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Interview with Dorothy Hood, conducted by Sarah C. Reynolds.

Early sixties

[The art climate] was sparse. I think there were three artists…Jim Love, Dick Wray and myself. I mean, these were the artists that seemed to be together. The fact is we had to know each other because we were the only ones.

We came here from Mexico and stayed, oh, three or four months—then we came back again and stayed longer. Not until 1965 did [my husband Valasco

José Maria Velasco Maidana, 1901-1989. Noted Bolivian conductor and composer, he was considered by many to be the leading nationalistic composer of his country. He was married to Dorothy Hood for nearly 50 years.
and I] come back for good. I had family here—my mother and my father. We really wanted to go back to Mexico but things started happening.

Kathryn Swenson had a gallery…she and Jerry MacAgy worked very closely together. Jerry was at the museum at that time; when we came to Houston she was working with Mrs. de Menil. Ruth Pershing Uhler had a big role there…she knew everything—every archive, everything that ever happened at the museum. She was the one you went to to find out the facts.

One day Meredith Long came by the studio and he looked at the work and said, “I want to go to Mexico and see some of your artists and bring some [work] back.” So he went and visited in Mexico and he took some of my friends’ work and brought them to exhibit here in Houston. That’s how I knew Meredith. Then he took me on with his very first gallery, over by the railroad tracks. [We decided to stay because]things were slim in Mexico. I mean, one could hardly make a living there. It was all beautiful—I mean we had a nice apartment and so forth—but as far as the practical, it was more beneficial to stay here.


By Dorothy Hood, 1969. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Meredith J. Long.


In Mexico everyone helped each other without hesitation. They would bring people into your studio. We had galleries which divided into groups, and we had common goals and everything. Here it was really disorganized. I felt as if there were groups that I couldn’t see what their motive was. They seemed more political, if anything.

I think the Museum of Fine Arts [MFAH] has had a variable position in the art realm. I think every director has come in with their own agenda, and I think it depends greatly on the director of the museum how the art community lives, or does not live.

The de Menils became from the very first an example of excellence. A lot of people think that they, by showing really fine art, did their duty to the community—and I’m sure that they have. I don’t believe at any time, though, that they got involved with the creativity of the Houston scene.

The CAA (which became CAM) had a place out on Main I think it was—a little building. I think they were very close, all the people that organized it at first. It was a closely knit endeavor, and I thought it was a very good thing.

View of MFAH installation of "Dorothy Hood Drawings," February 27, 1975-March 20, 1975. Photo by Allen Mewbourn. Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Archives.

The houston scene

I see [the art scene in Houston] the way I first saw it: You can work at your own pace here, and you can either participate or not. You’ve got a lot of free choice. I do think that I haven’t seen any impulse toward local pride and wanting to push art from Houston in other places. I really have seen very little self-assurance that they have good talent here, with groups of artists really being proud, on a high level. To a lot of the dealers the locals are a token and their real interest is very expensive—either old masters or contemporaries from New York. There’s a lack of adventuresomeness among the collectors to a certain extent.

There’s a lot of freedom in Houston, though…mental freedom…because you had to work alone. I mean you had to think alone, and of course you could set up your own values. It was great for art…because you could be anything, you didn’t really have to fit into anything. In that way it was very, very creative.

[Socially] you really had to “toe the mark.” With men it didn’t matter, but with women you needed to be sure that you came across as a proper person. I came back [from Mexico]determined that I wasn’t going to do anything eccentric and that I was going to honor their values, you know. Which I did. It made me pretty much of a loner. I mean, I felt like a loner, which might have been good. But then of course, I had Valasco as a companion, and we were okay. He was composing [then] and he wasn’t conducting. He had entered his passive phase, which was very hard on me. When we were in Latin America, he earned the living and when we were here it changed because he just could not keep up with the pace. It was too rapid for him. So I became kind of the boss at that time.

Dorothy Hood, c. 1960s. Photo by Hickey and Robinson. Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Archives.


[Being awarded an honorary PhD at Rhode Island School of Design] was one of the nicest experiences of my life, I think. I never expected it. I never knew they followed me, or my work. This thing came, and I went—there were many French directors there, and it was a nice feeling. I’ve kept a history of art in Houston from all my scrapbooks. I’ve kept them from the first.

I’ve been given a great chance. I think the first thing an artist should [consider] is not whether you will be successful or anything like that. You have to think of the creative first. If I can do well, and I have the freedom to do well, that’s about the best thing that can be offered. [I have that here]without too many restraints, and it’s comfortable.

Dorothy Hood was interviewed on July 18, 1992. You can listen to the interview here .

Questions & Answers

what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
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
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how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
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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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