to help him edition his prints. She became his printer and worked closely with her father to maintain the exceptional quality printing that had become a hallmark of his work.
From the late 1960’s through the late 1970’s Yukio exhibited his work all over the world. His prints were exhibited in New York, Vancouver, Cincinnati, Napoli, Rome, Firenze, Stockholm, Brussels, Boston, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Australia, Venezuela and in many museums and university galleries in Japan.
Since 1963, He continued his friendship with his old friend Hiroo. To pay him back for the money Hiroo had loaned him over the years, he would send him a print from a current edition when he was especially proud of it. Over time, Hiroo ended up with over 30 prints of Yukio’s in his collection. He gave a number of them to the art department at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and turned the rest over to FAE to place.
In 1991, a retrospective of 200 works by the Fukazawa was held at the Yamanichi Prefectural Museum. To cap an amazing career, in 1994, the Ichihara Lakeside Museum was gifted over 450 works by Fukazawa. The museum dedicated a permanent room to his work where exhibitions rotate 4 times a year.
Hiroo remembers his old friend and speaks fondly of the friendship that was rekindled after so many years. He is happy to have helped his friend out saying, “When you loan money to a friend, it is best not to have any expectation to be repaid. In this case however, Yukio repaid me in many ways.”
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….
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.
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.
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.
If you would like more information on Marjorie Johnson Lee and her work, there is a blog postlisted on the postings menu at left and a link to currently available works by her here.