Dishman exhibits focus on Southeast Texas

An artist rendering of Lamar University’s Otho Plummer Administration Building by architect Milton Bell

The Dishman Art Museum is hosting a pair of exhibitions, “Visionary Architecture and the Legacy of Milton Bell” and “Beaumont Collects 2: Works of Art from Southeast Texas Collections,” on display through March 2.

Milton Bell is a renowned Beaumont architect who designed several buildings on the Lamar University campus, including the Otho Plummer Administration Building, also known as the “Round Building,” which was recently designated as a historic landmark.

Visitors to the opening reception of “Visionary Architecture and the Legacy of Milton Bell,” discuss the architectural renderings at the show’s opening, Feb. 19. Photo by Andy Coughlan

“I’ve had several requests to do a show related to architecture, and when I saw the renderings of the buildings on campus and realized that Milton Bell had created them I thought focusing on Mr. Bell would be a great idea,” museum director Dennis Kiel said. “Plus, Mr. Bell is revered by many people for all he has done for the city of Beaumont.

“Since Mr. Bell was the project manager of the Plummer Building, the show was a good way to let people know that it had been entered in the National Register for Historic Places in 2015.”

The architectural drawings show Bell’s skills as an artist, Kiel said.

“The renderings in the show are original drawings, not reproductions, plus, as Mr. Bell has reminded me, they were hand drawn not computer generated,” Kiel said. “If people take the time to really look at the drawings they will see how skillful, and clever, Mr. Bell was. They’re also very charming.

“The Museum of Modern Art in New York put together a ‘Frank Lloyd Wright at 150’ exhibition last summer that included many of Wright’s architectural drawings — enough said.”

Looking at the renderings and the actual buildings reveals a lot about the artistic process, Kiel said.

“If you spend just a little time with any work of art you will make discoveries and see things you never thought were there,” he said. “Parts of some of the renderings have overlays, which I assume were changes or corrections. It’s really fun to discover things like this.”

Beaumont collector Ramona Young poses with her portrait by renowned artist Jerry Newman from the 1973 South Texas State Fair. The piece is part of the “Beaumont Collects 2” exhibition at the Dishman Art Museum through March 2. Photo by Andy Coughlan

“Beaumont Collects 2,” in the upstairs gallery, highlights pieces from Southeast Texans’ personal collections. Kiel said the collectors’ relationships to the art is as interesting as the artwork itself.

“There’s something very exciting about sitting in your home and looking at original art on your walls,” he said. “My goal with the show has been to show the diversity of the collectors in this area. Collectors have great stories about why and what they collect. Some of the collectors I visited were extremely passionate about certain works and those were the ones I wanted for the exhibition.

Another reason for scheduling the exhibition at this time is to get people excited about Le Grand Bal Auction, a fundraiser for the College of Fine Arts and Communication, which will be held in the Dishman on March 24, Kiel said. Le Grand Bal is an opportunity for people to add to their collections or to start a collection. Art in the auction covers a variety of artists from students to professionals, many at affordable prices.

This is the second year of “Beaumont Collects,” and Kiel said that he is still discovering different collections but is always on the lookout for more.

“I know there are a lot of collections out there that I’m unaware of,” he said. “People have called me about their collections in the past, and I encourage them to continue doing so.”

The Dishman Art Museum is located at the corner of East Lavaca and MLK Parkway on the Lamar University campus.

For more information, 409-880-8959.

Andy Coughlan, ISSUE editor