Annual Meeting 2007: Collecting Early Texas Art Panel Session

Collecting Early Texas Art panel discussion at the Hall of State Fair Park, Friday, October 26, 2007

This year, thanks to the efforts of Gwen Dixie, the ARLIS/NA Texas-Mexico chapter hosted a panel discussion titled Collecting Early Texas Art. Gwen managed to get four of the most preeminent names in early Texas art collecting to talk to us about their areas of interest and expertise. Personally I do not know anyone who could refuse Gwen (myself included), but I also suspect that each of the panelists were there because they know her and love and respect her as much as we do.

Before the panel discussion, Michael Duty showed us between twenty and thirty small, exquisite Texas landscapes by Frank Reaugh, which the Dallas Historical Society owns but have never been exhibited. I believe he said they were in the process of compiling a book about them.

The discussion was presented at the Hall of State Fair Park auditorium by Michael Duty, Director of Dallas Historical Society and former Director of Wichita Falls Museum David Dike of David Dike Fine Art gallery owner/dealer of Texas Art, George Palmer, an originator of TACO, the Texas Art Collectors Organization (allied with CASETA, the Center for the Advancement and Study of Early Texas Art, which is on the Texas State University campus in San Marcos; TACO now has groups in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and El Paso), and Kevin Vogel, son of well known Texas painter Donald Stanley Vogel, and director of Valley House Gallery and Sculpture Garden. The panelists and other art historians define early Texas art as on a moving scale, starting from the time of “colonization” (1820) to forty years prior to the present year.

As a point of interest to us librarians, Laura Schwartz (who reviewed early Texas art resources for ARLIS/NA’s Art Documentation in 2004) asked the panelists if there were any other publications to updated or expanded information about early Texas art and artists. They mentioned Fisk's History of Texas Artists and Sculptors (Abilene, Texas: The Author, 1928) and Art and Artists of Texas by Esse Forrester-O'Brien (Dallas, Texas: Tardy, 1935). They agreed that the more recent Grauer’s Dictionary of Texas Artists, 1800-1940 (College Station: A&M University Press, 1998) and Powers’ book, Texas Painters,Sculptors and Graphic Artists: A Biographical Dictionary of Artists in Texas before 1942 (Austin,Texas: Woodmont Books, 2000) was basically all there was of that genre (biographical dictionaries), and agreed that there was a need to expand and update the resources currently available.

During the panel discussion, someone asked where the best collections of Texas (not necessarily early) art were located. They mentioned the Witte Art Museum in San Antonio, the Barrett Collection in Dallas (DMA) SMUs Meadows Museum, and even the “Wittliff Collection” at Texas State University.

The Texas State contingent (there were four of us) were present, and let the panelists know we were representing TX State that day. As it happened, as appreciation and on behalf of the ARLIS/NA Texas-Mexico chapter, each panelist was presented with signed, first edition copies of Bill Wittliff’s A Book of Photographs from Lonesome Dove (Austin, Texas: UT Press, 2007). We had planned to present them all along, and not just because they mentioned the collection!

Selene Hinojosa
Texas State University-San Marcos