Research in the archives: Texas Made Modern

Spruce in Big Bend, c. 1935Since it opened in 1961, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art has always had a commitment to exploring the breadth and complexity of American creativity through its collections and exhibitions. Evaluating Texas art’s importance in relation to the museum’s collection and the larger canon of American art has been one of my focuses since 2013. Though I started to work on a potential exhibition on Texas artist Everett Spruce (1908–2002) that year, the museum world’s ever-changing nature redirected my attention to other urgent and pressing projects. Although it may not seem the case, scheduling exhibitions is like solving a Rubik’s cube—there are millions of combinations and only one solution. Changes to the permanent collection, timing and availability of an exhibition according to a lending museum’s guidelines, and the complexity of each installation (are there videos or special cabinetry needed? etc.) are only some of the factors affecting an exhibition’s timing. In 2019, all the colors aligned on each side of a Rubik’s cube for a summer 2020 exhibition of Spruce’s work. I had a shorter period than usual to curate the exhibition and write the catalogue for Texas Made Modern: The Art of Everett Spruce (August 18–November 1, 2020). Because many of Spruce’s works were available to see regionally in private collections, I thought my task would be much easier than I imagined. After meeting with the artist’s daughter, Alice Spruce Meriwether, who graciously shared the inventory she compiled of her father’s artwork, I discovered that Spruce had painted over 800 artworks during his lifetime, many of which are either lost or in unknown locations. Continue reading “Research in the archives: Texas Made Modern”

Collection spotlight: Everett Spruce Collection

photo of Everett SpruceThe staff of Bywaters Special Collections is excited about the upcoming exhibition, Texas Made Modern: The Art of Everett Spruce, at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth. This exhibition, showcasing the work of the Texas regionalist artist, runs from August 18 – November 1, 2020. Shirley Reece-Hughes, Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at the Amon Carter, will curate the exhibition. The Everett Spruce Collection, located in the Bywaters Special Collections at Hamon, holds the artist’s personal papers and works of art on paper. The finding aid gives detailed information regarding the contents of these holdings:  http://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/smu/00082/smu-00082.html.     Continue reading “Collection spotlight: Everett Spruce Collection”

Footage Found – SMU student collaborative project between Meadows and Jones Film and Video Collection

driver in bus with bullet hole in the windshield
Hobbes Reynolds, Media Supervision, 2020. Original footage from WFAA Newsfilm Collection, G. William Jones Film and Video Collection

Footage Found was a collaborative project between students in the Video Art course (ASPH 3315) in the Meadows Division of Art and the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection at SMU. The students were provided footage from the WFAA TV News Film archive, part of the Jones Collection’s holdings, to create new works from and which resulted in a screening at Top Ten Records hosted by the D/FW Experimental Film Society (DEx). This project was a fascinating opportunity for students to gain experience of working directly with an archive while also learning what it can mean to make a new artwork from existing materials. The results were provocative and enlightening on a number of levels.

Continue reading “Footage Found – SMU student collaborative project between Meadows and Jones Film and Video Collection”

Octavio Medellin and the St. Bernard Church of Clairvaux mural project

The art of this church has been the largest and most important commission given to me in the 30 years that I have been pioneering art in Texas.” 

 

On December 7, 1958, the Dallas Morning News published the above quote by Octavio Medellin in reference to his commission at the Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church, soon to open at 1404 Old Gate Lane in Dallas. The artist was commissioned to design two large murals on opposite sides of the church’s interior depicting the fourteen Stations of the Cross, each measuring eighty-seven feet in length and five feet in height. In collaboration with artist, Michael Kozlowski, Medellin began preliminary designs for the murals in the summer of 1957. For eight months the artists worked to create the large murals with small glass tiles. Together, the two artists hand cut the small smalti (sing. smalto), which are specialized mosaic tesserae made from richly colored glass. The glass was designed by specification and imported from Murano, Italy.   

Today, the preliminary drawings for these murals are housed in Bywaters Special Collections. In 1989, Octavio Medellin began donating his personal papers and works on paper to Bywaters Special Collections. This initial donation established the Octavio Medellin Collection. He continued donations, and in 1996 he gave his twelve large-format drawings, which were preliminary designs for the murals. The drawings had been tightly rolled for many years. To safely unroll the drawings and repair any damages that may have occurred over time, these works were sent to Carrabba Conservation, Inc. in Austin. Following conservation, the drawings were scanned and uploaded to the Octavio Medellin Art Work and Papers site in SMU Libraries Digital Collections:  https://www.smu.edu/libraries/digitalcollections/med 

On the Hamon blog in April, conservator, Cheryl Carrabba, will explain the conservation process for these drawings.   


Blog post: Ellen Buie Niewyk, Curator, Bywaters Special Collections.

Image: Photograph, Octavio Medellin and Michal Kozlowski, 8th Station of the Cross, Tesserae on Paper, Pre-Installation, Stations of the Cross Mosaic Murals, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church, Dallas, Texas, 1958, at http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/med/id/4381/rec/47  

Courtesy of Octavio Medellin Artwork and Papers, Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University. 

Remembering Dan Wingren 

I met Dan Wingren in 1980. That’s when I began modeling for his and other classes at the Meadows School of the Arts. I was also attending a Dallas community college, knocking off prerequisites for some sort of humanities degree. In 1986, I realized I wanted to teach studio art. So I quit modeling and attended UTD, got a bachelor’s degree, then applied to and got into SMU’s MFA program.  

Larry Scholder, who chaired the Meadows studio art department at the time, assigned me to Dan, and for two years I was his teaching assistant. This anecdote illustrates the auspicious start to our partnership: in January of 1988, Dan and I met for lunch in the design studio to discuss the upcoming classes. We sat next to one another at one of those long tables, opened our identical paper lunch sacks, pulled out our identical lunches (peanut butter and raisins on whole wheat and a red delicious apple) and we cut our apples with our identical Swiss Army knives, which we discovered were gifts to us on our recent identical birthdays. We had a good laugh over all that. 

Dan stood out in the Meadows School because, of all the teachers there at that time, he seemed to have the fewest prejudices. His knowledge was so vast that he effortlessly found significance in virtually every type of art. His highly structured demos, his presentations, and his gallery talks offered students new ways of thinking – as most teachers will. But Dan’s approach was very different. He looked at art from several angles that not only included the expected formal and stylistic aspects, and the history, but relative literature, music, politics, ethics, alchemy and more. 

In the summer of 1997, I learned I’d soon be teaching college level 2-Dimensional Design in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I still live. Struck with fear, I called Dan. He assured me that I’d find my own way. And he was right. I did. That course became the most cherished of my teaching career.  

When I envision Dan now I see his broad toothy smile, suspenders against a clean crisp shirt, the way he stood tall with his hands in his pockets, head held back a bit as he thought, particular moments teaching together in the design studio, and the final years of his life when he was undergoing treatment yet managed to keep his keen sense of humor—and so my memory of him returns to that smile.   

I’d like to leave you all with something Dan said during one of my graduate committee meetings. Exasperated, I asked why it was so important to “draw from nature.” Dan replied, “Because the human mind can be so tedious and nature never is.” 


Image: Dianne Schlies, Strength/Delicacy Contrast/SubtletyDan Wingren during lecture demonstration, 1988, ballpoint pen on stained paper, 12” x 9”. 

Courtesy of Dianne Schlies.

Exhibition, Dan Wingren: The Image and Magic, on 2nd floor, Hamon continues to May 31, 2021. 

South•Western Arts Magazine

Jerry Bywaters made major art and journalistic contributions to the Dallas and Southwest art scene beginning in the 1920s.  He was considered an unofficial art critic for SMU’s literary journal, the Southwest Review, by reporting on artists and art events. In August 1932, he began publishing and editing a new magazine entitled South•Western Arts.  The magazine promoted Southwest artists and published articles on their work and art events in the area.  Its first issue included this statement of purpose:

In these few pages are gathered some facts and opinions on the arts – all too localized and incomplete.  But there is a hint of what is to follow.  The next number of South•Western Arts will appear in October…will have twenty-eight pages…departments on many of the arts and related crafts…critical articles by contributors of the South and Southwest…reproductions of creative works…and appear every other month during the active art season. It will be the only magazine offering a journalistic medium of expression for the arts in this region – the answer to a (there is no other word) crying need.

After one issue, the name of the new magazine was changed to Contemporary Arts of the South and Southwest, as described in the November – December, 1932 issue, in order “…to serve both the South and Southwest.”   Unfortunately, the magazine was discontinued after four issues.  During its brief life, the magazine offered a unique glimpse into the art world of Dallas and the Southwest, which was active and vital in spite of the depression of the 1930s.

Copies of these publications now available online!

http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/byw/id/34/rec/11


Image: South•Western Arts, August, 1932 (Volume One, Number One). Courtesy of Jerry Bywaters Collection on Art of the Southwest, Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University.

 

The Brinkerhoff Lodge and Potter Art Iron Studios Collection at Hamon Arts Library

What do a historic log lodge in Wyoming and the Bywaters Special Collection at the Hamon Arts Library have in common? As it turns out, both house unique collections related to a Dallas art studio, the Potter Art Iron Studios.

The Brinkerhoff Lodge in Wyoming is an exaggerated rustic cabin on the shores of Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park. Zachary K. Brinkerhoff, Jr., owner of the Brinkerhoff Drilling Company, constructed the lodge in 1947 with the help of Wyoming architect, Jan Wilkings. The building features magnificent views of the Teton Mountains. It also houses a collection of rustic furniture designed by Thomas Molesworth, and fixtures and other iron works designed by Potter Iron and Ornamental Works. The Potter pieces at the Brinkerhoff include wall sconces, chandeliers, exterior lights, freestanding ashtrays, and fire tools. Each of them use Western-style design.

Continue reading “The Brinkerhoff Lodge and Potter Art Iron Studios Collection at Hamon Arts Library”

Hawn Gallery presents: ARK: Featuring New Experimental 35 MM Film by Mike Morris

The Hawn Gallery presents

 ARK

Featuring a New Experimental Film by Mike Morris

 

On view: August 20 – November 4, 2018
at the Hawn Gallery, located in the Hamon Arts Library at SMU

Public Opening Reception Friday, September 14, 5 -7pm
Mike Morris will give a gallery talk at 5:45 pm

ARK is a cinematic installation featuring a film by Michael A. Morris made from archival 35mm film prints held in the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection. This work is installed on a looping film system devised by the Collection’s Jeremy Spracklen and Scott Martin, and in conjunction with Brad Miller from Film-Tech Cinema Systems. The looping film is a new mosaic of images and sounds created by contact printing and hand processing of short lengths of films selected from the archive. Highlighting the mechanics of projection typically hidden from the viewer, the space of the Hawn Gallery performs as a small cinema. The metaphor of both Noah’s Ark and the Ark of the Covenant serves as a parallel for the archive as it rescues hundreds of films from the deluge of time. These films are reactivated by bringing them back into the light and onto the screen in a new looping film installation. Such assemblage embodies our cinematic heritage.

Continue reading “Hawn Gallery presents: ARK: Featuring New Experimental 35 MM Film by Mike Morris”

Bywaters Special Collections Artist Profile: Mary Frances Doyle

Featured in the exhibition Texas Women Artists: Selections from Bywaters Special Collections, on the 2nd floor of Hamon Arts Library.

Mary Frances Doyle (1904 – 2000) was known as both a dedicated art teacher and an outstanding printmaker, particularly with the silk-screen, or serigraph, technique. Doyle was born in Stephenville, Texas to Davis K. Doyle, a Texas newspaperman, and his wife. Doyle lived most of her adult life with her parents in Arlington, Texas. In 1930 she earned her Bachelors of Art degree from Southwest Texas State Teachers’ College in San Marcos, Texas. She liked to recall one of her fellow classmates, Lyndon Baines Johnson, also working his way through school, sweeping out the classroom where she taught a demonstration kindergarten group. The future US president would ask her opinion on particular political issues and then listen to her views while continuing to swing his broom. In 1939 Doyle moved to Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York, where she studied with Charles J. Martin, and in 1948 earned a Master of Arts degree from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. She also studied with distinguished Texas artists including Otis Dozier and Octavio Medellin at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts school, and Xavier Gonzales at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas.

In 1935 Doyle began a 37-year long teaching career in the Dallas Independent School District teaching art at the Alamo, Thomas Edison, and City Park schools. Dedicated to her career and to her students, Doyle’s strove to develop the artistic ability of each child regardless of financial background. In addition, she was active in the Dallas Art Education Club, serving as its president during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Doyle was instrumental in helping to organize children’s exhibitions at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts where she worked as an instructor at various times during the 1940s through the early 1970s. When not teaching or working on her art, Doyle enjoyed collecting Latin American crafts.

A prolific artist, mainly as a printmaker, Doyle was active in exhibiting her work in galleries, museums, and with the Texas Printmakers organization (formerly the Printmakers Guild). In 1940 her oil painting Water Front was included in the Eleventh Annual Allied Arts Exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, now the Dallas Museum of Art. During the 1950s Doyle’s prints were accepted into major exhibitions. In 1955 her print Texas Oranges was exhibited in the Audubon Artists 13th Annual Exhibition at the National Academy Galleries in New York. Two of her serigraphs were accepted in the Southwestern Exhibition of Prints and Drawings exhibitions sponsored by the Dallas Print Society at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts: Honeydew Melon (6th Southwestern Exhibition of Prints and Drawings, 1956) and Cactus in Bloom (9th Southwestern Exhibition of Prints and Drawings, 1959). In 1958 Cactus in Bloom won “Best Serigraph in Show” at the Print Fair conducted by Creative Graphics at Burr Galleries in New York City and was accepted into the Boston Printmakers 11th Annual Print Exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In the same year she had a solo exhibition sponsored by the Texas Fine Arts Association at the Laguna Gloria Art Museum in Austin, Texas, and a year later was included in the show Postwar Prints: 1946 – 1959 at the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts. In 1960 Doyle was again accepted into the Boston Printmakers’ 13th Annual Print Exhibition with her serigraph Twin Mountains. Doyle’s work was represented from the 1950s through the 1970s in distinguished Dallas galleries including the Black Tulip Gallery, Downtown Galleries, and Cushing Galleries. In February, 1960, her work was accepted into the Philadelphia Second Annual Print Fair. Thirty years later Mary Doyle and her contemporaries were honored in the exhibition The Texas Printmakers, at the Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University. Mary Doyle died on Sept. 5, 2000 in Denton, Texas.


Image: Century Plant, Serigraph, 1961, original dimensions (image):  29 ¾” (H) x 11” (W)

Courtesy of Mary Doyle Collection, Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University

 

 

 

 

 

 

State Fair of Texas – a look back from the G. Williams Jones Film and Video Collection

[wpvideo r8iZIKXM]

In celebration of this year’s State Fair of Texas, the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection put together this compilation of clips.  Taken from several months of the archive’s 16mm WFAA Newsfilm Collection, this twenty-three minute piece largely without sound showcases the evolution of the fair throughout the 1960s, highlighting the attendees and fair grounds, the food and the games, and the attractions and parades as each evolved over the course of a tumultuous decade of cultural and political change, while still remaining fundamentally the same, as it does even to this day.  

To see similar footage (and other archive highlights), please follow us on Twitter @smujonesfilm and at the G. William Jones Film & Video Collection Group page on Facebook.


Image: Film still of the entrance to the rides at the Midway, State Fair of Texas, G. William Jones Film & Video Collection, SMU, 1960s

Blog post: Courtesy of Jeremy Spracklen, Moving Image Curator, Hamon Arts Library