2020 will be remembered for a lot of things: a pivotal presidential election, a summer of racial awakening, wildfires, hurricanes, and the worst global pandemic of our lifetimes. Throughout the year, we’ve also collectively suffered the loss of visual artists, including the world-famous, such as John Baldessari, Christo, and Susan Rothenberg, to Texans like Alvaro Perez and Jeremy Joel, who left us far too soon. Below is a list of artist obituaries that have appeared in Glasstire in 2020, with excerpts from the original obituaries, which appear chronologically.
John Baldessari: [1931- 2020]
The painter and conceptual artist, and both literally and figuratively a giant of the art world, died on January 2. His legacy will live on in the artists and students he inspired, mentored, and befriended over the decades. One of those former students, conceptual artist Analia Saban, was also a friend of Baldessari’s, and in an brief interview with Glasstire, shared memories of him.
Marilyn Lanfear: [1930-2020]
Marilyn Terry Lanfear, a well-known San Antonio-based artist, died Sunday, January 19. She was 89. Lanfear worked in water color, oil paint, sculpture, fiber and more, and her work is in permanent collections in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Bentonville, Arkansas, and more.
Paula Newton: [1962-2020]
Paula Newton, a Houston-based writer, educator, and artist, died of natural causes at her home on Saturday, March 14. She was 57. Ms. Newton spent much of her professional life working at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH), first as an Education Associate and Interim Curator of Education from 1997-1999, and then, from 2000-2012, as the museum’s Director of Programming and Education.
After Ms. Newton left her job at CAMH, Glasstire’s then-Publisher, Rainey Knudson, and then-Editor, Bill Davenport, recruited her to write daily news posts for the publication. During her seven-year stint at Glasstire, Ms. Newton was known for her thoughtful, frank, and sometimes humorous writings about Texas art happenings. In a statement to Glasstire, Ms. Knudson spoke of Ms. Newton’s contributions to the website:
“Paula was instrumental in professionalizing the Glasstire news. She brought journalistic integrity and enormous hard work to that job, carefully researching every piece she wrote. She was an outstanding writer and a sensitive and astute person who cared a lot about art and artists. Glasstire wouldn’t be the same without her.”
David C. Driskell: [1931 – 2020]
Artist, curator, historian, and collector David C. Driskell died at 88. The news came in an email from the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, from which he was an alumnus. In it, Driskell’s achievements were described, in the words of Keith Morrison, “as grand as Mount Everest.”
Richard Stout: [1934-2020]
Born in Beaumont in 1934, Stout, a preeminent and beloved Texas artist, passed away at his home in Houston. He was 85.
“Richard was a wonderful artist and friend of fifty years, and I’m going to miss him terribly,” says Betty Moody, owner and founder of Houston’s Moody Gallery, in a telephone conversation with Glasstire. “He was a very smart man, a consummate artist, and painter, and one of the best we’ve ever had. I know he’s been ill for a good while. The sad thing is now there’s no way we can gather to celebrate his life.”
Donald Fowler: [1961 – 2020]
“It is with deep sadness that we report the passing of Donald Fowler, our beloved Nasher Sculpture Center Director of Retail,” an email from the Nasher’s Lucia Simek to Glasstire states. “While jogging on Sunday, Donald was struck and killed by a DART streetcar.”
The full statement continues:
“Fowler Charismatic and full of warmth, Donald joined the Nasher team in 2016, revitalizing the Nasher Store with his expert eye for objects and his gifted approach to customer service, bringing joy, energy, and tenderness to every interaction, both with visitors to the museum and to his colleagues. As many of you know, Donald was also an accomplished actor and playwright, and he held a deep commitment to his craft as an artist and extended that conviction in his support of other makers in the Nasher Store. He had a rare and bright presence among us, and he will be greatly missed.”
Susan Rothenberg: [1945 – 2020]
The artist Susan Rothenberg has died. She was 75. Born in Buffalo, New York, Rothenberg graduated from Cornell University in 1967, and later attended Corcoran School of Art. Perhaps best known for her paintings of horses, which she began in the early 1970s, Rothenberg’s first solo exhibition was at 112 Greene Street Gallery, where other giants of the art world such as Chris Burden, Jackie Windsor, Joan Jonas, and her first husband George Trakas also showed.
Eugene Foney:[1950 – 2020]
Writer David McGee recalled the late artist in an essay for Glasstire:
“Although I had known Eugene for 30 years or so, he remained a mystery to me. I remember visiting him once at his home here in Houston. There was a rather large brick house in front and a garage apartment in back. Eugene lived in the garage apartment; he used the house in front for his art business.
“The place was packed with art: prints, paintings, drawings, posters, photos, and books everywhere. I remember feeling that this was Eugene’s biography. A salesman’s travels — his passions, and perhaps his hardships.
“Something else I recall about Eugene is that when you saw him at a public event he was always returning from someplace: Japan, Europe, NYC, or Chicago. I remember thinking, How does this cat pull this off? It was one of the things I admired most about him — he was a hustler, a throwback to something distant, something about him was the stuff of novels and plays.”
Christo: [1935 – 2020]
The artist Christo, who with has wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude made the momental possible, died on Sunday. He was 84. The artist, known for wrapping mammoth structures and covering vast surfaces and pathways with fabric, was undaunted in his determination to carry out ambitious, larger-than-life projects that required the cooperation of people across large swaths of society in order to bring his ideas to fruition.
Jeremy Joel: [1982 – 2020]
Jeremy Joel, a Fort Worth artist who defied convention, has died. He was 37. The Fort Worth Weekly reported that Joel’s body was found in his apartment last Saturday, after he had been reported missing for a week.
Like most artist working in Fort Worth, I knew Joel. We were acquaintances at best, and at one time had a heated conversation about art and art conventions. But as the people who knew and loved him would confirm, he was a kind man who struggled with life as we all sometimes do, and created a path of his own doing what he loved.
Meredith Long, a longtime, respected Houston gallerist, art collector, and philanthropist, died of natural causes on Wednesday, June 3. He was 91.
Known for his eponymous art gallery, Meredith Long & Company, which was founded in 1957 and was the longest-running gallery in Houston before it recently closed, Mr. Long was a champion and scholar of nineteenth and early-twentieth-century American Art. In addition to bringing significant exhibitions of works to his gallery by artists like John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt and Frederic Edwin Church, Mr. Long also dealt in contemporary art, particularly championing second generation Abstract Expressionists. While largely national in scope, his program included local talent, with many well-known Texas artists passing through his gallery over its long history: Dorothy Hood, Luis Jiménez, Gael Stack, John Alexander, and Richard Stout, among others.
Don Anderson [1919 – 2020]
Don Anderson — businessman, artist, patron of the arts and founder of the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art (AMoCA) and Roswell Artist-in-Residence (RAiR) Program — died Sunday, June 7, 2020, at the age of 101.
A self-taught artist, Don Anderson was born in Chicago in 1919, and later attended Purdue University to study mechanical engineering, and received his B.A. in 1942. Anderson then served as Chief Engineering Officer in the Navy during WWII, from 1942-1956. In 1963 he founded the Anderson Oil Company in Roswell, NM. Of Anderson, the late artist and former RAiR fellow Luis Jiménez said, “He’s this artist who has this wonderful hobby of making money in the oil business.”
Dr. Richard “Rick” Brettell: [1949-2020]
A stalwart of the Dallas art community has died after a long battle with cancer. Dr. Richard R. “Rick” Brettell was an educator, museum administrator, internationally known Impressionism scholar, and lauded fundraiser for expansions within the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) and University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). Dr. Brettell held the the Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies and the Edith O’Donnell Distinguished University Chair at UTD, and also served as Vice Provost there. He passed away Friday, July 24, 2020, at age 71, according to a post by the University of Texas at Dallas Office of Media Relations.
Forrest Prince: [1935-2020]
Beloved Houston-based artist Forrest Prince died on July 24, 2020, after developing an infection following a fall. The work of Prince, a deeply spiritual and political self-taught artist born in 1935, is ubiquitous throughout Houston in its institutions’ collections as well as private collections.
A Houston native, Prince began making art in his 30s, in 1969. He had already led a tough life. Houston’s Station Museum of Contemporary Art, on the occasion of a solo show of his work there in 2012, writes: “Forrest Prince is an artist who lives his life and creates his art in the spirit of Jesus. His trials in overcoming drug addiction, crime, and prison as well as his new life of self-imposed poverty and his compassionate support of people in dire need, have given him the knowledge and the inner strength to make authentically spiritual works of art.”
Alvaro Perez: [1979-2020]
Alvaro Perez, a Texas artist, father of two, and Laredo Community College (LCC) art instructor, has died. He was 41. Perez’s sister Analiza Perez-Gomez revealed in a phone conversation with Glasstire that the artist died from a diabetic coma on Friday, August 14.
Curator and frequent Glasstire contributor Leslie Moody Castro recently visited with Perez and says this of the artist: “Alvaro was such a talented, genuine, special soul. I am so grateful for the time that he gifted us all with. Our world has lost a truly unique and beautiful person, and my heart goes out to his friends, family, and community in Laredo.”
Gerald D. Hines: [1925-2020]
Gerald D. Hines, for whom The University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design was named, has died. Born in Gary, Indiana on August 15, 1925, he was 95 years old at the time of his death on Sunday, August 23. Hines was also the founder and chairman of the international real estate firm Hines.
A statement on the Hines College website reads: “We are truly saddened by the passing of Gerald D. Hines, our College namesake. Mr. Hines was a visionary in the commercial real estate world, and his firm belief in the power of architecture led to the development of iconic projects not only across Houston, but the world. His support of our College has transformed the lives of our students for decades, taking the Hines College to the next level and exemplifying the importance of great architecture. Mr. Hines’ legacy lives on at the University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design, and his impact on future architects and designers will continue forever. ”
Born in Fort Worth and raised in Granbury, Luton completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin, and then lived in New York City and Peekskill, NY before settling in Houston in 1978. She went on to obtain both a Masters and PhD in English literature at the University of Houston, and she then began to teach and work various jobs in the city, including in the Dean’s office of UH’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
Robert (Bob) Delton Ivy Jr.: [1935-2020]
Houstonian Robert Delton (Bob) Ivy Jr. has died. He was 85. The United States Navy veteran, former Houston police officer, and artist died at his Montrose-area home on Tuesday, October 6. Known to friends and neighbors as Bob, Ivy was born on September 27, 1935 in Houston to Robert Delton Ivy and Geneva Snell Ivy.
Martin Ivy, a self-described “studio brat” of his dad, and also an artist, spoke to Glasstire about his late father. “He was just a cool dude, simply laid back, loved to talk to artists about their work, and always positive,” says Martin. “His death was unexpected, but he was happy doing what he loved to do, which was to make art. Growing up as a kid in Houston in the late ’30s through the post-war era, building toys and objects simply from a box of parts — and not to mention growing up near the ship channel on the east end — all contributed to his desire to make model ships.”
Karl Kilian [1943 – 2020]
Houston’s famed Brazos Bookstore announced on its website that its founder Karl Kilian has died. He died on December 9; he was 77. Kilian was also the former Director of Public Programs at the Menil Collection, from 2006 to 2016.
He would later open the Brazos Bookstore in Houston 1974, which became a hub for the Houston literati. “Karl seemed to have read every book he ever stocked,” states Matt Henneman, co-owner and current chairman of Brazos’s board of directors, in a story from Houstonia Magazine. “And he never failed to have a great recommendation handy.”