Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Go See Stella Sullivan

Robert Boyd

Stella Sullivan, Jerusalem Eye, acrylic, 1978

When I was a teenager, one of my best friends, John Richardson, and I took painting lessons from Stella Sullivan. We were her regular students for several years, showing up once a week for a three hour lesson. Lord were we lazy. We would goof off doing involved blind contour drawings, then very slowly paint the still-lifes she had for us. Her pedagogy was so deliberate that it encouraged us to work very very slowly--it enabled the worst procrastination from us. But I have great memories of that time. She was an unusually patient teacher (obviously) and she had an open mind as far as artwork went. Her main thing to paint--her money spinner, as it were--were houses. That was her deal--she called them "house portraits." But she was capable of painting anything, and a lot of what she painted were highly symmetrical hard-edge geometric abstractions.

This is a photo of Sullivan in her studio in 1955 (photo by Peter Whitney). I studied with her at the end of the 70s and early 80s.

Stella Sullivan, Ojo, print, 1974

So Stella Sullivan is kind of an important person in my artistic life. That's why I am so happy that she is having an exhibit at William Reaves Fine Art (with Dorothy Hood and Leila McConnell). If you haven't been to William Reaves Fine Art, check it out. Reaves mostly deals with an older generation of Houston and Texas artists, and going to shows there is a real lesson in local art history.

But even if you can't make the show, at least read the catalog--the gallery has put the whole thing online. But it would be better to see them in real life. The show runs from October 15 to November 6, with an opening reception on October 23 and an artists talk on October 30. William Reaves Fine Art is over in Montrose at 2313 Brun St. off of Fairview.

Stella Sullivan, God's Eye, oil, 1978


  1. Thank you so very much! Stella is my Aunt and I was looking for the exhibit pdf and your blog led me to the right place! Thanks again for helping to get the word out about her. She's a fantastic lady!

  2. I have a print I believe to be a Stella Sullivan. It is titled "Art Room" and is 1/14 dated 1971 pencil signed. Are you familliar with this work? I want to find more about it. I love this print! It is done in brown and green. Anything I can learn about it would be super! Thank You for sharing the other work and your story!