James Surls and Charmaine Locke Gift 20 Acres & 100+ Works to Develop New Museum

by Jessica Fuentes April 18, 2024

Artists James Surls and Charmaine Locke have announced that they are gifting 20 acres of wooded land north of their studio and family land in Splendora, Texas to create the SURLS + LOCKE MUSEUM. 

The stump of a tree sits in a woodsy clearing.

James Surls, “Oak Stump,” 2022, wood. Photo: Paul Hester.

The land to be donated is the same plot where A Gift from the Bower, an exhibition that was organized by DiverseWorks and featured sculptures by 14 artists and collaboratives, was located. In addition to the land, the artists will donate approximately 50 sculptures, more than 40 prints, including one print from each edition the artists have made, and over 100 drawings, comprised of two to three from each year since 1977. The husband and wife duo, Mr. Surls and Mrs. Locke, also indicated their hope that collectors and friends who own their work might consider donating pieces to the museum. 

The announcement noted that the pair are working with Locke Lord LLP, a law firm in Houston, to establish the museum as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Mrs. Locke and Mr. Surls will serve as co-presidents of the board, and additional board members will include BB Moncrief, a Certified Public Accountant who will serve as Treasurer; Billy Hassell, Fort Worth-based artist known for his focus on nature and environmental conservation who will serve as Secretary; and Katherine Persson, a Splendora resident of over 40 years and former president of Lone Star College, Kingwood.

Stephan Grot, former Executive Director of KANEKO, a nonprofit museum in Omaha, Nebraska, has been appointed as the SURLS + LOCKE MUSEUM Executive Director. Over the years, Mr. Grot has been an entrepreneur and also served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a project manager and graphic artist for Jun Kaneko Studio. He holds a BFA in Fine Arts and Digital Design and Communication from Creighton University in Omaha.

Mr. Surls remarked, “It is our hope that this dream will manifest as ‘ready to open’ to the public in five years, at which time I will be 86 years old. (After careful consultation with my doctors, they have said I should make that opening with no problems.) This of course is a dream in the making, but as of now it is well under way and with support from both the Splendora and broader Houston community, the state of Texas, and the wider world, I see no reason why it will not happen. Consider this a personal invitation to our dear friends in the art community to join us on this journey. Your involvement will be instrumental in making this dream a reality.”


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Stacey Locke April 18, 2024 - 15:59

Wonderful story and what a fantastic gift Charmaine and James are sharing! But one edit – Charmaine is not “Mrs. Locke!” She is Charmaine Locke, married to (and life partner of) James Surls . Just a note.
As her sister, I’m just being picky!

Laura Wiegand, TCA April 18, 2024 - 16:46

This is very exciting news! What an amazingly generous gift to Texas and Texas art lovers.

Heidi Vaughan April 18, 2024 - 17:13

This is wonderful news! James Surls and Charmaine Locke have had (and continue to have) such a significant impact on the arts in Texas. They each make distinctive, social statements through their creative output, with much to say about the way things are. I especially find their love for each other gives one hope. This will be a shrine to love and nature. We need this museum!

Jim Olive April 25, 2024 - 12:47

Thank you James and Charmaine for creating a venue that brings awareness of the environment through the arts.


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