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Texas Monthly Gets Around to Surveying the Texas Art Scene

by Jerome Weeks 3 Oct 2011 12:33 PM

A virtual survey of 60 artists, critics, gallery owners and others lead to the magazine’s bucket list of must-sees in Texas art museums — Caravaggio! Rembrandt! Donald Judd! — plus another list of Lone Star movers and shakers in the art scene. Now, on that list, Dallas has a revealing entry.


In its October issue, Texas Monthly offers a bucket list of the 10 artworks in the state you should see before you croak — derived, author Jordan Breal reports, from the top vote getters in a virtual survey of 60 in-state curators, critics, gallery owners and “other insiders.”  As one might expect, discretion or caution governs the list: Funny how most every major museum around the state seems to have just one masterpiece worth mentioning (except the Menil and the Modern in Fort Worth — they have two).

In case you’re wondering,  the Texas must-sees are listed after the jump. The complete list of all the suggested works is online, which makes for more interesting reading, actually, because of what didn’t make the top 10 (the Meadows’ Goya, the McNay Art Museum’s two Picassos, all the Matisses in Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Anselm Kiefer’s wonderful Book with Wings at the Modern). You naturally find a greater variety from the broader list (the entire Rachofsky House is included), plus  evidence that the extensive holdings of Austin’s Harry Ransom Center are still not widely known (it’s included only for a single Walker Evans photo).

Allied with that survey, though, is another kind of list. TM picks the movers and shakers in the Texas art scene — including Vernon Fisher from Fort Worth and our friend James Magee from outside El Paso.

And, you ask, which Dallas artist merited inclusion? None, actually. Two collectors did: Richard and Nona Barrett. Jerry Jones gets a shout-out, too, because works by artists like Houston’s Trenton Doyle Hancock are in Cowboys Stadium. Still known mostly for our money, it seems …

Online, there’s also a Q&A with author Breal in which interviewer Emily Mitchell expresses her amazement that Texas is dead last among states when it comes to funding the arts — a fact probably every Texas artist, arts manager, actor, theater director, conductor, arts patron, dancer and choreographer knows. (Their remarks often include a pointed mention of how Guam does better than Texas in this area.) Breal also corrects a mistake made in her story: Somebody actually has made a movie about Caravaggio — that somebody being the late avant-garde British director Derek Jarman. Jarman made several films that were essentially bios of gay or bisexual historical figures (the others being Wittgenstein and Edward II -based on the Christopher Marlowe play).

Breal’s feature concludes by repeating a common lament of Texas artists and arts lovers. Since the decline of the daily newspapers, there’s been a general lack of serious arts journalism in the state (with kudos going to Glasstire for taking up some of the slack online).

What this means, of course, is that we may now expect Texas Monthly to cover the state’s architectural, visual and performing arts scenes in major, thoughtful features . . .  even when the art and artists are not directly connected to books, country music, movie stars or television production.

Texas Monthly‘s Top 10

Thomas Eakins’ Swimming (1885) at the Amon Carter

Donald Judd’s 100 Untitled Works in Mill Aluminum (1982–1986) in Marfa – above

Frederic Edwin Church’s The Icebergs (1861)

Caravaggio’s The Cardsharps (1596) at the Kimbell

Cy Twombly’s Untitled Painting (Say Goodbye Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor) (1994) at the Menil and the Mark Rothko Chapel

Richard Serra’s Vortex (2002) and Martin Puryear’s Ladder for Booker T. Washington (1996) – left

Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Young  Woman (1633)

James Turrell’s Tending (Blue) (2003)

  • Please take off your shoes before entering the Gallery at the MCL Grand Theater in Lewisville, TX,
    since the exhibit will “knock your socks off” and we do not want any of the art damaged by your flying shoes.

    The Art of the American West
    Hollis R. Williford (1940-2007): A Retrospective

    “The Art of the American West,” a retrospective of the works of noted artist Hollis R. Williford ( Texas born and educated at both UTA and North Texas State), will be exhibited in the Gallery at MCL Grand Gallery from Sept. 23 through Nov. 5, 2011.

    The gallery is located inside the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater, 100 N. Charles Street, in the heart of historic Old Town in Lewisville, TX. Admission is free. Regular gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 1-5 p.m. To schedule group visits during other hours, please call 972.219.8446.