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In This Issue
Chair's Comments
Members Speak
Consider CASETA
Notes from your CASETA Staff
ETA Events
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Contact Information
Board Chair

Newsletter Editor
Leslie Thompson

Interim Executive Director
Bill Reaves

CASETA Headquarters

PO Box 667487

Houston, TX 77266
Phone: 832.538.9297
Fax: 713.521.7504

10th Annual Symposium

*Mark your calendars NOW for the 10th CASETA Symposium to be held in downtown Fort Worth at the Texas Weslyan University Law School on April 27-29. 


Plan to attend this special Anniversary Celebration and what is certain to be CASETA's best conference yet. Learn from informative speakers, enjoy the fellowship and fun of like-minded Texas art aficionados and enhance your collection through acquisitions at the Texas Art Fair, featuring the most prominent dealers in the state. 


There's much more to come on this block-buster event SOON, but reserve your calendar NOW. You won't want to miss it!

November 2011


As CASETA celebrates its ten-year anniversary, I think we should
take the opportunity to reflect on the significance of this

Stephen Alton
Stephen Alton, Board Chair

organization. From its simple beginnings at A&M University a decade ago, CASETA has blossomed into a well-established statewide nonprofit corporation. Through its many initiatives, including an annual educational symposium, teacher workshops, and the support of many publications and scholarship, CASETA has brought Early Texas Art to the forefront. Nowhere else can one find a comparable organization dedicated to the study and advancement of the Lone Star State's vast art historical legacy.


This is also an occasion to look forward to the next ten years. What is the future of CASETA and Early Texas Art? With whom does the stewardship lie? 


We intend to focus on these questions as we continue to build upon the success of this important art organization. As Board Chair, I hope you will join us as we prepare for the future of CASETA in its next decade of programming and service.


We hope that members will enjoy this edition of CASETA News.  We invite members to review Professor Mark Cervenka's compelling overview of Houston's recent 175th Birthday exhibition. In Members Speak, organizational co-founder Bill Cheek gives a great testimony of the virtues and benefits of continued membership in CASETA. The ETA Events are brimming with wonderful Texas art viewing opportunities available at state museum and galleries.  And, of course, there are the important notices for CASETA members to SAVE THE DATE for this year's special 10th Anniversary Symposium, as well as our call for members to CONSIDER a donation to CASETA in their end-of-year gifting. 


This newsletter serves as a reminder of the energetic art scene and multiple opportunities available to lovers of early Texas art, all of which are synergized and boosted through your active participation in CASETA.  

Portrait of Houston: 1900-2011 
by: Mark Cervenka

EDITOR'S NOTE: This year, Houston celebrated its 175th anniversary. For this occasion, the city of Houston hosted a variety of exhibitions reflecting upon the history of the city and its cultural development. Included was an exhibition focusing on the ever-growing art community, featuring a selection of artworks from Houston artists. Curator, Mark Cervenka,offers audiences an overview of the exhibition and the significance of the artists included.

Houston's beginnings and growth in the 19th century could not have predicted its population increase in the 20th century or its emergence in the late 20th century as a city with world-class arts facilities. Houston's organizations of learning and culture were helped in 1854, when the Houston Lyceum, predecessor to the Houston Public Library, began with book donations from no less than Sam Houston himself. As Houston grew and developed, select citizens, often women, attempted to keep cultural growth on par with economic growth. The Lyceum became more than a library of books; it served as a center for cultural exchange, musical concerts, and art exhibitions.


On a December evening in 1897, the Lyceum opened with a concert and art exhibition as it moved into new quarters in the Mason Building on the corner of Main and Rusk in downtown Houston. Exhibiting artists included Charles Dana Gibson, Edwin A. Abbey, and Alice Barber Stephens. The works were perhaps all drawings as the Houston Post December 5th edition described them as "the best work that has been done in black and white in the last year or so." A group of "posters" was also shown, perhaps reproductions of original works in museums. Emma Richardson Cherry, a new transplant to Houston from Denver and a well-studied and traveled artist, was called upon to provide visitors an

Cherry, Flood Control
Emma Richardson Cherry, 
Flood Control, Buffalo Bayou, c.1930, 
oil/canvas, 30x40 in.

aid in their "appreciation of the subjects shown" in the form of a gallery talk. This early engagement by Cherry would foreshadow a great contribution to Houston's art community over the next half century. In 1900 she led the founding of The Houston Public School Art League. The organization was active in bringing art, including reproductions of items, such as antique Greek sculpture and painting by European masters, to be included in the curriculum of Houston's public schools. The League was also responsible for forging the birth of a proper museum in Houston, a process which culminated with the 1924 opening of the central building of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


In 2011, The City of Houston celebrates its 175th anniversary. With Houston Mayor Annise Parker as honorary chair, Houston 175, a group of ten Houston organizations, created exhibits each focusing on a different aspect of Houston's history. Portrait of Houston: 1900-2011, undertook to create a snapshot of Houston artistic activity during its formative years in the 20th century and to suggest continuity between the early artistic pioneers and the multi-media environment contemporary artists create in at present.


Susie Kalil (Fresh Paint, 1985) notes Emma Richardson Cherry as "the first professional artist to make Houston her home." Artists had of course found there way through Houston; a few had set up shop for a while. Ambrose Andrews and Jefferson Wright advertised in the Telegraph and Texas Register as early as December 30, 1837 for their services as portrait painters. Andrews offers that he had taken residence in President Houston's former home where samples of his work could have been viewed. Wright executed a portrait of Sam Houston in 1838, seven years before the luminous landscape and nature painter Martin Johnson Heade painted his rendering of Houston. Wright's less accomplished style provided the fledgling bayou village and new a country, however, with commemorative images of many of the early political figures. More than 60 years after Andrews and Wright, Cherry's arrival in Houston came as the population was beginning to rapidly increase. In the twenty years from 1880-1900 Houston more than doubled in size going from 16,000 to 44,000 residents. With the city growing larger by the year, Cherry's leadership helped to begin professional arts organizations and institutions in the city and bring the images and ideas of many of the world's masterpieces, likely for the first time, to many Houstonians.


Cherry's work in the exhibition Flood Control Buffalo Bayou is a beautifully painted scene likely depicting measures by the Army Core of Engineers taken after a disastrous 1935 flood. Seemingly quick impressionistic strokes reveal keen observation of all the minutia of the waterway, construction, and a growing downtown. It is a wonderful thematic confluence of an artist professionally trained in traditional classical European methods coming to terms with the beginning of spectacular new growth. The earthen palette provides warmth to the picture that is comforting and at the same time perhaps revealing of the dirt and dust inherent in a modern industrial center.


Houstonians rode the wave of oil, industry, and, later, space exploration, all modern elements, and a group of artists did their best to usher in sleek and new ideas and styles from Europe and New York. Despite a public which often seemed at a loss to know what questions to ask, artists like Frank Dolejska with his quirky egg shaped panel with abstract Surrealist motifs, Music in Brass, 1937, announced their right to follow their own visions. Robert Preusser's mysterious Kachina Doll, 1954, coalesces abstract

Hood, Emergence
Dorothy Hood, Emergence, c.1965, oil/canvas, 36x36 in.

images into figures peering back to the viewer. Dorothy Hood's Emergence, c. 1965, is a dichotomous painting rife with energy as pink gashes emerge out of a brown ground; conversely, the triangular composition and smooth liquid application of paint provide a serene and contemplative experience. In a 1992 interview Hood recounted, "There's a lot of freedom in Houston...because you could be anything, you didn't really have to fit into anything. In that way it was very, very creative." (Reynolds, Sarah, Houston Reflections, 2008)


Another individual who required a steadfast vision and strong will was John Biggers who arrived in a still segregated Houston to begin the art program at Texas Southern University (known then as Texas State University for Negroes) in 1949. Biggers offered a

Biggers, Mother and Children
John Biggers, Mother and Children, 1952, 
17 1/2 x14 in.

high level of artistic training and engaged his students in philosophical dialog that addressed art as well as the social condition. His own art worked to reconcile his African heritage with values established in his American upbringing, and sometimes a larger perhaps overarching element that alluded to the spiritual and natural realms. Mother and Child, 1952, shows the delicate embrace of a mother comforting children, indeed, a reflection of basic human compassion.


One can scarcely read of the mid-century period without hearing of gatherings of artists scattered hither and yon throughout a continually sprawling Houston in gallery and homes such as that of Henri Gadbois and Leila McConnell. The couple's home is often cited as meeting place and a welcome for new artists. Richard Stout, fresh from four years at the Chicago Art Institute and his travels on the east coast, found his way to the Gadbois/McConnell household immediately upon moving to Houston. Gadbois's father was a sign painter in Houston and fine

McConnell, Blue
Leila McConnell, The River Styx, 1961, oil/canvas, 24x36 in.

art painter on the side. McConnell attended Rice University in the School of Architecture. Gadbois' Vortex, 1954, is a relatively abstract work for the artist whose eclecticism is founded in a rich understanding of nature and a sensitive view of the human condition. McConnell's The River Styx, 1961, is appropriately titled as it addresses a profound netherworld in its nebulous dark blue ground with a faint bar of whitish light softly emanating as if beyond a horizon.  


As Houston grew, a greater wealth and international presence (in no small degree fostered by the arrival of the De Menils in the early 1940s) rather upped the ante in the last half of the 20th century. Mobility, communication, international businesses all created an environment able to support artists and bring a larger audience to any number of styles of contemporary art. In 2011, Houston is the fourth largest city in the country; it supports a resident theatre company, ballet, opera, and symphony. It is home to the remarkable Menil Collection, the Contemporary Art Museum, and the world-class Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, once just an image in the mind of Emma Richardson Cherry.


A primary goal of this exhibit was to aid in recognizing that the early artists of Houston were as diverse and independent a lot and who profoundly contributed to the diverse, accepting, and vibrant arts culture that exists today. An early 20th century, mid-20th century and a contemporary work from the exhibition suggest such a continuity. Frederic Browne's Trees in Herman Park seems at once reminiscent of Dutch Baroque landscape yet he flattens the image with broader brushstrokes and never allows contrast to become too great. Not unlike Cezanne, the result brings the viewer to the surface of the painting, following pattern and color. Browne, active in the first half of the 20th century, creates a calm exploration of nature in a Houston park. A 1957 work in the exhibition, Richard Stout's Blue Gibraltar, is an abstract work with

Blue Gibraltar
Richard Stout, Blue Gibraltar, 1957, oil/canvas, 30x31 1/2 in.

similar palette. The composition however can be initially misleading. Smooth gray, blue and green glazes trace the outlying borders of the canvas while the central section is thick with impasto. This central area, in fact, creates the illusion of a cavity, a passageway encountered in the larger context of a landscape dropping back in space. Finally, Dixie Friend Gay's 1999 Houston Bayou (proposal for Intercontinental Airport Houston) is a beautifully naturalistic work that harkens to Martin Johnson Heade's flower and fauna paintings. Here, Friend Gay's 180 inch canvas disallows any concentration of focus on any one element, ever changing and evolving as the viewer explores the image. These three works, despite great difference in style, each have an element of nature, the landscape, and an airiness and calmness despite a spring lushness and density enhanced by their similar palettes, conditions well based in Houston's semi-tropical climate and flat coastal plains. Today, Friend Gay's realization of the project at Bush Intercontinental Airport greets visitors to Houston with a much larger mural version of Houston Bayou. Perhaps Emma Richardson Cherry's efforts were not in vain.



Why I Am A Member of CASETA

Bill Cheek, Dallas


Bill Cheek
Bill Cheek

Ten years ago a group of people who love Early Texas Art met in my living room. They were collectors, dealers, museum curators, and members of the academic community. From this group the idea of the Center for the Advancement and Study of Early Texas Art (CASETA) was born.


Since that time, CASETA has been supported by its members and dealers and great institutions such as Texas A&M University System, Texas State University, the University of North Texas, Witte Museum, Panhandle Plains Historical Museum, San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Summerlee Foundation and many others.


CASETA, working with fellow travelers, Texas Art Collectors Association (TACO), Collectors of Fort Worth Art, (COFWA) and Houston Earlier Texas Art Group (HETAG) we have contributed, among other initiatives, financial support and expertise for many exhibitions and publications, produced teacher workshops and conducted nine annual symposia with excellent speakers and dealer exhibitions.


Here is what CASETA means to me:


  • An informed appreciation of ETA
  • Improving eye for good paintings
  • Learning the value of my collection
  • Knowing what to buy to build a collection and where to find it
  • Meeting others interested in ETA           
  • Seeing works discovered in "Grandmother's attic"
  • Seeing this genre rescued from obscurity


On this ten year anniversary, it is important to rededicate ourselves to this effort with enthusiasm and commitment. I intend to do so and look forward to working with you to continue this work.





Remember Your Love of Texas Art in Year-End Charitable Giving

As the calendar year draws to a close, CASETA reminds members and friends to consider your Texas art organization in your charitable gift giving.  A contribution to CASETA goes a long way toward supporting the cause of Early Texas Art and helps to augment the on-going programs and operations of the state's only association exclusively devoted to scholarship and education related to the state's visual arts history. 


All gifts are tax deductable, and are deeply appreciated on behalf of the entire organization.  Gifts of any denomination are gratefully received and will be promptly and appropriately acknowledged by the Board. In your passion for Lone Star art, we urge you to Consider CASETA! once again this year by directing your check to CASETA at PO Box 667487, Houston, Texas 77266 by December 31. 


Thank you for Considering CASETA!  If you would like to discuss your gift plans in more detail, please contact Bill Reaves at 832.538.9294 or email at



As CASETA's new Associate Executive Director, I want to take the opportunity to thank the Board for the honor of serving the Texas

Leslie Thompson
Leslie Thompson, Associate Executive Director

art community during this interim period. I am happy to be part of such a historical organization and look forward to making a contribution to the future of CASETA.


As a student of art history, I understand the importance of an organization like CASETA and its impact on the community. While I had heard brief mention of a few Texas figures in my art history courses in undergraduate and graduate school, it wasn't until my encounter with CASETA that I experienced my first real introduction to Early Texas Art. As I've learned more through personal research, various publications and exhibitions, and my participation with CASETA and its symposium, my appreciation for Texas art continues to escalate.


I believe the future of Early Texas Art lies in next the generation of young collectors, museum professionals, teachers, students, and therefore urge CASETA to foster this burgeoning community. I would like to see more graduate students attend the annual symposium and advocate providing young scholars the opportunity to present their own research in the field of Texas art.


What do YOU think? What action must we take to encourage the next generation of CASETA supporters? Have ideas? Please email me at


North Texas     

Laying the Foundation: UNT Art Faculty, 1890-1970     

December 2, 2011 - February 11, 2012

UNT on the Square
109 N. Elm St
Denton, Texas 76201  


A new exhibition titled Laying the Foundation: UNT Art Faculty, 1890 - 1970 explores the roots of the visual arts program at UNT, looking at art works from early faculty members who provided the foundation for UNT's award-winning art programs. 


For more information:


West Texas

The Lost Colony: Texas Regionalist Paintings

September 9, 2011 - January 29, 2012


Museum of the Big Bend

Sul Ross State University

Alpine, Texas 79832


This exhibition is the first known to recognize and celebrate the members from the Alpine Art Colony.  In 1932, Julius Woeltz and Xavier Gonzalez founded an art colony at Sul Ross State University that ran for six weeks each summer.  The colony was open to both Sul Ross students and other interested in art.  The group was active in the Big Bend area and up to the Davis Mountains - a highlight for both students and faculty.  At the end of each summer session, they promoted their work with an exhibition on the university campus.  Attendees were also given certificates that noted the quality and quantity of work produced during the course.  The Alpine Art Colony is the longest running art Colony in Texas history.  William Lester conduced the final session in the summer of 1950.


For more information: 


Bob Stuth-Wade: Landforms 

September 22, 2011 - February 18, 2012


The Grace Museum

102 Cypress Street

Abilene, Texas 79601


Bob Stuth-Wade could be classified as a more traditional landscape painter illuminating his paintings with a transcendent light and fairly glows with intensity. The power of place is magnified through his intense personal response to a specific place and time. Stuth-Wade strives to represent the essence of what draws him to a particular place. The artistic process involves camping on site, meditation and recording every changing nuance of light and shadow. His paintings of the Big Bend can also be read as an affirmation of the natural environment preserved and protected.


For more information: 


Gene Owens - A Fresh Approach

September 22 - February 3, 2013


Old Jail Art Center

201 S. 2nd

Albany, Texas 76430


If any artist truly merits the description of "master of the medium of sculpture" or even "living legend", it would be Fort Worth native Gene Owens.  The Old Jail Art Center will present unexplored aspects of Owens' oeuvre - bringing new insights into the work of this versatile artist.


For more information:


Face Time - Portraits from the Collection 

September 24, 2011 - January 22, 2012 


Old Jail Art Center
201 S. 2nd 
Albany, Texas, 76430 


Face Time is drawn from the diverse holdings of the OJAC and presents portraits in a variety of styles and media from painting and drawing to prints and sculpture. The artists represented are among the finest of their generations including: Bill Bomar, Wm. Kelly Fearing, Dickson Reeder, to mention a few. 


For more information: 


Public Art Across the Lonestar State

September 17, 2011 - January 20, 2012

Panhandle Plains Historical Museum
2503 4th Avenue
Canyon, Texas 79015


The museum will present an art exhibition drawn almost exclusively from PPHM's extensive holdings of mural studies, sketches, and sculpture maquettes.


Littlefield Murals

September 17, 2011 - February 19, 2012


Panhandle Plains Historical Museum

2503 4th Avenue

Canyon, Texas, 79015


In 1910, cattleman George W. Littlefield commissioned Chicago-and future Taos-artist E. Martin Hennings to paint six murals of his ranches on the South Plains and New Mexico for the lobby of the American National Bank in the Littlefield Building in downtown Austin, Texas.  When the bank and its assets sold in 1954, three of the six murals were acquired privately.  These three murals will be seen publicly for the first time in over 55 years when they are unveiled at PPHM along with related photographs and ephemera.  Exhibition sponsored by Katherine E. Albritton, Lillian W. Albritton and Alexander H. Albritton.


Texas Gallery

Permanent Exhibition


Panhandle Plains Historical Museum

2503 4th Avenue

Canyon, Texas 79015


Art is exhibited on a rotating basis in the permanent gallery devoed to Texas art.  Texas regonalists such as Kathleen Blackshear, Jerry Bywaters, Otis Dozier, Russell Vernon Hunter, Grace Spaulding John, William Lester, Florence McClung, Octavio Medellin, and Everett Sprice complement early Texas artists Jose Arpa, Hermann Lungkwitz, Richard Petri, Elisabet Ney, S. Seymour Thomas, Edward G. Eisenlohr, and Robert and Julian Onderdonk.


For more information:


Tom Lea: The Turning Point

August 7, 2011 - January 8, 2012


El Paso Museum of Art

1 Arts Festival Plaza

El Paso, Texas 79901


Tom Lea: The Turning Point includes six preparatory drawings for the 1964 oil-on-canvas painting The Turning Point, as well as the actual painting.  Lea was commissioned to capture the final play of a game played by the 1966 football team of Texas Western College in El Paso (now the University of Texas at El Paso).  This game marked a pivotal point in the season for Texas Western College, as it had won four and lost three games.  In this game against Utah, they won by scoring in the last second of the fourth quarter.


For more information:

The Seasons in an Earlier America: Selections from the Hosek Collection of American Art

November 17, 2011 - January 22, 2012

San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts
1 Love Street
San Angelo, Texas 76903

The Seasons in an Earlier America will feature over 30 works from the Howard "Chip" Hosek, Jr. Collection, an art collector from Pearland, Texas. These works will take the viewer through the various seasons of the year with such paintings as Spring in San Antonio by Porfirio Salinas. The Texas landscape is also represented in the Hosek Collection not only with the Porfirio Salinas work but with Robert Wood's Floral Spectrum, which brings to mind a Texas spring day in the Hill Country with its bright, clear light, rolling limestone hills, oak trees, cacti and of course the spreading fields of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush splashing across the foreground.

For more information: 



North Texas

Texas Art, Past and Present

November 6, 2011 - February 5, 2012 


Farmers and Merchants Gallery

100 N. Washington Street

Pilot Point, Texas 76258


This show will include over 20 pieces of early Texas art from a private collection. For more information: 


Southeast Texas

HOMELANDS: Classic Texas Paintings by Jack Erwin, Eugene Thurston, and Noe Perez 

November 11 - December 17, 2011 


William Reaves Fine Art

2313 Brun Street

Houston, Texas 77019 


This holiday season, William Reaves Fine Art invites friends and patrons to experience the character and grandeur of the great Lone Star state in a wonderful three-man exhibition entitled HOMELANDS: Classic Texas Paintings by Jack Erwin, Eugene Thurston, and Noe Perez. HOMELANDS is a celebration of the idylls of the Texas countryside both past and present, beautifully rendered by three generations of Texas painters. For more information:


Early Texas: A Fall Selection

November 11 - December 17, 2011


Presented by William Reaves Fine Art 

and Beuhler Fine Art


William Reaves Fine Art of Houston and Beuhler Fine Art of San Antonio are pleased to come together to offer a new, stellar selection of early Texas works. FALL SELECTION is the first of a planned series of virtual exhibitions featuring the state's premier artists working during the first half of the twentieth century. The virtual nature of the exhibition offers a comfortable viewing alternative for collectors. 


All works in the catalogue may be viewed on-site at William Reaves Fine Art during the term of the exhibition, or interested clients may contact the gallery for additional images or details regarding the paintings shown. Prices are available upon request to the gallery.


For more information: 



Climate of the Heart: Paintings from the 1950's

November 4, 2011 - January 8, 2012


Inman Gallery

3901 Main Street

Houston, Texas 77002


An exhibition featuring the work of Texas modernist Toni LaSelle.


For more information: 




Which early Texas artist was director of the art department at Trinity University from 1929-42, before the institution moved to San Antonio?



Respond to the editor at The first person to provide the correct answer will receive a free publication from CASETA.