By Marilyn Bailey
The local arts landscape feels different than it did 10 years ago, if only because of the luminaries we’ve lost over the decade — some of the most important arts figures in Fort Worth history.
We never had the pleasure of profiling the pianist, but his name was always tripping off our typing fingers, beginning with a May 2009 report on how the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition chooses the local families who house, feed and nurture the 30 young pianists who arrive in Fort Worth every four years. Our story paid tribute, too, to the extraordinary local volunteers (truly skilled and dedicated) it takes to pull off one of the city’s signature events. Their efforts lend the competition something of the warmth and empathy that marked Van Cliburn’s life and career, the qualities that made him a virtuoso among virtuosos.
Ruth Carter Stevenson
On the occasion of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art’s 50th anniversary, we explored Stevenson’s legacy. Although she never loved the Western art, her distinctive interests and sensibility, layered on top of her famous father’s point of view (he didn’t like modern art) gave the world this only-in-Fort Worth institution. Our writer and photographer captured the woman herself, her quiet but rather definitive authority. You feel her presence still in a visit to the museum.
The great Fort Worth-born choreographer got the city’s art lovers excited about his style of contemporary dance during the 10-season run of Bruce Wood Dance Company, which folded in 2006. The buzz surrounding a night of Bruce Wood premieres was something memorable — and something the dance scene has been missing for a while. The range of Wood’s art was incredible, but his creations always gave the viewer an emotional reaction, whether he was doing sensual (Bolero), funny (Lovett!), or something more topical or piercing (Follow Me, a tribute to Army infantry). When we visited with him in 2011, he was a few months into his last big endeavor, Bruce Wood Dance Project, based in Dallas. Today, five years after his death, its artists dance on in his spirit, mixing his timeless classics with new creations by a diversity of talents.
The Fort Worth artist was perhaps less of a public figure than the others mentioned here, but he was no less an original genius. Along with his twin brother, Stuart, also an artist, he led the life of an intellectually curious 18th-century gentleman, leaving his mark primarily as a painter. The brothers painted the ceiling frescoes in Bass Performance Hall and created a landmark oversize book of paintings titled Of Birds and Texas, an homage to John James Audubon (see them all, individually framed, in the dining rooms of Bird Café in Sundance Square). Scott painted the official gubernatorial portrait of George W. Bush that hangs in the Texas State Capitol. Our interview — which also detailed his Fort Worth home — with its 4,000 books, hand-painted trompe l’oeil walls, taxidermy specimens and display of historical garments worn by the likes of King George III and Louis XIV — is thought to be the last he gave before he died.