With the new year on the horizon, we take a moment to look back and reflect on the artists, curators, and art patrons we’ve lost this year. In 2022, we said goodbye to significant people who helped shape the Texas art world and beyond, including Linda and Ed Blackburn, Nancy Koen, Nancy Brown Negley, Francis Colpitt, and Pedro Rodriguez.
Below is a chronological list of obituaries that have appeared in Glasstire in 2022, with excerpts from the original articles.
Linda Blackburn, the respected Fort Worth-based artist, died suddenly of natural causes on January 1, 2022. Best known for her paintings inspired by Western films, Mrs. Blackburn has been an important voice in the Texas art scene for decades. Her work shifted over time from traditional portraiture to more abstracted paintings, and, more recently, painterly depictions of the West.
John Wesley, the New York-based painter with connections to Texas, died February 10, 2022 at the age of 93. Known for its flat, graphic style featuring a pastel palette of pinks, blues, and greens, Mr. Wesley’s work was unique and did not fit tidily into the categories often used to define art.
Carmen Herrera, a Cuban-born abstract artist who gained fame in her late 80s, died on February 12, 2022 at the age of 106. Though Ms. Herrera’s artistic practice dates back to the early 1940s, her work was not widely acknowledged by the art world until the early 2000s. In 2021, the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin commissioned Ms. Herrera to create a mural as part of a larger redesign of its outdoor spaces.
Nancy Koen was a beloved presence in Dallas and beyond for many reasons, most recently for her role in running The Box Company with her husband and co-founder Jason Koen. In 2013, Ms. Koen co-created B STELLER, a modern jewelry design house, and in 2015 she was named a Dallas Culture Map’s Stylemaker Winner. In 2016 Mr. and Ms. Koen founded The Box Company, which has become known in Dallas for both its contemporary art space and its art services company.
Tom Moody, an artist, musician, and critic, died from COVID-19-related complications on March 19, 2022. Mr. Moody was a prolific artist who in many ways was ahead of the curve when it came to digital art. Best known for his low-tech art created using simple programs, Mr. Moody was also an early blogger who maintained multiple sites and contributed to many online communities.
Oliver Franklin, the site director for the Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin, Texas, died on April 4, 2022 at the age of 60. During his time at the institution, he brought innovative programming that paired contemporary artists with the historic site. Over nearly a decade, Mr. Franklin presented works by more than ninety female artists, most of whom worked in sculpture.
Nancy Brown Negley, a Houston artist and philanthropist who founded the Dora Maar House residency program in Ménerbes, France, died on July 16, 2022. Throughout her life, Mrs. Negley was involved with cultural organizations in Texas and beyond. She was a founding trustee of the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, which was established in 1965. In 1975, she was elected President of the San Antonio Conservation Society. In 1977, she was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to serve a two-year term as a member of the National Museum Services Board.
A significant presence in the art world since the 1970s, Edward (Ed) Madison Blackburn III died peacefully of natural causes on July 31, 2022. He was preceded in death by his wife, the artist Linda Blackburn, on January 2, 2022. Mr. Blackburn was primarily known as a painter, but he also worked as a printmaker, writer, poet, musician, and filmmaker. While he is most closely associated with the Photorealism and pop art movements, and his work frequently employed images from various types of popular media (including many pieces which draw on film stills), overall his work defies categorization.
Devon Christopher Moore, artist and founder/owner of Houston’s DCM Art Services, died on Monday, August 22, 2022. DCM Art Services is known for providing an array of services, such as installation, crating, transportation, and storage of artworks for clients across Houston, as well as surrounding cities and states. The company works with private collectors, galleries, and museums, including Art League Houston, Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art, Moody Gallery, and the Menil Collection.
Dr. Frances Colpitt, the renowned art historian, writer, educator, critic, and curator, died in her home in Fort Worth on Monday, September 12, 2022. After recently retiring from her position as the Deedie Potter Rose Chair of Art History at Texas Christian University (TCU) and being named Professor Emerita at the school, Dr. Colpitt was in the process of writing her third book. As one of the preeminent voices on minimal art, Dr. Colpitt has left an immeasurable legacy on the art world, here in Texas and beyond.
Deborah Grotfeldt, an important figure in the Houston arts scene, died on September 30, 2022. From 1986 to 1993, she served as Assistant Director of DiverseWorks, a multidisciplinary art organization that commissions, produces, and presents innovative work. Then, from 1993 to 2004, she served as the first executive director of Project Row Houses. In that role, she worked alongside the founding artists and helped establish some of the organization’s core programs. Later, she took on the role of Director of Advancement for Houston Public Media. For the last eight years, Ms. Grotfeldt supported nonprofit organizations to raise funds, train staff, and develop projects.
Frances Parker Marzio, Curator Emerita of the Glassell Collections, Africa, Oceania, the Americas, and Antiquities at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) and widow of MFAH director Peter Marzio, died on October 21, 2022. From the early 1990s through 2016, Mrs. Marzio served as the MFAH’s curator of antiquities. Along with her curatorial position at the museum, Mrs. Marzio also served as an aide to the Board of Trustees. Additionally, she was a trustee of the Houston Grand Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Tony Magar, a London-born Texas-based sculptor and painter died on November 22, 2022. Born Anthony Gordon McGhan, Mr. Magar kept much of his early life private. As a young man he served in the British Merchant Marines, and then worked as an actor and hairdresser prior to his career in the visual arts. In 1960, he worked as an assistant to Mark di Suvero and soon began to create his own metal sculptures. His work was exhibited alongside Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, John Chamberlain, and Claud Oldenburg in New Forms – New Media I and II at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York City. Mr. Magar was a co-founder of the Park Place Gallery cooperative, which operated from 1963 to 1967. He later moved to Taos, where he spent 30 years painting. During this time he split his residence between Houston and Taos. In the last decade of his life, he lived in Portland, Texas, just outside of Corpus Christi.
Pedro Rodriguez, a San Antonio arts administrator, professor, activist, and artist, died on December 1, 2022 at the age of 86. Perhaps best known in Texas as an early and long-time director of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Mr. Rodriguez was a leader in the Chicano rights movement and brought Chicano Studies programs to universities in New Mexico and Washington.