Year of Exhibitions to Reveal New Insights About Art in Texas

Tatiana Herrera-Schneider |

From American Impressionism to Abstraction, three exhibitions at the San Antonio Museum of Art will explore new aspects of art in Texas

San Antonio, TX—December 4, 2019—The San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) announced today three major upcoming exhibitions that bring forward different aspects of American art, with a particular emphasis on art either made by Texans or in Texas. The series begins with Texas Women: A New History of Abstract Art (February 7– May 3, 2020), which breaks new ground in identifying contributions from women artists to the history of American Abstraction. In June, the Museum will premiere America’s Impressionism: Echoes of a Revolution (June 12–September 6). Co-organized with the Brandywine River Museum and Dixon Gallery and Gardens, this exhibition demonstrates how painters in the United States learned from—and then evolved away from—the approach of the French Impressionists, creating a uniquely American style of Impressionism, including works by Texas-based artists. Finally, in the fall, the Museum will present Everett Spruce: Texas Reimagined (Oct. 9, 2020–Jan. 3, 2021). Originally organized by the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the show is the first retrospective for this important Texas artist.

“This is an exciting year of programs for the San Antonio Museum of Art, an opportunity to bring Texas and American art into focus, and to chart its evolution from the late nineteenth century to the present day,” said William Keyse Rudolph, PhD, the Museum’s Co-Interim Director, Chief Curator, and Marie and Hugh Halff Curator of American and European Art. “As an art museum with an encyclopedic collection, we present a wide range of art and artists, from antiquity forward and from around the world. Yet there is always something deeply satisfying about reconnecting with the art of Texas, bringing new discoveries to light and demonstrating new ways of looking at and thinking about how our state influenced art history.”

Texas Women: A New History of Abstract Art

(February 7– May 3, 2020)

While Texas is well known for its representational and figurative art—such as beautiful bluebonnet and landscape paintings—during the mid-twentieth century a number of artists in Texas began to explore the possibilities of abstraction instead. Although this shift paralleled the radical and innovative changes taking place outside the region, such as the work being developed by the New York School of Abstract Expressionist painters and sculptors, artists in Texas made significant and distinct contributions to the development of abstract art.

In particular, the contributions of women artists in Texas whose work is primarily abstract have not been fully examined. This exhibition expands the narrative of American abstraction and celebrates Texas as a vital art scene where women’s unique artistic visions continue to thrive.

Texas Women: A New History of Abstract Art presents the first large-scale exhibition to focus on women abstract artists living and working in Texas, across several decades and generations. The exhibition includes seventeen artists approximately and eighty-five works in various media, including painting, sculpture, drawing, and installation. The artists included are: Sara Cardona (b.1971, Mexico City), Pat Colville (b. 1931), Sharon Engelstein (b. 1965), Dana Frankfort (b. 1971), Linnea Glatt (b. 1949), Dorothy Hood (1919–2000), Terrell James (b. 1955), Dorothy Antoinette “Toni” LaSelle (1901–2002), Annette Lawrence (b.1965), Catherine Lee (b. 1950), Constance Lowe (b. 1951), Marcelyn McNeil (b. 1965), Susie Rosmarin (b. 1950), Margo Sawyer (b. 1958), Lorraine Tady (b. 1967), Liz Trosper (b. 1983), and Liz Ward (b. 1960).

Most of the artists in Texas Women are still making new work today, and many have enriching relationships with one another as teachers, mentors, and close friends. Their perspectives and approaches differ. For example, Pat Colville, Linnea Glatt, and Catherine Lee have been exploring and experimenting with the potential of abstraction for over four decades. Other artists, such as Liz Trosper and Sara Cardona, have energized their practice with photographic processes and technology. But in each case, their works reflect an ongoing and rigorous commitment to pushing their ideas, materials, and processes, seeking to create new experiences for their audiences that stimulate reflections about art and the times in which they are living.

America’s Impressionism: Echoes of a Revolution

(June 12–September 6, 2020)

Impressionism has been one of the most enduring styles of art ever produced, and its complex and often contradictory American variation has captured and held public attention for more than a century. But although French and American Impressionism share some terminology and some artistic elements, this exhibition will demonstrate that the two styles diverged quite dramatically.

As American artists—often having trained in France—returned home in the late nineteenth century, they put a distinctly American twist on this style of painting, creating a new genre and teaching it to subsequent generations of artists. America’s Impressionism: Echoes of a Revolution explores this history, bringing approximately seventy-five works together to show this evolution in American painting and demarcate it clearly from its European origins.

French Impressionism made its public debut in Paris in 1874 with an exhibition that famously shocked critics and viewers alike. But it is believed that Impressionism did not formally arrive in the U.S. until more than a decade later, when Parisian art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel organized a major New York exhibition of French works in 1886. Slowly, its influence on American artists took hold. Some, like Willard Metcalf, Theodore Robinson, and Theodore Wendel, went to Giverny to learn from Claude Monet, the French master painter. Others, such as William Merritt Chase, Daniel Garber, Childe Hassam, and John Henry Twachtman, returned from studying and working in Europe to form new clusters of American Impressionist painters in rural communities in Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, eventually spreading to the American Southwest.

At SAMA, America’s Impressionism will include additional examples of work by Texas artists, underscoring the deep connections between the state and this American art movement. This includes paintings by Julian Onderdonk, Dawson Dawson-Watson, and José Arpa, among others, drawn either from the Museum’s collection or on loan from others. In addition, in a presentation exclusive to SAMA, the Museum will also present selections from the San Antonio¾based Halff Collection, one of the most important collections of American Impressionism in private hands. Organized by SAMA in collaboration with the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee, the exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published in conjunction with Yale University press, which includes a full complement of color plates and new essays by the exhibition’s curators.

Everett Spruce: Texas Reimagined

(Oct. 9, 2020–Jan. 3, 2021)

Everett Spruce (1908–2002) was the most celebrated painter from Texas in the first half of the twentieth century. Spruce received national visibility as early as 1932, and by 1936 arts institutions across the country were requesting his artwork for inclusion in their survey exhibitions of contemporary American art. In the subsequent two decades, his work was widely acquired by American art museums from across the country, including the Dallas Museum of Art, The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. But following this period of success, interest in his work began to wane, as that critics, curators, and museums began to focus more extensively on the burgeoning American movement of Abstract Expressionism.

Everett Spruce: Texas Reimagined brings together some fifty of Spruce’s masterworks, drawn from across his seven-decade career, to reintroduce and reposition the artist within the canon of American art. The exhibition—and the essays in the accompanying catalogue—reframes Spruce not as a regionalist, but as an artist who drew on a wide range of modernist techniques to forge his own style and present the beauty and drama of Texas coastlines, deserts, mountains, and prairies to twentieth-century audiences. Also included are Spruce’s rare and most critical figurative works, a small and distinctive set within his wider oeuvre. Originally organized by the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the exhibition’s presentation at SAMA is an opportunity to extend the contemporary visibility for this important Texas artist.

About the San Antonio Museum of Art:

The San Antonio Museum of Art serves as a forum to explore and connect with art that spans the world’s geographies, artistic periods, genres, and cultures. Its collection contains nearly 30,000 works representing 5,000 years of history. Housed in the historic former Lone Star Brewery on the Museum Reach of San Antonio’s River Walk, the San Antonio Museum of Art is committed to promoting the rich cultural heritage and life of the city. The Museum hosts hundreds of events and public programs each year, including concerts, performances, tours, lectures, symposia, and interactive experiences. As an active civic leader, the Museum is dedicated to enriching the cultural life of the city and the region, and to supporting its creative community.