Early Texas Art at the Fort Worth Show

// Published March 13, 2013 by Eric Miller

Although the rustic industrial design and French country chic were abundantly represented in the Fort Worth Show last week, Texas art, including early Texas Art could be found through a few vendors.

Otis DozierA large painting by Otis Dozier from Jane Christian was hard to miss. Dozier, like other Dallas Nine artists, gradually loosened his regionalism style to a more semiabstract style with freer brushstrokes and brilliant colors. The most recent auction record at David Dike Fine Art showed that collectors are fighting for quality works of his later style. This painting, however, looks similar to another fishermen painting auctioned at Sotheby’s more than 12 years ago. Dozier was a well-travelled man. During the 1950s and early 1960s he traveled to Italy, Spain, Turkey, India, Ceylon, Thailand, Japan, and Mexico. Based on sedge hats and boats, It is tempting to infer the painting was possibly inspired by his trip to Thailand. Although not a Texas subject, it pleases me with its unique aesthetics: a synthetic of flattened colors and rhythmic shapes and lines projected onto a pictorial space.

Still Life TexasAlso from Jane was a small still life painting by one of the Fort Worth Circle artists — Marjorie Johnson-Lee. In the late 1930s and early 1940s Johnson-Lee exhibited with other Fort Worth Circle artists actively. After WWII, she moved to New York City and maintained close ties to Bill Bomar. (She eventually went back to Texas after the conclusion of her marriage.) Pear and Grapes, as a small label on the back indicated, has an intense color pallete. The naïve design, simplified by a near-calligraphic swirl of black border that interlocks circular patterns of grapes, recalls Paul Klee and other European modernism paintings.

Marylin branhamWe also spotted a water color by Marylin Branham, an artist from Texas, dated in 1966. The way she projected geometric diagonal lines onto a mountainous landscape reminds me of Bill Bomar. I could not find any information regarding to this artist. If you happen to know her and her works, please let us know.