Friday, February 17, 2012

Chapman Kelley's Memoirs - Chapter 8

          I expect that most people reading this are familiar with the life histories of artists like Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt, Monet and Jackson Pollock.  As in other professions an artist’s stature outside of the professional community, in addition to how the artist is perceived by the art community, can tell us more about them as individuals and artists as well as the cultural sophistication of the community in which they flourished. At a 2010 art and law colloquium led by Megan Carpenter (Associate Professor of Law and Director for the Center for Law and Intellectual Property at Texas Wesleyan School of Law, Texas Wesleyan College), I was introduced to one of the lawyer/panelists by Patricia Meadows of the family of Algur H. Meadows.  Algur was a major supporter of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (since renamed Dallas Museum of Art), Southern Methodist University’s art department and the Meadows Museum.  Patricia Meadows explained that, “When I was a young art student and later young matron, Chapman was THE artist whose work everyone collected, THE art teacher, and owner of THE art gallery.” 

          At the time some Dallas artists of the highest caliber were gaining recognition in New York and elsewhere in spite of individuals who, through ignorance or malice, sought to gain control of the Dallas art world.  Two artists who stood out were James Surls and Bob “Daddy-O” Wade, both of whom, to our great loss, left Dallas many years ago. 

          Unfortunately, the die was cast.  Other Dallas artists of similar stature, such as Arthur and Jeannie Koch, achieved recognition and early acclaim in Dallas, and their work was included in significant collections here and elsewhere.  However, our local museum, DMFA, and media had become so compromised that the big breaks did not follow for them.  The quality and originality of Jeanne’s work was brought to the forefront during her first solo exhibition at my gallery, Atelier Chapman Kelley, where her work sold out prior to the opening.  The great collector of American art, Joseph Hirshhorn, saw the exhibit but had to wait in line to buy her work!  Arthur Koch’s daringly original exhibits at the Atelier also sold very well.  Furthermore, I felt he was the best and most popular art teacher around. Artists seldom gain broad national recognition without the support of local museums and art media.  The DMFA’s support for local artists ended with the 1964 cancellation of the juried Texas Annual and its statewide system of recognition.

          In the early 1970s, Janet Kutner, art critic for The Dallas Morning News, confided that there were only two local galleries worthy of regular coverage in her column.  One was my gallery.  Other galleries were receiving only sporadic coverage, mainly none.  I cautioned Kutner against such a narrow focus, which was, in my opinion, biased and not supportive of the Dallas art community as a whole.   I disagreed with her refusal to be more inclusive and gave her fair warning that I planned to complain to the newspaper unless she changed her attitude.  After several weeks, I wrote to Jim Moroney of The Dallas Morning News, stating my objections and asking that Janet Kutner not be allowed to cover Atelier Chapman Kelley in her columns.  Her lack of coverage after that cost us neither acclaim nor sales.  Although Lorraine Haacke, art critic with the Dallas Times Herald, was always fair, The Dallas Morning News was the predominant Dallas newspaper.

          Art historian Meyer Shapiro wrote that the artist’s world had descended from one of high professionalism to one of careerism and then to amateurism.  I add to that, “ambitious” amateurism.  Critic Harold Rosenberg wrote that the artist had been demoted.  Unfortunately, both statements are true.

          The level of professionalism among Dallas artists, dealers and collectors, although diminished, somehow managed to survive into the 1970s in spite of the machinations of people like Merrill C. Rueppel, Douglas MacAgy, Janet Kutner and Betty Marcus.  Sadly, an asp was sown into the fabric of the 1963 merger of DMFA with the Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art (DMCA). 

          One evening around 1974, while having dinner at Patry’s Restaurant, Larry Kelly, General Manager of the Dallas Opera, came over to my table and told me about his inoperable cancer and that he would be leaving Dallas to spend his last days.  He added that since Gene McDermott had died (1973), we likely could no longer count on his wife Margaret to defend the artists as she had in the past.  He predicted that detractors, who did not want local artists to achieve widespread recognition or have the attention and ear of the general public, would win Margaret over by offering to memorialize Gene by attaching the McDermott name to his philanthropic legacy.  Larry Kelly believed Margaret would eventually desert the cause of professional fairness.  Not only did his insightful predictions about her ring true, but we now have McDermott Road, McDermott Halls at both the symphony and opera house, various DMA internships, and the McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art; Richard Brettell currently serves as the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Professor of Art and Aesthetics at the University of Texas at Dallas.  In addition, Dallas will shortly have the McDermott Bridge spanning Trinity River, which was initially to have been a faux twin suspension bridge.
          After Merrill Rueppel’s departure, Harry Parker, who was then in the education department of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, interviewed for the directorship of the DMFA.  I was asked by Margaret McDermott if the professional community would welcome him without Parker having curatorial credentials or related experience.  After consulting   with the professional community, I reported to Margaret that Parker would be acceptable only if he agreed NOT to undertake roles involved with making curatorial, aesthetic decisions.  At that time, there were discussions in the art world about having dual museum directors:  One that would be responsible for administration and fund raising, and the other with curatorial education and experience for aesthetic decisions.  It was understood that Parker’s role would be business/administrative oriented since he was not qualified to make aesthetic determinations. 

          By the mid-1970s Artists Equity had grown to include almost all the serious artists in the Dallas area.  Friends of DMFA had also been established and included interested citizens.  Charles Miles (a sales executive with IBM) and Dr. Vernon Porter (scientific researcher with Texas Instruments) were the co-chairs of the Friends group.

          I was asked to attend a museum party as a show of solidarity for the new DMFA Museum director.  I responded that I must first meet privately with Harry Parker, and I invited him and his wife for dinner at Patry’s.  I explained to him that my support was contingent upon his pledge to not compete with the artists and dealers in private sales.  His reply was that he had just lived through the Metropolitan’s scandal about de-accessioning and wasn’t about to deal in any way with private collections. 
          Some six months later, I learned that Harry Parker had a Frank Stella “Protractor,” like one I had at my gallery, shipped to DMFA for collector/Museum Board member James Clark’s consideration for purchase.  It was then re-crated and returned by DMFA.  I called and reminded Parker of his promise.  He pleaded extenuating circumstances.  I replied that exceptions to our agreement had not been discussed, and that his actions were deliberate and unacceptable to me.  I also learned that Parker was accepting offers to jury exhibitions of Texas artists.  If his role at DMFA was restricted to administrative and fundraising responsibilities, then why was he permitted to make aesthetic decisions elsewhere when he was not qualified to do so? 

          Two groundbreaking art world events took place in Washington, D.C. in 1974.  The first was the grand opening of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in the spring, followed by the opening in the fall of the new I.M. Pei designed East Wing of the National Gallery, whose assistant director had come to Dallas and asked me for advice about which local Dallas collectors should be invited to be on the East Wing Committee.  I was invited to the two most significant openings at the Hirshhorn Museum, including the first night opening gala event reserved for the President of the United States, U.S. Supreme Court justices, members of Congress and the diplomatic corp.  I had a discussion that evening with former Vice President Hubert Humphrey about my having been President Lyndon B. Johnson’s last social visitor.  I commented that the new Hirshhorn Museum would have made Johnson proud and that it was a big plus for his administration. 

          The second night opening celebration was reserved by Joe Hirshhorn for the art professionals.  This was the “real opening” and the most important art world event since the 1959 opening of the Frank Lloyd Wright Guggenheim Museum in New York.  Tickets for the Hirshhorn opening were being scalped for $1000 and more!  Printmakers had even screened some fake tickets for sale.  Upon being asked what should be done, Joe Hirshhorn responded that if they would donate two autographed copies of the fake tickets for the archives, they would be welcome to attend.
George Goodenow, artist and president of Artists Equity, also went to Washington D.C.  I introduced him to the Hirshhorns who gave us a private tour of the new museum on the afternoon of the first opening.  They also “found” a precious ticket for George to attend the second night opening for art professionals. 

          While in Washington, George and I visited with our congressman and U.S. Senator John Tower, whose niece, Mimi Webb Miller, had worked for a while at Atelier Chapman Kelley.  We discussed our concerns over widespread abuses and conflicts of interest that threatened the integrity of American art museums and cited specific examples that included:  (1) museum staff giving professional advice, art market information, shopping and other services to select individuals, including the museum’s own board members--at public expense--a patent violation of 501C3 rules; and (2) museums showcasing art owned by board members in museum exhibits, thus using museum prestige to add to the provenance of the board member’s art and inflate its market value.  The art could then potentially be sold for much more than its original cost or donated to a museum, giving the board member the advantage of a generous tax deduction. 

          We also told our elected representatives that it is totally unacceptable for public museums - entrusted as both educators and arbiters of aesthetic quality and consequently, the value of works of art - to be in market competition with private sector artists and dealers.  Public endowments and tax-exempt status give museums an unfair advantage over the private sector, and we shouldn’t have to compete with our own publicly funded, tax-exempt institutions.  If museums are to continue to enjoy their exempt status in addition to being allowed to advise, market and sell works of art, then artists and dealers should be granted the same tax-exempt and funding privileges.
          The only Dallasite I recognized at the art professionals opening was Courtney Sale, who had studied with artist John Cunningham (Olga Hirshhorn’s son) at Skidmore College.  Cunningham’s beautiful and unique hand-carved plexiglass sculptures sold well at Atelier Chapman Kelley.  I had purchased six pieces of his work for my own collection.  Courtney eventually opened her own gallery in Dallas before relocating to New York.

          Having been appointed a National Gallery East Wing Committee member, Margaret McDermott was invited to Washington for the opening of the East Wing. She offered to take along my wife Joan and me, as well as art student and collector, Jan Smyser, to view museums.  At my request, we stayed at the beautiful Hay-Adams Hotel across from the White House.  The assistant director of the National Gallery later chastised me when he learned that my spouse Joan, Jan and I had cooled our heels at the Hay-Adams during the opening.  He assured us we would have been welcomed to attend the opening with Margaret.  As we drove away from the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport on our return trip from Washington, Margaret suddenly asked me who, among travelers on a DMFA-sponsored trip to Peru, had complained about art antiquities (purchased on the trip) not having been delivered.  I had no choice but to respond, since I had consulted with a few of the tour members about their complaints.  I suspected that this was the real reason Margaret asked us to accompany her to Washington–in order to grill me about the Peruvian tour members’ complaints. 

          At this point, it’s necessary to interject a rundown of sequential events leading up to Margaret’s query.  In the late 1960s, Howard John Lunsford was named Curator of Pre-Columbian Art at DMFA after receiving a Masters Degree in Pre-Columbian Art from Columbia University made possible by a grant from a DMFA women’s organization.  He had also attended some of my classes at the DMFA museum school. 

          In the early 1970s, Lunsford guided a DMFA sponsored tour group to Peru for the apparent purpose of visiting historical sites.  Tourists on the trip were informed by the authorities that they could no longer purchase antiquities from South American countries because of recently passed international treaties designed to curb the tide of international trafficking in ancient artifacts.  (Museum exhibitions were an exception to this new law, but loaned works on display were to be returned to their countries of origin.)  In spite of this warning, Lunsford took them to museums by day and local dealers by night. One couple on the tour, who were clients of mine, reported that Lunsford had assured them that whatever they purchased would be shipped to DMFA in order to avoid the ban.  He promised to authenticate the purchased artwork and if they wanted, they could sell it in New York for twice what they paid for it.  Such assurances on the part of a DMFA curatorial staff member, acting in his official professional capacity, encouraged tour members to purchase art antiquities from South American antiquities dealers.  It is my understanding that some people spent over $10,000 each on purchase.  Bear in mind these are 1970s dollars. A year later, the purchased art antiquities still had not been delivered to the buyers on the tour.  In addition, neither their phone calls nor their money had been returned by John Lunsford and the DMFA.  Did Lunsford also knowingly and unlawfully purchase South American art antiquities for the DMFA and for himself?  In any event, his assurances to the tour group members placed DMFA in the untenable position of willfully participating and encouraging the smuggling of ancient art antiquities in violation of international treaties and law.

          Artists Equity and Friends of DMFA made a number of artist and citizen complaints to the Dallas Park Board and subsequently, Dallas City Council, which formed an arts committee to hold hearings and investigate these accusations.  We were forced to shed light on these improper activities at a time when the Dallas Art Association’s contract with the City to operate the Museum was about to be renewed.  As a consequence, their contract was put on hold.  Since we all liked John Lunsford personally, it fell to my unhappy lot to explain these serious allegations to the arts committee.  Library director Lillian Bradshaw was asked to investigate the charges for the committee and reported that no people had complained. 

          By contrast, we just learned that our new DMA director, Dr. Maxwell Anderson, although only here since January 9th, has voluntarily contacted Italian authorities about antiquities purchased over the last several years by DMA from New York antiquities dealer, Edoardo Almagla, who is under  investigation for trafficking in looted antiquities as reported by Chasing  In addition, both the Metropolitan and Princeton University Museums have already returned over 200 works purchased from Almagla.

          The question is, why didn’t the DMFA step forward early in the U.S. Customs Department’s investigation as did other museums, especially in light of the hushed and hidden DMFA Peruvian scandal of the 1970s?  For some time, it has been de rigueur in the international art community for museums and collectors to NOT purchase antiquities without a verified and well-documented provenance.  Bravo! Bravissimo! to Maxwell Anderson for taking decisive, responsible action on this issue where the DMA is concerned!

          On another subject, I was very familiar with a certain Monet “Poplar Series” painting that became available for sale at Wildenstein Gallery in New York.  I immediately attempted to interest W.R. “Fritz” Hawn in purchasing it as a memorial to his wife Mildred, who was well known in Dallas for her dedication to the arts.  He traveled to New York to view it and liked it but did not want to donate it to DMFA.  Instead, he acquired and donated the large three-piece Henry Moore sculpture that still sits in front of the I.M. Pei designed City Hall. 

          I then strongly recommended the Monet “Poplar Series” to Margaret McDermott who wanted to see the painting.  I called to ask gallery director Louis Goldenberg when the painting would be shipped.  To my disappointment, he responded that Margaret had requested the painting be shipped to her via the DMFA.  Her actions harkened back to Larry Kelly’s prediction that Margaret would intentionally shun the local arts community (artists and dealers).             

          Nevertheless, there were some very sincere, sensitive, knowledgeable and supportive Dallas leaders, such as the dynamic Mildred Hawn and Evelyn Lambert, who understood what the arts were truly about and who encouraged and inspired many other Dallasites to support the local professional community and new art on the basis of originality and quality, regardless of fashion. 

          After the death of Virginia Lazenby-O’Hara, it was announced that she had left $4.5 million worth of Dr. Pepper stock shares in her will to the “Foundation for the Arts-Dallas Museum of Fine Arts”, which are two totally separate entities.  The consensus of Artists Equity and Friends of DMFA was that the Museum Board, commensurate with its public fiduciary responsibilities, should oppose the Foundation and defend the Museum’s rights to the gift.  The Friends’ lawyer, Tim Kelly (no relation), and others argued that in such a dispute between a public and private institution, the public entity should prevail over the private one.  In defiance of common sense, the DMFA abdicated its right to accept this largest single gift to any Dallas arts institution, insisting instead that the stock should go to the private Foundation for the Arts! 

          Back in 1963, when DMFA and the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts merged, the DMCA formed the Foundation for the Arts purportedly for the purpose of holding its small collection under separate ownership until it could be determined whether the marriage would last.  There was concern among the Artists Equity and Friends groups that art later donated to the private Foundation could eventually end up in another arts institution (and even in another city) rather than the publicly owned DMFA.  Conflicts of interest were rife from the beginning since all of the private Foundation Board members were also on the Board of the DMFA.  To this day, the Foundation, as a private entity, operates in secret and remains unaccountable to the public as to what it owns in art and funds and who insures, houses, guards, conserves, etc. its holdings.  Are we taxpayers paying to support this private Foundation?  I’m aware that the Foundation has even used DMFA publications to appeal to and solicit gifts of art and/or money in competition with the DMFA, our publicly owned institution - with no Foundation transparency or accountability! 

          In 1975, Margaret McDermott and DMFA Director Harry Parker appeared before the Dallas City Council arts committee.  Both of them testified that Mrs. O’Hara would not have given this gift to DMFA because it was a public institution and must answer to the people, and that we were fortunate to have this private Foundation to receive the gift. 

          The Friends’ attorney, and Arthur Koch representing Artists Equity, clearly outlined the glaring conflict of interest to the arts committee, which nevertheless found that since the DMFA had actually declined the gift, it would go by default to the Foundation.

          Since the public’s ownership interest was not being represented by its own Museum Board members, the Friends’ attorney filed a class action suit asking that he be allowed to defend the public’s interest in court by acting on behalf of a representative group of us professional artists, dealers and other citizens.  There could have been hundreds of plaintiffs but because of the time and monetary expense involved in keeping larger numbers informed of legal actions, Kelly chose a representative group of twenty-six individuals.  In spite of this lawsuit, the Texas attorney general, the only other authority who could represent the public’s interest, ruled that the matter was undisputed so he could not step in.

          So the First National Bank was holding the Dr. Pepper stock shares pending a court decision.  The judge ruled that since all parties – the DMFA, the Foundation for the Arts and the City - were represented, no other individuals or groups could be represented in court proceedings. 

          From the depositions of O’Hara’s attorney who drafted her will, we learned from his testimony that in a previous will O’Hara had indeed left a substantial gift to the publicly owned DMFA without any mention of the Foundation; and that she later changed her mind.  Fred Mayer, a longtime member and at times officer of both DMFA and the Foundation for the Arts, testified that O’Hara, who lived in the same building and rode to Museum meetings with him, had been advised by him to change her will because the Foundation was run by sound businessmen and the Museum, on the other hand, was run by political appointees of the Dallas City Council.  Of course, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. The Dallas City Council made no appointments to the DMFA Board, and several of the DMFA Board members were also on the Board of the private Foundation.  It soon became clear that the true intent of the Foundation was to privatize control of the city-owned institution by usurping nontransparent, unaccountable, unrestrained and unquestionable control.  However, depositions revealed that O’Hara clearly did not understand this connection between the two, nor did she even know that they were distinctly separate legal entities.

          In spite of Tim Kelly and Arthur Koch’s reports to the City Council’s art committee, it chose to ignore our protests.  Consequently, the small group of Foundation Board members, who also served on the DMFA Board, was able to unduly influence or actually control the public Museum through Foundation ownership and solicitation of significant works of art and moneys that the Museum would otherwise have received.  Through such a fait accompli, the Foundation would hold the Museum hostage so-to-speak. The asp had struck. 

          You, dear friends, can verify all that we have said by actually listening to the taped (free of charge) appearances of Margaret McDermott, Harry Parker and Tim Kelly before the official art committee of the Dallas City Council.  You can also hear Friends of DMFA representative Charles Miles reading from the court transcript of the testimony of Fred Mayer and O’Hara’s attorney that disproved McDermott’s and Parker’s testimony. 

          The insidious results of our efforts to speak out on behalf of the public’s interest have taken a disastrous toll on the Dallas art community.  Professionals who stood up have been blacklisted and remain blacklisted to this day.  Private financial interests served by the public sale of valuable art works irrevocably promised to the renamed DMA, along with recurring dealings in looted antiquities, demonstrate that a major house cleaning is long overdue at DMA.

          We are most fortunate to now have Dr. Maxwell Anderson at the helm as the new Director of DMA, where he is continuing his international campaign for transparency in art museum operations. All citizens, and particularly art professionals, should support this Council for Artists’ Rights-designated Museum Director of the Decade in his Herculean tasks.

Coming up in Chapter 9:

I was the President's very last visitor at the LBJ Ranch.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chapman Kelley's Memoirs - Chapter 7

          When I first came to Dallas it seems that virtually everyone involved with the fine arts were sincere and dedicated to both bringing the best to Dallas and nurturing the indigenous talent.  During my visit to Rome in 1957 Emma Exline told me of a young man named Lawrence V. Kelly.  She said he had studied Dallas’ art scene and thought it to be the most likely city for a brand new opera company.  Kelly, Italian-American conductor Nicola Rescigno and Carol Fox had founded the Lyric Opera of Chicago just three years earlier. Fox eventually had a falling out with Larry and Rescigno, leaving the latter two to put on the first Dallas show which featured mega-star Maria Callas. The opera world’s eyes or rather ears were definitely on Dallas.  Larry Kelly didn’t stop there, he produced “Alcina.” That performance was the American premier of Joan Sutherland, who none other than American mezzo-soprano opera singer Marilyn Horne had proclaimed her to be the greatest singer who could be judged by recording. Horne specialized in roles requiring a large sound, beauty of tone, excellent breath support, and the ability to execute difficult passages.  I remember the American debut (again in Dallas) of Dame Montserrat Caballé, a Spanish operatic soprano who in spite of her size was terribly appealing in “Traviata.” What a voice!  Canadian Jon Vickers—world famous for a wide range of German, French and Italian roles—in “Tristan und Isolde” and Placido Domingo made their U.S. debuts in Dallas.  Whether a professional in one field or an arts aficionado, each of us attended and supported all of the arts.  For example, Larry Kelly was our business liaison for the Free University of Lee Park.  And Paul Baker of the Dallas theatre sent actors to teach in FULP classes—Larry was also on our Northwood Arts Committee and would send me to report to him on a dress rehearsal of an opera.  Dallas was indeed on the move in the arts.  Dallas Theatre Center built the Kalita Humphreys Theatre. That theatre was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright and is one of the last completed buildings he designed. It was the official home of the Dallas Theater Center from 1959 to 2009. When the Kalita was the site of the world premier of Paddy Chayevsky’s comedy “Latent Heterosexual,” in 1968, Chayevsky and Burgess Meredith directed the cast which included Samuel Joel “Zero” Mostel, Jules Munshin, Randy Moore and Chris Richard.   Chayevsky, Meredith and Mostel were in Dallas for a number of weeks.  They stayed at the neighborhood Stoneleigh Hotel where we furnished their rooms with a few goodies such as original sculptures by Georges Braque and Henry Moore.  Mostel would hang out at my gallery, Atelier Chapman Kelley, to talk painting as he claimed that he only did the comedy “shtick” to support his real love of—painting.  Zero confirmed the published stories of his run-in with Dr. Albert Barnes over Zero’s great friend Jacques Lipchitz.

         The Stoneleigh Hotel shared its swimming pool with neighboring Maple Terrace Apartments which were jointly owned.  I regularly had access to the pool and wouldn't miss it for the world when Rudolph Bing (knigted by Queen Elizabeth in 1971) and the Traveling Metropolitan Opera of New York were all in there carousing.  It is no wonder that Robert M. "Mac" Doty, curator at the Whitney, proclaimed that Dallas had a minor arts renaissance going for it. 
My venture into academia

          A Franciscan father belonging to the newly established University of Dallas and Frederick Getchel of the library and college in Gainesville, Texas, wanted to start out with the best teachers for their new U. of D. venture into art education.   They approached me separately and asked how they could hire the best people in the field.  I told them they should offer prospective instructors a teaching schedule of very limited classroom time coupled with compensation worth twice what an art professor at Southern Methodist University would earn.  To my surprise, that’s what they each separately offered me!

          My venture into academia as an instructor at the University of Dallas was a resounding failure.  I flunked.  The school was brand new so they had no students who were even slightly interested in art.  I knew not what to do with students only wanting to earn academic credits via an easy elective course.  However, I did recommend sculptor Heri Bert Bartscht.  As a result the school soon had a very interesting and professionally ambitious student body. 

          Comparatively, teaching evening art classes at the combination college and library in Gainesville, Texas, located 70-odd miles north of Dallas, was definitely a different story.  We had Tina Hickman who had studied with Georgia O’Keeffe when O’Keeffe taught in West Texas.  Tina subsequently became an art collector.  I have previously mentioned Alton Bowman as being a serious artist—he’s another person who got started in Gainesville. The school hired artist Octavio Medellin to teach a sculpture class. 

          So my name came to be closely associated with the field of serious art training.  Shortly after my experience being a panelist at the University of Illinois’ “Matrix of the Arts Symposium,” I realized that few people had any confidence in the universities’ art ventures.  There were some exceptions.  In 1970 I was a speaker at the National Sculpture Conference held at the University of Kansas.  After my talk there on professionalism one man stood up to tell me that “Chapman, we all know that you are telling the truth, but don’t you realize that if we tell our students that truth, 99% of us will be out of a job tomorrow!”  My reply, of course, was to ask how he slept at night. 

          Thanks to what I had learned from Buckminster Fuller regarding intuition, one evening as I drove my car from a Gainesville art class to Dallas, suddenly everything came together (including a plan to erect an innovatively designed building for the Northwood Institute).  The next day I felt that the commute took no longer than two minutes!

Northwood Institute

          As they had promised, Dr. Arthur E. Turner and Dr. R. Gary Stauffer gathered a group of interested people for my presentation for the Northwood Institute Arts Program.  My proposal was accepted wholeheartedly. But my friends and students who were present did not feel confident that my plans would actually be carried out. They sensed that our hosts were not unlike “small town preachers.”  However, for me, it was the only game in town, for they were the ones willing to try.

Dallas artist and gallery owner Chapman Kelley, left, and Northwood Institute president Arthur E. Turner, announced the new program to Texas art patrons and teachers in March 1968.

          We got off to a great start including publishing the plan for the building.  We had dinner with most of the art teachers in the area so that they could see how the school would augment their departments.  To further advertise the idea, we rented a hotel suite and had an open bar at a state conference on the arts in Austin.  Texas Governor John Connally took the lead in promoting it.  I carried the word to the annual Buffalo, New York arts conference where my friends, sculptors John Chamberlain (1927- 2011) and Mark di Suvero, were attending.  The school was actually to be run by a committee of mostly nationally recognized artists who would meet the students and choose which artists would best serve them.  If they couldn’t produce the desired artists the committee artists would have to serve as teachers. 

          In the spring of 1968 I made some trips to gain endorsements and participants. The following is a list of individuals who were consulted during that time. All were very interested and several were of great help including these art world figures:

Adolph Gottlieb
Andy Warhol
Barnett Newman
Dwayn Hatchett
Ed Ruda
Elaine and Willem de Kooning
Isamu Noguchi
James Rosati
James Rosenquist
John Chamberlain
Mark di Suvero
Mark Rothko
Oli Sihvonen
Peter Forakis
Philip Guston
Richard Anuszkiewicz
Richard Lindner
Robert Motherwell
Ronald Stein
Roy Lichtenstein
Thomas Gibson – Marlboro Gallery
Alden Dow - architect
Bartlett Hayes – Addison Gallery
Betty Parsons
Charles Hinman
David Scott – National Collection
Dick Bellemy
Françoise Gilot
Gibson Danes
Harold Rosenberg 
Henry Hopkins
Ivan Karp
Jack Boynton
James Elliott – Wadsworth Athenum
James Byrnes – Delgado Museum, New Orleans
Jim Love
Joe Ferrell Hobbs – University of Oklahoma
Kenniston McShan – Jewish Museum
Leo Castelli – art dealer
Martha Jackson
Merce Cunningham
Mitch Wilder – Amon Carter Museum
Paula Cooper
Robert “Mac” Doty – Whitney Museum
Roy Fridge
S. Leonard Pas Jr. – Illinois Arts Council

         I have in my possession a copy of a letter dated August 15, 1970 which I wrote to Douglas MacAgy--he was chairman of the Northwood Art Program Advisory Committee---and mailed to his Washington, D.C. office to keep him abreast of the progress being made.  I also visited with him at that office.  Details in that letter include contact information and comments made directly to me by artists who had been notified about the school idea.  I have talked--one on one--about art education with many of this country's major artists of the 1950s and 1960s.  Adolph Gottlieb told me that he was pressed for time and could not immediately make a committement, but that he would like to talkd and asked to be kept informed of the school's progress.  Andy Warhol told me the idea sounded good, he too wanted to be kept in the loop.  Barnett Newman said the school could set a pattern for all art schools, that it could only happen in Texas and that he would be coming to Dallas next May.  Newman spent an afternoon with me including having dinner of shad roe at his favorite restaurant and the site of some filming of him by the Museum of Modern Art.  Dwayn Hatchett and Isamu Noguchi were quite interested.  Ed Ruda was very enthusiastic; he made a committment to teach.  James Rosati thought it was a splendid idea.  James Rosenquist (was referred to me by Ivan Karp) would consider a short stint during a social visit to his parents' home in Dallas.  John Chamberlain waid he would come and work with students on film as soon as we made a request.  Mark Rothko (referred to me by Adolph Gottlieb) thought it was a good idea--wished us well, would follow but said he had little faith in art schools.  Oli Sihvonen was enthusiastic, he would visit next autumn.  Peter Forakis said it was a fine idea, would visit in the summer.  Philip Guston committed to a summer or autumn visit.  Richard Anuszkiewicz was enthusiastic and asked for details in writing.  Richard Lindner (referred to me by Paula Cooper) wondered why the school couldn't be built in Long Island.  Robert Motherwell offered to continue visiting and would consider a board position.  He was very enthusiastic.  He told me that he wished he had had such a place to study even though the school as described might be too Utopian.  Ronald Stein (nephew of Jackson Pollock's wife and referred to me by Thomas Gibson of Marlboro Gallery) expressed his interest in teaching film making and suggested coming for three months with a three-month option, teaching twice a week.  Roy Lichtenstein was very enthusiastic.  I spoke with Elaine and Willem de Kooning as well.

         In hope of gaining support for the Northwood arts program I arranged dinner for MacAgy, Margaret McDermott and me at her “farm.”  After dinner Margaret brought out photos of the artworks then under consideration for purchase and MacAgy recommended some lesser examples.  And I knew why—a larger commission can be had by pushing the mediocre work than can be earned by only recommending the best work.  (This was Wildenstein Gallery’s Louis Goldenberg’s only complaint about me, that I only sold the best work!)  That’s when MacAgy made it clear to Margaret that he wanted to replace me as her art advisor. 

          I taught and ran the very first summer classes at the Northwood Institute arts program with abstract expressionist turned figure painter Alfred Leslie and sculptor Peter Forakis.  We had sculptor Alberto Collie flown in from Venezuela to teach as well as Texas artist Bob “Daddy-O” Wade.  Our students had the opportunity to discuss their work with such luminaries as Robert Rauschenberg, Kenneth Snelson, Robert Smithson (Spiral Jetty), Vassilakis Takis, Lynn Lie and Stanley William Hayter.  Hayter is widely credited with influencing the work of Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Tinca Stegovec.

          Among those helping me to assemble the key players for the school’s management were Elaine de Kooning and Ivan Karp.  They were informed of the plan to have in place a committee of major artists which could attract and serve the most likely best artists of the future.  Unfortunately, Douglas MacAgy, acting as chairman, put together and recommended the usual group of museum directors and curators to serve on the school committee.  The artists on who we had spent so much time and effort were not included. 

          Fortunately we found Robert “Bob” Kaupelis, the rotating chairman of New York University, who was interested and we brought him to Dallas to meet with the Northwood School Committee.  He was introduced to MacAgy’s group already knowing who they were and said, “(Chapman) Kelley and I are the only ones here who even own a paintbrush—what do you guys know about art education?” He turned around and walked out.  That was the end of our hopes and dreams; it made for a fast downhill slide to nowhere. 

          Douglas MacAgy went on to become the director of the Dallas Contemporary art museum.  He failed in that capacity.  Subsequently he became Deputy Director of the National Endowment for the Arts, a job and office of small prestige.  Once on a trip to Washington D.C. he and I went to have lunch.  However, in order to be seated at a “hot” restaurant, MacAgy had to make a reservation falsely posing as the NEA’s director!  It was at that lunch where I spotted a solitary Eugene McCarthy.  He had recently abandoned his bid for the U.S. presidency.  I introduced myself and we sat down to have a fine visit.

          Along the way I turned down an offer to direct the Northwood Institute School.  It was a big mistake.  I should have accepted and hired someone with an art doctorate degree and given that person instructions in how to run the school.  I could have conveyed the information in less than half and hour each day.  If I would have had the foresight to do that, Dallas could be a major art hub today. Mea culpa.

Goals for Dallas

          Industrialist, co-founder and former president of Texas Instruments and mayor of Dallas (1964 – 1971), John Erik Jonsson was a skilled businessman and served on many boards. In his first term as mayor he initiated a blue ribbon panel called Goals for Dallas. Its purpose was to capture ideas for shaping his city-wide policy. He was a tireless advocate for education and one of his ambitions was to improve the curriculum serving Dallas high school students.

          Jonsson was well aware of my background; that I had studied art very seriously since the age of eight and since 1959 I had taught art for the high school scholarship class at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Actually, he borrowed my “Sand Dune” (1960) painting from the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts permanent collection and hung it--for a significant stretch of time--in his office conference room! During Jonsson’s press conferences, television news crews positioned themselves in such a way so as to include the painting prominently in the background. I was thrilled when he appointed me to the original Goals for Dallas Educational Task Force Committee.

          I had one particular idea to contribute: It was to have professional art training at the high school level. I knew of similar programs in New York City and North Carolina. I envisioned professional artists coaxing the best talent from Dallas youth. I succeeded in having my idea published in the first public proposal of the Goals for Dallas future plan.

          Naturally I began a campaign to have an art magnet school established similar to what had been done in New York and North Carolina.  Those schools allowed high school students to study with art professionals. It took some effort but I succeeded in gaining the support of all committee members except one.  That person felt that members weren’t allowed to adopt new goals.  That person was unanimously outvoted, ultimately resulting in the creation of magnet schools and in particular the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. 

          The head of the first visual arts magnet school assembled a good selection of professional artists to serve on the new committee.  She subsequently asked me to chair the “Goals for Dallas” magnet school committee.  As an alternative I recommended that Jeanne Koch be named as co-chair because I expected to be in New York and would miss the committee’s scheduled election. I returned to Dallas expecting to shoulder a new responsibility.  I was shocked to learn that Betty Marcus had marched into the meeting with some school official and announced that she would be heading the committee.  As far as anyone knows there was never another official meeting.           

          In recent years Booker T. Washington High School has been threatened with the loss of substantial financial support. Given the background that Ann Cushing Gantz and I have, we recently volunteered our services free of charge hoping to help Booker T. Washington School raise its profile.  Gantz--who is a seasoned painter, arts teacher, art dealer and graduate of Sophia Newcomb Memorial College--during the 1950s and 1960s she taught the art class for regular high school students at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts.  Sophia Newcomb Memorial College at one time had Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Hans Hofmann come in as visiting instructors.  I taught the art class for the high school scholarship students at the DMFA. 

          A veteran teacher at Booker T. took us up on our offer to volunteer.  As a first step we visited with students at the school, viewed their work and met the faculty and administration.  However, there has since been no follow up communication from the school.  I guess we weren’t good enough or perhaps it was the arts blacklist running interference, again.

           In 2010 Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts was named by Newsweek as the number one public high school in the U.S.  My granddaughter Lauren Ashley Kelley graduated from there and went on to graduate from Texas Christian University summa cum laude and earned second highest ranking in her class.

          After Jonsson’s death a New York Times article written on September 4, 1995 quotes his colleague, “in almost everything he was involved in, he had a talent for picking the right person in the particular spot." Needless to say I am extremely pleased to know that I was handpicked by Jonsson and that Dallas did in fact go on to adopt my proposal to have schools offer professional art training available to students.

Free University

          In the aftermath of the disastrous Kent State University student shootings of 1970—when U.S. guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others—fearing mayhem, college campuses across the U.S. closed their doors.  An incident took place in Dallas called the “Lee Park Massacres,” nicknamed for the way local police overreacted to the gathering of long-haired hippies in Lee Park.  The overreaction is similar to the police actions against current non-violent Occupy Walls Street and Occupy Museums activists; city bureaucrats don't know what to do with such idealistic individuals who resemble in action the youth of the 1960s.  

          We really did have some perfectly respectable liberals in Dallas such as Moe Levy.  He called my attention to what was occurring during the weekend at Lee Park.  He told me the park was surrounded by armed and armored police with attack dogs at the ready including a highly visible presence on rooftops.  It was a catastrophe waiting to happen.  Bucky Fuller’s advice came to me again as I came up with a solution.  The park district approved my idea of having a learning experience at the park which the youngsters dubbed “The Free University in Lee Park.” We created a board of directors that included Larry Kelly (Dallas Opera), A.C. Green (KERA and author), Dr. Henry Lanz (Southern Methodist University), Howard Jarrett (Dallas Symphony Orchestra) and Dr. Paul Surrey (Southwestern Medical School).  FULP continued for two years. 

hand made flyer "Free University of Lee Park"

          Classes were held every evening with more on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  The “heavy” classes drew the most attendance—three psychology sessions per week.  It was so successful in the first year that Stanley Marcus, at a party the next spring at the McDermott’s place, marveled about how the most reactionary city (Dallas) in the U.S. had achieved peace, while elsewhere public disturbances had broken out.  He wanted to know what the infamous Dallas City Council could do to help.  I personally told him and wrote the Council a letter recommending a Sunday afternoon “Rap with the Establishment.”  It would be an open discussion with the top city leaders on the youth’s turf.  By then we had purchased portable loudspeakers because of the large crowds in attendance.  We began the meetings with Stanley Marcus, federal judge Sara Hughes (she swore in Lyndon B. Johnson as President), Raymond “Ray” Nasher, Robert “Bob” Cullum, Harry “Buzz” Crutcher ( who was Lloyd Benson’s first campaign manager), the first African-American city councilman George Allen and Dallas mayor Wes Wise.

          Below is the letter I received from Mayor Wes Wise.

September 1971 letter to Kelley from Dallas Mayor Wes Wise

The above (transcribed) letter reads:

"Dear Chapman:
There is no doubt about it---the “Rap With the (Non) Establishment” class was among my most interesting and invigorating experiences in the Mayor’s office to date!

In addition, the tear sheet you sent me from Iconoclast was certainly a fair and thorough one.  I suppose you are aware that the event received considerable national publicity as well—the clippings are still coming in.

Thanks again for the invitation; I’m glad it turned out as well as it did.
Wes Wise"

Chapter 8 of the memoirs is well under way.  It will include:
National success for some Dallas artists, but not for others without local art museum and local news media support
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden opening on the National Mall, Washington, D.C.
Opening of National Gallery new east wing
Betrayal by Margaret McDermott predicted by Larry Kelly
Virginia Lazenby-O’Hara bequest
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts hijacked by private entity Foundation for the Arts

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