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Austin News

Dana Friis-Hansen Leaves AMOA

Austin Museum of Art leaders have announced that Dana Friis-Hansen, longtime museum director, will be stepping down from his post.

On Friday, Lynn Sherman, president of the museum’s board, said that Friis-Hansen departure was decided on mutually with the board. “The museum has some great opportunities and so does Dana, and it’s a favorable situation for him and for us.”

Friis-Hansen who has been executive director since 2002, could not be reached for comment. He joined the museum’s staff in 1999 as chief curator.

Friis-Hansen’s departure comes at a crucial time. Last month Sherman and other museum leaders announced that the museum would sell the downtown lot on which it had long planned to build. Travis County purchased the lot, on the south side of Republic Square Park downtown, Dec. 28 for $21.75 million.

Sherman said that Jack Nokes, former administrative director of the museum, has been hired as an interim executive director, while a search for a new director begins.

Beginning in the early 1980s, AMOA began efforts to build its own facility downtown. Millions were spent in three separate efforts that failed to see the museum gain a permanent downtown home. Since 1995, the museum has rented space at 823 Congress Avenue. The organization also maintains its original home, the historic estate known as Laguna Gloria.

Texas News

Texas Artist Dick Wray

Texas Artist Dick Wray, a key figure in the formative years of Houston's contemporary art scene, died Sunday from complications due to liver disease. He was 77.

Known for his abstract expressionist style of painting, Wray launched his career in 1959, entering a painting competition at what is now the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in Beaumont. He took pride in exhibiting his work every year thereafter until his most recent solo show this last May.

That was no small achievement for an artist who spent the overwhelming majority of his career in the city of his birth, which had only the barest of art scenes when he returned from a two-year stint in Europe in the late 1950s. In 2006 he told historian Sarah C. Reynolds his exposure during his travels to such painters as Jean Dubuffet, Karel Appel and Pierre Alechinsky made him realize "how backwards we were" in Houston.

Born in Houston in 1933, Wray attended the University of Houston School of Architecture from 1955 to 1958 before studying at the Kunstakademie in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1958. He taught at the Glassell School of Art from 1968 to 1982. In 2000 he was named Texas Artist of the Year by Art League Houston.

His work is in more than a dozen public collections including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Modern Art in New York; and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

In addition to his sons Robert and Harold Wray, he is survived by his wife, Beth Collins Wray. He was preceded in death by another son, Victor Wray, and his first wife, Georgeta Wray. Memorial services are pending.

(Excerpted from the Houston Chronicle.)

Austin News

L. Nowlin Gallery Closing in February

Closing Reception: Sat., Feb. 5th, 6-8pm
Gallery closes Feb. 12th, 2011

L. Nowlin Gallery will be closing its doors this February after two years of operation in Austin, Tx. Over the last two years, gallery owner Lesley Nowlin, has presented works from over 50 photographers in 15 exhibitions. A Closing Reception will be held Sat., February 5, 6-8pm to celebrate Austin’s photography and arts community. The final exhibit of the gallery, “Storytelling”, will be on display during the closing and runs through Feb. 12th, the final day of operation. A curatorial collaboration between L. Nowlin Gallery and Austin Photography Group, “Storytelling” is a group exhibition featuring the work of close to 40 Texas photographers. The work explores and interprets the narrative; an important element in human connection and communication.

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