The Larry Kleinschmidt Collection of Texas Art

The Larry Kleinschmidt Collection of Texas Art

Extended through August 28, 2015!

The Larry Kleinschmidt Collection of Texas Art occupies a special place among Fort Worth collections. It is one of only a few local collections that mirrors the earliest history of the Fort Worth art community. It is the product of Fort Worth native Larry Kleinschmidt’s love of art and determination to uncover paintings, prints and sculptures that have survived from the city’s colorful past. After countless trips to local estate sales, flea markets, antique shops, galleries and auctions, his collection has come to feature artworks made between 1920 and 1980 by many of the community’s earliest and most accomplished artists. It contains scarce examples of the motifs and painting styles that defined local art up to and during the Great Depression, along with works that exemplify the rise of modern art in Texas during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

A notable group of Fort Worth artists who established their reputations between 1900 and 1930 are represented in the Kleinschmidt Collection. This group includes Mary Sue Darter Coleman (1893-1956), Leo Cotton (1880-1946), Carrie McLeod Greathouse (1870-1944), Dwight Clay Holmes (1900-1986), Ella Ray Ledgerwood (1878-1951), Margaret Martin Littlejohn (1885-1954), Christina MacLean (1853-1947), Blanche McVeigh (1895-1970), Sallie Blyth Mummert (1888-1938) and Samuel P. Ziegler (1882-1967). In addition to making their own art, Coleman, Greathouse, Ledgerwood, MacLean, McVeigh, Mummert and Ziegler made significant contributions as teachers. Mummert became the Fort Worth Star Telegram’s first art critic.

The Kleinschmidt Collection also contains a selection of works by local artists who first earned notice in the 1930s. Among those represented are Beth Lea Clardy (1919-2004), Zoe Davis (1911-1996), John Wesley Jones (1906-1997), Kathleen Goodman Lawrence (1906-1983), Josephine Mahaffey (1903-1982) and Sarah Margaret Smith (1913-1999). Clardy and Mahaffey, in particular, were effective advocates for new exhibition opportunities for local artists and earned loyal followings during their careers. John Wesley Jones carved out a sixty-year career as a noted local architect.

Coming into public view about 1940 was a group of young modernists known today as the Fort Worth Circle. Hallmarks of these young artists were their devotion to modern trends in art making and their willingness to establishing new boundaries for local art. Because of their efforts, Fort Worth by 1950 was recognized across Texas as a hotbed of contemporary art production. Among the best known Fort Worth Circle artists were William P. (Bill) Bomar Jr. (1919-1991), Cynthia Brants (1924-2006), David Brownlow (1915-2008), Kelly Fearing (1918-2011), George Grammer (b. 1928), Veronica Helfensteller (1910-1964), Marjorie Johnson (1911-1997), Olive Pemberton (b. 1923), Dickson Reeder (1912-1970), Bror Utter (1913-1993) and sculptor Charles T. Williams (1918-1966). During their careers, each of these artists earned a state-wide reputation that endures into the present day and quality works by each of them can be found in the Kleinschmidt Collection.

The 1950s and beyond ushered in a tidal wave of new ideas in art making, providing other talented artists with an opportunity to leave their imprint on the Fort Worth art scene. The Kleinschmidt Collection houses works by several of these noteworthy 1950s / 1980s-era painters and sculptors. Included are works by Beatrice (Bea) Dunning (1912-2005), John Guerin (1920-2006), Shirley Kellerman (1928-2013), Richard Mather Lincoln (1929-2009), Hal Normand (b. 1941), Gene Owens (b. 1931), Ed Storms (1924-1987) and John Z. Thomas. As the long-time art teacher at R. L. Paschal High School, Dunning inspired scores of students to immerse themselves in visual art’s almost limitless possibilities. Owens and Storms, along with their mentor Charles T. Williams, formed Fort Worth’s most dynamic group of metal sculptors.

Many local artists rose to prominence during the 20th century. Their stories are preserved in the Larry Kleinschmidt Collection and sister collections around the city. It is Larry Kleinschmidt’s hope that these stories will resonate with you and that similarly-minded collectors will, in the future, devote their time and energy to discovering even more evidence of the fascinating connection between Fort Worth and the talented painters, printmakers and sculptors who have called this city home. -- Scott Grant Barker, Fort Worth TX, May 2015