Various Venues, Dallas

Spring 1962 fills the eyes and thoughts of Dallas’ art public—almost feverishly so—with the visual expressions of our time, and almost up to the minute in some instances, like it or no. Battle lines between “traditional” and “contemporary” are visible still, but almost daily edges of demarcation and definition blur as the one imperceptibly slips into the category of yesterdays but on which all tomorrows to come must build.

If tempers still shorten in each camp when one or the other intrudes too far in either direction, the area of at least partial understanding lengthens its dispassionate shade.

As it has rather dramatically the past five years, the pace this April is ever quicker, more rewarding, as standards of taste and selectivity lift nearer the ideal and as institutions and private projects face up to their heaping responsibilities to the community.

The scavenger hunt for funds or sales is endless, of course, but the product and marketing are meeting the challenge with care in most cases, sometimes so presitigiously that all can benefit in the reflection.

At this point on the April calendar, citizen or visitor has a range of choice not possible less than a decade ago. Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (State Fair Park), the city’s oldest showcase and only tax-supported museum, is presenting through April 29 a most rewarding sampling (85 pieces) from New York’s Museum of Modern Art Collection, “Twentieth Century Drawings.” The show illustrates most aptly the remarkably high quality of draftsmanship more often achieved than not by artists working in the busily diversified idioms of a time still very much with us. Not intended as an historical survey the exhibition nonetheless explores styles and techniques from the early 1900’s to the present and is creatively educational.

Along its way comes the emotional force or satire of the early and late Expressionists (Kirchner, Beckmann); the re-creation of forms that is Cubism (Gris, Leger); the expressive potency of non-objective abstraction (Kandinsky, Malevich); Dada and Surrealism (Tan-guy, Dali, Dominguez); the School of Paris (Matisse, Modigliani, Leger); American internationalism (Blume); American abstract expressionism (Gorky, Davis, Feininger, Kuniyoshi, Pereira, Shahn), plus Altman, Dubuffet, Rivers, Moore, Nadelman, Butler, Pollock and their likes.

Due April 15 is the largest edition yet (130 items) of the Dallas County Painting, Drawing and Sculpture Exhibition, the 33rd in the series. 320 entries were submitted and culled by a jury including Hobson Pittman, the eminent painter and sage of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Austin sculptor-ceramist Ishmael H. Soto, and Mitchell Wilder, director of Forth Worth’s Amon Carter Museum of Western Art. There were 320 entries submitted and nearly $2,000 in purchase or other prizes to be awarded at the April 14 preview.

That farthest-out enclave for the local avant-garde, Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts (3415 Cedar Springs), is at it again with “1961,” a freewheeling skim of styles, trends and other doings of the year of title. The exhibition organized by Douglas MacAgy, director of the privately-supported offspring of Museum of Modern Art, advertised itself as “a hotly spiced gallimaufry of new insights, new outlooks, newcomers and old friends” and opened with a public preview “twist” party. It also imported New York artist Claes Oldenburg and wife Patricia to create a “happening” titled “Injun,” a next-to-last word in dadaistic hoopla. Oldenburg also contributed to the exhibition “The Store,” a “happening” frozen in place and time and labelled an “environment.” He waS one of the originators a year or so ago in New York.

As wildly absorbing as “Injun” turned out to be in its three dimensional stew of theater, music and assorted gropings into the subconscious, “1961” is effective only in individual instances (Jimmy Ernst, Ernest Briggs, Joseph Glasco, Alberto Giacometti, Robert Mallary, Jim Dine, Karl Appel). Already too intellectually volatile for its crammed space, the collection inexplicably ignores the towering likes of Rothko, Kline and so many others in today’s vanguard who can’t be ignored when any such survey is attempted. As for Mr. Oldenburg’s The Store, it left us feeling a bit like Jerry, of the Tom and Jerry animated cartoons, beholding painted-plaster slabs of layer-cake as big as our head and so on, though at a goodly distance it held interest as vibrant dimensional design. Nor were we tempted to take a bite at any time.

In the galleries, Donald Vogel’s Valley House (6616 Spring Valley Road)—easily the most enrapturing indoor-outdoor showcase for the arts in the Southwest—is abloom with its own cultivations and a luxuriating first show in this country of the Pont-Aven paintings of Emile Bernard, through April 15, to be followed by an extensive show of Rouault. The Bernard collection made an irresistible corollary to the first-rate “The Outline and the Dot” exhibit last month at Dallas Museum of Fine Arts which explored so gratifyingly the whole Pont-Aven colony.

Atelier Chapman Kelley (2508 Maple Avenue), which has just ended the wonderfully enriching ten-lecture seminar by Hobson Pittman, is still displaying paintings of Roger Winter which, when they aren’t recalling Edvard Munch too vividly, are provocative explorations hop-skipping the borders between figure and fantasy.

Haydon Calhoun Galleries (2528 Fairmount) is offering one of its most refreshing exhibits of the season to date, “Eight Sculptors,” and in the wake of its excellent James Boynton solo. Working in cast metals, wood, stone or welded metals—as symbolists, non-objectivists or American orientalists—are P. T. Chin of Irving, Roy Fridge of Dallas, Duayne Hatchett of Tulsa, Leonard of London, Jim Love of Houston, Raymond W. Musselwhite of Athens, Ga., Pei-fen of Irving and James W. Washington Jr. of Seattle. A most welcome squad of talents.

Harry Z. Lawrence Galleries (2214 Cedar Springs) has on hand for the month a well-chosen assortment (specially priced from $15 to $35) of colored lithographs, etchings and serigraphs by Leger, Van Dongen, Raoul Dufy, Segonzac, Man Ray, Foujita, Bezombes, Othon-Friesz, Vertes, Lurcat, Georges Oudot, Jean Eve, Lars Bo, Stanley W. Hayter. All are artist’s proofs, limited editions and signed.

Nye Galleries (3309 Hood) has emerged from its protective “appointment only” state for a go at recent paintings and drawings by Stephen Rascoe of Corpus Christi and Hiram Williams of Gainesville, Fla. The latter was loudly hailed in his New York show recently but raised but a mild buzz of interest during his Nye solos beginning three seasons back. We still consider him one of the few landmarks-to-be that has been spotted in this area and will report on this show next session.

Rual Askew