Fort Worth

Thirty-Third Annual Exhibition for Artists of Fort Worth and Tarrant County

Fort Worth Art Center Museum

Some must sidle abjectly and anonymously into any competitive exhibition out of respect for Arp, R. D. Laing, Dick Higgins, La Jolla ’63 and now, it seems, Richmond ’70, at the very least; and competitive exhibitions with prizes, reference Bob Hope on the Oscars, that they are dedicated to the proposition that jealousy and envy shall not perish from the earth. The Thirty-Third Annual in Fort Worth allows ample placation if not outright justification. It is presented in not merely a handsome installation, but one handled with the perception and ingenuity necessary to treat each of one hundred and twenty-four quite individual works in as advantageous placement as is given in the limited space available.

The Director of the Fort Worth Art Center Museum, Henry T. Hopkins, states in the catalog that among the seven hundred entries submitted were works from artists in Dallas and other counties whose membership in the Fort Worth Art Association permitted their participation in a Fort Worth, Tarrant County show. This alone indicates the civilized approach to the organization and selection, as well as the display, of the exhibition. Walter Hopps, Director of the Corcoran Gallery, was the juror, and in Hopkins’ catalog statement he notes Hopps’s “desire to achieve a comprehensive cross section, from the most conservative to the most experimental” with the result that “some very competent works were rejected in favor of less finished, experimental works which displayed growth, development and an emerging personal esthetic.” Given this stated purpose, there is no reason to look for a stylistically cohesive collection; as a whole the exhibit appears bright and varied, including an abundance of ably executed familiar styles. Granted, what may be considered universality of style is often a universality of capable imitation, still it is all too easy to play the game of wandering through such an exhibition and recognizing everything in it as someone else’s work, with each season adding newly publicized artists to be given a local rendition: these exhibitions often resemble good student shows, which is really what they generally are, and may as well be accepted as such.

The prize money, most of it made available to the juror to be dispensed at his discretion, amounted to well over $3000 and interesting reasoning lay behind his four top selections: “He felt that all of the award entries were strong but in some cases he awarded $500 because the materials utilized are expensive and the additional money may be helpful to the artists in pursuing their present experiment al direction.” The extent to which these four, Geffert, Koch, Malone, and Roche, approach the innovative and veer away from imitation seems a corollary of the measure of their compatibility with materials, either initially difficult ones or made deliberately complex; thus a concern with material over process, information, and, excepting Roche, figurative imagery.

Martha Utterback