Francesca Fuchs - George Smith - Jereann Chaney Press Image 2.jpg

2018 TEXAS ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Francesca Fuchs

2018 lifetime ACHIEVEMENT award in the VISUAL arts: george smith

2018 TEXAS PATRON OF THE YEAR: jereann chaney


Houston, TX (March 20, 2018) — Art League Houston (ALH) proudly announces the selection of Francesca Fuchs as the 2018 Texas Artist of the Year, George Smith as the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts recipient, and Jereann Chaney, as the 2018 Texas Patron of the Year. Each year ALH pays tribute to those whose work or patronage has had a significant and positive impact on contemporary visual art in Texas.

“We are thrilled to be honoring beloved Texas painter Francesca Fuchs with the 2018 Texas Artist of the Year Award and legendary Houston artist George Smith with Art League Houston’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts” said Jennie Ash, ALH Executive Director. “Both artists have contributed significantly to the visual arts in Texas throughout their distinguished careers, and continue to influence generations of younger artists through their art-making and teaching practices. Furthermore, we are thrilled to be honoring major arts supporter and advocate Jereann Chaney as the 2018 Texas Patron of the Year. For over two decades, she has played a significant role in supporting artists and art organizations throughout Texas and beyond. All three honorees are much loved by the community in which they live and work. We feel honored to have the opportunity to recognize their contributions.” 

In 1983, Art League Houston created the Texas Artist of the Year award as a dynamic annual project documenting Texas art history. Art League Houston was the first organization in the state to develop such an award. To date, thirty-one artists have been honored. Past recipients include Trenton Doyle Hancock, Terrell James, Amy Blakemore, Havel Ruck Project, Rachel Hecker, Aaron Parazette, Mary McCleary, Joseph Havel, Melissa Miller, Al Souza, The Art Guys, Luis Jiménez, Bert L. Long, Jr., Jesús Moroles, James Surls, and Dr. John Biggers, 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 Lynn Goode, Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston (2010-16), Stephanie Smither, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Judy and Scott Nyquist, Victoria and Marshal Lightman, Leslie and Brad Bucher, Anne and James Harithas, Gus Kopriva, Clint Willour, and Lester Marks, among others.  

In 2013, Art League Houston celebrated its 65th Anniversary as an arts organization and the 30th Anniversary of its Texas Artist of the Year award. In recognition of this occasion, Art League Houston established the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts for artists whose career has spanned more than forty years, and who have made an outstanding contribution to the world of visual art in Texas and beyond. Past patron honorees include Jesse Lott, Forrest Prince and Kermit Oliver.

As the 2018 honorees, Francesca Fuchs and George Smith will be featured in solo exhibitions at Art League Houston from September 7 - November 3, 2018. All three awardees will be celebrated at ALH’s annual gala, which will be held in their honor on Friday, October 12 at Hotel ZAZA.

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Image courtesy of Savannah College of Art and Design

Image courtesy of Savannah College of Art and Design


Francesca Fuchs

With a career spanning almost three decades, Francesca Fuchs is a well-known Houston-based artist whose paintings draw from art historical and personal references, evoking a strong sense of narrative around themes of memory, family, and home, and how they define our sense of place and self. Born in London and raised in Tübingen and Münster, Germany, Fuchs completed a BFA at London’s Wimbledon School of Art and finished her postgraduate work under Tony Cragg at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1995. In 1996, the artist moved to Houston for a two-year residency with the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, and she has remained in Houston since that time. 

Over the course of her career, Fuchs has created a body of work that has continuously probed at concepts of worth and value as they relate to themes of memory and home. Originally trained as a sculptor but interested in painting for its illusionism and color, Fuchs moved from sculptural installation to painting after her two-year residency at the Core Program.

North Exterior Wall, 2017 Lawndale Mural Project. Photo by Emily Peacock

North Exterior Wall, 2017 Lawndale Mural Project. Photo by Emily Peacock

Drawing inspiration from personal references including motherhood, friends, familial traditions and domestic objects and spaces, her work portrays moments of emotional and intellectual intimacy and self-reflection, translated through a sober subjectivity. Fuchs has produced an extraordinary body of work that is a testament to the meaning and potency of painting, ranging from small to large-scale works, and characterized by an expansive vocabulary of soft lines, gestural brushwork, and a subdued, muted palette.

Ranging from a show in 2000 titled Sleeping In, for which she made paintings of patterned bedsheets that had autobiographical significance, to Mom, a 2005 show that focused on motherhood with large paintings of breastfeeding babies, Fuchs’s paintings from that period pitted the intimate and autobiographical details of her life against the impersonal undertones associated with the flat planes of hard-edge painting. In 2006, Fuchs moved to a more expressive and painterly approach. The resulting exhibition, Perspectives 155: Francesca Fuchs, at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2007), featured paintings of babies, kitchens, dressers, and formal landscapes, each rendered with soft lines and painterly brushwork. The resulting images were imbued with a sense of memory while still maintaining Fuchs’s typical arm’s-length relationship with the viewer. 

Installation view, Francesca Fuchs, Galveston Arts Center, 2015. Photo by Tom DuBrock

Installation view, Francesca Fuchs, Galveston Arts Center, 2015. Photo by Tom DuBrock

In 2010 Fuchs began a project of paintings of framed paintings, drawings, prints and photographs that hung in her home when she was a child. She describes the artworks she repainted as being part of her personal art history. Present in the work is Fuchs’s characteristic warmth which is counterbalanced by the archival nature of the project. Paintings by known and unknown artists, photos, and children's doodles are transformed by the artist's hand, equalizing them and asking questions about worth, meaning, homage, memory, and making as a form of intimacy. 

Currently, Fuchs is working on a series of paintings based on a similar archival strategy. She is making still life paintings of the knickknacks and desk objects of little or no value that were slated for the thrift store after her father's death in 2016.  Of the project, Fuchs writes, 

I work through layers of reduction – from an original photograph, to a color sketch, to the painting. Each stage allows me to focus on what remains essential… In the current hyper-inflated landscape [the paintings] become small, sober offerings that try to hold onto something real. I hope personal association translates…allowing the private to become communal, metaphysical, even political.

Francesca Fuchs was born in London and currently lives and works in Houston, TX. She is the recipient of numerous awards, residencies, and fellowships including the MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH (2017); Artadia Award (2012, 2006); Individual Artist Grants through the Houston Arts Alliance (2013, 2008, 2003); Core Residency Program at the Glassell School of Art (1996-98); and the Hunting Art Prize (2006). In 1997 Fuchs began teaching at the Glassell School of Art, and from 1998-99 served as the curatorial assistant at Rice University Art Gallery. In 2006 she was appointed Department Head for Painting at the Glassell School of Art. 

Over the years, Fuchs has had solo exhibits locally, nationally, and internationally at venues including Inman Gallery, Houston, TX (Upcoming – October 2018); the Galveston Art Center, Galveston, TX (2015, 1999); Talley Dunn Gallery, Dallas, TX (2015, 2012); The Suburban, Oak Park, Illinois (2013); Texas Gallery, Houston, TX (2013, 2010, 2005, 2003, 2000, 1997); the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX (2007); the Fayerweather Gallery at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville (2004); and DiverseWorks, Houston, TX (1998). Most recently, the artist completed a large-scale mural project at Lawndale Art Center, transforming the organization's blank north wall into the illusion of a cathedral interior, in conversation with the building's iconic Art Deco façade. Fuchs’s work is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and numerous private collections locally, nationally, and internationally.  

Fuchs has been included in several important national and international group exhibitions at venues including the ICA at MECA, Portland, Maine (2017); Texas Gallery, Houston TX (2016, 2010); Sala Diaz, San Antonio, TX(2014, 2001); McClain Gallery, Houston, TX (2012); Lisa Cooley, New York, NY (2010); Inman Gallery, Houston, TX (2010, 2000); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX (2008, 1997); Diverseworks, Houston, TX (2007, 2005, 1999); Arthouse, Austin, TX (2006, 1997); University of Texas, San Antonio, TX (2005); Dallas Contemporary Arts Center, TX (2005); Contemporary Arts Museum, South Florida, Tampa (2002); New Orleans Museum of Art, LA (2001); Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX (2000); Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX (2000, 1998); Arlington Museum of Art, TX (1998); British Council Window Gallery, Prague (1998); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK (1996); Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK (1992-93); and the ICA, London, UK (1992-93).

Fuchs has curated several exhibitions which include The Chickie Brown Painting Sale, Bill’s Junk, Houston (2018); Chickie Brown: I called the zoo but the lion was busy, Art League Houston, TX (2017); Morris Chackas: Still Lives 1973 - 1982, Optical Project, Houston, TX (2009); Dark Light, Uta Kögelsberger, Glassell Project Space, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX (2005); and Fish & Chips, New British Art, DiverseWorks, Houston, TX (1997).

Fuchs’s work has been written about in publications including the New York Times, Art Forum, Art in America, Art Ltd, Artlies, Artpapers, Houston Chronicle, Arts and Culture, Houston Press, as well on online platforms such as, and 

Fuchs lives in Houston with her husband Bill Davenport and two children. She is represented by Inman Gallery in Houston, and Talley Dunn Gallery in Dallas.

Photo by Ernesto Leon

Photo by Ernesto Leon

2018 lifetime ACHIEVEMENT award in the VISUAL arts

george smith

George Smith is a significant American contemporary artist who lives and works in Houston. He is known for his steel sculpture and oil on paper works which reference the Dogon aesthetic and the expressive power of African geometry. For the past forty years, he has created works in metal, steel and paper that evoke a powerful and spiritual quality, grounded in the very essence of the material itself. Smith’s use of steel references the Buffalo Steel Industry, where his father worked in a local mill. The personal significance of this material combined with the primordial qualities of steel and fire, produce a lingering source of strength and endurance in the work that not only speaks to the contemporary experience but also acknowledges a symbolic vocabulary of the past. On one level, Smith’s work reflects the artists’ intellectual and aesthetic orientation, as well as experience with steel construction. On another level, it communicates his spiritual ambition. 

Sirius, 2004, Steel and paint, 6.5' x 3' x 6.5' (on black wall) TM BU TU, 2002, Dedicated to John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Steel and paint, (each) 2' x 2' x 7.5' Photo courtesy of the Station Museum

Sirius, 2004, Steel and paint, 6.5' x 3' x 6.5' (on black wall)
TM BU TU, 2002, Dedicated to John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Steel and paint, (each) 2' x 2' x 7.5'
Photo courtesy of the Station Museum

Smith’s work synthesizes three fundamental sources; the sense of scale and the intuitive look of Abstract Expressionism; the flat-faced industrial geometry of Minimal Art; and the expressive symbols and geometry inspired by the Dogon peoples of West Africa. Formally, Smith’s work has an opaque aspect to it created through the process of using an oil bar with a blowtorch to build up layers of material, giving his work a sense of fullness. His scrubbed surface textures imbue a tactile touch of energy in the static yet moving qualities in his work, implying an excitement about the actual process that is unmistakable. This is true of his drawings as well. He again pushes the surface of the tempered paper. The rubbing and scrubbing techniques appear to raise the surface in undulating ways. The tactile surface reveals a forceful entanglement with the medium. His attempts to regulate the seemingly appositional effects of wax against paper go unresolved. Yet the tension that is set up by this confrontation is what's important. (James Pappas, 2001)

Smith’s interest in Abstract Expressionism began in high school when he was on a class trip to the Albright-Knox Gallery. There he discovered the bravado abstract painting of Franz Kline. Kline’s paintings were informal, intuitive, emotional, and expressed high energy and decisive movement. Additionally, he was introduced to Ad Reinhardt’s signature black paintings, which featured shades of muted black squares containing barely discerniblecruciform shapes in order to challenge the limits of visibility.  These same qualities are evident in the gritty blackness of the surfaces and in the vector-like movement and ambitious scale of Smiths work. After attending the San Francisco Art Institute, he went on to graduate school at Hunter College in New York City. There he first became a student and later the assistant of sculptor Tony Smith, a progenitor of Minimal Art who created steel sculptures that bore a direct connection to Alexander Graham Bell’s tetrahedron kites and space frames. From this teacher and mentor, Smith learned the techniques of building monumental sculpture even as he looked elsewhere to find his own style. Having experienced both the West and East Coast art worlds, he became fully cognizant of the various directions that contemporary art was taking during the tumultuous late 1960’s and 1970’s. At that time, Minimal Art was the major contemporary influence on sculpture, and while he took it into account, Smith did not see it as an end in itself.

However, it was to African art and architecture that Smith turned to find a geometry and spirituality which, unlike most contemporary American art, was not based on materialism. African American artists, such as Charles White and Jacob Lawrence, expressed their unique cultural experience from a Social Realist perspective. John Biggers and Loïs Mailou Jones went on to investigate their African roots from a similar perspective. This genre, Social Realism, was considered a minor movement by the art establishment. During that time, artists like Smith and James Little who were well educated and had experienced the Civil Rights movement, now felt that they had earned the right to define themselves and their art through a mainstream international approach to form and content. Smith, in particular, enriched his sources and his previous approaches through his focus on Dogon sculpture and architecture.

In 1979 and 1991, Smith traveled to West Africa to study the Dogon culture, which marked a cultural reawakening for the artist. Like other artists working in such themes in the African genre, looking back to the past was inspirational for the artist. There Smith studied the Dogon first-hand and over the following years, he integrated their geometry and cosmology into his sculpture. The Dogon, who hail from Mali in West Africa, have for over centuries developed a geometric aesthetic and knowledge of astronomy that, along with their myths, are the unifying elements of their social and spiritual life. This caused Smith’s work to undergo a major change. His sculpture now communicated a profound sense of spirituality whose essence evoke the unity of the tribe and, by extension, the unity of all things. Furthermore, his work is inspired by "Sankofa" a West African word meaning to return to the past and to move forward to the future. His titles, "Nommo," "Kindred Spirits," "Dissent from the Spirit," are centrifugal illusions born out of a yearning for an understanding of the past. When talking about his work, the artist notes:

“For more than 10 years, I have been producing sculptures inspired by The Dogon,” said Smith. “This fascinating African society resides in a spectacular rocky region of the Republic of Mali called the Bandiagara Escarpment. On the face of the cliffs, The Dogon create their art and architecture, which consists of carvings and drawings representing mythical ancestors that are part of their elaborate cosmology, including the mythical star, Sirius.”

Born in Buffalo, NY, Smith received a B.F.A. in Sculpture from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1969. In 1972, he received an M.A. in Sculpture from Hunter College, New York where the artist worked with sculptor Tony Smith. Additionally, Smith met and studied under curator and arts advocate James Harithas, who at that time was a Professor of Art History. Since then, Harithas has become one of Smith’s most significant supporters. Returning to Buffalo after college, Smith accepted an appointment in the Art Department at the University of Buffalo where he taught sculpture for 9 years. In 1981, Smith moved to Houston and was appointed Professor of Sculpture at Rice University, retiring in 2010. He has been awarded numerous fellowships and grants including a National Endowment Planning Grant (1980); National Endowment Individual Grant (1977); two New York State Council on the Arts Grants (1976, 1973); two Cultural Arts Council of Houston Grants (1975), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1971). 

George Smith and Kaneem Smith at Project Row Houses. Photo by Ernesto Leon

George Smith and Kaneem Smith at Project Row Houses. Photo by Ernesto Leon

Smith has been featured in solo exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the United States including Nicole Longnecker Gallery, Houston, TX (2018); O’Kane Gallery, University of Houston/Downtown, TX (2016); Project Row Houses, Houston, TX (2014); G Gallery, Houston, TX (2009); The Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, TX (2007, 2005); Wilmer Jennings Gallery, New York, NY (2006, 1999); Burchfield-Penny Art Center, the Museum of Western New York Arts, Buffalo, NY (2001); Joan Wich & Co. Gallery, Houston, TX (2000); Fleming Museum of Art, Burlington, VT (1999); Graham Gallery, Houston, TX (1987); Sewell Art Gallery, Houston (1983); Rice University, Houston, TX (1983): Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (1980): Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, NY (1979): Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY (1972) and Reese Palley Gallery, New York, NY (1970).

Furthermore, Smith has been included in several important national and international group exhibitions at venues including the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX (2007, 1995); Camp Marfa, Marfa, TX (2007); Casa de Carton, Ingalls & Associates, Miami, FL (2007); Menil Collection Museum, Houston, TX (2006); African American Museum, Dallas, Texas (2015, 2006); Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, San Antonio, TX (2006); Rockland County Center for the Arts, West Nyack, NY (2000); Art Car Museum, Houston, TX (1999); Galveston Art Center, Galveston, TX (1999); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX (1996); Studio Museum in Harlem, Sculpture Garden, New York, NY (1995); Project Row Houses, Houston, TX (1995); Kenkeleba Gallery, New York, NY (1992); Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX (1992); High Museum, Atlanta (1992); Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI (1992); Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, TX (1992); Deanza College, Euphrat Gallery, Cupertino, CA (1992); United States Information Agency, Washington, DC (1989); Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas, Austin, TX (1989); Longview Museum of Art, Longview, TX (1989); Bronx Museum, NY (1989); Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX (1989); The Museum of African American Art, Los Angeles, CA (1988); Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (1988); Arnot Museum of Art, Elmira, NY (1973); New York Cultural Center, New York, NY (1973); Newark Museum, Newark, NJ (1973); Rutgers University, NJ (1971); Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY (1970) and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (1970). 

His large-scale public commissions can be seen at venues including the African American Museum of Art Dallas, TX (1997); University of Vermont Burlington (1992); Lubben Plaza commissioned by A.H. Belo Corporation, Dallas, TX (1991); University of Houston, Downtown Campus (1989); Niagara Frontier Transit Authority (NFTA) Utica Station, Buffalo, NY (1981), and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) Lindbergh Center Station, Atlanta, GA (1981).

Smith’s work is represented in the permanent collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Menil Collection, Houston, TX; Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Cooper Cameron Corporation, Houston, TX; Burchfield-Penny Museum, Buffalo, NY and Adam Clayton Powell State Building, NY. Furthermore, his work is featured in numerous private collections locally, nationally, and internationally. 

Smith has collaborated with artists Rick Lowe, Danny Samuels, Nonya Grenader, Bert Long, Jesse Lott, Bert Samples, James Bettison and Floyd Newsum, as well as students from the School of Architecture at Rice University. Smith lives in Houston with his wife Thelma Smith. He is represented by Nicole Longnecker Gallery, Houston, TX.

Photo by Jenny Antill

Photo by Jenny Antill

2018 texas patron of the year

jereann chaney

Jereann Chaney is a well-known and beloved Houston arts patron and advocate who has been an integral part of the Houston arts community for over two decades. She truly believes one’s life is solidly enriched by being involved and surrounded by the arts in some form or fashion. Chaney has been seriously collecting since 1995 and concentrates on young emerging artists and their work. She currently sits on the Boards of Glasstire, the Blaffer Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Houston and Chair of the Contemporary Art Museum Houston; and participates on the Modern and Contemporary Art Subcommittee and the Photography Subcommittee for MFAH, and with Joe Havel leads the Core Program Committee for the MFAH Glassell School. She facilitated MFAH exhibitions: Red Hot Asian Art Today from the Chaney Family Collection in 2007 and End Game in 2008. As a supporter of the arts Chaney has also supported the Houston Center for Photography, Menil Collection, Lawndale Art Center, DiverseWorks, Art League Houston, Aurora Picture Show, Asia Society, Artpace, Pearl Fincher Museum, Blanton and Smithsonian. In March 2018, Chaney will be honored by Artpace, San Antonio, TX.


Francesca Fuchs, 2018

Trenton Doyle Hancock, 2017

Terrell James, 2016

Amy Blakemore, 2015

Havel Ruck Project, 2014

Rachel Hecker, 2013

Aaron Parazette, 2012

Mary McCleary, 2011

Joseph Havel, 2010

Keith Carter, 2009

Melissa Miller, 2008

Dixie Friend Gay, 2007

Al Souza, 2006

The Art Guys, 2005

Richard Stout, 2004

Virgil Grotfeldt, 2003

Sharon Kopriva, 2001

Dick Wray, 2000

Linda Ridgway, 1999

Luis Jimenez, 1998

Gael Stack, 1997

Lucas Johnson, 1996

Robert Wilson, 1995

Karin Broker, 1994

George Krause, 1993

James Surls, 1991

Bert L. Long, Jr., 1990

Jesús Moroles, 1989

Dr. John Biggers, 1988

Charles Pebworth, 1987

Charles Schorre, 1986

Charles Umlauf, 1985

Dorothy Hood, 1984

E.M. (Buck) Schweitz, 1983


Jereann Chaney, 2018

Lynn Goode, 2017

Poppi Georges Massey, 2016

Mayor Annise Parker (2010-16), 2015

Stephanie Smither, 2014

Leigh & Reggie Smith, 2013

Judy & Scott Nyquist, 2012

Victoria & Marshall Lightman, 2011

Leslie and Brad Bucher, Patrons 2010

Karol Kreymer and Robert Card, M.D., 2009

Ann and James Harithas, 2008

Gus Kopriva, 2007  

Clint Willour, 2006

Lester Marks, 2002

Sue Rowan Pittman, Patron 1989



George Smith, 2018

Jesse Lott, 2016

Forrest Prince, 2015

Kermit Oliver, 2013