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Texas State Artists for 2023 and 2024

August 4, 2023 Texas, Texas History

For more than 50 years the Texas Commission on the Arts has recognized painters, photographers, and other visual artists as the official State Artist each year.

For 2023 the Texas State Visual Artist 2D is dramatic portrait artist Gaspar Enriquez, and the Texas State Visual Artist 3D is ceramic artist James C, Watkins.

For 2024 the Texas State Visual Artist 2D is prestigious painter Michael Ray Charles, and the Texas State Visual Artist 3D is ceramic artist Diana Kersey.

2023 Texas State Visual Artists

The 2023 Texas State Visual Artists include El Paso native Gaspar Enriquez and Lubbock’s James C. Watkins.

Here is more on each of these talented artists from the Texas Commission on the Arts:

Gaspar Enriquez

Born in 1942 and raised in El Paso’s Segundo Barrio, Enriquez is the quintessential Chicano Texas artist with his work highlighted by acrylic, air-brushed portraits of people who interest him, from former students to celebrities.

Gaspar credits some of his courage in pursuing his art to encouragement from his mother and two sisters, his fifth-grade teacher at Beall Elementary, and his now-deceased wife, Anne Garcia-Enriquez.

He earned a BA in art from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1970 and an MA in metals from New Mexico State University in 1985.

Gaspar chose to teach to remain independently true to his vision. Along the way, he inspired art students at El Paso’s Bowie High School for 33 years, until his retirement in 2002.

Gaspar’s dramatic portraits range from works on paper of writer Rudolfo Anaya, artist Luis Jimenez and artist John Valadez for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery to 24-feet high commissions for the San Antonio Convention Center (the cholos) and illustrations for Rudolfo Anaya’s Elegy on the Death of Cesar Chavez.

His solo exhibition, Metaphors of El Barrio (2014), at the El Paso Museum of Art was a great success, holding record attendance.

James C. Watkins

James C. Watkins is a ceramic artist who has worked with clay for over 40 years. His work is held in 25 permanent collections, including the White House Collection of American Crafts at the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Shigaraki Institute of Ceramic Studies in Shigaraki, Japan, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York, the Tweed Museum in Duluth, Minnesota, the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in Houston, Texas.

Watkins is a Texas Tech University Horn Distinguished Professor Emeritus. He was a 2005 Senior Fulbright Scholar, teaching in Vietnam at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Architecture. Watkins is the 2019 recipient of the HCCC Texas Master Award presented by the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in Houston, Texas.  

2024 Texas State Visual Artists

The 2024 Texas State Visual Artists include Houston’s James C. Watkins and San Antonio’s Diane Kersey.

Here is more on each of these talented artists from the Texas Commission on the Arts:

Michael Ray Charles

Michael Ray Charles received an MFA from the University of Houston in 1993.

Charles’ work explores historic African American stereotypes from the Antebellum South, appropriating images from advertising and pop culture to expose the underlying racism prevalent in contemporary culture.

Charles has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, and as a juror for The Bush Artist Fellowship in St. Paul, Minnesota, as well as for the Inaugural Biennial Underground Railroad Exhibition at Northern Kentucky University. His work is represented in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and other major museum collections in both the US and abroad.

In 2018, Charles became the recipient of the prestigious American Academy in Rome, Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize, awarded to artists at the forefront of their disciplines and considered one of the most prestigious awards a practicing artist can receive.

Diana Kersey

When Diana Kersey was growing up in Lubbock, her parents allowed her to try to dig a swimming pool in their backyard. Thirteen inches down, she discovered clay, and she has been working with it ever since.

Kersey is a visual artist who exclusively works in ceramics, creating everything from small studio pieces to large architectural installations.

Recent accolades include: the Artisan Award from the Texas Society of Architects, the John Staub Award from the Texas Society of Classic Architecture and Art, the Everyday Excellence Golden Trowel from the Texas Masonry Council, the Lynn Ford Craftsman Award from The Conservation Society of San Antonio, Texas, and the Mary Jo Laughlin and Eula Whitehouse Memorial Award for Visual Arts from the Native Plant Society of Texas.

She has a BFA in drawing from Texas Tech University. Currently, she serves as an Assistant Professor at Northwest Vista College and operates Kersey Ceramics LLC in San Antonio, Texas.

Past State Artists: Visual Artists

The Texas Commission on the Arts has been selecting State Artists for more than 50 years. Here is a list of those selected in the past:

  • 1971-72: Joe Ruiz Grandee, Arlington
  • 1972-73: Melvin C. Warren, Clifton
  • 1973-74: Ronald Thomason, Weatherford; A.C. Gentry, Jr., Tyler (alternate)
  • 1974-75: Joe Rader Roberts, Dripping Springs; Bette Lou Voorhis, Austin (alternate)
  • 1975-76 (Bicentennial Artists): Jack White, New Braunfels; Robert Summers, Glen Rose
  • 1976-77: James Boren, Clifton; Kenneth Wyatt, Lubbock (alternate)
  • 1977-78: Edward “Buck” Schiwetz, Dewitt County; Renne Hughes, Tarrant County (alternate)
  • 1978-79: Jack Cowan, Rockport; Gary Henry, Palo Pinto County (alternate); Joyce Tally, Caldwell County (alternate)
  • 1979-80: Dalhart Windberg, Travis County; Grant Lathe, Canyon Lake (alternate)
  • 1980-81: Harry Ahysen, Huntsville; Jim Reno, Simonton (alternate)
  • 1981-82: Jerry Newman, Beaumont; Raul Gutierrez, San Antonio (alternate)
  • 1982-83: Dr. James H. Johnson, Byran; Armando Hinojosa, Laredo (alternate)
  • 1983-84: Raul Gutierrez, San Antonio; James Eddleman, Lubbock (alternate)
  • 1984-85: Covelle Jones, Lubbock; Ragan Gennusa, Austin (alternate)
  • 1986-87: Chuck DeHaan, Graford
  • 1987-88: Neil Caldwell, Angleton; Rey Gaytan, Austin (alternate)
  • 1988-89: George Hallmark, Walnut Springs; Tony Eubanks, Grapevine (alternate)
  • 1990-91: Mondel Rogers, Sweetwater (2D); Ron Wells, Cleveland (3D)
  • 1991-92: Woodrow Foster, Center (2D); Harold Phenix, Houston (2D alternate); Kent Ullberg, Corpus Christi (3D); Mark Clapham, Conroe (3D alternate)
  • 1993-94: Roy Lee Ward (2D);  James Eddleman, Lubbock (3D)
  • 1994-95: Frederick Carter, El Paso (2D); Garland A. Weeks, Wichita Falls (3D)
  • 1998-99: Carl Rice Embrey, San Antonio (2D); Edd Hayes, Humble )3D_
  • 2000-2002: none designated
  • 2003: Ralph E. White, Jr., Austin (2D); Dixie Friend Gay, Houston (3D)
  • 2004: Sam Caldwell, Houston (2D); David Hickman, Dallas (3D)
  • 2005: Kathy Vargas, San Antonio (2D); Sharon Kopriva, Houston (3D)
  • 2006: George Boutwell, Bosque (2D); James Surls, Athens (3D)
  • 2007: Lee Herring, Rockwall (2D); David Keens, Arlington (3D)
  • 2008: Janet Eager Krueger, Encinal (2D); Damian Priour, Austin (3D)
  • 2009: Rene Alvarado, San Angelo (2D); Eliseo Garcia, Dallas (3D)
  • 2010: Marc Burckhardt, Austin (2D);  John Bennett, Fredericksburg (3D)
  • 2011: Melissa Miller, Austin (2D); Jesús Moroles, Rockport (3D)
  • 2012: Karl Umlauf, Waco (2D); Bill FitzGibbons, San Antonio (3D)
  • 2013: Jim Woodson, Fort Worth (2D); Joseph Havel, Houston (3D)
  • 2014: Julie Speed, Marfa (2D); Ken Little, San Antonio (3D)
  • 2015: Vincent Valdez, San Antonio (2D); Margo Sawyer, Elgin (3D)
  • 2016: Dornith Doherty, Southlake (2D); Dario Robleto, Houston (3D)
  • 2017: Kermit Oliver, Waco (2D); Beverly Penn, San Marcos (3D)
  • 2018: Sedrick Huckaby, Fort Worth (2D); Beili Liu, Austin (3D)
  • 2019: Mary McCleary, Nacogdoches (2D); Rick Lowe, Houston (3D)
  • 2020: Earlie Hudnall, Jr., Houston (2D); Gabriel Dawe, Dallas (3D)
  • 2021: Annette Lawrence, Denton (2D); Jennifer Ling Datchuk, San Antonio (3D)
  • 2022: Celia Álvarez Muñoz, Arlington (2D); Jesse Lott, Houston (3D)

5 Texas Painters You Should Know

The Lone Star State has been home to so many great painters. Here are five artists that says you should know:

  • Olin Travis (1888-1975): Dallas native who studied and taught at the Art Institute of Chicago before founding the Dallas Art Institute in 1926, and later his own artist colony in the Ozark mountains. Mural work includes those exalting the oil industry commissioned by Howard Hughes Jr. for the Hughes Tool Company in Houston.
  • Otis Dozier (1904-1987): Forney native is known as one of the “Dalla Nine” group of regional artists working in Texas in the 1930s and 1940s. He and his wife, ceramist Velma Dozier, were celebrated in an exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art in 1974.
  • Seymour Fogel (1911-1984): A New York native who worked extensively in Texas, including many murals for the WPA. After moving to Texas in 1946, he taught at the University of Texas at Austin.
  • William Lester (1910-1991): Graham native who moved to Dallas in his teens and studied with other notables including Travis. Like Dozier, he is considered one of the “Dallas Nine”. In 1936 his work was featured in the Texas Centennial.
  • Everett Spruce (1908-2002): Another Texas Regionalist artist, Spruce was a professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Before that, he took up residency at Travis’ artist colony in the Ozarks. He exhibited his work with both Dozier and Lester.

Pulitzer Prize for Photography: 7 UT Alumni and Faculty Have Won the Award

There are so many talented Texas photographers it is hard to highlight just one or two but a good list to start with is the seven University of Texas at Austin alumni or faculty who have won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Photography:

  • Jean-Marc Bouju: Feature Photography (1995) and Spot News Photography (1999)
  • Carolyn Cole: Breaking News Photography (1998) and Feature Photography (2004)
  • Erin “Skeeter” Hagler: Feature Photography (1980)
  • John McConnico: Spot News Photography (1999)
  • John Moore: Breaking News Photography (2005)
  • Lucian Perkins: Feature Photography (2000)
  • Larry Price: Spot News Photography (1981) and Feature Photography (1985)

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