The art market, as a whole, does fluctuate, but within that market there are pockets of niche art for which the market has its own activity. David Dike recognized regional art when he started in the business in 1986. Upon traveling across the country to different art shows and fairs, David noticed that the art many dealers were handling was not exclusive to national and international names, rather painters that were regional to their areas; like the plein air painters of California or the Old Lyme paintings of Connecticut. This inspired David to research and focus on Texas regional artists. Artists that were active at the turn of the century to mid-century, creating works in the same style and period as other major nationally renowned artists. These Texas artists were studying at the Chicago Art Institute, The Art Students League of New York, or Shinnecock Summer School of Art.
Years after he started his gallery, David established the Texas Art Auction in 1996 from the support and encouragement of his Texas art collectors. This was the first ever fine art auction dedicated strictly to Texas art. The auction is still held annually and has produced records every year for Texas artists; helping in the growth and recognition of Texas art.
That being said, the Texas art market is still emerging and starting to be recognized on the national level. Some big names in Texas art you may start seeing at nationally recognized auctions are Julian Onderdonk, Robert Onderdonk, Paul Schumann, Edward Eisenlohr, Porfirio Salinas, Robert Wood, Dawson Dawson-Watson and Alexandre Hogue, to name a few of some of the great early Texas painters.
Texas also has its own cultural hubs from which artists grouped to create different areas/schools of art. San Antonio is one of the earliest for Texas historical and later impressionist painters. The Fort Worth Circle encompassed a group of avant-guard painters and printmakers in the mid-century. Dallas is another area where painters emerged and started different schools like the Frank Reaugh Club, Dallas Art Institute and later the teachers and students of Southern Methodist University art department. Founders of the art department at the University of Texas include a list of heavy hitters of artists who in the past five years are really making a mark and have increased in value.
San Antonio, at the turn of the Century through the 1940s/50s, was home to many of the Texas impressionist painters you will see at national auctions now. The best of which known is Julian Onderdonk who is most famous for his bluebonnet landscapes. Porfirio Salinas and Robert Wood are also known for their bluebonnet paintings. A soft rule of thumb… paintings with Texas subject matter by these artists seem to sell the best in Texas. Take a Robert Wood bluebonnet landscape to a gallery in California and it may not bring a premium; just as a Robert Wood Laguna Beach seascape may not sell at as high of a price in Texas as it could in California. It is important to recognize the value of these paintings within the appropriate market.
The Fort Worth Circle encompassed a number of avant-garde painters and printmakers who were generating a buzz in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. The time following WWII marked a period when these artists desired to create unique abstractions using exaggerated colors, which reflects the artists’ observation of harmony around them. Some of these artists include Bror Utter, Bill Bomar, Cynthia Brants, George Grammer, David Brownlow, Kelly Fearing, Marjorie Johnson Lee and McKie Trotter. These artists are particularly hot at this very moment. The trend of mid-century modern home and furniture design seems to have filtered over to artwork as well. Collectors are recognizing this and starting to snatch up these mid-century modern paintings. The market for these artists is on the rise.
Dallas has had histories of different artists that are important. Some of these big names include Edward G. Eisenlohr, Franz Strahalm and Frank Reaugh. The Frank Reaugh School based in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas was a studio and base from which Reaugh would take a group of artists every summer on a tour of West Texas, where he and 10–12 students would paint plein air, primarily on boards with pastels. Frank Reaugh pastel paintings of the West Texas plains that capture the historic cattle herding era are quite valuable and can be in the mid-five figures; and David anticipates these values will hold.
Olin Travis was another early Dallas painter. He received some of his formal training as an artist at the Chicago Art Institute and the Broadmoor Academy. He would summer in Arkansas, where he started a summer school for artists to paint in the city of Cass. He later founded the Dallas Art Institute where many early Dallas painters got their start. The art department at Southern Methodist University is another school which included artists who studied and then later taught. These painters include Jerry Bywaters, Otis Dozier, DeForrest Judd and Ed Bearden. Founders of the art department at University of Texas in Austin include William Lester and Everett Spruce; who were also later known as part of the Dallas Nine.
Arguably, the group’s strongest works to date are their regional works from the 1930s. Like the American Regionalists, Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, the paintings were executed in a style that was tightly rendered with hard-edged forms reminiscent of the WPA mural paintings. Charles Umlauf also taught in the art department at UT Austin, and is one of the most important Texas sculptors.
By: David Dike Fine Art, ISA Affinity Business Partner
About David Dike Fine Art: David Dike Fine Art specializes 19th and 20th century American and European paintings with an emphasis on the Texas Regionalists and Texas Landscape painters. The gallery provides a compilation of traditional and distinctive art for both new and mature collectors. http://www.daviddike.com. 214-720-4044