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Coreen Mary Spellman: In Her Own Right

Saturday, October 19, 2024 10:00 AM - Saturday, February 8, 2025 5:00 PM
The Grace Museum
102 Cypress Street Abilene, TX 79601

This solo exhibition will feature paintings and fine art prints by Coreen Mary Spellman from the collection of the Tyler Museum of Art and the Spellman Forney Historical Museum, as well as private collections. In a 1941 Dallas Morning News article, Louise Gossett listed Coreen Mary Spellman “among the most promising women artists in the state.” Spellman was a champion of women artists as well as being an educated, prize-winning artist in her own right. Spellman’s printmaking skills in lithography, etching, and mezzotint, for which she received many awards and purchase prizes, are featured in this exhibition, along with several important paintings demonstrating Spellman’s precise compositions characterized by a spare, grid-like geometry and fine attention to detail. Spellman was an important artist and Texas Regionalist who was one of eight founding members of the Printmakers Guild (later the Texas Printmakers), a group of printmakers, originally all women, who worked to give female printmakers an opportunity to show and sell their work through annual circulating print exhibitions.

Coreen Mary Spellman, Courtesy of the Spellman Museum of Forney History
Coreen Mary Spellman, Wartime Housing, 1944, mezzotint, Courtesy of Tyler Museum of Art, Gift of Mick Spellman, Forney, Texas

Coreen Mary Spellman, printmaker, painter and teacher, was born on March 17, 1905, in Forney, Texas. With her family’s support, early art lessons eventually led to an impressive art education. Spellman majored in costume design at the Texas State College for Women in Denton (later Texas Woman’s University), where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in 1925 and a Bachelor of Art degree from the Teachers’ College at Columbia University in 1926. Spellman also took art history and museum classes at Harvard University on a Carnegie Summer Scholarship in 1927, and from 1928 to 1929 attended the Art Students League in New York City. After her year at the Art Students League, Spellman accepted a post in the art department at Texas State College for Women in Denton, where she taught until her retirement in 1974. She continued her art studies in summer classes with Carlos Merida (1932), Charles J. Martin (1933), and Eliot O’Hara (1936) at the University of Colorado. She attended the University of Iowa from 1941 to 1942, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree. Unlike many of her male peers who did not receive formal fine art education, she was traditionally educated in a variety of media. Spellman was a versatile artist, skilled in watercolor, etching, aquatint, mezzotint and was especially adept in lithography. She studied watercolor techniques with Charles Martin in Provincetown and credits him with a masterful understanding of composition, apparent in her work. Her realistic style was suited to represent urban scenes, southwestern landscapes, and portraits. Spellman’s artwork on view demonstrates her interest in realism, precisionism and abstraction.

Sources
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Coreen Mary Spellman, Texas State Historical Association, Kendall Curlee, https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsp29, retrieved June 7, 2015. D. Jack Davis, Coreen Mary Spellman (1905-1978), Making the Unknown Known, (Texas A&M Press, 2024)


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