Dennis Keil, Lamar Staff, sets up the Visionary Architecture and the Legacy of Milton Bell & Beaumont Collects in the Dishman Art Museum on Jan. 16. This collection focus’ on the Architect who helped design the Plummer building along with several other buildings on campus.

Dishamn Art Museum director Dennis Keil installs a piece in the gallery, Jan. 16. UP photo by Noah Dawlearn

Lamar University’s Dishman Art Museum presents a pair of exhibitions beginning Jan. 19. “Visionary Architecture and the Legacy of Milton Bell” and “Beaumont Collects 2: Works of Art from Southeast Texas Collections” will open with a free reception 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., with music provided by the students from the Mary Morgan Moore music department.

“Milton Bell is a visionary architect who has worked in the Beaumont area for over 60 years,” Dennis Kiel, museum director said. “This exhibition celebrates Mr. Bell’s influential career and features many of his innovative architectural drawings. ‘Visionary Architecture’ places special emphasis on Mr. Bell’s architectural undertakings on the Lamar University campus, including the Otho Plummer Administration Building, recently designated as a historic landmark.

“There are drawings in the Plummer Administration Building of the campus from the an architectural firm, Stone and Pits, that Bell had worked for. He rendered the drawings for a lot of the buildings that he helped build.”

Kiel said architecture is not usually considered an art form, and people may look at this show as just blue prints, but the show features much more.

“We have one blue print from the Plummer building that has the floor plan, the rest are renderings prior of the structure being built so the clients would know what the building would look like,” he said.

Kiel said the exhibition is focusing on renderings, nine that are Bell’s and a few borrowed from the Tyrrell Historical Library and the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Museum.

“We have a  1970-1975 rendering of a two-story building and one from an outside private collector of a single story building that was built,” he said. “A couple of others were of a proposed chapel and art building that were never built.”

Kiel said Bell used his family, friends and 1959 ford car in his renderings.

“We were fortunate to get two big boards of his student project that he created for an airline pilot and his wife who inherited a large property in Texas,” Kiel said. “They had gone to Texas A&M University to ask the students to design a modern house to be built on their property. Bell’s drawing of a rendering made second place. His professor confided in him later that the couple liked his drawing the best, however, the wife, who was a brunette, saw that Milton had rendered a woman in the bedroom, who is combing her hair in the mirror, who happened to be a blonde. The wife said, ‘I don’t want no damn blonde headed woman in my bathroom.’

The Bell exhibit is on display on the museum’s first floor. On the second floor, Kiel has collected a variety of work from local collectors. The exhibition is a prelude to Le Grand Bal fundraiser to be held at the museum on March 24.

“It’s easier than most people think to own an original work of art,” Kiel said. “The idea of ‘Beaumont Collects 2’ is just to show what people have collected on their own and throughout Southeast Texas.”

Every collector has a different story as to why they collect what they do, Kiel said.

“It’s personal, subjective and a part of the selection is not what I like, but if I point to something and (the collector) gets excited and talks passionately about why it’s important to them,” he said. “Sometimes, the stories are really great. I have a friend who spotted a photograph and they could not take their eyes off of it, and the crucial part is — they had to have it. He liked the photo so much that he sold his car to buy the photo. Afterwards, he studied the history of  photography. So now, he’s an expert. People seek him out as a speaker, or as a reference.

“There’s a lot to the show, because people are passionate about what they collect. I have another friend who once brought a photo to work and said, ‘You know, I paid too much for this photo, at least that’s what my wife said. But, every time I walk by it, I stop and look at it.’ You know, you buy what you like, doesn’t matter if it’s from a famous artist or not. It’s what really moves you inside and creates an emotional response. That’s what you want, something that makes you walk by it and think, ‘This is great.’”

The exhibition gives people an idea of going to Le Grand Bal Auction to buy work and begin their own collection.

Both exhibitions will be on display through March 2.

Sierra Kondos, UP staff writer

Learn more about Lamar University at lamar.edu

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