Visual art news, views & reviews in Dallas, Texas, USA
Home Index Calendar Member art How to Join Ops Resources Feedback Contact us Reviews Search
Wes Miller - oil - $225
We've actually never been there before, but Pilot Point gave us the deja vu of small Texas towns we've seen plenty of over the years. It is small (population 3,538) with a downtown square, lots of old houses in lots of trees and a lake nearby.
Farmers & Merchants Bank Gallery on the square in Pilot Point, Texas
We went there to see an art show at Farmers & Merchants Bank Gallery with friends Marty and Richard Ray, Lin Hampston, Justine, Jim Rozek, Diana Goudy, John Taylor, Randy Myers, Marlene F. Renée and gallery owner Wes Miller, whose small paintings like the one above, showed us where we were.
Farmers & Merchants Bank Gallery Interior
Other artists represented in the former bank building gallery included a fascinating collection of early Texas art, which after some Googling, led to an expansion of my historical understanding of selected artists.
Fred Darge (1900-1978) - Mesa (probably 1940-50)
oil on canvas board - 9 x 12 inches - $1200
This information on Fred Darge was cribbed from TexasPaintings.com, whose well-illustrated page about the former Dallas artist includes a terse biography, paintings and drawings by and self-portraits and historical illustrations of him.
Fred Darge was born in Rendsburg, Germany at the dawn of the new century and died in Dallas April 10, 1978. He painted for the WPA in Chicago and the Arts Students League in New York. He later moving to San Antonio, then Dallas, spending summers painting and sketching in West Texas, especially between the Davis Mountains and the Rio Grande and in New Mexico. Said Darge, "I believe the simple, direct living of the pioneer people will soon come to an end. I want to register the ranchman as he lives today, his daily habits, his mode of living and doing business."
Darge's studio adjoined the Dallas Art Association, where he was an instructor.
Blanche McVeigh (1895-1970) - Lawdy-lawdy
aquatint - $2600
After shooting Blanche McVeigh's aquatint at the gallery, I tracked down her early 20th Century art career as a teacher, etcher and co-founder of the Texas (later Fort Worth) School of Fine Arts (1931) and a Texas artist with a national reputation. McVeigh, who was White, specialized in aquatints of "negro scenes."
Flowers on the Gallery's Back Porch
In Kurt and Gladys Engel Lang's 2001 text Etched in Memory: The Building and Survival of Artistic Reputation, on Google, a reference to Blanche's work states that her "Negro genre," depicting what I consider racially stereotyped scenes "would have scant appeal to collectors today. Fort Worth seems to have done little to extend her horizons and encourage her to try new things. And she herself did not want to appear 'arty.' "
The quote is absurd in most details but points to the troublesome aspect of a White woman depicting Blacks in the early 20th Century. McVeigh earned a national reputation as a master printmaker, and her aquatints are especially sought.
Potted Plant on the Bank Gallery's Back Porch Overlooking Their Lush Garden
The following info was precised from an October 17, 2007 FW Weekly story "Portrait of an Artist," about Olive Pemberton:
At the time, a group of artists and friends known as the Fort Worth Circle was jolting the city’s artistic sensibilities by experimenting with cubism, surrealism, and other modern techniques and often blending them with the realistic and primitive elements of early Texas art. Locals who liked bluebonnet scenes and picture-perfect landscapes weren’t always impressed, but outsiders took note. New York curators and art critics lobbed rare kudos to Cowtown.
Stone Horse on the square in Pilot Point
The Circle was composed of McKie Trotter, Blanche McVeigh, Bror Utter, Dickson Reeder, Flora Blanc Reeder, Cynthia Brants, Bill Bomar, Kelly Fearing, and others who socialized and painted together and influenced one another. Most have died in the intervening decades, although Bomar and Fearing continue painting (in New York and Austin respectively). Of course, they weren’t the only artists in town. ... Together, they made up what is known as the Fort Worth School of artists, and their influence reached across North Texas as they taught in schools, galleries, private studios, and at the Woman’s Club of Fort Worth.
Sink Along the Gallery's Front Hall
From Fort Worth Outpost on the Trinity by Oliver Knight, Cissy Stewart Lale:
[The] Fort Worth Art Center which was to become the Museum of Modern Art... was planned as a community center as well as a gallery to house the collection of the Fort Worth Art Association.
Okay, our history lesson is completed. Now let's explore some small and large examples of more contemporary Texas art.
Richard Ray - Near Winfrey Point, 2007
oil on canvas - $300
I didn't much care for this painting first I saw it, busy watching more familiar work of Richard's. Glossy, vividly colorful White Rock Lake landscapes with looming skylines. But Anna pointed it out, and I warmed to it, shot it, and have been thinking about it. Sailboat and distant skyline shapes, even the color of the lake, are familiar to this Richard Ray watcher.
Less familiar are the building's perspective and the muted colors and soft tonal range. Twisty trees are in any number of Richard's works. But that bold black branch in the storm of gray and white snow at the bottom seems portentous. I look forward to the next step.
Diana Goudy - Stoneware Pot
One last art story — with national implications — before we wind back down the highways south to Dallas.
The Murals — Eve, God and Miss Liberty
If an artist set out to create a controversy from the wall of a historical building in a small ex-urban town in the extended Bible Belt they could hardly choose more explosive images than Michaelangeo's Hand of God from the Sistine Chapel and a naked Eve eyeing her forbidden fruit. Rubbing the Bible back into the collective rural community.
"The art gallery owner responsible for the mural has been given a deadline from the Pilot Point police to cover Eve's bare breasts or face arrest under a Texas obscenity law." from Eyes On Texas, February 2005
ACLU Says Texas Police Violated Art Gallery Owner's Freedom of Expression: "Pilot Point, TX 2003 - A mural depicting the large hand of God pointing to an apple and a nude figure of Eve was targeted by local police officers who threatened to charge the building's owner with violation of a law against corrupting minors by showing them hard-core pornography. The ACLU of Texas filed suit on the building owner's behalf against the city." from the National Coalition Against Censorship, which details the legal aspects of the event.
The Lay Lady Liberty portion of the extended mural is obviously a wry and defiant addition. Here, the same woman who holds the torch on Ellis Island in New York Harbor lies naked on an American flag with an identifying banner "Miss Liberty USA" only partially obscuring her breasts. It was added by the same artist in 2003.
At the gallery, we met the exuberant Justine, who lives close, shows her work in the gallery and painted the original mural. She insisted we visit the shrine, visible from around the corner and down the street. The red scraps at the top are bricks showing through the paint. The red, faded "First Choice" sign, stands over a smaller building this side of the mural.
Separate, either mural would be compositionally adequate. Together, it's a visual mess. But with a message.
Hay Rolls Near Pilot Point, Texas — Vincent would have liked them.
Flat Electric Pole Land
After a quick trip to the nearly vacuous Lake Ray Roberts, in the absurd hope of finding birds, and encountering there a woman waiting for her boat to come in, who asked us when the Cowboy Game started. We didn't know and drove back to Dallas.
and into the Urban Sunset.
The gallery is open 10-5 Fridays and Saturdays and 1-5 Sundays. 940 686-2396 for info.
Visit their website at http://www.FarmersAndMerchantsGallery.com/
Special thanks to Konrad Shields for additional information.
Contents of this site are Copyright 2007 or before by publisher J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in any medium without specific written permission.