Arts / Galleries

The Long-Lost Work of Two Legends Is Shown Off in Houston: It’s a Rediscovered Art Moment

BY // 04.22.16

Two exhibitions this month, both mounted in Houston, present important lost works by seminal Texas artists. At Hiram Butler Gallery, two canvases by an American visionary, the Menil- and Whitney-exhibited Forrest Bess (1911-1977), have been discovered. One was last seen in 1957 at an exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery, NYC; the other diminutive painting, a commission undertaken by the bait fisherman from Bay City, Texas, was completely unknown.

See both masterpieces at Hiram Butler, joined by two more, through May 14. FYI: Butler stepped on the Bess bandwagon in 1986, putting on a solo show long before the painter was enthroned in the pantheon of American art history.

Forrest Bess in his Bay City studio (undated, courtesy
Forrest Bess in his Bay City studio (undated, courtesy

Closer to home, the late Houston lenswoman Suzanne Paul (1945-2005) was ahead of her time in so many ways. While digging into Paul’s archives, the artist’s daughter, Mercedes Paul, unearthed a trove of Polaroids, including images of art-world legends Walter HoppsRobert Rauschenberg, Mel Chin and Andy Warhol.

Paul — Houston’s own Jonas Mekas and Nan Goldin — was the first female photographer to show at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, doing so in 1976. Represented in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s collection by 13 images, she is the topic of a FotoFest show at Deborah Colton Gallery, curated by Theresa Escobedo. See the lost Polaroids in a time-capsule section of the exhibition (through Saturday, April 23).

Suzanne Paul's "Self Portrait," 2004 (courtesy the estate of the artist and Deborah Colton Gallery)
Suzanne Paul’s “Self Portrait,” 2004 (courtesy the estate of the artist and Deborah Colton Gallery)

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