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Henri Gadbois and Leila McConnell at the James Bute Gallery, September 27, 1965. Courtesy of Henri Gadbois.

Influential friends

Another very influential, helpful person was Ben DuBose; he was in charge of the art department at Bute Paint Company. In the middle of the paint store there was one aisle that was all paint supplies and at the end of that was a room. It was a gallery, and I think probably one of the first commercial galleries in the city. He even gave the art club at the University of Houston space in the gallery to have a show. I even bought [a piece at] one of the early Herb Mears and David Adickes shows, when they first came back from France—so that must have been the late 40s, early 50s. Ben would give us leftover mis-sized frames or ends of the rolls of canvas—I mean, he was really generous to the students, the young artists.

In 1966 when Ben left Bute and formed his own gallery that was DuBose on Kirby Drive…most of us went, who were there with Ben. The Friday night openings at DuBose were very social…the place to go. I mean everybody sort of met there, and Ben did a good job of selling. He loved sort of a messy gallery where you’d have to go through and find something that was already there. He never told you exactly what to paint, but he would give you hints, like, “People are painting their houses bold yellow, so….” Or he’d sort of chide you if you hadn’t been painting.

Houston’s art scene was very different. I mean, it didn’t have a strong leader like Dallas and Fort Worth [that was] pushinglocal art. The director at Fort Worth’s museum really pushed the local people—it was almost like a school, and boy, they were exhibiting there. We never had anyone here that was really strong on local art. But then, it might be bad to remain too local—you’ve got to sort of spread your wings.

The contemporary arts association

CAA was a volunteer organization; everybody did their part. I mean, if you were on the board you were probably program director, or you were in charge. People would come up with ideas for shows and they would be in charge of that. Norma [Henderson] was telling me about it when I was in high school, so it must have been the late 40s. Their first show was, I think, utility items like pliers and coffee makers and stuff. It was in the upstairs galleries on Montrose at the Museum of Fine Arts.

I got into the CAA a little bit later on in the 50s because I was drafted into the army, and then I was gone for a year and a half to two years. I remember Leila had sent me clippings of when they moved the Contemporary Arts Museum down Main Street after midnight to the new location of the Prudential [property] on Fannin. The Prudential Building faces Holcombe; the CAA faced Fannin. When I was in Germany, in Nuremburg, there was a neat little museum there that had traveling shows and they had a German graphics show that impressed me very much. I think Jerry MacAgy had taken over the CAA as director by this time, and I suggested doing a German graphics show. I would get the things from one of my sergeants, and I think the show was when I got back in May [1956]—or something like that. It was so popular that people were buying the graphics and I kept mailing back to Germany, and the CAA would send the money to the artists in Germany. We sold quite a few.

We had one New Year’s Eve party at CAA for the members where the whole CAA had Christmas trees hung upside down from the ceiling with the decorations. I think we really wanted to try to be far out…on the edge. But we did have fun. The CAA had a craft show or something like that where you could buy [other artists’ work]. I have one of Jim Love’s—a bird. They were $10 apiece.

Henri Gadbois, 1959. Photo by Maurice Miller. Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Archives.

Artists in community

Handmakers was a whole group of artists together—Stella Sullivan, Frank Dolejska—they were craftsmen. It was a cooperative where they would sell their own things. Stella did fabric, textiles, and glasses with designs that she had drawn. And Polly Marsters had the Houston Artist Gallery, which is the same Houston Artist Gallery that Grace Spaulding

Grace Spaulding John, 1890-1972. Artist who studied at the St. Louis School of Fine Art, married attorney Alfred John and maintained a studio in Houston from 1921 until her death.
and Ruth Uhler had in the 20s. Dianne David had the David Gallery on San Felipe and they asked artists to submit a piece of work that had been influenced by a tattoo, which was pretty weird. Then that evening (of the show), they had a tattoo artist, and the first ten people who wanted a little tattoo could get it free.

Another thing was the Friday night print group that Bill Condon

William Condon, b. 1927. An abstract painter and alumnus of Rice University.
had. He discovered something called paper lithography. Instead of using stones…a sheet of paper was treated and you would draw [on it] like you do on the stone with a crayon, then you would put some sort of acid on top and run it through a press—I think we [used]an old washing machine roller as the press. Gertrude [Barnstone] was in the group and we did etchings, too. Alvin Romansky, Leila, Stella Sullivan , Elaine Mass, and Bill of course. The Museum let us use its studio every Friday night. Bill was a remarkable person…we traveled to Europe with him a couple of times.

Leila and I were in the group together and I think something clicked just before I went into the Army. We were married after I got back, but we say we never met, because we always knew each other at the museum. She was a student at the museum school [and] she remembers me as sort of a teenager there. I remember at an Easter art show [she had]a wonderful little figure of a girl that I really did like. She wouldn’t sell it. I keep teasing her that I had to marry her to get that!

Henri Gadbois was interviewed on May 19, 2006. You can listen to the interview here .

Questions & Answers

anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
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what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Houston reflections: art in the city, 1950s, 60s and 70s. OpenStax CNX. May 06, 2008 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10526/1.2
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