Texas Contemporary Art

June Mattingly

Dallas is Now a Four-Horse Town

On May 27, 2015 Mayor Mike Rawlings officially lit the neon on the original 1934 Pegasus and started it revolving on the lawn in front of the Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas. In sight is the replicated Pegasus sign atop the Magnolia Hotel, the Pegasus’s original home. The Omni’s popularity, in part is due to its proximity to the Convention Center, the American Airlines Center, the original Neiman-Marcus and the Central Business text 3and Arts Districts, all of which are stops on the free #722 DART Pink bus.

Credit for the reappearance of the high-flying two-sided Pegasus sign, (1934-1999) goes to Jeremy McKane, the overseer of the project that turned the Pegasus sign into a prominent piece of public art, Kay Kallos, a specialist in public sculpture for the City of Dallas and Jack Matthews who assisted in the financial support. Tony and Holly Collins, partners in their metal design studio constructed a copy of the derrick, a mechanism to revolve the sign and assembled the “horses,” DBG Glass made the glass panels to protect the derrick from graffiti and Van Enter Studios cleaned the damaged panels. I am the official historian because I grew up hearing my father say “Dallas doesn’t want to be known as a one horse town.”

In September of 1934, Texlite, run and owned by my father Harold Wineburgh was hired by the Magnolia Oil Company to create a sign representing the Pegasus to be anchored to the roof of the Renaissance Revival Magnolia Petroleum Building to commemorate the first annual meeting of an oil and gas convention. Until 1999, the Pegasus braced Dallas’s downtown skyline 450 feet above street level though it was intended to be temporary.

test7The 29-story Magnolia Building completed in 1922, Dallas’s first building in the skyscraper class, towered over the nearby Adolphus Hotel built in 1913. It was the tallest building west of the Mississippi and Dallas’s tallest building until 1943. On the upper floors were the headquarters of Magnolia Oil. These mighty stallions, the winged horse of Greek mythology or colloquially the “Flying Red Horse,” a symbol of speed and power were used beginning in 1911 and continue to be the company’s trademark and logo.

Texlite goes back to 1879 when an Italian immigrant opened a tiny sign company on the future site of the Magnolia Building. In 1922, the company was purchased by my grandfather who lived in New York as a graduation present from Princeton for my father Harold Wineburgh under whose direction “Texlite” was coined and incorporated. Our family moved to Dallas in 1938. In its 75th year, it was the largest sign company in the world. Neon lighting became popular in outdoor advertising because of its visibility in daylight. Porcelain enamel remains the choice for signs and exterior sheathing for buildings due to its being impervious to the elements, exhaust fume acids and mischief.test4

Texlite’s furnace was so huge it could produce parts of B-29 wings during World War II, bomber fuselages during the Korean War and each panel of the two steel Pegasus measuring 40 feet in length by 32 feet in height and weighing 8,000 pounds. Standing 14 feet apart, the brackets and cables were shaped to resemble a supporting oil derrick anchored to a 50-foot metal tower and in between was a custom-designed three horse-power motor to turn the 15-ton structure one revolution every 40 seconds. It was considered hazardous and impractical to place a sign of this size, much less a revolving one where a strong wind blew most of the time. When the wind exceeded 30 miles per hour, for safety precautions, a device made the revolutions stop. 1,162 feet or about a quarter of a mile of red neon outlined the details on both sides of the silhouette and the sign glowed by means of 22- thousand volt transformers. For 20 years, at least two Texlite electricians took an elevator to the 27th floor of the building, climbed the equivalent of eight floors on ladders to take care of the maintenance.

Despite the treacherous height and the improvisational nature of the project construction proceeded on schedule. The Pegasus was completed in six weeks in Texlite’s third factory on Lovers Lane where 500 employees produced signs for the gas stations of companies ranging from Standard Oil of California, Gulf, Humble, Chevron, Esso, Mobil and Texaco. The discovery in 1901 of Spindletop, a giant oil field in East Texas solidified Texas’s claim as the oil center of the United States while the growth of the automobile industry in the early 30s contributed to the need of signs.

In 1959, Magnolia merged with other oil companies to form the Mobil Oil Company. In 1972, the Esso brand was replaced by Exxon followed by ExxonMobil becoming an international corporation with headquarters in Las Colinas in Dallas. In 1974, the Pegasus sign stopped revolving and three years later Mobil Oil moved out of the building. In 1976, Mobil contributed the Pegasus sign and the Magnolia Building to the City of Dallas, the same year, the Building was designated a Historical Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Over the years, the Pegasus’s panels became rusted, pitted and coated with city grime, the worn support braces caused the sign to sway in the wind and the neon tubing broke. In 1997, the battered sign was shut off. Even though the City had bolted down the horses, it was impossible to restore, so a gigantic crane was placed 50 feet above the roof and with the help of a helicopter disassembled and placed in storage.

In 1999, enthusiasts appeared on the scene to support the production of a new sign for the top of the Magnolia Building converted into a four-star business hotel. To duplicate the panels, the original ones were used as templates and fired using the same finishing processes Texlite had used. Sixteen-gage galvanized steel was used to deter rusting for the next 100 years, a computer-controlled weather station was designed and extra sets of red neon tubing provide for future repairs.test10

The new Flying Red Horse was ready in time for the Millennium New Year’s eve celebration. Over 45,000 people in Dallas attended and Mayor Ron Kirk led the countdown nationally in a CBS broadcast. Fireworks in the new $2.5 million limestone Pegasus Park celebrated the sign’s reinstallation. The source of the Park’s water fountains comes from 1,600 feet below the Magnolia Building.

 

In the 30s and 40s when Texlite was making and managing the original Pegasus, it filled other roles starting with its manufacture of brilliantly-lit porcelain enamel and neon Interstate Theater marquees in Texas’ major cities. In Dallas there were the Palace, Rialto, Tower and Capitol. The Majestic, the only theater not demolished in the 70s was Dallas’s first building on the National Register of Historic Places. The suburban theaters with Texlite marquees include the Inwood (1947), Highland Park Village (1935) and Lakewood (1938), each distinguishing its neighborhood.

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test14Texlite’s emblematic sign on the roof of Dr. Pepper’s bottling plant (1946) is one more important sign by Texlite that was destroyed. In the 50s through the 70s, Texlite produced porcelain enamel turquoise curtain walls for building exteriors for the 20-story Statler-Hilton Hotel (1956), a mixed-use development (2015) on the National Trust for Historical Preservation’s list of America’s Most Endangered Places, 211 N. Ervay (1958), an office building remodeled in 2014, Southland Center’s three skyscrapers now the Sheraton Hotel and the green mosaic design that identified Love Field terminal (1957-1974) where after President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President of the United States.

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Even though the Flying Red Horse on top of the Magnolia Hotel is surrounded by taller buildings, it’s quite possible to catch a view of it while strolling the downtown streets looking up into the sky or from car windows while driving where Interstates 30 and 35 merge and split apart. The original Pegasus residing in front of the Omni Hotel, proudly part of the City of Dallas’s Public Art Collection, continues the tradition of creating memories and welcomes visitors to Dallas from all over the world.

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JESUS BAUTISTA MOROLES (1950- 2015)

Jesus Moroles

Moroles in Shanghai in 2012.

In I980, Jesus Moroles dropped by Mattingly Baker Gallery in Dallas. It didn’t take long for me to decide to be the gallery to give him his first solo show. A year later Jesus was one of the artists I showed at the Chicago Art Fair. He trucked five pieces of his granite sculpture from Rockport in South Texas where he had a giant studio and at least five full-time assistants, and placed them on the deck at Navy Pier. Also on his property are his home and one for his parents and daughter. After I closed my gallery I showed his work in Frito-Lay’s gallery on the ground floor of their headquarters in Plano where I served as curator. For the opening of his exhibit in 2005 at Dallas’s Latino Cultural Center I gave him a party. His retrospective the same year at the Dallas Museum of Art was hugely successful. The DMA owns a piece of his I sold in my gallery.

After receiving a BFA from the University of North Texas and studying for a year in Italy he returned to Rockport, purchased his first diamond saw and made a life-term commitment to create sculpture in his chosen medium, granite, a stone of great density, hardness and weight. Jesus achieved an international reputation as an abstract sculptor who chisels the granite to produce natural rough surfaces to contrast with the highly polished areas.

Highlights on his incredible resume include serving for 12 years on the board of the National Museum in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and visiting the White House four times. One of his major awards was Texas Artist of the Year in 1989 presented by the Art League of Houston.

Jesus’s most familiar masterworks go back to 1987 when “Lapstrake,” 22 feet tall and weighing 64 tons was installed across the street from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Commissions in Texas include the “Houston Police Officers Memorial” (1992) made of pink granite that consists of five stepped pyramids whose base is 40 feet square. The central pyramid rises 12 feet above ground and the four outer ones are inverted to sink 12 feet. In 2011, he created a column 7 feet in diameter and 50 feet high out of Chinese granite for a park covering a whole city block in Shanghai.

Another example of his brilliance, both intellectually and artistically is Jesus’s commission for the Jocelyn Art Museum in Omaha in front of the building Sir Norman Foster designed in 1994. On the floor of three granite pools are topographical maps of the Missouri River, 118 feet long by 25 feet wide by 9 inches deep made out of 184 slabs of black granite, representing an aerial view of the epic three year trek Lewis and Clark took across the Western part of the United States that ended in 1806. The water fills and drains on a timer to demonstrate the ebb and flow of the River’s actual height in the changing seasons while the three12 foot square granite columns show water bubbling from the top to the base.

His death in June of 2015 in a car accident on I-35 returning from the Hall Sculpture Park in Frisco was heart-breaking news for his friends, galleries, clients and admirers. Jesus and I were friends for 35 years.

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photo of june with yellow artJune 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.

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Donald Judd (1928-1994)

photographs and article by June Mattingly

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Donald Judd (1928-1994)

Donald Judd’s home and studio before he moved to Texas, now the Judd Foundation is on Spring Street in New York’s SoHo and open to visitors by appointment. Inside are not only his minimalistic sculptures and furniture, but also permanent installations by his contemporaries he knew and admired including Dan Flavin, Carl Andre and Frank Stella. His beliefs in placing art in a more permanent way than possible in a gallery or museum and in bringing art, architecture and the landscape together to become a coherent whole were finally realized by Judd in Marfa.

Judd moved to Marfa in 1971 and began transforming an abandoned 350 acre military fort into his base of operation and private residence for the last two decades of his life. Until then this West Texas cattle town was known for James Dean’s last film “Giant” (1956) with Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor. This non-profit contemporary art museum and gallery complex was named for the Chinati Mountain. Marfa has turned into an artist colony, among them residing here are Jeff Elrod, David Hirschi and Leslie Wilkes.

Transport oneself to Marfa if only to experience one of the most truly glorious art-filled spaces in the world. “Untitled” (1982-86) consists of 100 shimmering aluminum boxes each measuring 41 x 51 x 72” and set at 173” intervals. Placed in three rows in a straight line they run the length of two remodeled light-filled artillery sheds. Their panels reflect a huge spectrum of possibilities and reflect their surroundings such as grass, sky, trees, and the rising and setting sun.

Like other minimalists, Judd believed art should unequivocally stand on its own, to become an instinctual, physical experience. He reduced his art in favor of a unified image composed of geometric forms arranged according to a grid. Each unit of his 60 concrete boxes form two to six freestanding giant rectangles measuring about a half mile in length. His largest and most ambitious outdoor work resides in a wide field with local fauna and tarantulas, art pieces themselves.

Typical of the designs in his home were the cabinets in his kitchen, the tables and chairs and the frames for the windows.

Every fall the Judd Foundation hosts an open house at Chinati with music, talks, special exhibitions and private and public festivities. Hundreds of visitors travel here from all over the world for the event. Fly via Southwest Airlines to El Paso; in the next 200 miles (on HWY 90) is spectacular scenery and the highest mountain in Texas, the Guadalupe Peak (8,749 feet).  A scenic wonder is hiking and birding in Big Bend National Park. Don’t miss the Marfa Lights, the Nature Conservancy’s Reserve, the McDonald Observatory in Alpine and Marfa’s main drag.

The celebration starts off on Friday evening with a by invitation only cocktail party outside followed by a seated dinner inside in the equestrian arena.  When Judd was alive entertainment was provided by Scottish bagpipe players who along with Judd wore the traditional Great Highland dress for the occasion. Please see the pictures I took at the second opening event at Chinati when I also photographed Judd being interviewed by Art in America magazine.

At the time of Judd’s retrospective at the Dallas Museum of Art I owned a stunning Donald Judd wall sculpture. In honor of Judd I gave a party in my home that Judd attended along with Paula Cooper who I knew from before; I bought my Judd from her gallery.

Judd attended the Art Students League of New York and the graduate program at Columbia University under the consummate art critic Meyer Shapiro.  When writing (1959-1965) for Artforum he influenced the direction of art criticism and avant-garde art intellectually as well.

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Pictured are Claes Oldenburg’s/Coosje van Bruggen’s Monument to the Last Horse, Judd’s 100 Untitled Works in Mil Aluminum and his15 Untitled Works in Concrete along with Judd being interviewed by Art in America and an opening party with Judd wearing kilts.  All photos courtesy of the author.

Major retrospectives of his work were organized by the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Fundacio Joan Miro, Barcelona and the Tate Modern in London. Collections owning his work include the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in DC, the Whitney and Guggenheim Museums in New York and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

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Judd Marfa Bulding

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Judd Marfa Building and Blue Sky

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More photographs from my travels to Africa.

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These photos were taken during three of my mostly camping trips to Africa; the first trip was with The San Diego Zoo.  One of my first animal sightings was of a baby leopard on the ground, a rare thing to see because leopards stay in the trees. I was so excited I fumbled with my camera too long to get a photo of  this amazing site, but it is burned in my memory forever.  I captured other great shots that I would like to share with you.  All of these animals must be preserved and protected from extinction. Treasuring photographs of these creatures is not enough, we must treasure these animal lives as if our own lives depended on them.

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Gorilla 21                Wild June 22

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June’s Pictures of East African Elephants.

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Time magazine reported in the first 2015 March issue that 30,000 male elephants have been killed in the last ten years, really slaughtered, for their ivory. This gruesomely amounts to close to 80 a day or nearly four elephants poached every hour. Just the thought makes me grieve. How can anyone perform such an inhuman, cruel act?  For years I protested in person under the auspices of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals the circus for using captive elephants and tigers for entertainment.  Below are pictures I took of these magnificent creatures on three safaris. One time I stood five feet from an elephant and had no fear.  When I was on the board of the Dallas Zoo I co-hosted a party for the Wilds of Africa honoring Jane Goodall who was present. The New York Times On Sunday March 15, 2015 had a major article on her efforts to save her chimpanzees. Rhinos for their horns and gorillas reportedly are meeting the same terrible fate!  Where are the World Wildlife Fund, the United States and other aware, conservation-focused organizations and governments?

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Roger Winter

Union Square

Union Square, oil on linen, 72×120″, 1988

 

Faxa Bay, oil on linen, 50 x 84", 2014

Faxa Bay, oil on linen, 50 x 84″, 2014

Berit’s Iceberg

Berit’s Iceberg, oil on linen, 28 x 108″, 2013

Roger Winter is a fine painter and a professor emeritus of painting and drawing at SMU.

In the fall of 2014, Kirk Hopper’s gallery in Dallas presented the work of 45 of Roger’s past students including one who teaches ex-President George Bush, who was in attendance, and Dan Rizzie, one of Dallas’ established artists.  This gallery opening was the most exciting one in 2014; jam packed with celebrities, so much so the secret service was everywhere from car parkers to guards inside.

Roger taught art at SMU for 26 years.  Two of his students, John Alexander and David Bates are so renowned in their careers they appear in the two editions of my e-books “The State of the Art: Contemporary Artists in Texas (2012 and 2013). John was born in 1945 in Beaumont, lives in New York and David was born in Dallas in 1952 where he lives.  Both John’s and David’s prints are represented by Pace Editions, affiliated with the world known Pace Gallery in New York one of their connections due to their talent but also from studying under Roger.

Roger was born in Denison in 1934 and in 1956 he received a BFA at the University of Texas in Austin. The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, a non-profit, gave Roger a solo in 2012 and in 2011 one of his other galleries, Gerald Peters in Santa Fe gave him a solo.  Don’t galleries credited with giving Roger solos starting in 1963: Murray Smither, Gene Binder, Fishbach, Edith Baker, Delahunty, and Chapman Kelly bring back pleasant memories to a lot of you?   Also, familiar are the names of the important critics/museum directors who praised his art in reviews and articles: Ted Pillsbury, Grace Glueck, Janet Kutner, Charles Dee Mitchell, David Dillon, Douglas McAgy, and Bill Marvel.

Susie Kalil, the distinguished writer of the biography of the early Texas landscape painter Alexander Hogue published by the University of Texas Press in her essay for Hopper comments “Yet all of the landscapes and portraits are rendered as if by virtue of a stare that never seems to end.  Winter captures the spirit of diverse locales and environments, from arid plains of West Texas and snowy fields of rural Maine, to congested intersections of New York City.  But to say Winter is a simple-minded realist is to miss all the ways that he fuses precise observation with structural rigor and painterly sensuality.”

 

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Peter Ligon

Oil on panel, 9x12", 2014

Driveways, oil on panel, 9×12″, 2014

Oil on panel, 11x14", 2014

DTC, oil on panel, 11×14″, 2014

oil on panel, 11x14" 2014

Back of El Si Hay, oil on panel, 11×14″ 2014

 

Oil on panel, 11x14", 2014

Garage on Gano, oil on panel, 11×14″, 2014

Two extraordinary Texas landscape painters and art instructors whose backgrounds are similar but whose renderings bear little resemblance

Peter Ligon’s show at REGallery was one of the best gallery shows in 2014.

Peter is known for using slow drying oil paint on wood panels, a traditional technique, in the actual location. The majority of Peter’s images are in Dallas where he lives and from where he commutes to teach at Eastfield Community College and the University of Texas at Dallas.  His Master’s degree is from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and his BFA is from the University of North Texas in Denton.

“Bows and Arrows, Bryan St,” in his December, 2014 show titled “aka Hand Crafted Paintings by Peter Ligon” exemplifies his involvement and skill as a painter to create wonderfully bold-colored, recognizable, and  minimalistic site-specific buildings. The site in this piece is situated across the street from Jimmy’s, a very established Italian restaurant/market just off of Fitzhugh Avenue, closed on Sundays.  Peter missed the previous Sunday to watch a Cowboy game, so the following Sunday – he chose Sundays to avoid dog walkers, block exercisers and cars obstructing the view the other six days of the week – was uncomfortably cold.  To show flexibility in his artistic habits, he took a picture of it that he put on his laptop screen and painted it in his not much warmer studio.  This painting was destined to be marked “do not touch” because it did not have time to dry completely before its installation in December in his show.

“It is so common for artists to paint from photographs today…I believe dangerously common.  Its flatness, stopped-time look and palette permeate so much artwork with the consequence of looking like it is about photography, rather than anything else intended.  It is a huge crutch/convenience that is not silent, even though many think so.  I have no problem with artists who employ photos, but I do have a problem when artists deny the effect of its ‘condition.’”

 

 

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