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John Alexander: 35 Years of Works on Paper

April 12 -- August 3, 2003


Beaumont native John Alexander is one of the most famous artists ever to come from Beaumont. His works are included in prestigious private and public collections worldwide. Well-known museums and galleries have exhibited Alexander's works in hundreds of solo and group exhibitions. Steve Martin, Mick Jagger, Chevy Chase, Robin Williams and Sylvester Stallone are all proud owners of work by Alexander. (left: The Confused Tycoon, 1989, charcoal and pastel, 18 x 23 inches, collection of Marilyn Oshman, Houston, Texas)

Although Alexander has lived in New York for more than 20 years, he remains a "Texas artist" in the minds of many people. This is a label Alexander does not seem to mind.

Born in Beaumont in 1945, Alexander showed an early interest in art. He drew constantly in class: in his textbooks, on desks, in the margins of assignments.

Herman Hugg, a retired art teacher and Beaumont artist/collector, taught Alexander at Beaumont's South Park High School. He remembers, "He was unusually bright, very good ability in drawing, painting, whatever. He had such a keen sense of humor. John has always had a knack for verbalization. A lot of artists are reserved and shy. Not John. My contribution to his career was just to leave him alone!"  

Alexander has continued making drawings in addition to his well-known paintings. The over 70 drawings and watercolors in 35 Years represents three periods in Alexander's work: early landscapes, scathing satirical work focused on the greed of the 1980s and natural subjects.

The satirical drawings often feature wealthy people wearing beaklike masks that are reminiscent of dunce caps or Klan hoods.

Hugg says, "John has the ability to do social satire on the same level as the greats, like Hogarth, Daumier and Goya. Johnny's work has the power to slap you right in the face! He had that ability to read life in high school."

The landscapes and natural subjects come, in part, from his time in East Texas' Piney Woods, with it's thick underbrush and snakes. (right: Blue langoustine, watercolor and pencil, 11.25 x 14.25 inches, collection of Anne and John Mullen, Dallas, Texas)

In 1979, after receiving art degrees from Lamar University in Beaumont and Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, Alexander moved to New York. His reputation grew quickly, as did the price of his work.

Alexander is looking forward to returning to Beaumont for 35 Years. "I've lived in Houston, Dallas, New Yorkand have visited all parts of the world, but Beaumont is at the core of everything I do."

A full-color catalogue for 35 Years is available through AMSET.

35 Years is presented by Entergy and by Hibernia National Bank and funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, C.W. & Dorothy Anne Conn Fund of Communities Foundation of Texas, Inc., Bo-Mac Contractors, Ltd., Doak Procter III and Julie Richardson, Mr. & Mrs. W. Frank Newton and The Modern Group. This project is supported by a grant from the Southeast Texas Arts Council.

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