Friday, April 28, 2017


*Photo courtesy of Tom Wilkinson(Charcoal drawing by Artist, Rachel McClung)


I first began buying original art about 1965-66, while I was working at South Texas Junior College in downtown Houston. At that time the actor and art connoisseur Vincent Price had amassed a sale collection for Sears, Roebuck, & Co. that included some really wonderful matted and framed sketches, and the second and third pieces exhibited here are from that collection. As I recall, the Price Collection was not a commercial success, probably because in those days most Sears customers went there for appliances, not art, but it was my first introduction to original art, and to a notion of art that didn't involve traditional oil paintings.

The fourth work in this show very much fits that bill, and I didn't buy it, I inherited it from my parents. It's a late 18th/early 19th century oil probably in its original, ornate frame, in the style of Gainsborough and Constable, very traditional and very "proper." In those days, art was meant primarily to please the upper classes, and the landscape tradition in art was still new. Compare this work with the next one in the exhibit, a 20th century landscape by the Russian artist, Cyrus Afanasy. You'll notice the trees still there, but not the depth of perspective. The Renaissance discovered linear perspective, so now it's considered "old hat." Modern art mostly tends to be very flat.

The next work in the show is an enamel that I bought in Dallas after I'd moved back to join the new Dallas Community College District at El Centro in the late 60's-- at the Olla Podrida, a wonderful arts and crafts mall on Coit Road, near Forest Lane and Central. The Olla Podrida was unique in Dallas for its time then and since- -a group of artists and craftsmen coming together to sell their wares in person. I loved going to it and I miss it still. I was also introduced to my first pieces of pottery there, and one, by Marty Ray, still survives--I've got to stop using it as a grease collector, but I doubt that Marty would mind a bit--it was meant to be functional, as most pottery is!

My first "real" gallery purchase came from a new art gallery in downtown Dallas, in the sub- floor atrium next to Brennan's, my new favorite restaurant, of a new skyscraper crossing from Elm to Main St. It was a real departure for me and an entry into "modern" art that I soon backed out of. I never liked this picture and purchased it for all the wrong reasons, the main one being to show I was "with it," as they said then. I never was "with it" and still am not, but for awhile I sure tried to be. Anyway, the lesson here for any would-be collector is clear: don't ever buy something you don't like, and for the most part I never repeated that mistake again!

--Tom Wilkinson March, 2017