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Index of Obituaries

Candis Wheat, 1951 - 2012

Candis Wheat - Glow-in-the-dark Gay Pieta  2001 - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Candis Wheat   Glow-in-the-dark Gay Pieta   2001   8 x 7 x 4.5 inches   from the J R Compton Collection
 

The late Dallas artist Candis Wheat and I were friends when we both attended East Texas State University in the mid 1970s. I probably met her in class in the Journalism/Photography building. She was easy to talk with, and we shared an anti a-lot-of-things attitude. She was smart, funny, attractive and popular — a quick-witted conversationalist and a talented artist.

I'd become friends with her friends and a member of their weekly dinner club, grateful to spend time with all those friends in my lost years after a divorce and the death of the Dallas underground newspapers, and I still remember her talking about growing up in "Rat City," what she called Garland.

Candis was a DJ at the college radio station KETR and told us that she had to play any requests, so I called every time I heard her voice on the air and requested Dylan's Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts. Sometimes she'd say my name on the air.

We went to a Bluegrass festival in East Texas and hung out, but I moved back to Dallas and lost track, later learning she worked at a radio station in Austin, then no news for many years. I only ever even saw her a few times again.

Eventually, a mutual friend of the Wheat siblings updated me, and I worried about her dark times, then was joyed to learn that Dallas photographer Harrison Evans had gently brought her back. Later, she got a job that she loved at the State Fair, but I didn't know what doing till friends shared memories about her press releases at the memorial.

Several of those stories were moving, as was one startlingly clear solo flute performance from another mutual friend she'd met in 7th grade, but it wasn't surprising she had so many friends, nearly two hundred of whom were in the big room at Texas Discovery Gardens November 16, 2012.

Somewhere, I have a copy of the comic book she and other ETSU artists published in the mid-70s, but the one thing of hers I've greatly appreciated and often showed off was this Glow-in-the-dark Gay Pieta she made around 2001. I bought it from the refusé table instead of the piece I'd bid on at a DMA Beaux Art Ball fund-raiser when they briefly involved local artists.

I loved that little sculpture and especially its quaisi-areligious attitude and green chemical glow after I illuminated it. Sadly, over the years its soft mix of unnatural mediums slumped under its own weight, then fell irreparably apart. By early this year it had completely disintegrated — as its creator was dying.
 
 

Candis Wheat - untitled

Candis Wheat   untitled pastel on paper   18 x 13 inches
circa 1990   from the Ray-Mel Cornelius Collection


 

The Pieta is pretty representative of her work, although she didn't do many 3-D pieces. Mostly she dashed off drawings in whatever media was within reach on scraps of paper. She was not at all precious about what she did. The Pieta has the same kind of expressive human empathy I found in her most offhand scribbles. It also represents the fugitive nature of everything she did. Her art was personal observations of everyday life, executed quickly on whatever was at hand, so archival concerns weren't in the mix. Candis always seemed surprised that anyone took note of them.

Of the painting above, Ray-Mel said, "I don't think it was intended as a self portrait per se (She wouldn't say one way or the other.). But I've always thought it captured her more melancholy side.
 

 

Ray-Mel Cornelius is a member of DallasArtsRevue and shows his recent work on his member page.
His insightful blog includes a longer tribute to Candis Wheat.

All Contents of this site are Copyright 2012 or before by publisher J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in any medium without specific written permission.

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