Thursday, December 29, 2011

Chapman Kelley's Memoirs - Chapter 4

     My art students Cynthia Stewart and Marilyn Corrigan were among my tennis partners.  In 1961 Marilyn brought her daughter Mary to model for me.  The resulting painting was called "Mary and Daisies" which was accepted by the 157th Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture, which is this country’s oldest (since 1807) and most prestigious exhibition.  The show was held at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  The exhibition was always juried by three artists who were among the best known and respected of the time. "Mary and Daisies" appeared in La Revue Moderne, a French art publication.  Best of all, this activity drew the attention of New York's Janet Nessler Gallery who offered to have my first solo show in New York in March of 1963. Having my work exhibited in the PAFA's 1962 exhibition of former students was most likely another factor in influencing Nessler's decision to show my work.  

     Another Nessler Gallery exhibition was of Ben Kamihira's work.  He was a student at the PAFA and our years there overlapped in 1951.  I considered Ben to be a great artist.  He was the best artist to emerge from the PAFA since 1950.  I successfully exhibited his works at Atelier Chapman Kelley and even sold one, "Wedding Dress," to the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts.  I own some of Kamihira's lithographs and an early painting. 

     Later when I first visited the Greenwich, Connecticut home of the great collectors of America art Olga and Joe Hirshhorn, Joe asked me who I was showing next at ACK.  When I told him it would be Ben Kamihira, Joe said "great, great artist, deserves more public recognition--a real painter's painter."  Joe told me he wanted to buy more of Kamihira's work.  I remarked that it was my understanding that he already owned six or eight pieces.  He reiterated that he wanted to buy more and he did so.  Joe Hirshhorn was a true collector and cared for artists in many ways.  He never sold their work, preferring to hold it as part of his private collection.

     In 1961 and early 1962 my work was exhibited at the Centennial Museum (since renamed Art Museum of South Texas).  The show was enormously successful.  Museum director Kathleen Gallander was literally selling paintings off the walls; it was as if we were in a commercial gallery setting. As a result I was asked to teach at the museum in the summer of 1962 which suited my schedule regarding my second New York show.  We rented a house in Port Aransas and took the family.  Painter Noel Mahaffey came along to help with the classes and earned money to supplement his Dallas Museum of Fine Art scholarship given to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art.  While in Port Aransas I met another Hawn family, Patsy Singer and Bonny Wyatt (wife of Oscar) who was soon to be divorced and marry John Swearingen, the most powerful oil executive of his generation.  The Swearingens became very important to me through the years and in 1982 invited me to Chicago to create my Chicago Wildflower Works I (1984 - 2004). More will be said later about the Swearingens.

     In the whirlwind of preparing for my New York show I had to set some priorities.  In order not to compromise my painting time I had Perry Nichols fill in for me as substitute teacher for the studio classes. I was unaware, until just before we boarded the jet in Dallas, that for my opening exhibition at the Nessler Gallery a large group of friends, fans and students from Dallas were attending it.  So we boarded the plane amidst television cameras and an anonymously sent cake.  Luxury retailer Stanley Marcus took on a leadership role.  The Dallas Morning News sent their art critic to cover the entire trip.  People from many other cities joined in the trip.  Painter Elaine de Kooning helped to coordinate as we set up 10 days or so of museum, gallery and studio visits. 

     Janet Nessler had submitted "Emplacement Dune" to the National Academy of Design Exhibition and it won the S.J. Wallace Truman Prize for artists under 35, so we took our formal wear for that opening.  I was a bit embarrassed because I thought the National Academy was stuffy and old-fashioned for the most part and I was, along with painters such as Larry Rivers, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, trying to find new things to do with figuration in light of the great success of the Abstract Expressionists who were too strong to even leave their second generation any room to expand without looking too easy and imitative. "Emplacement Dune" was then invited to the Artists West of the Mississippi Exhibition at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. 

     American painter and draftsman Edwin Dickenson had seen "Emplacement Dune" at the National Academy of Design Exhibition in New York; hence this much-traveled painting was invited back to New York to the American Academy of Arts and Letters for their Childe Hassam Purchase Competition.  The AAAL membership consists of a prestigious group of artists and writers who annually brought works together which they had seen during the year.  The AAAL purchased work to be donated to museums.  I think the folks at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center must have requested "Emplacement Dune" because when it won the Childe Hassam Purchase Competition, the painting was given to the Center.  Members of the AAAL who made the decision for my work to win include: Edward Hopper, Jacques Lipchitz, Peter Blume, Robert Lowell, Malcolm Cowley, Marianne Moore, Lewis Mumford, Lillian Hellman, and of course Edwin Dickenson.  Certainly it was the greatest honor I had received.

     In 1963 New York art exhibits were affected by a six month printer's strike; word of mouth was the method of communication.  Nonetheless, my work, which was included in a 34 painting exhibit, actually sold out! The sales generated a Life Magazine article, "Sold Out Art," about the few shows that had prospered despite the press strike.  Most of the "sold out art" artists were of the Pop Art movement such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Dine, Tom Wesselman, George Segal and others.  And a few of us oddballs were included like Pablo Picasso and myself--not bad eh?

     During the trip for my exhibiton we visited East Coast museums, galleries and studios. New York gallery owner Sidney Janis lectured us about the Jim Dine exhibit.  We were to see to it that no one sat in the Jim Dine "chair" because it was part of the art exhibit.  Some of the studios we visited were those of Elaine de Kooning, Abstract Expressionist sculptor Herbert Ferber, Ray Parker, Bob Mallory, and Nell Blaine.

     Wildenstein Gallery stayed open for cocktails and a grand tour was conducted by its vice president, and soon to be president, Louis Goldenberg. Linda Hayes and I had spotted a painting in Goldenberg's office; in 2010 Linda told me she wished she could own the small half-draped nude in a landscape by Corot. I told her that I too coveted it.  If I had known of the prosperity that would soon be mine I would now own that charming painting!  Goldenberg was so impressed with the group of attendees that he asked me to meet with him the next morning.  Bob Hayes--who grew the largest Chevrolet enterprise and Avis rental car business in the U.S.--and I learned the purpose of the meeting.  It was to give me unrestricted access to offer for sale the entire available inventory of the Wildenstein Gallery--wow! 

     I had learned some art dealer lessons in my short association with Houston based art dealer Meredith Long and so I set my terms:
(1.) that my clients would not negotiate prices, my gallery was one price fits all. 
(2.) that since my gallery offered only set prices without discounts, except to museums using their own money, it would continue so with Wildenstein stock, the quoted prices would be the same that Wildenstein would expect to sell to, for example, American philanthropist and thoroughbred racehorse breeder and owner Paul Mellon
(3.) that I would pay my own expenses
(4.) I would settle for a small commission that a house salesman would receive, the affect on the sales price would be minuscule 
(5.) that my clients would remain my clients through all future sales going through Wildenstein Gallery

     This relationship continued and was reiterated by Goldenberg.  This set the scene for years later when Bill Clements and his son Gill went to Louis Goldenberg to pay for their first purchases including a beautiful Mary Cassatt "The Reading Lesson" c. 1901.  Bill acknowledged that I had met with him and family regularly across several years sharing with them the fine works that I was placing in other prime collections in the Dallas - Ft. Worth area.  Goldenberg told Clements that we were to continue selling on the same basis with him as my client and of the many services I could provide and at the same time he would be assured the best choice possible and the best price without haggling.  Also, if Bill was in New York and I happened to be unavailable, Lois Goldenberg was authorized to personally show Bill artwork and any pieces shipped to Dallas for consideration would be via Atelier Chapman Kelley.

     These were terms that I set with the best New York galleries and private dealers in New York.  They all wanted the Dallas collectors.  Some of them, such as Wildenstein, Knoedler & Company, Larry Rubin, Ivan Karp, and some private dealers honored their commitment.  Other galleries such as Forum, who I sued related to a Ben Kamihira work, (they represented Kamihira after Nessler Gallery closed), endeavored to "cut us out" once they had met our clients--just a greedy way to charge my clients more cash and was the result of short-term thinking.  Also guilty were Coe Kerr Gallery, Andre Emmerich Gallery and especially Marlboro Gallery for whom I had sold much artwork.  I learned of Marlboro's perfidy at the same time as their illegal dealings with the Rothko Estate made national headlines.  I immediately dropped them as a business partner.  Naturally, most of the great artists' estates removed Marlboro Gallery as their representative.  The new breed of outlaw art marketers seem to like to present themselves as plundering brigands; they rebuilt Marlboro in their image.

     Janet Nessler arranged two exhibitions for my work in San Francisco and Carmel, California.  She rented Mark Rothko's house and studio at 250 Bradford St. Provincetown, Massachusetts, for the summer from mid-May to mid-September to assure enough of my work for a follow up show in 1964.  Our neighbors included Robert Motherwell and Helen Frankenthaler (she died December 27, 2011), critically acclaimed writer, playwright, photographer and inventor Abe Burrows, sculptor and printmaker Boris Margo and German-born American abstract painter Friedal Dzubas.

     It was quite an experience for my sons Cole and Kevin, as we visited Provincetown both earlier and later in the season than most of the summer residents.  The boys got to know the lobstermen's sons.  Together they caught, farmed and ate raw mussels.  We could buy those 8 to 12 pound lobsters that the "trade" kept for themselves--warding off the public by saying that they were tough and not tender--which was not true.

     So it was in Rothko's Provincetown studio that I developed my most conspicuous figurative and nonfigurative combinations--figures, nudes, sea, poplars and fields of wildflowers; those dominated my work until it led to my Wildflower Works concept in 1976.

     Mildred Hawn came to visit which was fun.  Linda and Bob Hayes came over and we made a remarkable find--Venezuelan sculptor Alberto Collie and his first magnetic floating sculpture.  By financing Collie's work in Dallas, Atelier Chapman Kelley had his first solo exhibit. In a different show, long lines formed at ACK to view a single Collie floating sculpture that we had purchased in Provincetown.  ACK arranged his first New York show at the Lee Nordness Gallery, the dealer of the moment because of his having assembled the S.C. Johnson Collection that travelled the world.  Alberto's New York show was so significant that in 1964 Time Magazine wrote about it in, "Sculpture: Merlin with Magnets."   Collie, an important new artist and genius, garnered recognition at the São Paulo Art Biennial and the Carnegie International.  (Today in 2011, the Carnegie International is the oldest exhibition of international contemporary art in North America.)  Collie studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  Bob Hayes arranged a scholarship for Collie enabling him to attend Harvard University's Graduate School of Design.  Soon after that Alberto was recruited to work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Working in a basement under tight security he created a free-floating version of his work only to discover that the moored sculpture was more beautiful.

     In hindsight we had a truly amazing time in Provincetown.  I managed to have a couple of visits with "legendary teacher, incendiary painter and catalyst of the Abstract Expressionists movement," Hans Hofmann.  Amazingly, his artwork crater was able to skillfully crate 20 or so relatively wet canvases of my work to ship to Dallas!  Princess Cecil Blaffer "Titi" von Fürstenberg, a patron of the arts and a member of a family that combined two great Texas oil fortunes, of the Blaffer-Hudson family of Houston, visted with us.  At summer's end we had a large "open" party and found that I had scandalized all of Provincetown by working so diligently on my paintings.  But isn't success in life making the most of opportunities? And what opportunities I have had!

     When we got back from Provincetown we began to frame my paintings for the New York show and on Friday, November 22, 1963 we took a break to go to the corner of Maple and Cedar Springs to catch a glimpse of our Commander-in-Chief's motorcade.  We watched the four-door convertible limousine roll by, with its top down, carrying a smiling President Kennedy a scant few yards away from us.

     We had a small gathering at our house on Brown St.  We were there to view paintings being shipped to New York.  Margaret and Gene McDermott showed up.  It was indeed a portentous event. 

Next installment of memoirs to include :
Chapter 5
art collector Jim Clark's "Henri Fantin-Latours"
the beginning of the McDermott Collection
the unfortunate career of former Dallas Museum of Art director Merrill C. Reuppel
Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art merges with the Dallas Museum of Fine Art
Texas Annual Art Exhibition
art school of the Dallas Museum of Art

All of the above is copyrighted material, all rights reserved.  Permission for use will be considered upon written request.  Blog comments are encouraged, the use of actual full names is strongly recommended, as are affiliations with organizations.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chapman Kelley's Memoirs - Chapter 3

     During these early years my work was shown in a variety of solo and group exhibitions including:

1956 Junior League of San Antonio Gallery, San Antonio, TX (Bright Shawl)
1957 Men of Art Guild, San Antonio, TX
1957 Spring, Mary Nye Gallery, Dallas, TX
1957 Fall, Mary Nye Gallery, Dallas, TX
1957 Southwestern Art Invitational Exhibition Dallas Museum of Fine Art (circulated nationally by American Federation of Art)
1958 Fall, Mary Nye Gallery, Dallas, TX
1959 Dallas Museum for the Contemporary Arts (Made in Texas by Texans)
1959 Ringling National Exhibition, Sarasota, FL
1959 Art USA Invitational, New York, NY (Coliseum)
1959 St. Johns College, Houston, TX
1959 Nancy Negley Gallery, Austin, TX 
1961 Exhibition of Texas Artists, Newport, R.I.
1962 Exhibition of Young Americans, Boston, MA, (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
1962 157th Exhibition Annual of Painting and Sculpture the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA

     Because of my success as a painter I began to attract more serious students, some of them full time.  One was James Havard.  He went on to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, was a pioneer of abstract illusionism and became world famous; financial success followed.  His work is owned by, among other museums, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY,  Metropolitan Museum of New York, NY, National Collection of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm, Sweden, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. PA, Oklahoma Art Center (renamed Oklahoma Museum), Oklahoma City, OK, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA.
     James Havard is now the subject of a recently published book.  Since Havard’s first solo exhibition at Atelier Chapman Kelley (ACK) in 1965, he has had 65 more exhibitions as of 2006.

    Another is Tom Palmore who is considered to be one of America’s best painters.  In 1965, after not finding the real art world as a student at three universities, he asked around to find the “best painter” to study with and since my name was dominant, he dropped out of University of North Texas and came to study at ACK full time.  Palmore went on to be a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  He earned early and rapid, almost unprecedented, success.  His work was included in the Venice Biennale and around the world, literally.  Palmore's work is in many collections, the list is long, including: The Whitney Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, New Orleans Museum, Brooklyn Museum, St. Louis Art Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Everson Museum of Art, Smithsonian Museum, Denver Museum, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Tom’s new book, “Earthlings—the Paintings of Tom Palmore” is fascinating.  A short passage has much appreciated kind words for yours truly and a painting “Chapman at the Beach,” is a riot.  Palmore is a most unique and original artist.

     Noel Mahaffey is universally considered among my acquaintances to be the most talented student in the Dallas Museum of Fine Art High School Scholarship Class, ever.  He was in the class when I began teaching it in 1959.  Mahaffey went on to study at the PAFA where he must have loafed.  He returned to Dallas, with his “tail between his legs,” to the remarkable study group that we had then—where he was challenged as never before and responded brilliantly to an assignment with a painting.  That work won the top purchase prize in the Eight States Exhibit at the Oklahoma Museum in 1966.  I had won the same prize in 1965.  Another former student, Don Bradley, won it in 1963. Mahaffey's work was in Sidney Janis' “Sharp-focus Realism” show and in many of the exhibitions and collections of the sharp- focus or photorealist exhibitions.  Noel probably has, having been an original first generation member of a major movement, the most secure position historically than any Texan since Robert Rauschenberg.  Unfortunately Noel died young while painting more work for his New York art dealer the famed Ivan Karp. 

     Robert “Bob” Yarber, also hailed from DMFA’s High School Scholarship Class.  He went on to earn a full scholarship to the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, more commonly known simply as Cooper  Union.  He earned a BFA in 1971 and gained his MFA at Louisiana State University in 1973.  Yarber achieved recognition in the Venice Biennale in 1984 and the Whitney Biennial in 1985.  Charles Hagen wrote that Yarber, "is best known for a series paintings of flying and falling figures seen above cityscapes viewed at night."  The main idea of Yarber’s works revolve around "combining antiquity with modernism." Yarber is a distinguished professor of art at Pennsylvania State University. 

     Willie Wayne Young was also one of the best talents in my 1959 DMFA High School Scholarship Class.  He studied and exhibited at ACK where he was also an expert frame maker.  In 1993 he had his fist New York solo show at Ricco Maresca Gallery.  In 1994 his work was shown at the Moore College of Art and Design’s Goldie-Paley Gallery in Philadelphia, PA.  His work was in the 2002 "Obsession" exhibit at the prestigious Carl Hammer Gallery in Chicago and "Draw" in 2006 at the Mason Murer Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia. Young's work was in the important "A World of Their Own" at the Newark Museum and selected by Marsha Tucker for an exhibition, "A Labor of Love," at her New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, NY.  In 2009 Young had a one man exhibit "The Visionary Art of Willie Wayne Young" at Dallas' African American Museum and in 2010 featured at the Farmers Branch Manske Gallery.  There is a film of a panel discussion of his exhibition at Dallas' African American Museum on YouTube, created by Rebecca Stringer.

     Another two of my former students chose wisely to support their painting by becoming art conservators and each became world famous; they are Roy Perkinson and Ross Merrill.

    Roy Perkinson dropped out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study at ACK full time, 1960 - 1961.  He then returned to MIT where he majored in physics and philosophy.  He then worked in MIT's instrumentation lab on missile guidance systems.

     However, he continued to study painting and conservation and became very famous because his scientific training was timely in the advancing field of paper conservation.  Most of his career was at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston with three years at the museums of San Francisco.  Roy is now retired.  He paints and exhibits with distinction in the Boston area. 

     Ross Merrill studied at ACK.  After leaving ACK  he studied at the PAFA.  He worked as conservator at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Merrill received a masters degree in conservation at Oberlin University and worked at the Cleveland Art Museum. He finished his career after many years as chief conservator at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. However, Merrill never stopped painting and even conducted plein aire workshops.

     Alton Bowman was a student at Gainsville, spent a period of time at ACK, then studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  He returned to Dallas to become a master craftsman restorer, a conservator of furniture.  Alton is a lecturer and the go-to man about anything having to do with furniture. Bowman uses furniture as his medium in works of fine art.

     Three former students, Carol Barth, Duke Horn and Ann C. Weary are having exhibits in Dallas, TX this fall.

     I am, of course, very grateful that I have had the opportunity to have participated early in so many talented and dedicated lives.  I know of former students from San Francisco, CA to Boston MA to Tuscon AZ and I would like to hear from others.

    As far as I know, none of these former students, in spite of their stellar recognition elsewhere and the fact that three were products of DMFA's High School Scholarship Class, has ever been exhibited or collected by the DMA.  We now have a hereditary blacklist.  What are people so afraid of? Do they fear the truth?  Ars longa vita brevis.

     On December 27, 1960 I had my first visit from someone who started acquiring artwork "from scratch" and who was to become an important collector---James H. Clark.  He was very interested in serious collecting.  Until then Clark had only purchased a few Japanese prints.  In particular he wanted to find a first rate "school of art" that was undervalued as an investment.  I had recently had a very successful solo show at Meredith Long's Houston gallery and Long wanted to team up with me; he had some "goodies" to offer.  At the time American Impressionist paintings were available with a better selection than their French counterparts and at about 10% of the price.  I offered to show him two first-rate works by leading American impressionist painter Childe Hassam and for comparison, one Claude Monet work valued at $65,000.

    Clark purchased Hassam's "Pear Plum Blossoms" for $8,000 and "Cliff at Appledore" at $7,500 along with my "Saddle Dune" and several Hobson Pittman pastels and watercolors.

     His wife Lillian Clark was so horrified at his $15,500 purchase that she begged me to, "give Jim a breather and offer no more for a while."  Clark was an inveterate researcher and we had many many conversations.  He soon became a board member of the Dallas Museum of Fine Art.

     The two paintings Clark bought would be shipped to Dallas via Houston.  Before they arrived, I asked my friend and banker Robert H. Stewart III what he knew of Clark.  He replied that Clark had been brought to Dallas, after being in the U.S. Navy, by Clint Murchison Sr. to research and advise his sons who were diversifying their holdings; they needed guidance on which companies to buy.

    Along the line Clark had misappropriated some funds and was severely dressed down by Clint Murchison Sr. The episode was verified to me by my art student Virginia, Clint Sr.'s wife.  After a period of time Clark recovered from the Murchison Sr. reprimand and decided to become an art collector. 

     He had made some forays into a couple of galleries, ones that I would not have recommended to anyone.  Clark purchased several French paintings, again, ones which I would not have recommended.  He was soon convinced of his missteps.  The problem of unburdening himself of the artwork was solved by Wildenstein Gallery's (established 1875) New York manager, Louis Goldenberg.  There were ways for reputable dealers to dispense with embarrassing mistakes and this was done with the expectation that Clark would buy better French paintings.  All were sold except for two that were allegedly created by 18th century Frenchman Henri Fantin-Latour.  Clark could not afford the quality paintings he was expected to buy.  More to come later about the "Fantin-Latour" artwork shenanigans and the Dallas Museum of Fine Art's involvement.

    Clark was a serious collector at a crossroad. He had many many questions for me.  Since I had haunted the Philadelphia Museum of Art where two of the greatest 20th century artists' works--sculptor Constantine Brancusi and  painter Piet Mondrian--were well represented, I was very familiar with them. (New York City and Washington, D.C. were close enough that Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art students like myself made day trips to avail ourselves of their great museums.)  In fact, Mondrian's pier and ocean series of 1914 and 1915 have strongly influenced my work; my effort to combine overtly figurative and nonfigurative elements on the same canvas is like mixing fire and water.

     The good news was that New York's Sidney Janis Gallery, widely considered to be an art "beacon," seemed to have the whole estates of Brancusi and Mondrian.  Regarding these two artists and their tremendous influence on all subsequent 20th century design of all kinds, I felt their prices were undervalued. The price range suited Clark's pocketbook.

    Clark began buying early Mondrians for under $10,000.  Without Mondrian's more mature plastiques of the 1920s, I kept insisting to Clark that his previous purchases would have little meaning as a collection.  The break came when Clark purchased one of Mondrian's transitional paintings of trees. My case was assured when I received a phone call I will never forget. Clark asked me to guess what he had just purchased--"Place de la Concorde" a great and well known Mondrian plastique painting. 

    Clark also purchased a $55,000 Brancusi egg whose sculpture works related so much to Mondrian's paintings.  I was a bit disappointed because it wasn't my favorite egg.  I had recommended to Clark that he acquire a $60,000 Brancusi fish.

     The DMFA eventually had an exhibition of work by Mondrian.  DMFA museum director Jerry Bywaters used to kid me by asking how I had managed to persuade Clark to buy all of the Mondrians even before Clark knew of Mondrian's nationality.

     The DMFA asked me to guide a tour of the Mondrian show and while doing so a woman asked me what made this Mondrian any better than her linoleum kitchen floor.  I told her that Mondrian did it first and better; that her linoleum floor looked as it did because Mondrian had had the greatest influence on all 20th century design.

    According to some of my dealer friends from out of town they had to see Clark on each trip to know what he was buying or selling--questionable behavior from an ethical viewpoint for Clark who at the time was a DMFA officer. Clark did come to ACK to consider a Ben Kamihira "Wedding Dress" for the museum and also viewed a "floating" Alberto Collie sculpture.  The museum bought both for their permanent collection.  Unfortunately for the museum-goer, the Collie work is broken and in museum storage and the Kamihira work was sold without explanation.  The museum made unreasonable decisions about these two works considering the artists' recognition beyond Texas.  Was there any reason for these actions or inactions other than they were both bought through a local artist-owned gallery, ACK?  The Dallas Museum of Fine Art has desperately hidden the successes of local artists and dealers.  Are these the decisions made by small thinking snobs?  It further reminds me of the blacklisting of artists and others.

     One unfortunate missed meeting with Clark may have been both costly as well as embarrassing to a very decent and generous Dallas gentleman--Al Meadows.  I had my share of offers from travelling dealers of questionable character and art goods.

     One evening I found myself in a motel room with two men and a number of allegedly 20th century master's works on paper.  I was first struck by the uniform whiteness of the paper.  Whiter than that which I had drawn on the night before.  Then, as the experienced framer that I was, I noticed that all of the frames were carved and gold leafed but of ready made stock.  The papers of authentication were new and executed by one person.  Hoping to cause those salesmen to bypass Dallas and not prey on other collectors I made an appointment to bring DMFA president Jim Clark and that between us we could convince them that Dallas was not a happy hunting ground for artworks which were "not right."  Unfortunately Clark had to break the appointment.

     I warned my own regular collectors about the salesmen.  Although I knew Algur "Al" H. Meadows well enough to ask him to take Hobson Pittman and prominent collectors Olga and Joseph Hirshhorn through his collection, he wasn't a client of mine and so I did not alert him.  I do not know if Meadows dealt with the salesmen.  I certainly hope not.  Dallas owes a great deal to Al Meadows.

    In 1970, after Ohio's Kent State shootings, my wife Joan and I were Sunday brunch guests of Al Meadows.  We talked with movie actor Dennis Hopper and "The Mama's and the Papa's" 1960s singer Michelle Phillips.  We discussed plans for creating a Free University in Lee Park.  All of them were very enthusiastic about the idea.  Our plan was to propose ongoing summer classes taught by leaders in various fields but who were not necessarily professional teachers.  Dallas city officials had to be on board; they gave us the green light to do it. 

     Actress, comedienne and singer Kaye Ballard collected my work even before my New York show.  She was a regular guest on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.  When I was in New York City she would invite me to sit with her in the show's Green Room.  She invited me to a bunch of other parties.

    In a years later discussion with Carson he asked Ballard how show biz stars, who were not quite superstars, survived the lean years.  Here reply was that she would begrudgingly sell some of her treasured Chapman Kelley and Robert Vickery artworks.  In 1977 I didn't own any of the sand dune paintings I had created.  So generous was Ballard, she kindly sold one to me.   She has since collected more of my work.  Ballard is a great, talented and a big-hearted lady.

     During a recent interview at the New Orleans Museum of Art, our new museum director Maxwell Anderson told an interesting story.  While he was the museum director at Toronto's Art Gallery of Ontario, the museum, as in most around the world, proudly exhibited artwork of their indigenous talent. That museum policy is practiced virtually everywhere except in the U.S.  We all hope he will bring the Dallas Museum of Art into the light. 

    The New Orleans Museum of Art has, I have heard, a whole roomful of Robert Gordy's works.  We at ACK were the first to exhibit Gordy's works outside of New Orleans.  Gordy has had great success beyond New Orleans.  I own one of his most important pieces.  I am pleased to share in his success.

Next installment:

First New York show and preparations
Life Magazine article "Sold Out Art"
Two major prizes in New York
Joe Hirshhorn
Ben Kamihira
John Cunningham
Working with Wildenstein Gallery
Preparing for second New York show in Provincetown, Massachusetts
Alberto Collie
McDermott Collection
Francois Gilot
Dr. Jonas Salk

All of the above is copyrighted material, all rights reserved.  Permission for use will be considered upon written request.  Blog comments are encouraged, the use of actual full names is strongly recommended, as are affiliations with organizations.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chapman Kelley's Memoirs - Chapter 2

     My generation-earlier cousin Otela was a famous debutante, suffragette and perennial delegate to the National League of Women Voters.  I had made a painting of her called "Pickle Server" because of a unique silver antique utensil she owned and which I included in the painting. She phoned her friend and neighbor Eleanor Rogers Onderdonk, sister of painter Julian Onderdonk. Eleanor was at one time the director at the Witte Museum.  The reason for Otela’s call was to invite Eleanor to see the painting.  Eleanor told me to send the painting to the Texas Annual Exhibition--the king-maker event that was sponsored by major Texas art museums. When it was time to choose, I didn't send that one, instead I sent "Kite" and "Beach at Eventide."

     The Men of Art Guild regularly gathered and exhibited at Cecil Casebier's frame shop.  We were visiting there one Friday evening with Fletcher Martin, a west coast painter whose exhibit was opening that Sunday.  Casebier had heard from someone at the Dallas Museum of Fine Art that distinguished Director Emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y., Francis Henry Taylor, the show's juror, had wanted a smallish painting submitted by an “unknown” painter.  They were looking for one priced at only $300.00 to win the Witte Museum’s Onderdonk Purchase Prize.  Such a price was indicative of work by a new painter like me.  However, a committee sent from the Witte Museum also had a say in the matter as they had been instructed to choose a portrait; they had to resuscitate a reject to comply.  Of course we were outraged at this lost "big break" for a newcomer and all the repercussions were much discussed. 

     At the Sunday opening, Margaret Pace a committee member, rushed to tell me that Taylor had wanted "Beach at Eventide" to win the Onderdonk Prize--I was floored.  Later I would see Eleanor Onderdonk at opera and symphony performances and she invariably asked what had happened to the painting of my cousin Otela!

     I received a letter from Jerri Jane Smith who ran an art rental at the Dallas Museum of Fine Art.  She requested the two paintings for the art rental.  I replied that I had an early 1957 exhibit scheduled at the Men of Art Guild, of which I was a member, and that I would need "Kite" for it but that when the Annual finished its tour she would be welcome to have it and "Beach at Eventide."

     Mary Nye, who had just opened a gallery in Dallas, wrote a letter to me saying that she wanted my paintings for a show in March of 1957.  So I accepted and had my first one man gallery exhibit at age 24, only 1 1/2 years out of art school.  That show sold unusually well and to rave reviews--Rual Askew art critic for the Dallas Morning News even bought work from the exhibit. Mary Nye wanted me to paint her, and as I did, several women visitors came to watch very quietly.

     Shortly after my return to San Antonio, Mary Nye called to tell me that these visitors would rent a studio and furnish students for three mornings weekly if only I would move to Dallas.  Wow, only three mornings! They were a very prominent group who had studied with Perry Nichols, one of the “Dallas Nine,” before he ran off to Morocco. They were Mrs. Al "Emma" Exline from the famous Millermore family and Mrs. Royal “Pug” Jodi Miller.  Jodi’s sister, Virginia "Ginny" L. Murchison was the wife of Clint Murchison Sr., at the time the third or fourth richest man in the world. After Pug Miller died, Jodi married George Biddle of the famous Philadelphia and New York family.  The two beautiful sisters Louise Roberts and Katherine Madden rounded out those who Jodi would tell me in later, the 1990s, that they didn't just import me to teach but thought I would be good for Dallas.  These charming women were as good as their word and even had some prominent men: Carr Collins Jr. and R.L. "Bob" Thornton Jr., (son of former Dallas mayor) who after he retired as head of Mercantile Bank, became an avid painter.  I had already booked passage aboard the Flandre for the summer to use my second Cresson Award so it wasn't difficult to accept the generous offer to move to Dallas.

     Lee Nordness, a New York art dealer stopped in Dallas on his way from an American Federation of Art convention in Houston.  He had heard of my successful show and invited me to visit him a his New York gallery while on my way to use my second Cresson Award for a painting tour of Europe.  Jodi Miller and Paul Raigorodsky, friend of Texas Governor John Connally, had even bought purchase options to choose from works made during the trip.  As a result, another exhibit using the work I painted in Europe was scheduled for the autumn of that year.  All of this allowed me to provide for my family while being away from them.

    On this second Cresson Award trip in 1957 I again went to the Festival of San Fermin in Pampalona, Spain but what a difference from the 1954 trip compared to being with Cresson Award art students.  Our group included civic leaders Jake and Nancy Hamon who I had met in Dallas, a poet from Spain, the Henry Cabots of the Boston Cabots and novelist Robert C. Ruark whose "Horn of the Hunter" was the result of his first safari trip to Africa and his later "Something of Value" became a best seller.  He led the picturesque life reputed to imitate that of author Ernest Hemingway.  Hemingway was a regular at the event.  Unfortunately for us, he was ill and unable to join us in Pamplona that year.

     Since this was a painting trip I spent a good amount of time in my favorite city, Florence.  Emma Exline, who had spent each August in Rome, invited me to join her.  She had entre to Surrealist Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico and so we spent a day with him in his studio at the bottom of the famous Spanish Steps.  I also had the pleasure of escorting her, and her glamorous movie star friend Italian-born Rosanna Rory, to the Villa Cesare where Rory was a judge for the Miss Italia contest. The car valets wore ancient body armor.  At the end of summer Rory was invited to a party in Paris given by legendary Hollywood mogul Jack L. Warner, of Warner Bros. The three of us drove Rory's convertible from Rome to Paris--complete with Hollywood license plates--what a life. The resulting second exhibition was another expected resounding success for me and we resumed classes with additional students.  One was Dick Lane. He was a wild sort of guy and became our first abstract expressionist--full time too.

     The Houston Museum under new director James Johnson Sweeney announced a statewide show juried by him and American sculptor Alexander "Sandy" Calder--but asked that all paintings be framed with 1/4" slats then popular with Abstract Expressionists.  Perry Nichols and I wrote the museum to ask if only paintings compatible with this frame were wanted.  The reply was negative, so we sent paintings anyway and were both rejected.  Dick Lane won the top prize with "Gusher" which I own.

   In early 1959 my students and I hung an exhibit at the new Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts' new building.  The building was purchased by, I believe, John and Lupe Murchison, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Lambert, Mr. and Mrs. Eddie Marcus and Mr. and Mrs. John O'Boyle.  I understood that 1/2 of the building would be rented to support the museum.  I had been the local painter most involved with the DMCA--lecturing, serving on panels, contributing work for auction and hanging exhibits with my students.  Douglas McAgy was the new director.

     One evening Jerry Bywaters, director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Art called me asking me to teach all of the adult classes in their summer school.  I did and they had to turn away several times the number of students that could be accepted.  Obviously the summer was considered a great success because I was offered my choice of classes for the winter and spring.  With my background I chose the High School Scholarship Class and the then not too popular Life Drawing.  The summer gained me another full time student, Bob Hayes who was between going to Harvard Business School and having to take over the family automotive business.  Linda and Bob Hayes and Joan and I became fast friends for many years.

     Since my high school students were not allowed in the museum life drawing classes, I invited them to ours and all the other classes at Atelier Chapman Kelley, of course without charge--and did they attend!  Dick Fox, my framer lived on the premises and so the high school students set up shop somewhere in the building and were there day and night.

     Dick Lane and sculptor Lo Jordans convinced me to open a gallery there also in 1959.  Atelier Chapman Kelley expanded to include exhibiting as well as my studio and classes.  German-born sculptor Heri Bert Bartscht who started the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts also asked to teach there and so we became an Atelier proper.  Our first guest instructor was famed artist Elaine de Kooning, wife of abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning.  Through the years we also had Hobson Pittman, Ben Kamihira, David DeLong, and Hiram Williams among others.  Most artists we exhibited also spent some time critiquing our students’ work.

     In the meantime, I had an again successful one man show at Meredith Long's Houston Gallery.  He wanted to become my business partner in Dallas.

     Cynthia Stuart was my student, tennis partner and generous friend.  Marilyn Corrigan was another of my students.  When I decided to open Atelier Chapman Kelley Cynthia contributed a $1,000 loan to install lighting, paint the walls, etc., and when I wanted to purchase my first car to go to the coast to paint she sent me to her husband R.H. Stewart III on the day that he was named president of First National Bank of Dallas, at age 34.   He had furnished his executive suite with paintings from his private collection. I was flattered when he asked me to replace them with whatever Cynthia chose from my gallery.

     We loaded our new Triumph TR3 with canvases strapped to the luggage rack above the trunk and with Joan, Cole and Kevin and Yo Yo the poodle left for the coast.  The canvases precluded putting the top up, so of course it rained on us and I had to weight the canvases overnight so that they wouldn't warp.  After the first night back in Galveston we found that they had no sand dunes for the 40" x 40" composition that I had come to paint.  We did find a large pile of sand with none of the anatomy that a dune develops, but I could have Cole and Kevin in place to be painted as if on the dunes with the multicolored wooden stakes I imagined in place.  I did study the effect weathering had made on knee-high dunes to make the anatomy plausible.

     I moved my gallery from McKinney Avenue to a large house on Maple Avenue.

     Cynthia Stewart wanted "Sand Dune" in repayment for her loan.  She generously withdrew the request after I told her I had planned on submitting it in an upcoming competition. She allowed me to enter it in the 1960 Texas Annual under one condition; she wanted it entered solely in the $1,000 Texas state fair competition where if it won top prize, would go into the permanent collection of the Dallas Museum of Fine Art..and it won!

Next installment to include:

Early success as a painter attracts serious students
Famous students
J.H. Clark art collection
Constantine Brancusi
Piet Mondrian

All of the above is copyrighted material, all rights reserved.  Permissiom for use will be considered upon written request.  Blog comments are welcome, the use of actual full names is strongly recommended, as are affiliations with organizations.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chapman Kelley's Memoirs - Chapter 1

     Admin's note:

     On May 2, 2011, the Council for Artists' Rights sent an eblast telling of their choice for U.S. museum director of the decade:  Maxwell Anderson.

     As you may know, Anderson will be the next director of the Dallas Museum of Art beginning in January 2012.  And in a subsequent letter, CFAR recommended to the DMA's internal search committee and its contracted NY executive search firm that they choose someone most like Anderson to fill the position.  We are are extremely happy that Anderson has accepted the challenge to be the DMA's next director.

     Anderson's piece, "A Clear View:  The Case for Museum Transparency" so well elucidates his views, that the eye of the entire art world will be on Dallas.  The same museum conflicts are troubling many if not most art museums in the U.S.

     The art history of the transitional years in Dallas, what the late Robert M. "Mac" Doty called a renaissance--including a museum becoming the worst run in the country--has been hidden.  We have asked Chapman Kelley, a veteran of those crucial years, to shed light on that era by writing his memoirs.  It will be enlightening for everyone interested to know the true history.  Many will be watching developments made under the leadership of Anderson.

And now, the first installment of Chapman Kelley's memoirs....


     I have led a very interesting life during challenging times. As a result, beginning literally decades ago, I have been urged to write my autobiography. Now seems to be the appropriate time because it will also contain, to my knowledge, the only true history of Dallas' art community during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

     This memoir is for the many people who have so generously supported me and the other image makers who truly give of themselves to make the world a better and more beautiful place. 

     In 1985 and 1986 I lectured by invitation on my Wildflower Works at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and at the museum's professional school.  Robert M. "Mac" Doty attended the lecture. At the time, Doty was the director of the Currier Gallery (renamed Currier Museum of Art) and former curator of the Whitney Museum, NY.  Soon after the lecture, I visited with him at his home in New Hampshire.  Doty was very familiar with Dallas' art world during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  He considered it to be in the midst of a minor renaissance.  He felt that my professional life as a painter had begun so early and at such a top level in both Dallas and New York that I could and should promise to reveal the disastrous deterioration the U.S. art world had taken by the 1980s.  Since my roles included painter, art dealer, art teacher, art collector, and having been so very fortunate personally--I promised to do it.  In an effort to be accurate I have since then probably read a book a week. 
     I was born the third of eight children to Ruby Victoria Sloane Kelley and Ralph Payne Kelley on August 26, 1932.  My family has some very interesting white Anglo Saxon protestants--some very famous, rich and influential; my great-great Uncle, American frontiersman Christopher Houston "Kit" Carson (1809 – 1868), a great-great grandfather, Robert Kelley, and my great-great-great grandfather, Dr. James H. Lyons, (1805–1881) three-time mayor of San Antonio including once at the end of the Civil War, respectively.  Most of my relatives gravitated to the field of education.

     Shortly after my birth my father was offered a one-fourth ownership for $100.00 in the newly created Frito Company; Frito Company evolved into Frito-Lay and is currently a division of PepsiCo Inc.  Instead, he opted to be its first independent distributor.  He did very well with his own sales company, but obviously would have done better as part owner. 

     We were raised in a large white brick house with a few acres on a hill overlooking San Antonio. Our household included live-in servants, and a menagerie of pets.  I raised registered Persian cats. Up until high school I was very athletic with riding horses, playing center on the football team, pitching on the baseball team, running on the track team, boxing and wrestling.  My father was my coach.  My two older brothers played in the high school band and I did also but before I was in high school--the E-flat alto saxophone.  So to this day I enjoy good music, particularly opera but also classic, folk, rock and jazz and the area consuming my interest is classical music.  I have the radio tuned to it around the clock, each day.

     I began drawing as early as I can remember and started classes with my sister Pat at San Antonio's Witte Museum at, I think, the age of eight.  I thought the children's classes was not enough and so I was allowed to participate in the adult classes including life drawing!  I was fortunate that my family encouraged achievement but did not worship money.  I soon began classes at the private Hugo D. Pohl School. During my freshman and sophomore years at a private high school I was allowed to leave at noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and skipping 60% of Geometry and Spanish classes to also study with Pohl--a classic beginning of very accurate draftsmanship. After Pohl retired, I continued classes at his studio until I left to attend the venerable Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), the oldest professional art school in the U.S. 

     My junior and senior years were spent at Thomas Jefferson High School which Don Vogel also graduated from and rightfully called the most beautiful high school in America.  My cousin Otela ran the library and my Aunt Otela was its guidance counselor.  Aunt Otela took me and my drawings to visit Ruby Dugash--painter and art teacher at Jefferson High.  I had some of the usual prodigy publicity by then and Dugash confessed that she had nothing to offer, so I was enrolled every afternoon in the art department as a special student at Trinity University.  Dr. Adah Robinson, who had studied at New York Art Student League alongside artist Ben Shahn, was the department chair and took a great interest and she was just what I needed at the time.  Since I was to graduate in 1950 Dr. Robinson and my Aunt Otela did research on my "next steps" and we chose the PAFA.  The academy had a number of real practicing professional artists, each teaching only one a day a week.  They would critique the same paintings and drawings.  PAFA also awarded William Emlen Cresson European Traveling Scholarships of which I won two, in 1954 and 1955. 

     In order to be accepted by PAFA one had to submit works.  I was in such awe of that institution that I stayed out for two semesters in order to prepare the best portfolio possible.  I entered the academy in the summer of 1951.  Amusingly, Roy Nuse, who taught drawing at the PAFA (every art school should have one like him), would not recommend the advancement of any student for at least a year.  He sought me out and insisted that I needed no more drawing and took my work to the other instructors.  As a result I was immediately advanced into painting--supposedly the first such instance in the history of the PAFA.  Later I won the Thomas Eakins Figure Painting Award and earned honorable mentions in both the Cecilia Beaux Portrait Painting and the Perspective Competition.

     Joan Catherine Wisner and I were married in my second year while at PAFA.  Our first son Cole Chapman Kelley II was born in my third and Kevin Carson Kelley in my fourth year--so I worked hard both in and out of school.

     While at the PAFA a group of us ate at a small French restaurant with music students from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.  We would go to musical performances with them and to their critiques afterwards and they would do the same with us vis-à-vis art exhibitions. While at PAFA I signed up for a coordinate degree program as part of the University of Pennsylvania and was accepted.  When I went to register I ran into some PAFA students who advised me to not divide my time and energy, but to instead pursue the academics later, which I did. 

     The principal painting instructors at the PAFA were Franklin Watkins who had had a one man exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in 1950--I own one of his paintings from that exhibit.  Also on staff were Hobson Pittman and Walter Steumpfig who had each been featured in a series of Life Magazine articles about leading painters of the time; it wound up with the one asking if Jackson Pollock was our greatest living artist.  In sculpture class we had instructors Walker Hancock and Harry Rosin.  In drawing class it was Roy Nuse, in printmaking Morris Blackburn and in painting we had Francis Speight, Julius Bloch and Rosewell Weidner.  Guest artists as teachers included Peter Blum, Stuart Davis, Jacques Lipchitz and Abraham Rattner.  I took my paintings regularly to Watkins, Pittman and Stuempfig and guest instuctors for critiques but also periodically to all the others as well.

     In my first or second year I was chosen to interview French surrealist painter Yves Tanguy for a television program broadcast live, which I did.  The student body cast their vote to have me head a committee to the academy's administration. But I deferred to an older student who assumed that chairmanship. One of my first exhibits at Atelier Chapman Kelley included the work of some of my former PAFA teachers--some major works by John McCoy were sold and that of Hobson Pittman, whom I regularly represented.

     PAFA students were taken to visit with major art collectors.  For example, we spent time with Henry Plumer McIlhenny whose dining room featured Toulouse-Lautrec's "Moulin Rouge" with a Degas "Ballet Master" in the powder room.  Mcllhenny's sister, Bonnie Wintersteen, had her fabulous Matisses.  Robert Sturgis Ingersoll who at different times was president and director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, challenged us to express and defend our historical and aesthetic opinions.  After Ingersoll's death Sotheby's had a 1970s auction of his personal art collection. I had to leave New York and return to Dallas for an event and so I asked one of realist painter Andrew Wyeth's daughters-in-law to bid for me. She assured me that if she bid for me one increment above the highest estimate I should be able to get a 7" and a 9" krater pottery and a stone Jacques Lipchitz that I remembered seeing in Ingersoll's garden. I acquired none because Ingersoll's "eye" was so respected that each object fetched several times the highest expectations.

     In addition to the Cresson Award I had also been awarded four years of tuition scholarships, three of which were used at the PAFA. For my first Cresson European Scholarship Award I traveled along with Richard Gibney, a mural student.  We went to England, France, Spain (for Pamplona's Fiesta San Fermin and its El Encierro or "running of the bulls"), Italy through Switzerland with time in Germany and Holland. We sailed on the Queen Mary and returned on the Queen Elizabeth.
     We spent most of the time in museums and often met up with other PAFA students.  We learned to eat at student Mensas where we frequently found students of music with whom we went to the opera and concerts.  They came with us to art exhibits.  Among academy students, a date was likely to be spent in a museum, which charged no admission fee; as they must be again soon in the U.S. 

     Whenever guest instructors were announced, many students would arrive early to sign up for a critique of their work.  The students' early arrival had to do with the estimate of the guest instructor's importance.  I did not arrive on time so American Expressionist painter Abraham Rattner did not get around to viewing my work.  It was the end of the day and everyone was outside going home.  The director and administrators were on the verge of taking Rattner to dinner.  However, on his way out he saw me putting my paintings away in my locker and stopped me saying he wanted to see more.  I chased around to present as good a group possible for him.  Luckily I found an empty room and quickly propped my work along the floor leaning them on the walls. Earlier in the day Rattner had been urging most of those whose work he had reviewed to learn more about their material, anatomy and solidity related to space--to develop a very painterly authority before expecting to make nonfigurative masterpieces as the Abstract Expressionists had--with the authority they had. And that pursuing a strained novelty was not the same as a well earned and considered truly personal originality. Rattner's last minute critique of my work caused a quickness, a gathering of the entire school.  At the time I was painting figures very solidly. Rattner used my work to make his points and surprisingly predicted national recognition for me; it was another example of my good fortune.

     One memorable event was seeing a large Giorgio de Chirico exhibition in Venice.  At the PAFA his bold use of chiaroscuro and free use of dramatic abstracted shadows inspired my first original group of paintings which became known as my "Nuns" series with titles like "Nuns on a Staircase," "Shine Boy - Toledo, Spain," "Cloistered Life"--and I am certain having seen original de Chirico work helped me to gain a second Cresson Award in 1955.  

     My generation considered going into the arts as a vocation.  No one had delusions of fame and fortune or to ever  make a living at it.  So in 1955 I returned to San Antonio and in order to support my painting and my family; I took a job working 45 to 50 hours a week as a purchasing agent.  My employer was Martin Wright Electric Company, the largest entity in the south and southwest U.S.  I never expected for my painting to support me, and family. 

     Once back in San Antonio, Dr. Adah Robinson critiqued my paintings.  She advised me that some universities were hiring the best exhibiting professionals they could get and that among them was the University of Texas at Austin. I had had my works graded at PAFA anticipating going back to do academic work and had all of the records sent for an appointment with Dr. Donald Weismann chair at the University of Texas.  I arrived on a Saturday morning with a station wagon full of paintings.  He asked me why I wanted to go back to school after completing four and a half years of formal study and winning two PAFA Cresson Awards.  I replied that much of my family was in academia and why not--it may make me a better painter. Dr. Weismann's university colleagues studied my paintings and drawings.  They said that if I insisted on becoming a student there, I would be accepted.  The consensus was that the art department would grant credit based on PAFA success. They agreed that my having previously studied and discussed history, philosophy, etc., that enrolling for those classes would be so elementary for me as to be a bore.  Their strong advice was for me to instead exhibit my paintings.  Dr. Weismann gave me copies of four letters that he sent to his friends at other similar universities to watch for me because he felt that any teaching job that I would accept later in my career would be because of professional standing and not accumulated degrees.

     Years later in 1966 I had a juried exhibition at Atelier Chapman Kelley for my current and former students work and a good bit of prize money.  I had Dr. Weismann as the juror--he contributed his honorarium to the prize sum.  I told him that before he heard from others I wanted him to know that I used our 1956 discussion as a lesson for others planning their careers in art.  He laughed at this and said that he did also.  I then added that I also included the fact that a couple of years after our last meeting, and largely due to his advice, my professional stature had advanced to the extent that I was in a position to recommend him to my dealer Mary Nye for his first one-man exhibit.
     Of course I had family and friends in San Antonio and continued to work, paint and play tennis.  My good friend Bill Thornton arranged for us to use his cousin's swimming pool.  The pool was located in an estate requiring seven full time gardeners.  In 1956 I painted a full length very Whistler-like picture of Bill against an interesting background; it was a paneled room imported from England, steeped in rich colors.  We went for a coastal trip to Galveston with Bill and his boat.  That's where I painted "Beach at Eventide.”  

Next week's memoirs installment to include:

Second European trip courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art's William Emlen Cresson Award

Chapman Kelley imported from San Antonio to Dallas, TX

First commercial gallery exhibition at age 24

First major art prize

All of the above is coyrighted material, all rights reserved.  Permission for use will be considered upon written request. 

Comments are welcome, the use of actual full names is strongly recommended, as are affiliations with organizations.