Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Friend Jack

Jack Boynton died at 82. He was one of my best friends. He was a founding father in the Houston art world, one of the first modernists in Texas. showing his work in New York at the Whitney and the Guggenheim and at Galleries in NY and Texas. Together with Pat Colville, we began the studio art department at the University of St. Thomas in 1969. Those were glorious years. By 1972 we had the largest department in the school.They gave us the old library when a new one was built. We had a huge gallery and did many outrageous shows…The Bosch project…the camping show…Joe Tate’s backyard…Bob Wade’s Texas .map.
Jack and I hiked, camped and painted Big Bend numerous times. Going to the South Rim and doing watercolors. The last was in 1996. When we  found that we could not hike with full backpacks, we camped in the Basin and did a day hike. Once we hiked in to the Mule Ears Peak and got caught in a deluge, hiked back soaked, and naked we dried out our cloths in the car with the heater on. Lots of pictures came from our experiences. On our first trip in 1976 Jack made his first “sticks”. We took different trails and met up below Emery Peak. I sat do wn to do some WCs . I noticed some arranged objects as I settled in .A voice called out “Earl”,.Considering I was under the “influence’ it was a an interesting experience .When the hike was difficult I told Jack that I heard the sound of stewardess' in Hign Heels just up ahead. Over the years we did a lot of pictures from our adventures.
Here is Jack  at his 80th at our friday breakfast at the 59 Diner.

We watched each other’s work change and wondered what is he doing? Where is he going with this? The answer is personal amusement…to try it another way…do not repeat ..He ran afoul of the art world and never understood. I too. The art world of galleries is a commercial unforgiving place. When you are hot they love you, but change and the door is closed. The galleries left Jack or he left them on his personal quest. Of course his work got better and then got even better. The galleries paid no attention. When young, fame and fortune are the goal; when old, the making, the changing, the extending of your vision drives us. Most of my generation of artists  in Houston are doing their best work with no commercial outlet. We are poor hustlers, smootchers. The last gallery the professor was with told him to leave because a newspaper article about him did not mention the the gallery. Art is a old persons game. I tell my stuents that until they do 100 they know nothing. It is very serious play. It is totally selfish. You give your life to it and sacrifice everything in order to do it. Jack did it with a smile and a shrug and always the greeting “Cheers”.
And you gallery folk should be ashamed not to have sought him out and others like him . Our thanks to Bill Reeves as the exception.

CHEERS JACK!!!!!!!!!


  1. An excellent and thoughtful account, Earl. I'm sure Jack would be proud. I love all of his art, down to the smouldering cigarette gracing his good friend's end table. I panicked the first time I saw. Never a boring creation! Thanks for sharing. And cheers-Brandi

  2. That canvas Jack is standing next to in the picture at Reaves is just amazing. I looked at it intently for quite a while and could not decipher some of the marks. I asked Jack how he did it, and with a wry smile, he said,"Oh, I ran over the canvas a bunch of times with the wheels of my chair, and it just turned out like this". He had worked on it unstretched, apparently, and when it seemed to have reached an impasse,he thought nothing of throwing it on the floor wet and running over it with his chair.

    Bravo, Jack.

  3. I am happy to have known and loved such a great artist as Jack Boynton. As I look at the Boynton paintings in my collection, I see the soul of a true humanist. And now the whole universe can appreciate and enjoy the being of Jack Boynton.

    Thank you Jack for enlightening my being with your thoughts and paintings. I will always remember...

    My friend until we meet again - Barry Rose

  4. Thanks for sharing your memories of your friend and colleague. Thanks also for the insights into the world of art. As an outsider, I find these revelations very interesting.

    Enjoying your blog a lot.

  5. this from Russ Warren:
    I'll never forget the day I was rejected by the Music Dept. and accepted by the Art Dept. consisting of Earl, Jack and Pat. It changed my life forever. I didn't even know what avant-garde was because the only art in the museums and galleries in Houston was Barnett Newman, Robert Motherwell and Brice Marden. My 3 mentors in the Art Dept. gave me a new aesthetic life. I'll never forget being on the fringe in the glory days of St. Thomas. You all gave me more than you'll ever know.

    Russ Warren