Tejas Englesmith, 1940-2013, Former Whitechapel Curator

by Bill Davenport February 12, 2013

Tejas Englesmith, Houston curator, arts administrator, and radio personality, died Sunday morning, February 7 in a Dallas hospital.  In the 1960’s and 70’s, Englesmith was assistant director of the Whitechapel Gallery in London,  a curator of contemporary art at the Jewish Museum in New York and director of the Leo Castelli Gallery.

Tejas was born in London in November, 1940.  His parents immigrated to Houston in the 1950s where his father, George Englesmith, was an architect.  Tejas graduated from Bellaire High School and attended the University of St. Thomas.  He was a protege of Jermayne MacAgy, the first director of the CAMH (then CAA).  She encouraged him to go to London where he accepted a position at the Whitechapel.  He was curator there in the mid-1960s and curated Rauschenberg’s first European exhibit.

In the late 1960s, Tejas was named curator of Contemporary Art at the Jewish Museum in NYC.  He was there until the early 1970s when he was named director of Leo Castelli Gallery in New York. In the late 70’s, Englesmith moved back home to direct the Houston branch of Max Hutchinson Gallery.   When Hutchinson closed, Tejas remained in Houston, working for KUHF Channel 8, notably bringing in critic Robert Hughes to Houston to judge  auction artwork, DJ-ing a late night shift on KPFT radio, and acting as the voice of Theater Under The Stars.

He is survived by his sister, Suzelle Poole, of Dallas. There will not be a service, at Tejas‘ (pronounced like wedges) request.


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Ellen Cohn Steinberg February 15, 2013 - 16:26

I was saddened to hear of Tejas passing. My brother,Joel Cohn was a good friend of his at Bellaire High School.
They both were in drama together.
We got together when I was living in Manhatten.
Tejas was such a fine person, so creative and a great sense of humor!
I am so sorry for your loss.
Ellen Cohn Steinberg

Josh Brown May 17, 2013 - 22:27

I am saddened to hear of Tejas’ passing. We met in early 1970’s in New York City when he was director of Leo Castelli Gallery. He was a dear person who I shall think of with great fondness. We stayed in touch for many years, but unfortunately lost contact a few years ago. Frank, my spouse, and I extend our deepest condolences on your loss.
Josh Brown (Los Angeles)

Frank DeGregorie May 23, 2013 - 21:34

I knew Tejas in the seventies, in New York. We were very close and we laughed and laughed and laughed together. We had wonderful times together. I am remembering so many of those good times right now. I am very saddened by his passing. He was an original, not like anyone else. So funny and creative and fun. He taught me how to drink tequila. In fact, he invented our own tequila drinks, one of which was called the “You Be Sweet,” based on a Lily Tomlin country singer character who says ‘you be sweet” to an over eager fan as she is leaving the saloon. I could go on and on but I must say to Mr. James and Ms. Poole that I am deeply, sorry for your great loss.
Frank DeGregorio

Patricia Hipwood July 21, 2013 - 16:01

I knew Tejas in London in the 60’s when he worked for my father, Neal McRoberts, at his gallery, McRoberts and Tunnard. Although my sister and I were still school girls, we thought Tejas was pretty spiffy! He came to stay one weekend at our house in the country and we were besotted. He was funny and kind and I’m so sorry that I hadn’t kept in touch; I send my sympathy to to Ms. Poole and Mr. James.
patricia Hipwood

Sasha Davis November 29, 2013 - 17:28

Terjie..as I always called him being from the UK myself.and I were great friends…and he was responsible for me being on the radio with my own program… He and I shared a great fondness for cats.. and when one of his passed away, he saved his whiskers in a match box.. Mr. Mcneatz was the name of the cat I think..He was always so kind and such fun… I too had lost touch with him in later years… but often thought of him.

I am so sorry…..

Tonya Good March 28, 2014 - 16:46

I worked work Tejas at KUHT in Houston. He was was a delight to work with and we became good friends outside of the station. I thought about him today and decided to google him to touch basis and was saddened to find out his passing 1 day before my birthday. I affectionately called him “Tehas”. I will miss you my friend.

dina reifen May 14, 2014 - 04:19

have not spoken with tejas for over 40 years,, yet when i somehow stumbelled upon the news of his passing, my heart stating crying,, dear sweet wonderful friend,, i worked in the jewish museum with him, and he became all to me, i even went to visit his manhattan apartment several years ago,was invited to the next door apartment and saw his backyard, oh the fun we had,i even have some memorable photos of our time together, he called me his smataleh(rag in yiddish).he loved the sound of the word and when i told him what it meant ,was to late, the word became ourway of sayin we love each other .my condolences to all


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