Sad news came into the Art&Seek offices this morning. Doug MacWithey, a Dallas artist for more than 30 years, died suddenly on Thursday of an apparent heart attack. He was 58.
MacWithey worked in a variety of media, including collage, sculpture and drawing. Often his pieces were accompanied by performance pieces that he wrote. His work has been shown in local galleries and at the Dallas Museum of Art. Many North Texas collectors owned his work.
“He was definitely his own man with these pieces,” Barry Whistler, owner of the Barry Whistler Gallery, said on Friday. Whistler met MacWithey in college and staged the artist’s shows in his gallery as far back as the mid-1980s. “I think a lot of artists here in town would say that they probably admired his work, and I think it actually had a lot of influence on some people.”
Dallas curator and arts writer Dee Mitchell remembers MacWithey as an inventive artist who made the most of his materials.
“Whatever base material he chose to work with, he worked with it in every possible variation of meaning and design.”
Mitchell met MacWithey 35 years ago when they each worked at Half Priced Books. The pair collaborated on a show at Austin’s testsite gallery space just last year. (View selections from that show here.)
In addition to the stamp he left on the local arts scene, MacWithey will also be remembered for his dry sense of humor.
“He had a very quick wit and was a very loving person,” Whistler says. “Sarcasm was a big part of his vocabulary I guess you’d say. I mean, he’d come in here and look at some show that I’d done of somebody else and tear me a new one sometimes.”
MacWithey’s funny side is also what Mitchell says he will remember most.
“When we were working in Austin, we were accused of being a standup act when we were talking to the organizers of an exhibition,” he says. “I would have to say that he and I really could crack one another up.”
A memorial service is being planned for Sept. 4. We will update this post when we have more information.