Art in America: Texas Edition

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Morning moon in Marathon, Texas

Texas is really big. It’s bigger than every European country. Not every European country combined, but, still… we have a ranch bigger than Rhode Island. And Texas is quite spread out. The size has the effect of allowing dramatically diverse cultural pockets around the state to evolve somewhat independently of each other. And Texas is impressively diverse. Diverse enough to have flown under quite a few flags. Six to be exact: Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America. Before the need for flags, the Comanche, Apache, Caddo, Kiowa, Tonkawa, and myriad other indigenous peoples had been here for eons.

European settlers and money followed cattle, railroads, oil and gas exploration, and vast, grassy ranchlands. Include top-tier universities, large, affluent metropolitan areas, quite a few charming small towns, quite a few not charming small towns, a lingering frontier individuality, a healthy dose of obstinance, and that’s a relatively fair picture of the state. The art and the artists that make art in Texas reflect this unique and colorful diversity. Texas artists draw from their respective environments, cultures, experiences, and heritages, creating genuine and authentic work. One of the collective results of this work is a beautiful and rich tapestry of our state.

"Texas artists draw from their respective environments, cultures, experiences, and heritages creating genuine and authentic work."

Native American in the early 1900's taking a smoke break

Unfortunately, much significant art and many significant artists from all over Texas remain largely unnoticed by the larger museum, gallery, and academic institutions and their curators. This is to be expected, really. Achieving any kind of recognition as an artist has historically been quite difficult. If any real recognition is achieved, it’s generally a lifelong process. How many artists have labored and struggled only to achieve recognition at the end of their careers or after their deaths?

The advent of the internet has somewhat mitigated these circumstances by giving anybody a platform for promotion, but when everybody has a microphone the most common result is just a lot of noise. This essay series will help us filter out the noise. We will begin in these uniquely Texan cultural centers and highlight artists currently working at making great Texas art. Artists that know where they are from and where they want to go. Let’s take an art trip through Texas.

(Fig. 1: Howell, Collin. Moon Over Marathon. Fig. 2: Samis, Lynn. Break Time. Courtesy of Artly International) 
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1 comment

  • Maureen Drdak

    Looking forward to to this aesthetic journey.

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