by Robert Boyd
I apologize to all readers about how much death there has been on this blog lately. With Moebius, Dale Yarger, Ken Price, Charlie Stagg and Mike Kelley, it's been a parade of obituaries around here. With Dale, I've been lucky to be in contact with so many other people who loved him. I never knew Charlie Stagg, but since he died, I've heard so many good stories about the man that I really wish I had.
Unfortunately, Death didn't head down to Padre for Spring Break. Dianne David, Toni Beauchamp and Mark Aguhar all died recently. You might not be familiar with all three of these names, but each one is a person who had an affect on Houston's art, and each represents a different generation.
The Dianne David Gallery with a Roy Fridge show from 1966
Dianne David (1938 or 39 to 2012) was the founder of an early modern gallery in Houston, David Gallery. The David Gallery existed from 1963 until 1982 and gave the first Houston shows to a wide range of artists, including Dorman David (her brother), Bob Camblin, Lucas Johnson, Earl Staley, Roy Fridge, Jim Love, David McManaway, Charles Pebworth, Donald Roller Wilson, William
T. Wiley, Larry Rivers, Seymour Leichmann, and Guy Johnson. And that's about all I know about it (and her). But this is enough. These are some of the most important artists to emerge in Houston during the 60s and 70s. Gallerists who show local artists are important--they are gatekeepers and taste-makers. Starting a gallery that shows contemporary cutting-edge art by Houston artists is never a sure thing, and in 1963 it must have seemed an extremely risky enterprise indeed. Thank goodness Dianne David did it.
Good, an anthology of writings about Houston edited by Toni Beauchamp
Toni Beauchamp (1945 to 2012) had a definable effect on Houston and its art, but it's hard to put one label on her. Glasstire called her a "patron," but she was much more than that. Even though she and Dianne David were born less than 10 years apart, David started her gallery young (she was 24 or 25) while Beauchamp waited a long time to make her mark. That's why I count them as belonging to different generations. David was a pioneer. Beauchamp's work built on the work of pioneers. For example, her MA thesis was about James Johnson Sweeney, the director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston in the 60s, who brought the museum into the modern age. This kind of
local art history continued in many of the publications she worked on
for the Blaffer, where she was an assistant director. She was instrumental in bringing modern public art to Houston, and served on the boards of many key local arts institutions. And she edited one of the best books about Houston, Good. When she died, she was working on a similar book about Marfa, which is on schedule to be published.
Mark Aguhar, Transy Girlfriend Looks (Colin S.), watercolor, ink, gouache & lipstick on paper, 2011
Mark Aguhar (1987 to 2012) was a young artist whose work I had seen only once, at Lawndale in a solo exhibit called M2M in early 2011. I didn't write about that show because its theme of gay male sexuality was something I couldn't relate to. I felt like anything I wrote would lack insight, to say the least. Aguhar was from Houston and studied art at UT. When she died, she was getting her MFA at the University of Illinois. Aguhar, like many artists of her generation, had a large presence online. Aside from her professional web page where you can see her many drawings and sculptures, she had a blog, Blogging for Brown Gurls. Its subtitle was "I'm starting a new blog and it's all about self-acceptance." It's terrible when someone so young dies--and when it's an artist, we are left wondering what kind of work lay in his future that will now never be made.
Days like this make you feel like death is stalking Houston. Drink a toast tonight to David, Beauchamp and Aguhar, OK?