2013 Art League Houston Honorees
Rachel Hecker | Leigh and Reggie Smith | Kermit Oliver
Art League Houston (ALH) proudly announces the selections of Rachel Hecker as the 2013 Texas Artist of the Year and Leigh and Reggie Smith as Texas Patrons of the Year. In 2013 ALH will be celebrating its 65th Anniversary as an arts organization and the 30th Anniversary of its Texas Artist of the Year Award. In recognition of this occasion, ALH will award artist Kermit Oliver with a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts for his outstanding contribution to the world of visual art in Texas and beyond. Annually, Art League Houston honors those whose work or patronage has had a significant and positive impact on contemporary visual art in Texas.
"We are thrilled to have Rachel Hecker as our thirtieth Texas Artist of the Year and the exceptional Leigh and Reggie Smith as our Patrons of the Year," said Cara Rudelson, Board President, Art League Houston. "These awards are long standing traditions of Art League Houston. It is an important component of our mission to honor those who make such a difference in our community and throughout the state of Texas through their contribution to the arts. The good work of Rachel, Leigh and Reggie not only enrich the lives of our residents, but they have a ripple effect that resonates throughout the United States and beyond. We are also excited to celebrate our sixty-fifth year of serving Houston by presenting a Lifetime Achievement Award to Kermit Oliver. Kermit is, quite simply, an idol. We look forward to sharing an evening with him."
In 1983, Art League Houston created the Texas Artist of the Year award as a dynamic annual project documenting Texas art history. ALH was the first organization in the state to develop such an award. To date, thirty artists have been honored. Past recipients include Aaron Parazette, Mary McCleary, Joseph Havel, Keith Carter, Melissa Miller, Dixie Friend Gay, Al Souza, Luis Jiménez, Lucas Johnson, Sharon Kopriva, Bert L. Long, Jr., Jesús Moroles, Dr. John Biggers, and Dorothy Hood, among others.
In 1989, Art League Houston expanded the award to include patrons with its Texas Patron of the Year award for extraordinary individuals whose efforts have helped advance the work of Texas artists. Past patron honorees include Judy and Scott Nyquist (2012), Victoria and Marshal Lightman (2011), Leslie and Brad Bucher (2010), Karol Kreymer and Robert Card, M.D. (2009), Anne and James Harithas (2008), Gus Kopriva (2007), Clint Willour (2006), and Sue Rowan Pittman (1989).
Rachel Hecker: Texas Artist of the Year
Rachel Hecker was born in Providence, RI. She received a BFA in Sculpture from Moore College of Art, and an MFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design. She moved to Houston in 1982 to help Allan Hacklin establish the prestigious Core Residency Program at the Glassell School of Art. It was supposed to be an eight month job that lasted nine and a half years. She was the Associate Director of the Core Program at the Glassell School of Art from 1982-1991 and is now an Associate Professor of painting at the University of Houston School of Art. She has shown in numerous museum exhibitions such as Postmodern Americans: A Selection at the Menil Collection in Houston, and in commercial and university galleries and alternative spaces throughout the United States. One-person exhibitions have included venues such as the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, the Dallas Museum of Art, and ArtPace in San Antonio.
Hecker has received extensive critical attention in newspapers and magazines including: The Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Papers, and ArtReview (published in London). A portfolio of her work was reproduced in Grand Street in 1996.
Leigh and Reggie Smith: Texas Patrons of the Year
Leigh and Reggie Smith moved to Houston from Atlanta in early 1995. At that time Reggie was opening the Houston office of the Atlanta based law firm, King & Spalding. Leigh was leaving her law practice to be home with their one young child. After settling, they ultimately welcomed two more children – native-born Texans – into their family. Houston’s vibrant art scene fueled a deeper involvement in the arts.
By 1998 Reggie was serving on the board of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and the two were active with and hosting events for CAMH and the MFAH. Reggie’s involvement with CAMH has not waned. He has served as Board President, Board Chair, Chair of the Director Search Committee (leading to the hire of Bill Arning as Director) and Chair of Long Range Planning. Leigh co-chaired a CAMH gala, chaired Another Great Night in November and has served on the CAMH Special Events Committee.
Kermit Oliver: Lifetime Achievement Award
For more than 40 years, Kermit Oliver has painted nature and myth-inspired portraits and landscapes rooted in his life as a native Texan, earning public recognition while carefully guarding his privacy. For nearly a quarter century, he is the only American artist to have commissions from Hermès to create designs for its renowned silk scarves.
A self-described “recluse”, Kermit Oliver has for years sorted mail on the night shift in a Waco, Texas, post office and painted by day. His paintings blend contemporary and classical elements inspired by his rural Texas heritage and his study of mythology, religion, and history.
As Texas Artist of the Year, Rachel Hecker will be featured in a six week exhibition at Art League Houston, opening on September 27 - November 15, 2013. For the first time, Art League Houston will present an exhibition featuring a survey of works by Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Kermit Oliver. All four awardees will be celebrated at the annual gala, which will be held in their honor on October 18, 2013 at the Hotel ZaZa.
Art League Houston is one of Houston's longest operating non-profit visual arts organizations and was the first alternative art space in Texas. Founded in 1948 and incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1953, Art League Houston (ALH) was created to promote the public appreciation of and interest in the visual arts. During the past 65 years, ALH has provided over 900 exhibitions to the Houston community, showcased the work of nearly 22,500 artists, and instructed over 36,000 students through the Art League School and outreach programs.
The mission of Art League Houston is to cultivate awareness, appreciation, and accessibility of contemporary visual art within the community for its cultural enrichment. Art League Houston provides an opportunity for all members of the community to experience the contemporary visual arts. We achieve our mission through exhibitions, education, and outreach programs.
For ticket and table purchase information please contact Jill Nepomnick at the Art League, 713 523 9530.