Some time ago, I was at a meeting of early Texas art collectors and I was introduced to this real nice man. After a little small talk and as I walked away I heard the host of the party tell the person,
“His father was Barney Delabano who studied with members of the “Dallas Nine,” and was a fine painter. Martin is an artist. He is about a direct connection to the “Dallas Nine” as you can get.
I took a great amount of pride in that, but there is not many young artist around today that might even grasp what that might have meant at one time. I wear that like a badge of honor but it might just be more of a millstone around a younger artist’s neck. It is a global world now and being part of some local history often is seen a hindrance and being quaint. I know just a handful of artist including my dear friend, Billy Hassell who still see themselves as being a part of that piece of Texas art history.
My father was a first generation artist. When he moved to Dallas in the 1940’s he was taken in and mentored by various members of the “Dallas Nine,” particularly Charles T. Bowling, Jerry Bywaters and Otis and Velma Dozier. Being a part of that lineage was very important to him and it defined who he was as a young artist.
My father stressed to me very early on, the importance of knowing the artist who came before you. He thought it important as means of mentorship; having someone to follow and learn from but also to know who and what you might rebelling against. Nevertheless, it was also an invitation from my father to become part of that history.
As I have written about in an earlier post, late in their lives, Velma and Otis Dozier started inviting young artist over to their house for potluck dinners. For those of us lucky enough to have been invited, it felt as if we were being brought into the fold by legends in our field. It actually was just the last vestiges of how the torch use to be passed onto the next generation.
My father’s charge to me before I went off to college; was to leave Dallas, get my education and then come back and find a way to plug back into the local history that had given so much to me. Therefore, after graduate school, my wife and I moved back to Dallas, I took a job in an Iron Foundry and started creating and exhibiting my artwork.
Because of all of this, being a part of this local history became a important part of my narrative as well.
I cannot put my finger on it but it feels different now.
Artist still mentor younger artist and I am proud to have had former students go on to become artist themselves. However, I do not know if they have the same feeling of connectivity to local older artists that I grew up feeling. I might be wrong, but due to the internet, artist do not have to depend on a local network as older generations of artists had to. Maybe that is a good thing.
That being said, I feel very blessed to have been passed the torch as I was.
“Texas Tree of Art”, I wish I had listened to my father’s stories more closely
My father had told me about this page in Otis’s sketchbook and referenced it when he would talk about art and artists from an earlier era.
When I finally saw Otis’s drawing, it struck a deep chord in me but I had to laugh. Otis was truly a man of his times. His “Texas Tree of Art” contained the names of only two women that I can tell; his wife Velma and her best friend, Ester Houseman and no one of color than I can tell.
Then there is the bit of snarky commentary by Otis by listing Travis, Klepper and Bassett out on a branch, which he labeled “Dead Limb”.
Jerry Bywaters created his own “Texas Tree of Art” and I think it speaks to how these two men saw themselves as being a part of this formative Texas art history.
Inspired by Otis’s drawing, in 2005 I set out to create my own “Texas Tree of Art”, which I wanted to be more inclusive…… a lot more inclusive.
In an email conversation with Texas art historian Robert Summers, he suggested I should give it an art historical context; like the artists must have lived and worked in Texas for at least 20-25 years and has an established exhibition record. Two decades – quarter of a century seems like a milestone and a great place to start for a project like this.
Originally, I was going to try to do as Otis had done and have a Dallas Branch, a Houston Branch, etc. You can do that easily for the early Texas artist because you had groups of artist who formed around influential teachers who were centrally located in cities such as Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston. What I ended up doing, was grouping early Texas artist in the lower branches, our current elders in the middle and newbies, the ones just now reaching twenty five years of art making as the new growth in the upper branches.
“Texas Tree of Art” is my way to respect those who came before me and paved the way to all those wonderful artist who mentored me knowingly or unknowingly; but also to those who’ve continue to create and exhibit their art, hence contributing to the Arts and Culture of our cities and our great state.
When you attempt to pull off a project like this, you invariability forget to include people. Like oh my goodness, I forgot to include Dan Rizzi, who I have known since my early years of exhibiting. My exclusion of anyone has not been intentional and I would love to hear from anyone about who deserves to be included but was overlooked. I have heard from a few people and ashamedly I have to admit that I have misplaced those names because updating “Texas Tree of Art” has taken a back burner since the last time I exhibited it.
I am hoping to update it in the near future, so please contact me with names.
To answer my question: Local lineage and the “Texas Tree of Art”…….is it important anymore? I do believe it is important because even for my father who being an artist seemed to come out of nowhere, he would be the first to say it was those before us who paved the way or showed the way. It was the encouragement or sometimes the harsh assessments made by those artist that have spurred on a younger generation. I certainly know that I am who I am today because of those who came before me, who created art and shared their passion for it with others.
Artist already represented on the Texas Tree of Art: Donna Adams, David Adickes, Terry Allen, Dan Allison, Jessie Amado, Robert Dale Anderson, Bruno Andrade, Vivian Aunspaugh, Dorothy Austin, Fancis Bagley, Deborah Ballard, John Willard Bank, Rita Banard, Joe Barrington, Robert Barsamian, Heri Bert Bartscht, Reveau Bassett, David Bates, Ed Bearden, Arthello Beck, Jill Bedgood, Betsy Belcher, Andrew Bennett, Ellen Berman, Forrest Bess, John Biggers, Ed Blackburn, Linda Blackburn, Kathleen Blackshear, Daniel Blagg, Rebecca Boatman, Bill Bomar, Kathy Bootz, Charles T. Bowling, Jack Boynton, Julie Bozzi, Cynthia Brants, Barbara Brault, Ethyl Broadnax, Frank Brown, Denise Brown, David Brownlow, Steve Brudniak, Max Butler, Jerry Bywaters, Ben Caldwell, Harry Carnohan, Keith Carter, Cecil Casebier, Hiram Casey, Mel Chin, Chong Chu, Roy Cirigliana, Lowell Collins, Michael Rogue Collins, JR Compton, Carlotta Corpron, Steve Cruz, Ben Culwell, Mike Cunningham, Stephen Daly, Jerry Daniel, Fred Darge, Lee Baxter Davis, Charles Debus, Barney Delabano, Martin Delabano, David Deming, Rick Dingus, Ken Dixon, Jerry Dodd, Dornith Doherty, Mary Doyle, Otis Dozier, Velma Dozier, James Drake, Luis Eades, Celia Eberle, Edward Eisenlour, Patsy Eldredge, Rowena Elkins, Andy Don Emmons, Lisa Enrich, John Erickson, Vincent Falsetta, Patrick Faulhaber, Kelly Fearing, Nacy Ferro, Mary Fielding, Vernon Fisher, Barnaby Fitzgerald, Raymond Fletcher, Seymour Fogel, Pat Forrest, Constance Forsyth, Michael Frary, Frank Frazer, Roy Fridge, Heri Gadbois, Ann Cushing Gantz, Dixie Friend Gay, Harry Geffert, David Gibson, Joseph Glasco, Linnea Glatt, Lloyd Goff, Xavier Gonzalez, George Grammer, Susan Kay Grant, Paul Greenberg, Virgil Grotfeldt, Alan Govenar, Sam Gummelt, Joe Guy, Art Guys, Ken Hale, Susan Harrington, Roberta Harris, Paul Harris, Tracy Harris, Billy Hassell, Paul Hatgil, Joseph Havel, Bill Haveron, Ken Havis, Michael Henderson, John A. Hernadez, David Hickman, Tracy Hicks, Flip Higgins, Alexander Hogue, Dorthy Hood, Ron Hoover, Ester Webb Housman, Benito Huerta, Val Huunicutt, Debra Hunter, David Iles, Terrell James, Tom Jenkins, Robert Jessup, Luis Jimenez, Grace Spaulding John, Lucas Johnson, Marilyn Jolly, Otis Jones, Deforrest Judd, Norman Kary, Edmund Kinzinger, Frank Klepper, Arthur Koch, Jeanne Koch, Bill Komodore, Sharon Kopriva, Stu Kraft, George Krause, Dorthy La Selle, Jean Lacy, Nancy Lamb, David Lamb, Philip Lamb, Stella Lamond, Ida Lansky, Leslie Larsson, Tony Laselle,, Tom Lea, Susan Lecky, Amy Freeman Lee, Majorie Lee, Amy Freeman Lee, William Lester, Robert Levers, Ken Little, Ward Lockwood, Bert Long, Dottie Love, Jim Love, Lisa Ludwig, Bonnie Macleary, James Magee, Josephine Mahaffery, Joe Mancuso, Manual, Barbara Maples, Dalton Maroney, Vikki Martin, Cesar Martinez, Merritt Mauzey, Rick Maxwell, Mary McCleary, Florence McClung, David Mccullough, David McGee, Keth Mcintyre, David McManaway, Blanche Mcveigh, J.J. Mcvicker, Octavio Medellin, Vicki Meek, Greg Metz, Rosemary Meza, Melissa Miller, John Brough Miller, Steven Miller, Jack Mims, Mark Monroe, Jesus Moroles, Loren Mozley, Roberto Munguia, Celia Munoz, Steve Murphy, Pam Nelson, David Newman, Larry Newman, Elizabeth Ney, Perry Nichols, Nic Nicosia, Gail Norfleet, Kenda North, Bob Nunn, Madeline O’Connor, Nancy O’Connor, Kermit Oliver, Julian Onderdonk, Robert Onderdonk, Eleanor Onderdonk, Tom Orr, Sherry Ownes, Jessie Pamer, Scottie Parsons, Charles Pebworth, Brent Phelps, Susie Phillips, Peggy Pimpler, John Pomara, Chris Powell, Robert Preusser, Tom Pribly, Damian OPriour, Stehen Rascoe, Marty Ray, Frank Reaugh, Glora Blanc Reeder, Dixon Reeder, Claudia Reese, Bill Reily, Linda Ridgway, Herb Rogalla, Susan Rothernberg, Teel Sale, Tom Sale, Peter Saul, Albert Scherbarth, Buck Schiwetz, Laurence Scholder, Evaline Sellers, Daniel Sellers, Art Shirer, Tom Sime, Gail Siptak, Carol Harris Simms, Issac Smith, Mark Stephen Smith, George Smith, Lee Smith 111, Hills Snyder, Ishmael Soto, Al Souza, Julie Speed, Coreen Spellman, Everrtt Spruce, Gael Stack, Earl V. Staley, James Michael Starr, Ann Stautberg, Thomas Stell, Richard Stout, Myron Stouts, Richard Strong, Gisela-Heidi Strunck, Juergen Strunck, James Sullivan, James Surls, Rev. Johnnie S. Swearingen, Don Taylor, James Terrell, Frank Tolbert11, Chester Junior Toney, Cecil Touchon, Michael Tracy, Olin Herman Travis, McKie Trotter, Ellen Francis Tuchman, Randy Twaddle, Valton Tyler, Karl Umlauf, Charles Umlauf, Bror Utter, Victor Valdez, Philip Van Keuren, Jose Vargas, Peter Vatsures, Ligon Verda, Bill Verhelst, Mary Vernon, Barley Vogel, Donald Vogel, Bob Wade, Marilyn Waligore, Elizabeth Walmsley, Velox Ward, James Watral, Willard Watson, Kathy Wester, Donald Weismann, Jean Wetta, Ralph White, Mac Whitney, John Wilcox, Danny Williams, Charles Williams, Casey Williams, Ed Wilson, Bill Wiman, Steve Wiman, Vance Wingate, Dan Wingren, Roger Winters, Julius Woeltz, Benito Woitena, Dee Wolff, Robert Wood, James Woodson, Dick Wray, Susan Wynne, Chase Yarbough, Sydney Yeager, Gordon Young, Judy Youngblood, Marla Zieglar.