Collection spotlight: William Lester artwork and papers

William Lewis Lester was born in Graham, Texas in 1910.  In 1924, he moved to Dallas with his family and attended Bryan Street High School. Lester spent his senior year at Woodrow Wilson High School where he graduated in 1929.  By 1931, Lester was already showing his work with other Dallas artists, such as Jerry Bywaters, Alexandre Hogue, and Reveau Bassett at the Joseph Sartor Galleries in Dallas. A year later, he would have a one-man show at the gallery. In February 1932, Lester and his contemporaries exhibited paintings at the Dallas Public Art Gallery, then temporally located on the second floor of the Majestic Theatre Building on Elm Street, under the title, Exhibition of Young Dallas Painters (All young men under thirty years of age).  The New York City-based magazine, The Art Digest, published an article entitled “Young Texans, All Under 30, Show in Dallas” in their March 15, 1932 issue. It attests to the vitality of that current Dallas art scene:

The future of a community’s art interests rests to a large extent upon the development of its youthful artists.  Realizing this, the Dallas Public Art Gallery recently arranged a group show of paintings by nine young Dallas artists, none of them older than 30.  The interest the public showed and the encouragement given the “Nine” including – Gerald Bywaters, John Douglass, Otis Dozier, Lloyd Goff, William Lester, Charles McCann, Perry Nichols, Everett Spruce – gives an indication of the aliveness of artistic creation in the Texas city.

Several of these Texas regionalist artists formed a solid bond and promoted their interpretation of austere Texas and Southwest landscapes and everyday scenes through their paintings and prints.  Lester became known for his scenes of arid landscapes and everyday life in the southwest, mainly Texas and Oklahoma. Lester’s early work reflects the group’s style and subject matter, which he continued through the 1940s. In the 1950s, his work took a turn toward the abstract, an approach to painting that Lester chose to develop throughout the remaining years of his career. The William Lester collection includes artwork, clippings, correspondence, documents, photographs, publicity, and published works relating to his art and teaching career at the University of Texas at Austin.

Please take a look at the detailed finding aid available through Texas Archival Resources Online here:

Image: Courtesy of William Lester artwork and papers,Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University

Mike Morris: Thoughts on books & videos, plus a few recommendations

Given the Hawn Gallery’s location in the Hamon Arts Library, one of the goals of the exhibition program is to reveal the natural intersections between art, artists, books, videos or other resources SMU Libraries provides. This posting is for those bibliophiles and videophiles who love to learn about what other people are reading and watching. When asked what books and videos have influenced his work, Mike Morris, artist of the film, ARK, and adjunct film studies professor at SMU, offered the following titles with a few extra recommendations.

·         Are there titles on particular artists or topics that you would say informed your work? If so, how?

Since this particular project was so engaged with working from the archive as source material, it would be difficult not to think about artists like Bruce Conner, Craig Baldwin, Stan Vanderbeek, or Jesse McLean. Conner, in particular, is notable for having used popular stock images to examine certain unconscious libidinal tendencies of society. His films like A Movie, Crossroads, or Report reveal many unspoken things that end up recorded in images and brought to light through montage. I hoped to do something similar with the footage used for ARK.

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Discovery in the Bywaters’ Archive: 1932 Exhibition by Young Painters

As a curator, I am always amazed at what I come across in the Jerry Bywaters Collection on Art of the Southwest.  Upon recently discovering a small brochure entitled “Exhibition by Young Painters” published in 1932 in the archive, I noticed the names of two former SMU students listed among the ‘young painters’ – James D. Brooks and Jerry Bywaters. The exhibition was assembled by the College Art Association and held at Ferargil Galleries in New York. Competition was tough – only 40 works of art were selected from among the 500 submissions in the United States to be included in the exhibition. The New York Herald Tribune reported “….the painters represented seem to be sincere, industrious types, unmistakable concerned to arrive at a serious goal” (October 2, 1932). Both Brooks and Bywaters would continue as artists and establish their art careers in different parts of the country – Bywaters in Dallas would become a leading figure with the Texas regionalists’ art movement in the 1930s, and Brooks in New York would serve as a first generation member with the abstract expressionists’ art movement in the 1940s.

Ferargil 2 001 - Copy
Foreword and listing of exhibiting artists from CAA 1932 Exhibition by Young Painters

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