Octavio Medellín: Spirit and Form

Octavio Medellín portrait

 

The exhibition Octavio Medellín: Spirit and Form is now open at the Dallas Museum of Art. This exceptional retrospective exhibition features many fabulous works of art on loan from Bywaters Special Collections.

Bywaters Special Collections holds the Octavio Medellin Artwork and Papers. A detailed finding aid and extensive digital collection are available.

https://www.smu.edu/libraries/digitalcollections/med

https://txarchives.org/smu/finding_aids/00272.xml

 

 

 

 


Image credit: Octavio Medellin with Hammer and Chisel. Medellin Studio, Bandera, Texas

Bywaters Special Collections, Southern Methodist University

Fall ’21 and spring ’22 screenings for Ghosts of Lost Futures

Curator and artist, Mike Morris, and his collaborators on the experimental videos, Ghosts of Lost Futures, have been busy with additional screenings of this program of works. Ghosts premiered at the Dallas Museum of Art in the Horchow Auditorium on May 22 with ten works by ten experimental video artists commissioned to re-interpret film footage from the WFAA Newsfilm archive. The footage from the Hamon’s G. William Jones Video and Film Archive was selected from 1970 to recognize the year of the archive’s establishment. Due to COVID, the first screening was postponed over one year later.

Since this screening at the DMA, Ghosts was in the line-up of screenings for the Experimental Response Cinema, sponsored by the Austin Film Society, on November 8. Organized by the artist and program participant, Liz Rhodda, Mike Morris attended virtually to answer questions from a large audience.

Flyers for Archive Fever
Promotional collage assembled by Craig Baldwin for Archive Fever program, San Francisco’s Other Cinema

On November 20, selected works from Ghosts screened with other video works at San Francisco’s Other Cinema’s annual Archive Fever program. Selected films were:

Curt Heiner – The Stars of Texas Shine Tonight

Lisa McCarty – Undelivered Remarks

Zak Loyd – Deep River / Ocean of Storms 

Angelo Madsen Minax – Stay with me, the world is a devastating place

Marwa Benhalim – The Void Remembers

This spring, the video works will be featured at another experimental film festival, Experiments in Cinema, in Albuquerque. The dates for this screening have yet to be slated. Please check the EIC website for screening updates. The selections of videos will include:

Curt Heiner – The Stars of Texas Shine Tonight

Lisa MCarty – Undelivered Remarks 

Tramaine Townsend – FRAMES.-DALLUS 

Zak Loyd – Deep River / Ocean of Storms 

Angelo Madsen Minax – Stay with me, the world is a devastating place

Liz Rodda – Amid Flowers, Crowns, and Tears 

Marwa Benhalim – The Void Remembers 

Blog post: Mike Morris, curator and artist; and Beverly Mitchell, Assistant Director, Hamon Arts Library

In Honor of Veterans’ Day: John ‘Carr’ Pritchett (1921 – 2016)

Untitled (Ranch Scene at Night)

While serving as curator of Bywaters Special Collections there were many times I would find interesting items housed in the archival files that were of importance to Jerry Bywaters and his colleagues. One such discovery was a folder of drawings made by John ‘Carr’ Pritchett who graduated from SMU in May 1942. Pritchett studied art with Bywaters and assisted him with the Trinity, Texas Post Office mural in 1941.  As with many young Americans at this time, Pritchett joined the armed forces in October 1942.  While serving, he made sketches of everyday military life, including illustrated letters, that he would send back to Bywaters.

In one letter to Bywaters, Pritchett noted that there were many soldiers from Texas in the military and they would break out with some of the cowboy songs such as “I Wanna Go Back to Texas” and “When It’s Round-up Time in Texas.”  Pritchett continued to serve as a Marine in World War II and the Korean Conflict.

After World War II, Pritchett studied Commercial Art at the Pratt Institute in New York but in 1949 left the art world to start his new career as a cattleman.  He eventually settled in Mesilla, New Mexico where he died in 2016.


Blog post: Ellen Buie Niewyk, former Curator, Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library

Image: Jerry Bywaters, Untitled (Ranch Scene at Night), 4.88 x 4.88 inches; Paper: 11 x 8.5 inches, no date.

Highlights from Fossils to Film: The Best of SMU’s Collections – Barbara Maples’ Taos Fiesta

Two museums, the Meadows Museum and the Centre Pompidou, are featuring the work of Barbara Maples, a well-known printmaker. On loan from Bywaters Special Collections to the  Meadows Museum’s Fossils to Film: The Best of SMU’s Collections, is Maples’ Taos Fiesta. In addition, she is one of several female artists featured in the Centre Pompidou’s exhibition, Elles font l’abstraction (Women in Abstraction), which opened May 5, 2021. This exhibition also has a second venue at Guggenheim Bilbao.

Elle font l'abstraction_exhibition entranceBorn in Temple, Texas, Barbara Lucile Maples (1912 – 1999) graduated from Mary-Hardin Baylor College in Belton, with a BA degree in 1933. Six years later she received a MA degree from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. She began her teaching career in Temple and Fort Worth before joining the Dallas Independent School District in elementary and secondary art from 1937 – 1964. In 1965, Maples became the Assistant Professor of Art Education, and in 1974, Associate Professor of Crafts Design at SMU. She taught at the University until retiring in 1978.

 

Elle font l'abstraction exhibition wall of portraitsIn the mid-1980s, when interest in Texas Regionalism re-emerged, Maples encouraged the exhibition, The Texas Printmakers, at the Meadows Museum at SMU. The 1990 exhibition again highlighted the group. The exhibition catalogue, written by Dr. David Farmer, former director of DeGolyer Library at SMU, and guest curator, Paul Rogers Harris, is available in both the Hamon Arts Library and Bywaters Special Collections.

Maples practiced painting, photography, and metalsmithing, but was known as a printmaker. She joined the Printmakers Guild (renamed Texas Printmakers in 1952) in Dallas and served as its president fromTaos Fiesta_Maples 1945 – 1946. Her color block print, Taos Fiesta, presents an image of the historic carousel, Tío Vivo (Uncle Lively), a main feature at the Taos Fiesta. The carousel is turned by hand-operation of a cog wheel to the accompaniment of Spanish music from fiddle and guitar. It was built in Germany, and originally owned and operated by a traveling circus. In the late 1800s, it was discovered abandoned and broken in the mountainous community of Peñasco in Taos County. In 1938 the Taos Lions Club purchased and restored the carousel with the help of the Taos Society of Artists. Members Oscar Berninghaus and Ernest Blumenschein repainted several of the horses. Other artists and photographers used the carousel as a subject in their work. A mystery writer in Santa Fe, Dorothy Hughes, wrote Ride the Pink Horse, basing the theme on Tío Vivo. In 1947, Robert Montgomery directed and starred in a movie based upon the novel.

Tío Vivo continues to be a highlight of the Taos Fiesta.


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

Images credit: Elles font l’abstraction, entrance to Centre Pompidou exhibition with view of portraits of female artists, and wall of portraits. © Centre Pompidou, Audrey Laurans

Image credit: Barbara Maples, Taos Fiesta, ca, 1947, color block print on paper, 14.25 x 13.25 in. (36.20 x 33.66 cm). Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Gift of Susan Kennon Carruth in memory of Barbara Maples.

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.