Linda Blackburn, 1941 – 2022

by Jessica Fuentes January 25, 2022
A black and white photograph of Linda and Ed Blackburn sitting on a dark couch inside a home. Both sit in a relaxed style with legs outstretched and crossed. Photograph by Gay Block.

Gay Block, “Ed and Linda Blackburn, Fort Worth, Texas,” 1984, gelatin silver print. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Gift of the Texas Historical Foundation with support from a major grant from the DuPont Company and Conoco, its energy subsidiary, and assistance from the Texas Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts © Gay Block

Linda Blackburn, the known and respected Fort Worth-based artist, died suddenly of natural causes on January 1, 2022. 

Mrs. Blackburn was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1941. In 1962, she earned a BFA in painting from the University of Texas at Austin, and met her future husband, Ed Blackburn. In 1965, she earned her MA in painting from the University of California at Berkeley. While in California, she reunited with Ed and the two were married. They moved to Fort Worth, Texas in 1965 to teach painting at the art school at the Fort Worth Art Center, which would later become The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Both Mr. and Mrs. Blackburn would hold various positions at the museum throughout their time there. Mrs. Blackburn worked with the print collection, served as a curator, and for a short time served as co-acting director with Jim Malone. She left the museum in the mid 1970s to focus more on her studio practice. Mrs. Blackburn lived and worked in Fort Worth until her death. 

A painting by Linda Blackburn. The painting depicts an abstract background painted mostly in shades of blue with some yellow and red. In the foreground, a couple dances looking down at two men fighting.

Linda Blackburn, “Mt. St. Victoire,” 1990, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 96 inches, copyright Linda Blackburn. Image: Artspace 111

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. In a 2018 review of Linda Blackburn: The Law of the Saddle, Christina Rees noted, “At times Blackburn goes so dry and thin with the paint that she’s essentially painting ghosts. None of the paintings are overworked or underworked; it takes years of experience to understand how to both push through and pull back on an idea, and Blackburn brings tremendous authority to these paintings.” Though both artists worked independently, Mrs. Blackburn and her husband, have worked collaboratively and shown their work together a number of times. 

A watercolor diptych by Linda Blackburn. On the left a cowboy with a yellow shirt, brown vest and boots, blue jeans, and a black hat stands in front of a building with a "Wells Fargo" sign. The building and background are painted over in dark blue. On the right, a cowboy and woman are painted almost like a sketch using blue paint to create outlines of their figures and clothing. Behind them is an irregular light blue shape with a dark blue outline.

Linda Blackburn, “Crooked River,” 2021, water color diptych, 20 x 32 inches. Image: Artspace 111.

Mrs. Blackburn has exhibited work across the state at significant institutions including the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Art Museum of South Texas; the Waco Art Center; The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; the Arlington Museum of Art; the Longview Museum of Art; the Old Jail Art Center; Kirk Hopper Fine Art and Barry Whistler Gallery in Dallas; and Artspace 111 in Fort Worth. Beyond Texas, her work was exhibited at the University of Colorado in Boulder; the University of Illinois in Chicago; the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut; the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas; the Portland Museum of Art in Oregon; and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Blackburn received grants from the Mid America/National Endowment for the Arts (1988) and the National Endowment for the Arts (1990). In 2014, she was a finalist for the Hunting Art Prize. Her work is in private and public collections across the U.S., including the Amarillo Art Center Museum; American Airlines in Dallas; Energy Development Corporation in Houston; the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina; the New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut; and the Southwest Craft Center in San Antonio.

According to Artspace 111, the gallery which represents her work, “Due to the pandemic, at this time there are no plans for a public gathering to mourn her.”

Mrs. Blackburn’s work is currently on view at the Barry Whistler Gallery as part of SERIALITY +: A Group Exhibition. The exhibition will run through February 26, 2022. 

Additionally, recent works by Mrs. Blackburn will be on view from February 3 through March 19, 2022 at Artspace 111 as part of Big Bend, a group exhibition of artists whose work is inspired by the National Park.

2 comments

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2 comments

Ann January 26, 2022 - 18:57

What an enormous loss to the art world.

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Ann Graham January 28, 2022 - 10:58

I am so, so sorry to hear this.

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