Dallas

Dallas

The heat is on, and despite air-conditioning and surface appearances of considerable exhibition activity, nature is having her usual way with summer patronage of museums and galleries. The latter are still rolling with a noticeable slump in buying in the wake of the vast stock market “readjustment.” Many would argue that this is all to the good, that, conceivably, many forced prices and reputations will find a truer level considerably below what some dealers have manipulated in the region’s art-hungry market.

Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, as is its annual wont, has trotted out batches of its permanent collection in bulk. It traces fetchingly and modestly the respectable mileage covered in the last five years toward first-class institutional rating—as well as the very considerable distance still ahead for the public institution amid such a population explosion and legendary affluence, however aimless both too often appear.

The section of American paintings emphasizes recent gifts, from 1961 on (William Palmer, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Winslow Homer, Maurice Prendergast, John Singleton Copley, Robert Vickrey), and such staples from the past as items by Gilbert Stuart, Robert Henri, George Bellows, George Inness, William Michael Harnett, William Merritt Chase, such “regionalists” as Hopper, Marsh, Burchfield and Benton.

The outlay of present-day Texas canvases supports considerably more than local or regional pride, especially in works by Cecil Casebier, Chapman Kelley, Otis Dozier, Kelly Fearing, Seymour Fogel, William Lester, DeForrest Judd, Perry Nichols, Everett Spruce, Clare Williamson and McKie Trotter which could easily hold their own against similar roundups in any other section of the country we’ve seen.

DMFA’s European section embraces such prestigious accessions as those by Van Gogh, Jean Baptiste Greuze, Sir Jacob Epstein, David Teniers the Younger—another on the growing list of gifts from Mr. and Mrs. E. M. (Ted) Dealey.

Subject matter conveniently sets the theme of two additional displays —“Woods and Plains,” early 20th century landscapes by the likes of J. Alden Weir, Julian Onderdonk, Childe Hassam, Ernest Blumenschein, Frank Reaugh, E. G. Eisenlohr; and “Figures in the Landscape,” a print assortment (Rembrandt, Van Layden, Whistler, Bellows, Utrillo, Dufy, Marsh) highlighted by the most recent addition, Duerer’s larger-than-usual and beautifully preserved Hercules and Iola.

The irresistible “stagings” of santos and Pre-Columbian items, absent for the past few months, are again with us, plus the handsome group of Toulouse-Lautrec posters. On its own is the shimmeringly elegant 1920 oil Beach Scene, by Maurice Prendergast, just presented by Mrs. Wilson Schoellkopf, Dallas Art Association trustee.

Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which recently acquired an Esteban Vicente collage through Ford Foundation, is still dawdling at the crossroads of policies and aims. Perversely or by design, it still toadies to the farthest-out schools, erratically, apparently unaware that the pendulum of art’s time swings inevitably away from the abstract expressionists, “action” painters and their like these days and nearer the figure than has been fashionable in the last 15 years. For all the enriching they did of our arts experience and the forcing of technical flexibility, these far-outers nonetheless have become cliches faster than usual and trapped by the very “freedom” they exploded in behalf of. It is ever thus.

Since last report DMCA barged self-consciously into the public preserve of local-regional art more properly the domain of Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, and which DMCA early in its life foreswore with a relish. Its “Three Texas Artists” boasted only the rather emotionally dishevel led private conversations in paint by Denton’s Dorothy LaSelle, the groping peregrinations of quasi-staff artist David McManaway and the finely crafted sculptures in wood or metal by Forth Worth’s eminently likeable eclectic, Charles Williams. The effort boosted no one and was followed by “Lithographs from Tamarind,” a handsome-enough variety show from the pump-primed project so dear to the heart of June Wayne in Los Angeles. From the look of the generous sampling here, Ford Foundation is getting more than its money’s worth in underwriting to date. The art of lithography, so recently on the wane, has thrived bloomingly.

Among the galleries, Valley House has put together a hot-weather bouquet of commercialized decorations by Claude Venard and Calmettes, some decoratively delicate tone-pieces by newcomer Ravel, another last-namer, and the gleaming marble forms by Signori, the gallery’s latest promotion, who adds nothing to what Brancusi and Arp long since said.

Nye Galleries is back in stronger action with a collection of lobby sized paintings by Casebier, left over from his recent New York show, plus some strong offerings by Hiram Williams and Stephen Rascoe.

Atelier Chapman Kelley is contenting itself with the remains of its gallery group (Kelley, David DeLong, Roger Winter, Hobson Pittman, Perry Nichols) and Haydon Calhoun Galleries is taking the time to act as agent for disposing of over 70 works culled from the D. D. Feldman collection of contemporary Texas painting, that odd Almanac de Gotha of the state’s painters that flared and fizzled so swiftly when its originator’s vague purpose was served.

Elsewhere on the scene, Rawlins-Chandler Gallery has the volcanic metal expressions of Philip John Evett and the gutless reveries of painter Maurice Schmidt, both of San Antonio, while Harry Z. Lawrence Galleries is exhibiting some appealing prints by Johhny Friedlander on the heels of its intriguing birthday salute to Pablo Picasso, the 97-piece “Vollard Set” of etchings now on display at the University of Texas in Austin.

Most roiling development of late outside certain museum-gallery doings, however, was the gift of seven Goyas, three El Grecos, a Van Dyck and a Velasquez and 24 other old masters in a $3,000,000 batch to Southern Methodist University’s projected Fine Arts Center, along with a $1,000,000 endowment gift, by Dallas oilman Algur H. Meadows. Meadows, chairman of the board of General American Oil Co. of Texas, offered the gift through the Meadows Foundation in memory of his late wife. Henceforth SMU’s unbuilt arts housing will be known as the Meadows Fine Arts Center, with the bestowed collection housed in the Virginia Meadows Art Museum portion of the projected complex for music, drama and the visual arts.

Controversy has boiled around the Meadows collection in recent years, with detractors noting that if the purported Spanish canvases were that first-class they would not have been allowed to go out of the “national treasure” category by the Spanish Government, no matter how friendly the relations between Franco and the Meadows company—the only American company authorized to seek oil in Spain. Be that as it may, both museums heaved audible sighs of relief when the awkward problem of accomodating too many questionable items just to gain the proportionately few first-rate ones was skirted for them.

Meanwhile, just across the Trinity River, Forth Worth’s Amon Carter Museum of Western Art has just garnished its fronting plaza with 4,500 pounds of Henry Moore, three towering bronzes titled Glenkin Cross, Upright Motive No. 2 and Upright Motive No. 7. Like a day, what a difference a river sometimes makes.

Rual Askew