June 5 - 30, 2020
We are opening a new exhibit in the gallery and online
THOUGHTFUL COLLECTION – the collection of Murray Smither
Murray Smither was born and raised on the Texas soil of Huntsville, where his Father owned the local print shop and Murray was always inspired by the creative local church bulletins.
After completing studies at the Sam Houston State University, he relocated to Dallas and began work at the early version of Texas Instruments on Lemmon Ave. After hours he began painting classes. Shortly after getting life set in Dallas, as a member of the National Guard he was called to report to Camp Polk to prepare for a Berlin Situation. While stationed at Camp Polk, Murray worked as a journalist and saw another side of the training until the situation was diffused and he returned to Dallas.
Quickly bored by the tedious work of Texas Instruments, Murray embarked on his years of work in various galleries with eventually owning and operating his own Smither Gallery for many years in the Oak Lawn area of Dallas. In 1961 Murray was asked to return to his hometown and judge the prison art exhibit where the artist Frank Jones had entered a drawing. Murray rallied to give Jones the prize and quickly purchased the piece and began a friendship with Mr. Jones, which lasted many years. Murray visited him monthly, brought him paper and got to know him well. Murray met Mr. Jones when he was first in prison for a released and then later sent back to prison because he was implicated in a crime and was not educated nor had strong support to fight the conviction.
Although Murray worked with a local Dallas attorney to have Jones’ conviction overturned, Jones eventually died in prison and Murray had to end up laying his friend to eternal rest. Murray’s art dealing at this time included corporate sales of prints from the Nation’s top artists, Texas Contemporary Art,
Mexican Contemporary Art, and now with Frank Jones and his influence the addition of Folk and Outsider artwork. Murray is a pioneer in exhibiting art as great and strong pieces of artwork without the categories. He introduced Texans not only to the cutting edge of contemporary art, but at the same time introduced the work of Texas Self Taught artists.
In the 1970’s he met the artist George White in Dallas who had created pieces to fill his own museum of Natural History. Murray recalls taking Mac Doty, curator from the Whitney Museum to see Mr. White and his artwork where White was offered an exhibit at the Whitney in New York. Mr. White replied that he had been to New York, did not care for it, and he had no interest in his art going to the city. Jane Livingston, director the Corcoran Museum in DC visited Dallas to inquire with Murray about an exhibit of Black Folk Art in America she was curating in1989. She chose to include George White’s work in this exhibit that was a pivotal point in the exposure and history of Folk Art in the US. Gallery work ended for Murray and he moved into appraisals and continued corporate art collection managing, all the while curating and collecting the work of contemporary and self taught artists. Mr. Smither is well know in the Texas Art World and has brought many artists and their work to the forefront of Texas Art history.
His contributions have been great in Texas Art, but the history of Texas Folk Art and the reputations of it’s artists would not be the same had Murray Smither not seen it’s value, admired the artists and shared those with the public. We have had the joy of many years of friendship and currently working with Murray to find new homes for his beloved pieces within his collection.
209-211 W Franklin
Waxahachie, 75165 TX
(972) 938-8085Get directions
Murray is my cousin although not close. We spent time as a family as children in Huntsville. I am happy to hear his collections are becoming known. God bless him.