by Robert Boyd
For the past few weeks, I've had the privilege of working on a video featuring artist Richard Stout talking about the history of Houston's art scene in the 1950s and '60s. The YouTube videos below are the fruit of that work. This talk by Stout is an expansion of a short lecture he gave at the CASETA convention a few years ago. CASETA is the Center for the Advancement of Early Texas Art, which they define as "art produced by artists who were born
in and/or lived and worked in Texas through 40 years prior to the present date." Stout had 30 minutes to talk about 60 artists and decided later to expand the talk.
In addition to discussing specific artists, Stout talks about the founding, growth and evolution of key Houston institutions like the Contemporary Art Association/Contemporary Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the art departments at Rice, the University of Houston, St. Thomas, and TSU as well as the gradual proliferation of galleries during those two decades. Underlying all of this is the growth of Houston itself. In 1950, Houston had a population of 596 thousand. By 1960, that was 938 thousand, and by 1970 it was 1.2 million. Given this, it is hardly surprising that the number of artists increased and that the institutions grew and expanded their scope.
But enough of that. Watch the videos. Stout was a witness to much of this and is an erudite, scholarly man. I found this history--almost all of which was unknown to me--utterly fascinating, and I hope you will as well.