June Mattingly, Contemporary Art Critic and Collector
Dallas is my home but I have New York City roots by being born on the Upper East Side in Lenox Hill Hospital. My family moved to Dallas when I was seven so Harold Wineburgh my father could run Texlite, the company he received in 1922 as a graduation gift from Princeton that manufactured porcelain enamel and neon signs for the major oil companies and for Dallas landmarks, one being the revolving Pegasus sign atop the 23-story Magnolia building. The first location of his sign company was on the site where the Magnolia now stands. Both of my parents and grandparents were born and brought up in New York City. Our family regularly took the train from Dallas to New York for the holidays to see our family and to go to summer camp and our summer home in Maine. Rather than graduate from Hockaday, I went east to prep school and to Bennington College to major in studio art under Paul Feeley who the Guggenheim Museum honored with a retrospective after he died and the Albright Knox Museum honored with a retrospective in 2014. At college I met Jackson Pollock, David Smith, Helen Frankenthaler and Clement Greenberg. In my senior year I was the first intern to volunteer in the library in the Museum of Modern Art. To appease me for my not attending the Yale School of Architecture my parents bought me a 1953 four-door Chevrolet Impala in turquoise, my favorite color.
Living in New York was fabulous. Celebrities of all kinds will always thrill me. I shared an elevator in the Waldorf with Frank Sinatra and with Salvador Dali in the St. Regis. I swooned over Judy Garland singing on Broadway, Leonard Bernstein and Zubin Mehta conducting at Lincoln Center, Frank Gehry giving a talk at Chinati, seeing the original casts in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, My Fair Lady, The King and I, Oklahoma, South Pacific and Evita in London, the performances of Led Zeppelin, Ray Charles, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Tina Turner, Led Zeppelin, Beverly Sills, Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, Placido Domingo, Martha Graham, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Van Cliburn, Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn dancing together, Ann Richards, Joe Biden and the list can go on and on.
After graduation, New York City was my base for five years before I moved back to Dallas, raised three children and commuted to North Texas University in Denton preparing for a career in commercial interior design, first in an architectural firm and then in my own firm in the Republic Bank Tower with clients such as the owners of a Cowboy stadium box and a Frank Lloyd Wright house. I sold so much Knoll furniture I was treated to a tour of their factory. In the mid-60s, I built my first architect-designed residence on Strait Lane for my young family. Before a 20 x 40 foot pool was put in our backyard I had an organic vegetable garden complete with bug-fighting marigolds and lady bugs. That endeavor inspired me to be a vegetarian for the rest of my life. My late husband and I built nine residences along the Katy Trail and an office building in North Dallas for which I found emerging architects to design and we received three American Institute of Architects awards. Over the years, my homes forever full of art and classic modern furniture were chosen for museum tours and magazine articles in PATRON, Paper City, Metropolitan Home.
In 1980, I opened the Mattingly Baker Gallery in Uptown in a 1920s one-story building I gutted to create spaces to show emerging artists in Texas. More than 300 people attended the opening. Examples of the talent I discovered that went on to become established artists include Mary McCleary and Melissa Miller who in 2013 and 2014 respectively won Houston’s Texas Artist of the Year, and Rockport resident Jesus Moroles whose work I showed at the 1981 Chicago Art Fair and whose 22-ton granite sculpture sits across the street from the Museum of Modern Art. The gallery’s ten shows a year were almost always reviewed in the art sections of the two local newspapers. I received a lot of publicity for my great eye.
I rose to art celebrity status running my gallery showing young Texas artists, along with prints and works on paper by high profile New York artists such as David Salle, Robert Mapplethorpe, Robert Rauschenberg and Frank Stella, and as an important collector. I have been ahead of my time in contemporary art beginning in the 70s when I purchased a major painting by Ellsworth Kelly, suites of screen prints by Andy Warhol, lithographs by Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and James Rosenquist long before they became famous and expensive, and I met the artists in person. I can’t leave out the high profilers in that group including gallerists Mary Boone, Marian Goodman, Barbara Gladstone, Paula Cooper and both of Leo Castelli’s wives, the heads of Tyler Graphics, Petersburg Press and Universal Limited Art Editions. I remember the guests at private parties such as for the first three Miami Basel Art Fairs. Harry Parker, the director of the Dallas Museum was a friend and big supporter of my gallery.
I founded DADA, the Dallas Art Dealers Association and helped found EASL, the Emergency Artists Fund, and the Architectural Forum. In the mid-80s as chair of the Friends of Contemporary Art for the Dallas Museum of Art, I tripled FCA’s membership in two years and raised $75,000 to purchase an Anish Kapoor sculpture for the museum’s permanent collection. Kapoor’s centerpiece sculpture (2006) for the Cowboy stadium is valued in 2015 at $13 million. The major Julian Schnabel painting that I bought in 1984 for $40,000 at the PaceWildenstein Gallery on 57th Street, a gift from my father to the DMA; in 2015 it is in the million dollar category. Because I owned one of Donald Judd’s metal wall sculptures I hosted a cocktail reception for him in my home to celebrate the opening of his retrospective at the Dallas Museum of Art. With a DMA curator I co-led three trips for the Museum, one to Europe to the Venice Biennale and the Basel Art Fair, one to New York City to Agnes Gund’s and Leonard Lauder’s apartments and Joel Shapiro’s studio, and the last one to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis for Bruce Nauman’s retrospective.
After closing my gallery in 1988, I curated educational art exhibits for five years for Frito-Lay, a former gallery client, in their headquarters in far North Dallas, I curated the opening show for the Arlington Museum of Art, I taught evening classes at Southern Methodist University on collecting art and worked as an art advisor for private clients. For more than a decade I was the regional chair for Bennington and principally interviewed prospective students.
Boards I served on include Planned Parenthood, Friends of the Katy Trail, the McKinney Avenue Contemporary and the Dallas Zoological Society for whom I co-hosted the party honoring the primatologist Jane Goodall who was present for the opening of the Wilds of Africa.
Travel became my main hobby starting in my late teens as a culture traveler to Europe with my parents. Since then I have visited all seven continents. Beginning in 1981 and for 20 years by myself or in small groups I went on camping, hiking and birding trips to photograph lowland gorillas in Rwanda, leopards in Kenya, rare birds on the Tibetan plateau, Komodo Dragons on their Indonesian Island, white pelicans and whooping cranes on the Texas coast, pink dolphins in the Peruvian Amazon and seven species of penguins and their chicks in Antarctica. My goal was to make people aware of the growing loss of so many wild creatures and their natural habitats, original art objects themselves, and the irreplaceable diversity and beauty of nature. Unfortunately, no photographs exist to show I went white watering at the base of Victoria Falls, I hiked in the mountains and on the glaciers in Patagonia, and I paddled in the stern of a canoe on the Zambezi River avoiding alligators and sand bars. Spiritually and intellectually my adventurous spirit prevails.
In 2012 and 2013, I wrote two well-received e-books titled The State of the Art: Contemporary Artists in Texas and The State of the Art: Contemporary Artists in Texas Second Edition. These two editions featured close to 100 artists. At the same time I wrote monthly reviews on architecture projects, museum exhibits and gallery shows for the online moderndallas.weekly and for Arts+Culture magazine.
Now I live in downtown Dallas within walking distance of the symphony hall and the museums in a loft with polished concrete floors and 15-foot ceilings in a building designed by Larry Good, an architect who 35 years ago remodeled my gallery building. Surrounded by art by many of my treasured Texas artists I play with my two adored rescue cats. Every day I look out of my wall to wall ceiling-height windows to enjoy the sky and the skyscrapers and my view of the new Pegasus, while I work on articles for my blog TexasContemporaryArt.com and on my book on contemporary Texas artists that is close to completion.