Rex Koontz, director of the school of art at the University of Houston, will present the lecture, “The Intertwined Artistic Destinies of Texas and Mexico: The Greater Texas and Panamerican Exposition of 1937 in Dallas,” 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, in the Dishman Lecture Hall.

“Koontz’s talk is going to be about early Texas artists who are interested in arts from Mexico and other Mesoamerican locations,” Stephanie Chadwick, LU assistant professor of art history, said. “It’s going to be an interesting discussion on the way Texas artists were thinking of their identity and trying to situate what we mean by art in Texas.”

The Texas Centennial Exposition of 1937, which features in Konntz’s talk, essentially built on the earlier Centennial Exposition in 1936, Chadwick said. Koontz will discuss how both expositions are building on an idea of highlighting Texas artists and looking toward connection with Mesoamerican art.

“On one hand, he’s arguing that artists in the 1930s are trying to develop an identity as Texas artists,” Chadwick said. “But to do that, they’re looking to the legacy, instead of looking only at art from Europe and the kind of canons they learn in art history classes or art studio classes. They were instead looking to regional art, which for them included Mesoamerica.”

The lecture will also look at what was considered modern Mexican art in 1937.

Koontz will discuss 20th century Texas artists Jerry Bywaters, Everett Spruce, Alexander Hogue, Toni LaSelle and Robert Preusser, as well as Mexican artists Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

“One of the things Koontz is talking about is how it was kind of an effort to develop a visual language for Texas artists as Americans and as Texans,” Chadwick said.

Koontz will present examples of the Texas artists’ work from the 1937 Texas and Panamerican exposition.

“We’re actually envisioning this as the first in a series of art history lectures,” Chadwick said. “We’ve had some inquires, from students and also people in the community, who say they’re interested in some of these relationships from art and history.”

A reception will preceed the talk at 5:30 p.m. in the Dishman Art Museum.

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Story by Karisa Norfleet, UP contributor

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