For 40 years, Lamar University’s Dishman Art Museum has featured a staggering range of art exhibitions, from painting to ceramics to graphic design to architecture, not to mention photography in all its forms.
To celebrate four decades, and in conjunction with the school’s centenary, the museum is hosting a pair of exhibitions highlighting a few of Lamar University’s distinguished alumni. The First Floor Gallery hosts “Our Back Pages,” including work by Marvin Hayes, Michael Kennaugh, Paul Manes and Allie “Bill’ Skelton. Works by Maudee Carron and Lynn Sweat fill the Second Floor Gallery.
Director Dennis Kiel said “Our Back Pages,” which is a nod to a Bob Dylan song, gives a chance to look at alumni in the collection who have done well in their careers and are celebrated now.
“We have all these Marvin Hayes’ pieces, but we don’t really have enough to do a show. So, I thought, well, let’s add some people,” Kiel said.
Hayes, who graduated from Lamar in 1963, was associated with the Metropolitan Museum. The work in the show, rendered in egg tempera, are delicately drawn figures. Tempera dries faster than watercolor and the resulting hyper-realistic portrait resembles a fine pencil drawing.
A series of paintings by Paul Manes feature a circle motif, which became a signature element in his work. Manes, who got his first Lamar degree in 1972, layers his work until it is highly textured.
One can see the depth of the media as it is applied to the canvas.
“I think he’s an example of how it just doesn’t work looking at a painting on the Internet,” Kiel said. “Because, I mean, this one — look at the chunks that you think are going to fall off. Look at how (this one is) a collage of canvas strips that he’s put together and layered.”
Allie Bill Skelton, a 1965 graduate, is represented by “The Wild West,” which Kiel said has a long history with the museum.
“We’ve got this huge painting, which I like to bring out every so often just to let it breathe,” he said. “When they did the first very first exhibition here at the Dishman, 40 years ago, it was 13 alumni. Allie Bill was one, and I’m pretty sure this painting was on display, and then we bought it from him, according to the records I’ve seen.”
The painting is figurative, but the women are brightly colored and distorted. It captures the feel of a bordello in the “Wild” West.
Kennaugh, who graduated in 1986, is represented by pieces throughout his career, including a recent sculpture lent by local collectors Rob Clark and Jerry Thacker. Kennaugh’s “The Conversation,” from 2010, is an abstract that has the feel of a landscape, incorporating Cubistic shapes.
Hanging a show is an artistic process in itself. The four artists represented in “Our Back Pages” have different styles. So, Kiel looks for little clues in the works that allow for a flow — from realism to abstraction. He used the transition from Hayes to Manes as an example. Hayes’ portrait of a man in a blue shirt hangs next to Manes’ abstract “Terra Firma.”
“I saw the color of his shirt, and then that color, that little blue (in the Manes), and I felt like it moved right in there,” he said, with a laugh. “No one else may see that, but I always say the fun thing about curating is trying to find some connections.
“Hopefully, subconsciously, people won’t even know why they’re moving because it’s something’s tugging them along. They don’t even realize.”
The Dishman Art Museum opened in May 1983, although it didn’t have its first exhibition until September, Kiel said, but the exhibition not only kicks off a celebration of 40 years of art on campus but is also part of the university’s year long centenary celebration.
The opening reception for “Our Back Pages” is this evening, 6:30-8:30 p.m., and the show is on display through March 4.
The Dishman Art Museum is located at 1030 E. Lavaca on the Lamar University campus. Hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturday, noon-4 p.m. For more, visit lamar.edu/dish-man.
WHERE TO GO
The Dishman Art Museum is located at 1030 E. Lavaca on the Lamar University campus. Hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturday, noon-4 p.m.
This story first ran in the Jan. 27, 2023 Art of Living section of the Beaumont Enterprise.