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A Transfer of Spirit: Artists who studied with Roger Winter
at Kirk Hopper Fine Art through October 25
Tracy Harris 1980 Wheel 1989 oil and encaustic on wood panel 36 x 60 inches NFS link
Roger Winter was an art teacher and Professor of Art at many schools and universities — including SMU — from 1961 through 2005, during which time, he affected many artists. On a lark, I asked my only friend I still know who took classes at SMU about Roger Winter, and hit pay dirt. See the bottom of this page on his website for a full listing.
Dallas Artist Pamela Nelson told me, "I am his friend. He and Jeanette and Bill and I were neighbors and took vacations together. I left school early to get married and never had Roger as my teacher although [I was] aware of him. He modeled his authentic commitment to helping and sharing his love of art, even out of the classroom."
In this story, year dates directly after artists' names under artworks are, if I could find it, the year they earned their first SMU degree. If I could find a website with enough of their work, the word link at the right of captions links it. A few of these artists were students at other schools, and I have not tracked their degrees.
See Note below from Roger Winter, who curated this exhibition, about my early errors, have been corrected.
Tracy Harris, then called Tracy Hays Harris' piece is first here, because it was first in the show soon as I came in the front door. A pleasant surprise to see it again. It took me back decades. I wasn't sure whether I liked her work when first I encountered them, then I saw many of them, and liked it more every time I saw another, and now I'm a fan of this work, but not so sure about her more recent work she did when I wasn't paying attention. Art and life is like that, I guess.
Now, looking back, this just seems scrumptious, and it near perfectly embodies the spirit and reality of this show's title. All that ectoplasm is going somewhere and doing its duty.
Dan Rizzie 1975 Landscape in Black and White 2006 acrylic, enamel and Flashe on canvas 48 x 36 inches link
Perhaps I have too long clung to my early 1980s theory that it takes at least a dozen years for an artist with an M.A. to figure out who they really are enough to get beyond what they were inculcated with in grad school, so they can apply their true selves to their unique vision. I had noticed how that worked before, but I began to understand it when two friends were in grad school together at SMU in the early 1980s, although they seemed immune to academic indoctrination, and instead took the opportunity to try everything as they flashed through the last hundred years of art history.
Seeing this remarkably diverse show and the quality and individualism in it, I began wondering whether my theory dismay might have been displaced. Then I remembered my art hero, the former Fort Worth Art Critic and later Las Vegas Academic Dave Hickey had set forth a similar thesis in a lecture I attended at UTD on March 1, 2003.
See Emotionally Abused and Battered Grad Students See Hope.
Charley Aberg Standing Woman 1981 oil on canvas 83 x 53 inches NFS
I am a fan of Roger Winter's work, especially his cows and dark urbanscapes from the last decade and a half of the last century. Just when I was wishing there were collections of contemporary artists as replete as for classic artists, I found Roger Winter dot net, where we get to see a lot, if not all, of his paintings from many segments of his life.
One of the high points of my art crit career was when the late Photographer Andy Hanson photographed me mooing in front of one of the cow paintings by "former Dallas Artist Roger Winter" in a photo in the November 1992 edition of D Magazine — on the same page with Tom Landry and Trammell Crow playing Monopoly, and the "Chairs of the Cattle Baron's Ball" "wagging their tongues."
Brian Cobble 1977 San Minato 2012 pastel 17 x 38.6 inches NFS link
Seeking visual clues in students' work to match their teacher's seemed at first a fool's game, but they're here for all to see and few to understand. Clicking through Brian Cobble's Pastel Gallery was a deep and shadowy revelation of echoing images and techniques. There sometimes are teachers who make it too easy for students to copy their work, which may already be a copy of somebody else's, as I discovered a couple years ago when I reviewed the Estate Sale of Ann Cushing Gantz, another Dallas teaching icon who lived not far from The Winters.
In the short video Roger Winter and the Line on his website, Cobble, John Alexander, David Bates and others testify about Winter's teaching more realistically than anything I could write.
David Bates 1975 Fillmore Avenue 2007 oil on canvas 24 x 30 inches NFS
Though I chose visually interesting art, not names, many of the artists in this show whose work I include are now famous — some few more than others. Many of their work is distinctive, and though I can usually tell when I'm standing in front of a David Bates or a Dan Rizzie, much of the work here seems strangely foreign yet attractive and interesting. It's a great idea for an exhibition, and a good-sized one at that, comprising 48 pieces, including a few sculptures and other art forms.
Lilian Garcia-Roig 1988 Palm & Fronds 2008 oil on canvas 60 x 48 inches $12,000 unframed Courtesy Valley House Gallery
I can't help wondering how teachers influenced these artists' work, and whether we could see their influences. I know there were visiting professors in various media staying semesters or more at SMU. One, of whose work these two pieces reminds me — whether or not the visiting teacher — Neil Welliver, back in the 80s — was actually involved. He popularized dense, detailed arboreal paintings, often large.
As I was with many of the so-called super-realist painters, I was a fan of Welliver's work, even after I heard plenty complaints about his teaching.
Kathy Windrow 1986 Cuero Y Salado Wildlife Refuge Honduras 2012 acrylic on canvas 36 x 72 inches $4,500
Lilian Garcia-Roig's treescape and Kathy Windrow's Cuero Y Salado Wildlife Refuge Honduras almost immediately brought Welliver's dense Northeastern forests work back through the years, although I know when he visited. Windrow got her MA there in 1986, and Garcia-Roig her FA in 1988 and Welliver was there earlier.
Laurie Hickman Cox 1978 Spinnin' Girls 1990 oil on canvas 50 x 50 inches NFS Courtesy Valley House Gallery
The joy in this painting reminds me of what I perceived of as wild fun in much of then enfant terrible John Alexander's early art. His piece here, seems subtle and gentle for what I remember of his wild and strident early work. Laurie Hickman Cox's large painting broadcasts a much more overt sense of joy with her muted, color coordinated kid figures among a mélange of nearly abstract color forms in a plausible yet visually unlikely scene.
Sally Shiels Schupp Night Sky in Tela 2012 collage on canvas 36 x 36 inches #1,500
Here's more spatial abstraction and many, more vivid hues. What felicity! We know right where we are, even if there's no way we could be there, sandwiched in with the chickens and dogs and impossible houses under that scalloped, inverted-umbrella sky.
Jan Lee McCommas The Kitchen 1973 acrylic on canvas 24 x 36 inches NFS
Then, in this more precise step into spatial abstraction, we find a charming red rocking chair in a child-drawn room oddly framed with splattered leaves on vertical yellow tape a little like Matisse. We know right where we are, and with that soft rocker, we know we'll be comfy.
Carol Hoy 1970 Animal Refuge with Still Life 2013 encaustic and mixed media on panel 40 x 32 $4,200
We can see into this room's corners, past its odd furniture, animals, people and who knows what all, with Jill and her pail of water and Jack getting up from his fall. What's next?
John Alexander 1970 Mandrill 2014 oil on panel 20 x 16 inches $15,000 link
I spent about an hour in Kirk Hopper photographing the art that made me stop and take notice, all while wondering where it would lead. I'd shoot the piece, then the name and ID on the list, later the work and just the numbered pushpin to cross reference them later, neatly glossing right past several artists' names whose work I would liked to have noticed, known who did what, then gathered data for future forays, though I would have been collecting primarily for personal reasons having not nearly enough to do with this survey.
Daniel Heyman Ride the Son (Dartmouth) 2013 oil on Mylar 42 x 30 inches $16,000 link
I liked this when I saw it, photographed, then only much later tried to parse its visual sense, when I realized that for all its prosaic lines and colors, Ride the Son is deeply political art, because so much is going on, in so many different directions, dimensions, forms and colors, and because some former Roger Winter student artist out there is listening to his own mind and heart and doing art from his soul. I wonder how many years it took.
His earlier work on this same subject — he's been at it awhile now — was simpler, more prosaic and to the point, a Feiffer-esque cartoon of some guy surrounded by his swirling words — narrative writ large, but so much less soulful or visually interesting. It's always a trade-off. The red hoods are our first tip-offs. We know that's Abu Ghraib. Then we peel back the layers into new horrors.
Heyman is the only non-Dallasite in this story that I know about, so far.
Peter Julian 1975 Volcano 2009 gouache on paper 11.63 x 9.75 inches NFS
Regrettably, there was other work I liked but could not photograph well — and so could not spend time appreciating or understanding, mixing or matching them later, and others were lost behind reflecting glass. This one's a thematic transition from Heyman's and visual a segue into a flaming White House early in American History.
Barbara Fontaine White 1984 The Legend of Dolley Madison 2012 oil on canvas 30 x 30 inches $3,000
Legend has it Dolley or one of her slaves liberated a second or third copy (with careful misspellings on a book spine about the "United Sates") of a prized painting of George Washington looking as he does here, from the White House before the British burned la Casa Blanca late in the War of 1812, when contemporary stories described her as petite and thus unable to reach as high as the painting hung to thrash the frame and liberate the painting. Here, it's the Father of Our Country who's petite, and she looks like she could knock down the flaming walls.
James Dowell 1972 Cecelia 2012 oil on canvas 48 x 28 inches $5,200 courtesy Valley House Gallery link
And here's another shero in white perhaps late in a life, whence may be a decent place to end this story.
See also a 1996 Richard Brettell review of Roger Winter's art work and life's work.
On October 18, 2014, after only eight people had seen this story, Roger Winter wrote:
from Show Curator Roger Winter
Many of the artists in the show were from my classes other than those classes at SMU. Robert Yarber, Carol Hoy, Tim Coursey, Charlotte Seifert, Arleigh Stark, and Stephen Mueller were my students in the museum school at the old DMFA in Fair Park. Jaq Belcher, Hiromi Majurimuno, and Melissa Guion studied with me at the National Academy School in NYC. Daniel Heyman worked with me when I was a guest artist at The University of Pennsylvania and over the years in private critiques. Leah Goren was my student at Julius Schepps Jewish Community in Dallas. I curated the show because no one else was around all those times and places. Perhaps you could have found out more about the origins of the show and my guidelines for choosing the artists. But nevertheless, thank you for the article. The works in the show are worthy of the attention you have given.
Thanks, Roger. Guess I should have delved deeper, but I was already so late in visiting the show, and I never saw any of the pre-show publicity. But once I learned of it, I knew it would be a fascinating subject. I have updated your new information into the story, which previously only mentioned SMU.
Thank you for your timely corrections,
J R Compton
As always, if you see something that's just not right or know of a link that goes up there somewhere, let me know. I want these stories to be as accurate and true as I possibly can, and you can help by emailing me at the contact link at the top of every DARts page. Thanks..
All Contents of this site are Copyright 2014 or before by publisher J R Compton.
All the artworks shown on these pages are copyrighted by their originating artists. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are copyright J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No reproduction in any medium without specific written permission.
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