“THE STATE OF THE ART: CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS IN TEXAS”
Authored by June Mattingly, 2012
Well-respected Texas contemporary art collector, advisor, educator, and gallerist June Mattingly has recently self-published an e-book, The State of the Art: Contemporary Artists in Texas, highlighting the work of almost 90 of the state’s most exciting and collected contemporary artists. The book is available for purchase and downloading from Amazon.com to any device with a Reader feature, such as iPad, Kindle, Nook, smart phone, or PC.
Mattingly’s lifelong passion for the contemporary arts has been documented in the local press for years, making her a natural to author such a collection. A friend to many of the artists featured, coupled with her years of owning and directing a contemporary art gallery, her founding of Dallas Art Dealers Association (DADA), and years of teaching contemporary art collecting at SMU, one might ask: what took her so long?
During a recent lunch interview, Mattingly, who was born in New York but moved here at age seven, emphasized that she had been wanting to write such a book for quite some time. Her primary motivation for authoring it, in short, was “to share all of my knowledge!” She further expressed how little people know and how much they want to know, with regard to the book’s subject. In addition, she indicated that it was her goal, in preparing the book, to include images of each artist’s works, however, as importantly, to write a short, easy to read, easy to understand review of each artist’s oeuvre.
But such an endeavor took some time as, she was quick to explain, it took years to research all of the artists, as well as to obtain satisfactory images to her liking. Although the majority of artists are represented by a gallery, there are exceptions: some of the new and emerging talents. Further, with the exception of Donald Judd, all of the artists in the book are alive, which Mattingly sees as important.
The book is simply arranged in five parts. Part One is a concise overview and analysis by Mattingly of contemporary art in Texas since the 1980s. In her mind, Texas is a hotbed of contemporary art. She not only examines what has caused Texas to become so active in the contemporary art realm, but also provides supporting references to publications about important Texas collections of contemporary art. Further, she is concise in adding highly relevant artists’ exhibitions and national gallery representation of Texas contemporary artists as additional evidence of the popularity of Texas artists beyond the state’s borders. She further adds references to books published on the works by Texas artists such as James Magee, Melissa Miller, David Bates, Julie Speed, and Vernon Fisher.
n addition, brief descriptions are included of the biggest and brightest art stars in Texas, such as Trenton Doyle Hancock, Margo Sawyer, Joseph Havel, Hana Hillerova, James Surls, Jesus Moroles, Susie Rosmarin, Linda Ridgway, Jeff Elrod, Erick Swenson, Terrell James, and several others. The educations of these artists, as well as descriptions of their techniques and present gallery representations, are also included.
Part Two gets to the heart of the matter, with her listing of 87 artists whom she believes are an important part of the microcosmic Texas art scene.
Later, she summarizes the reasons for contemporary artists to reside in Texas and to produce art here. Large cities and geographic areas are discussed, as to how they impact artists and collectors, including the supportive institutions for artists, such as museums, alternative art spaces and artist-in-residences programs. Texas art galleries, educational institutions, art fairs, and interested art collectors, all are also identified as being attractive to artists.
The most engaging part of the book is probably the artist-by-artist reviews of those selected by the author. Each review contains not only images of works, but also statements and abbreviated texts which describe their ideas, visions and goals adding to the exciting visual experience. Also included are short biographies. Indeed, it is here that Mattingly’s own visual experience comes to the fore. It is impossible not to share her enthusiasm, as each page is turned, and new images are disclosed and exciting artists are discussed.
By reviewing the newest and emerging artists such as Adela Andea, Billy Zinser, Howard Sherman. Ruben Nieto, and Ricardo Paniagua, the most revered of the established talents, like Harry Geffert, Bert Long, Jr., Mary McClearly, Mac Whitney, and Linda Ridgway, and those mid-career, including Ted Kincaid, Pam Nelson, Billy Hassell, Sam Reveles, Lorraine Tady, and Tom Orr, Mattingly has substantiated, in full, the purpose of her book, as well as her global knowledge of Texas contemporary artists. Interestingly, a number of the artists are actively engaged in teaching themselves — John Pomara, Troy Brauntuch, William Cannings, Vincent Falsetta, Tommy Fitzpatrick, and Annette Lawrence.
The State of the Art: Contemporary Artists in Texas will remain an indispensable resource for the serious art collector and students of contemporary art. Mattingly’s organization, thoughtful interpretation of the regional contemporary art world, and careful penning, give the book substance beyond a picture book.
For those of her readers who believe that their favorite Texas artist was incorrectly excluded from the book, Mattingly is already looking forward to her next volume. “I’m always out there looking! I’m very observant.”
To purchase the ebook: