Art Museum of South Texas

 Art Museum of South Texas


Major Exhibition of Pioneering Texas Modernist Artist


Since its beginning in 1945, the Art Museum of South Texas has been advancing awareness, knowledge, appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts for Corpus Christi residents and visitors to South Texas. Even the building housing the Museum in itself is art; the floor-to-ceiling windows offering spectacular views of Corpus Christi Bay and the Harbor Bridge. Bathed in light coming in from all sides creates a canvas which directs the viewer to the essence of the art contained within, creating a soothing and yet stimulating environment


This year is another milestone in the history of the Museum as the largest, most expensive project in its history is now on exhibit through Jan. 8th.  This landmark exhibit of renowned Texas artist Dorothy Hood’s work features 160 pieces, 84 paintings, 47 drawings and 29 collages which were produced from 1935-2000. Included are 54 works from the museum’s permanent collection and archives (the largest collection of Hood’s work in existence) and additional pieces from 65 museums, corporations, foundations, and private collections located in Texas and across the US.


One of the things which make this exhibit so unique is that the Museum also features in this innovative exhibit, “hands-on” technologies and educational interactives which bring Hood’s works of art to life and actually redefines what an art museum experience is all about. Imagine – you will actually become a part of the art in the exhibit! What a unique and creative way to enjoy art. The Museum has brought the exhibition of art to a totally new level. It’s actually pretty amazing.


Kenneth Frederick, a George Eastman Museum Trustee, commented on the need for art museums to take a new approach in displaying abstract art. His thoughts are that our next generation of art patrons grew up in a high-technology environment; they are very visual, immersive and interactive. They are not held by traditional exhibits of static wall hangings. Mr. Frederick feels that future art patrons would rather “experience” rather than just “look at” art exhibits. And judging by the reactions to the new Hood exhibit, I’d have to say he is right on target.


When you can actually experience art, you gain an understanding of the life, times, and philosophy of the artist, along with an insight into their creative process. Explaining these elements using modern technologies is the most effective way of creating a lifetime love of art among our new high tech generation.


During Dorothy Hood’s lifetime, such technology did not exist. But, this new exhibit actually allows visitors to explore Hood’s paintings, her life, and techniques. You will enjoy immersive experiences that bring Hood’s large and colorful paintings to life. You’ll get to know the artist and her work, even creating your own art through motion capture devices and touch table experiences! You have to experience this – it truly is amazing and I believe your experience will be an eye-opener.


Dorothy Hood was an American painter in the Modernist tradition.  She was born in Bryan, Texas, raised in Houston and was an only child.  Hood experienced lingering feelings of isolation throughout her life which was probably due to her mother’s mental illness and her parents’ subsequent divorce. She was often left on her own where she would take refuge in drawing.


Winning a National Scholastic 4-year scholarship in the 1930’s, Hood enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design and upon graduating took classes at the Art Students League of New York. She earned money working as a model which influenced her to enjoy wearing fanciful clothing and to always carry herself with poise. Over the years this became her signature style.  On what was supposed to be a short vacation to Mexico in 1941, Hood fell in love with the country, the intellectual climate and aesthetic, and stayed in Mexico for 20 years.

 While living in Mexico, Hood made true friends, many European and Mexican artists and intellectuals. They adopted her into their circle, and for the first time, developed the types of friendships she had longed for as a child. Good friends included painters Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington. Hood was also associated with artists Miguel Covarrubias, Rufino Tamayo, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo. It was here that Hood began her career as an artist.  Living in meager conditions, she experimented with anti-war drawings during the Spanish Civil War. Mayan and Aztec hieroglyphs were central to Hood’s art and she was met with more respect as a woman artist. Her drawings were much sought after.


In 1946 Hood married Bolivian composer, José María Velasco Maidana. They traveled together following Maidana’s conducting jobs between Mexico City, New York and Houston. This deeply enriched Hood’s knowledge of Native and Latin American cultures. In the early 60’s her husband became ill and they chose to move to Houston for better medical care. Hood was able to support herself and her husband through her art. After Maidana’s death in 1989, Hood began painting with fervor to fill the void in her life.


Considered a pioneer modernist, Hood was one of the first abstract surrealists.  Her paintings, which often refer to natural events, are noted by their large color areas, and her art references her Texan roots with expansive imagery and sweeps of color indicative of the southwest. Influenced by mythology, science and spirituality, Hood’s work was particularly inspired by Taoism and the Yogi of Sri Aurobinda, as well as by space exploration, which is reflected in later works.


Throughout the 50s, Hood’s art evolved from its realist and surrealist roots into modern, abstract patterns of color. Her style was called “abstract surrealism” and in 1957, Art in America named her one of the year’s new talents. It was the 70’s and Hood’s career was taking off. Her work was exhibited at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Rice University and five one-person shows in major Texas museums. She won the Childe Hassam Award in 1973 and the following year, a retrospective of her work traveled the United States, arranged by the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York. Hood created the sets for the bicentennial celebration of the Houston Ballet in 1975 and during the same year exhibited at the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi.


In 1985, an award-winning documentary about Hood’s work, The Color of Life, was produced by Carolyn Farb and during the same year, her work traveled to Kenya where it was shown at the UN Focus International Exhibition. Her work has been highlighted at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, and at the Laguna Gloria Art Museum in Austin. Hood was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1990.


Hood’s mature technique consists of poured paint in contrast with sharp, geometric figures. The combination of automatic painting and pouring lent itself to Hood’s unique aesthetic, and color, texture, form, line, and scale are signatures of her work.  Brushstrokes are rarely evident in Hood’s paintings rather, it is the movement of paint which created the images.


Drawn to a sense of place and the people who live in that place helped Hood in her choice of colors and imagery. She referred to her work as “landscapes of my psyche” and it was important to Hood that her art make viewers “feel what she felt.”


Hood’s drawings from 1941 to 1948 mostly featured self-portraits with an imaginative element. Mexico and surrealism were also major influences and she began to include more nature, depicting plants and animals, becoming increasingly abstract with complex spatial arrangements. 40 years into her art career, Hood began collaging. Much like her drawings her collages employed unique depictions focusing on the space age and cybernetics. Using stationery, book and magazine illustrations, her paintings, maps, wrapping paper, and newspaper, Hood explored the mind and human psyche by delineating reality and illusion in her collages.


Hood became one of Texas’ most famous artists, which changed the label for Texas as only being recognized in the past for paintings which depicted cowboys and prairies. Dorothy Hood died in October 2000. Much of her art was given to the Art Museum of South Texas and many of her papers, including eight scrapbooks and numerous documents of her career, are on microfilm at the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution. An artist file documenting her career can be found at the Smithsonian American Art Museum/ National Portrait Gallery Library of the Smithsonian Libraries.


In 2003, shortly after the Museum acquired the major portion of the Dorothy Hood’s estate, the exhibit “Dorothy Hood: A Pioneer Modernist” was displayed and included pieces as they were found in the artist’s studio. Through this current exhibit of her work, The Color of Being/El Color del Ser, Museum guests will appreciate Hood as a major Modernist who left an inspiring legacy. Dorothy Hood chose to live in Texas, stating “The spirit of Texas is in my work. We are on Mexican territory here and Mexico is where my art started. I don’t think that I could be anyplace else to do my work.”


With this phenomenal exhibit, the Art Museum of South Texas has redefined the art museum experience. Resting in a building designed by renowned architects, Philip Johnson and Ricardo Legorreta and located on the shores of the sparkling city by the sea, Texas artist Dorothy Hood’s work is truly home.




Opening on November 4th through December 31st, the Santa Classics exhibit will be showcased at the Museum. Created by artist, photographer and Santa devotee, Ed Wheeler, this exhibit features imagines of Santa Claus entering into the great masterworks of art.


Wheeler researched hundreds of paintings to find the perfect compositions which speak to him for a “Santa intervention.” Santa will usually replace the main figure in a painting; sometimes he’s added to a group composition or he may even be the single human presence in a landscape. Wheeler’s intent is to pay homage to the original paintings while offering art lovers an additional reason to smile during the Christmas Holidays. Once a painting is selected, Wheeler embarks on a multi-step process in which Santa is fully integrated into the lighting, brushstrokes and tonal values of a particular painting. Lighting in the studio must match that of the original artwork as this is critical to maintaining the fidelity of the original masterpiece. Wheeler’s meticulous attention to detail, lighting and relationships between figures makes for a whole different type of art experience.


Whether he’s hanging colored lights to the dream-like footbridges of Giverny or rubbing elbows with Moulin Rouge courtesans, Santa’s got more up his sleeve this year than just presents. The Art Museum will present 32 works, including 2 lenticular prints, in the Santa Classics exhibit.


Be sure and circle your calendar for this humorous yet reverent exhibit during the holiday season. It will only be on exhibit for a short time.


The Art Museum of South Texas is located at: 1902 N. Shoreline Blvd. (361) 825-3500. Closed Monday, open Tues-Sat: 10am-5pm and Sun: 1pm-5pm.


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