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The Contemporary Arts Association museum was still on South Main. It was going and there was always something happening. And you could get to the people. You know there were collectors then and they were all very interested in us and a few artists that I met slowly. They were always very fun. There weren’t a lot of them.

New beginning at st. thomas

[When we arrived] at St. Thomas there wasn’t anything there other than a leftover art history program. There was no studio. But the priests embraced the idea of a studio program. We were all part-time, and this was [during]the Vietnam War, so they were overwhelmed with males. Suddenly the studio program was very popular. So within the half-year, they needed a full-time person and Jack didn’t want to be full time because he wanted to be an artist. Pat Colville didn’t want to do it. So I did. Because I was teaching part-time at St. Thomas and I was also teaching part-time at the community college in Galveston—driving back and forth. So they offered me a full-time job, and they also offered me the chairmanship. In my late 20s, I was suddenly a department chairman at this fast-growing art program which, because Jack and Pat and I worked together, we had no problems with in terms of agreement. At the high point, we had over 110 majors.

Four years later, they built a new library, and the old library was vacant so they gave us the library. Now it’s no longer [there], but it was the art department with huge galleries. So we had this big space with an art gallery, and we had this dump called “the annex,” which was sculpture and ceramics. So it was a very good time. Some of my best students are still around, working either as artists or in one of the art-related fields.

I met Joan Crystal at the Louisiana Gallery—had a good friendship with Joan. She showed my early work there. Her gallery was beautiful. They had Pre-Columbian art all over because she was a major source of Pre-Columbian; she had Calder on the wall, Joseph Cornell works on paper, Milton Avery. This was major stuff then. I was with Joan, oh gosh—two or three years. And she had other Houston artists. I enjoyed that, although sales were bad.

I met Kathryn Swenson, and she had New Arts Gallery. I remember visiting her during those early years. There was an active community and there were a lot of galleries. There were many more than were ever in St. Louis. And those were the great years of the Diane David Gallery. Diane’s gallery was figurative, and very weirdly figurative. She liked the strange figures. I was a bit too outrageous for her, or funky, or maybe it wasn’t accomplished enough, which is a good way of saying it. I’ve learned that what I thought was cutting edge was sort of dull.

My show was the last show at David Gallery. Then I was without for a couple of years, but Fredericka Hunter was opening up Contract Graphics on Morningside. She was out of Rice and so was I, so we’d see each other, hang around and talk. Then probably around ’73 or ’74 they opened up the Texas Gallery. I hung around there and finally said, “Would you be interested in giving me a show?” And they said they were thinking of that, too. So I went to Texas Gallery for a number of years. They had a storefront on Bissonnet near Karl Kilian’s bookstore and they were showing outrageous stuff. She had beautiful California shows and then she had those New Yorkers in there, which was really nice. I was her token Texan. But I’m sure what really got me going on anything career-wise was Jim [Harithas] at the [Contemporary Arts]Museum.

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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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