Texas Art Scene: All Things Artsy in Texas

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Texas, one of the most culturally rich states of the US, is an Art hub where you can see its rich history and culture narrated utilizing various mediums of arts. A mixture of Spanish and Mexican cultures, the region has all the flares of traditional and modern values which makes Texas all the more unique to those who want to acquire knowledge related to culture and heritage via art.  Texas has kept its cultural integrity intact as is evident from the ways of lives of its people.

Cultural Preservation Through Art: Texas’ Art History

Preservation of cultural integrity is almost a sacred process, the fact that these intangible cultures are often weaved together in a way that they create a new identity on their own while keeping the values of the originals intact is mesmerizing. As simple as it sounds, in reality, cultures define us and our lives, they shape our identities and provide us with a sense of community, therefore, it is always essential that cultural integrity is preserved and respected and the knowledge handed over to generations to cherish and pass on. Texans’ love for their culture can be observed in their day to day activities with respect to their lifestyle, social life, art or community engagement. Their rich history with its roots in Spanish, Mexican and African cultures have made their art vibrant but it has the language of its own. Though one sees a lot of earthy tones or bright colors, their inclination towards surrealism is constant and can be observed in the work of many Texan artists.

The Road and Street Art of Texas:

Prada Marfa in the desert of Texas

Texas Art is basically an expression of all the various histories which have shaped its cultures. From the replicas of Stonehenge II to the Combine City: The half-Buried harvesters in Amarillo, Texas Art is an experience. Unlike the conventional art, the whole state serves as a huge art studio with sculptures and paintings scattered around in various towns. You can have the full experience only when you schedule a long Art road trip!

While the list is long and you might have to be on the road for longer durations, the list below is of some famous art pieces that are to be experienced at all cost if you have a quest for art and all things creative.

Celebrating the automobile era of America via Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch 

Also in Amarillo, Cadillac Ranch is a beautiful sculpture designed to pay homage to the American Automobile Golden era.

The Umbrella Alley:

This alley in Baytown is for those who want to have some fun instagramable pictures to flaunt among their friends.

The Prada Marfa: 

Designed by Elmgreen and Gragset, this Prada store in the desert of Texas is designed to question the culture of materialism. Built with biodegradable building material, the store would eventually fade away in the surroundings. The fun fact about it is that it contains some $80,000 worth or valuables and many people did try their luck to get their hands on the goodies. Eventually, creative security measures were taken to deter vandalism. You may also read our article, Is Marfa the Ultimate Hidden Gem of Texas? to learn more about this artistic town in Texas.

Street shadowed with umbrellas

The Mini-Murals-Houston:

To encourage regional people to appreciate the beauty of the region, “Mini Mural” programme was introduced whereby native artists transform the boring gray signal boxes and posts with all things Texan, from beautiful landscapes, to the wild life of the area, these murals have given lives to the mundane, bleak signal boxes. Some famous artists who had been part of the initiatives were Adam Socie, Thelma Brown, Anat Ronen and Doug Hiser.

Public Art of Texas:

The beautiful home

Texas is famous for its public art, whether it is the huge eye of Dallas or the Traveling Man of Dallas, one can see the industrial materials being extensively used for public sculptures. 

Robert Bruno’s Steel House:

This UFO-like house is a brilliance of craftsmanship, with its steel body of 150 tons and wooden interior, the whole sculpture like home is a hard work on one man-Robert Bruno.

Building 98:

With its surreal paintings drawn by the German prisoners of war, Building 98 has many gems worth checking out, for that you have to plan a trip to Marfa, Texas.

The Picasso Benches:

These benches in St. Antonio remind one of the great artist Pablo Picasso, so why not just save the memory while you wait for the bus, sitting on these benches.

 The Travelling Man of Dallas: 

The three sculptures sculptured by Brad Oldham are made of polished metal sheets and rivets, remembering the rich history of railway transportation.

The Stag Sculpture:

Designed by Florentino Narcis, the huge Stag Sculpture in a housing society at Converse, Texas, is a great example of how nothing is wasteful!

Evergreen Cemetery:

Even the cemeteries in Texas have fair share of art in it. An Evergreen cemetery in Paris, Texas with its 15-foot tall Jesus in Boots sculpture will surely make you smile.

 Virgin Mary Sculpture:

Mexican flare of art can be seen in the beautiful candle sculpted by Jesse Trevino in Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center St. Antonio. This brightly colored virgin Mary Mosaic is 40 ft tall, the tallest in the world, giving the viewer a feeling of sacredness and calmness.

Red Pegasus:

The giant flying horse in neon red is one of the most famous sculptures of Dallas. It is also the logo of Magnolia Petroleum of Dallas, made in 1911 to represent the speed of the cars as back then car culture was being introduced and marketed to entice people to buy automobiles.

Cloud Column:

Designed by Anish Kapoor, this sparkly sculpture of steel adorned the Glassell School of Art in 2018.

Art Trip to Museums and Galleries

Chinati Foundation of Texas

Though an art trip is one thing, there are few must-see places to visit if you are fond of artistic things. Texas has many art gardens, museums and schools that can keep one occupied for days!

Dallas Museum of Art(DMA):

Art is the representation of the community and who can represent it better than the Dallas Museum of Art. Founded in 1903, the museum is a district in itself that acts as a nucleus of change. From cultural representation to introducing new, fresh perspectives, DMA works as a creative hub whereby art in the form of concerts, lectures, paintings, performances and literary events is celebrated.

Art car culture unique to Texas

McNutt Sculpture Garden:

The McNutt Sculpture Garden is a heaven for those who find fascination in sculptures. The intricately detailed sculptures narrate a story of Old West history. Part of Briscoe Western Art Museum, the sculpture garden is a unique way to learn about the history of the region. 

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston:

Being one of the largest museums of the USA and the 12th largest of the world, the museum houses around 70,000 art pieces from around the world. This treasure trove cannot be experienced in a day as it narrates the history of various civilisations and the world through art.

Art Car Museum:

The other museums worth a visit are the Art Car Museum. Houston is famous for its art car culture where people will drive their artistic pieces freely. This culture is preserved and respected by artists James and Ann Harithas who initiated the “Garage Mahal” exclusively for painted and sculpted cars.

David Adickes Studio:

David Adickes Studio is a sculptural galore where you can see giant sculpted marvels of American presidents. To learn about the history of the region you can go to Rusk County Youth Expo Center in Henderson.

Webb Gallery:

Do you go gaga over old trinkets or car plates? Are you fond of collecting all the secret societies collectibles? If you then Webb Gallery is just a place for you. It was started in 1987 in Waxahachie as just a hobby space where old handmade items were collected but now when the passion of all things handmade started resonating with the people as well, the gallery became their hub of exploration. Besides all the artsy stuff, the gallery also hosts exhibitions, events and music shows. A sure art hub for creatives to get lost in! 

Wrong Store:

Don’t get worried with the name, it is basically a treasure trove of handcrafted creative pieces worth buying for your art collection. Tucked under an old church, this place in Marfa lets the art zealots soothe their eyes with intricately crafted wooden bottles and keepsakes. Next time you go to Texas, you certainly do not want to miss this place, not when it was initiated by Donald Judd, the famous minimalist artist who worked here and made it a creative hub for many like him.

San Antonio Museum of Art:

What started as an art collection space in 1926, became a full fledged museum open to the public in 1981. It is a home to some of the famous artists’ work such as Phillip Guston, Frank Stella and folk artists like that of  Nelson Rockefeller and Robert K Winn.

Art Festivals in Texas:

If you are planning an art vacation in Texas, plan during the time of some of the famous art festivals so you can have the best experience of everything related to the creativity culture of Texas. Listed below are some famous art festivals that any art lover would love to be a part of.

The Other Art Fair:

This festival celebrates inclusivity, ensuring that art is accessible to everyone irrespective of their social status in the society, something worth experiencing if you appreciate out-of-the-box art.

Bayou City Art Festival:

This fine art festival is organized twice a year, in spring as well as in fall. It ensures to keep people engaged by keeping the festival in open public spaces.

Dallas Art Fair:

The art district of Texas held a huge art fair in order to introduce the new native and international artists. This social gathering allows people to interact with the artist and learn about the contemporary art of various regions of the world.

Texas Contemporary:

Each year Houston organizes an art fair to gather artwork of artists from around the world. This fair is usually curated with the help of museums and galleries of Texas.

Some Famous Texan Artists:

Post office mural in Texas

You might not hear much about Texas when it comes to art, but the fact is, this state has so much to offer and has so many big names attached to its art history that you need to check it for yourself. From Donald Judd, the minimalist to Robert Rauschenberg, the man who made art from anything and everything, Texas is full of such creatives who redefine art and freely express themselves with varied mediums. Some names that every art aficionado must be aware of are

Melissa Miller work

Olin Travis: 

The founder of Dallas Art Institute, Olin is known for his scenic paintings which has a sense of calmness and sadness to it, His detailed pieces were highly appreciated and won him many commissioned works. His murals can be found in many schools and business hubs, the most famous being the murals for Hughes Tool Company in Houston.

Thomas Stellar art work

Otis Dozier:

If you are keen on learning about the history and culture of the region, Otis can take you to places through his depiction of the region via his paintings. His subject was mainly the unique landscape of the region and the hard working people who resided in it. He being an artist and his wife, Velma, a ceramist, are well known for being the cultural artists who highlighted the pleas of the farmers who suffered a lot during the Great Depression.

Mary McCleary Collage piece

William Lester: 

Being one of the most celebrated regional artists of Texas, Lester’s work represents the diverse landscape of the region through charcoal and lithographic prints. His serene art pieces immaculately narrate the details of the landscape of the region. The selective vibrant color choices in his art hinted his inspiration from Mexican artists. Instead of following the prevalent trends of impressionism, he came up with his own unique style of surrealistic paintings showing the beauty of people, buildings and landscapes.

Mary Mccleary: 

The contemporary artist of  Texas is famous for her art collages that use unimportant things and make them timeless treasures through her art. Having an inclination towards the religion she believes in, her work is always a fight between good and evil. The human complexity and emotions and the constant fight between consciences are mainly subjects of her art pieces. Using collage as the medium, her complex pieces are unique; layering multiple things 3d into 2d form.

Conclusion

While the whole of Texas is a huge art alley, every artist must visit it to know it for themselves. Its art and culture have significantly influenced pop-culture as well. From the cow-boy boots to those fringy jackets, Texas has enchanted people with their unique fashion sense which is artistic, rowdy but very much culturally inclined. Even the art is a language of their rich traditions where the old agrarian past is celebrated and respected whole heartedly. If you must, try and plan a road trip to Texas because not everything artsy is kept in museums!

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