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Michael Frary

 (1918 - 2005)
Michael Frary was active/lived in Texas, California.  Michael Frary is known for modernist town-landscape and still life painting.

Biography  
Michael Frary


Biography from the Archives of askART

The following, submitted September 2005, is by Carl McQueary, collector of work by the artist and an acquaintance.

Michael Frary was born in Santa Monica, California on May 28, 1918, and died on Tuesday, August 30, 2005. During a career spanning almost seventy years, Michael Frary influenced the course of art, not only in Texas, but in the United States as well. He was a seminal figure in the art movement known as modernism and with his contemporaries on the faculty of the Art Department at the University of Texas, he changed the face of art on a national scale.

Now widely celebrated as a Texas Modernist, his influence has also shaped the lives and careers of the countless thousands of students whom he taught both in a classroom setting and through hundreds of watercolor seminars and workshops throughout the southwest. His father died when Michael was six months old. Relatives from the east moved Michael, his mother and siblings from California to Florida.

He graduated from Palm Beach High School in 1934 and returned to California where he accepted a swimming scholarship from the University of Southern California. During his time at USC, he became a champion swimmer and captain of the USC varsity water polo team. Despite a high school football injury that resulted in a broken neck, he received eight letters, which at that time was the maximum number possible. In 1940, he graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture Degree, and a Master of Fine Arts in painting the following year. At the outbreak of World War II, Michael joined the United States Navy, eventually receiving his discharge as Lieutenant at the war's conclusion in 1945.

Upon his return to California, he became assistant art director first for the Goldwyn Studios, Paramount, and then finally Universal Studios. His hectic lifestyle, although glamorous, did not allow him enough time to pursue his love of painting. To fulfill this need Michael began teaching night classes in painting. Shortly thereafter UCLA offered a full-time teaching position, and he made a permanent break from art director to painting instructor. During his teaching career in California, Michael also taught at Los Angeles City College and the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles.

In 1949, Michael moved to Texas to serve as the artist in residence and faculty chairman for the irrepressible Marion Koogler McNay in San Antonio. He taught at her burgeoning art school for several seasons. It was during this time in San Antonio that he met Peggy Mattewson who he married in 1951. In 1955, he accepted a teaching position as assistant professor with the University of Texas at Austin, which named him Professor of Art in 1970 and upon his retirement from teaching in 1986 he was named Professor Emeritus of Art.

His artwork and love for the state in which he lived for more than half a century resulted in the publication of three books: Impressions of the Big Thicket, University of Texas Press, 1973; Impressions of the Texas Panhandle, Texas A&M University Press, 1977; and Watercolors of the Rio Grande, Texas A&M University Press, 1984. Through his writing and watercolors, these books vividly convey the breadth and scope of the land that provided his inspiration. In pursuit of this inspiration he and his wife, Peggy also traveled across the United States, South America, South Africa, England, Mexico, Italy, and France. During his career, Michael received over one hundred seventy-five awards and purchase prizes and earned over 200 one-man exhibitions.

His works are housed in hundreds of private and public collections worldwide including the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, S.C., the Los Angeles County Museum, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California, the Virginia Scott Museum, Pasadena, California. The Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, Missouri, the Virginia Museum of Art, Richmond, Virginia, the Phillips Petroleum Building, Bartlesville, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, the Panhandle Plains Museum, Canyon, Texas, Museum of the Big Bend, Alpine, Texas, the Amarillo Art Center, Amarillo, Texas the McNay Museum, San Antonio, Texas, the Texas instruments Collection, Dallas, Texas, the Austin Museum of Art, and the University of Texas at Austin.

He also received many important commissions, which included, among others, the selection of his painting, "Antelope Country" by the National Gallery for presentation by President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson to the New Zealand Prime Minister and his wife at the Manila Conference. He was also commissioned in 1972 by the U.S. Department of Interior to paint at reclamation sites in four states, resulting in four of his painting being shown at an exhibition at the National Gallery, Washington, D.C. In 1974 the Austin Chapter of the American Institute of Architects awarded him the Medal of Honor and the Texas Society of Architects presented him with the Citation of Honor, both in recognition of his book Impressions of The Big Thicket. In 1978, he was commissioned to paint the Psyche Prize for the Fourth Biennial International Film Festival of Canada.

Michaelis survived by his wife, Peggy, his son, Mark Frary of Houston, his son, David Frary of Austin, two grandchildren, Robert and Matthew, a niece and hundreds of friends and thousands of former students.


Biography from William Reaves Fine Art
MICHAEL FRARY (1918-2005)

Born in Santa Monica, California, Michael Frary originally intended to work in architecture but his fascination for art overtook him and he remained at the University of Southern California to earn his MFA in painting. He continued his education at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris.

Frary served in the Navy and then worked as an assistant art director for Goldwyn Studios, Paramount, and Universal. He began his career of teaching art in California and then accepted a position as artist-in-residence and faculty chairman for the San Antonio Art Institute, followed by a move to a faculty position at the University of Texas at Austin.

Selected Biographical and Career Highlights

1918 Born in Santa Monica, California
1940, 1941 BA, MFA University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
1941-45 U.S. Navy
1949 Artist in Residence and Faculty Chairman, McNay, San Antonio, Texas
1952-86 Professor, University of Texas at Austin, Texas:
1973: Authored:Impressions of the Big Thicket. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1973.
1977: Authored Impressions of the Texas Panhandle. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1977.
1984: Authored: Watercolors of the Rio Grande. College Station, Texas A&M University Press, 1984.
2005 Died in Los Angeles, California

Selected Prizes, Awards

Texas General/Annual: Cash Prize 1952, 1955
1952 Cash Prize, Apartment House, oil
1955 Cash Prize, Oil Rig, oil

Texas Watercolor Society: Purchase Prize 1952 (2 works), 1961
1952 Purchase Prize, Construction, watercolor
1952 Purchase Prize, Deauville, watercolor
1961 Purchase Prize, Heliopolis, watercolor

·Southwestern Prints and Drawings: Purchase Prize 1957; Cash Prize 1959
1957 Purchase Prize, Still Life, ink
1959 Cash Prize, Cave of the Swifts, ink & charcoal

Other Exhibitions:
1956 Purchase Prize Gulf-Caribbean
1956 Merit Award DD Feldman
1956 Purchase Prize, Provincetown, oil, Gulf-Caribbean Exhibition
1956 Merit Award, Transfigured Nights, DD Feldman

Selected Exhibitions

· 1947 55 Works of Modern Art Owned in Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

· 1951 13th Annual Exhibition of Texas Painting and Sculpture 1951-1952, circulated: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Witte Museum, San Antonio, Texas

· 1952 Texas Watercolor Society 3rd Annual Exhibition, Witte Museum, San Antonio, Texas; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas (purchase prize, each of 2 works)

· 1952 14th Annual Exhibition of Texas Painting and Sculpture 1952, circulated: Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Witte Museum, San Antonio; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas (cash prize)

· 1952 Texas Contemporary Artists, M. Knoedler & Company, New York, New York; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, Texas (catalogue)

· 1952 Young Collections 1952, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas

· 1953 Texas Watercolor Society 4th Annual Exhibition, Witte Museum, San Antonio, Texas, selection circulated: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Texas A&M University, College Station; Texas A&I College, Kingsville; Centennial Museum, Corpus Christi, Texas

· 1954 16th Annual Exhibition of Texas Painting and Sculpture 1954, circulated: Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Witte Museum, San Antonio; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Fort Worth Art Center, Fort Worth, Texas

· 1954 Texas Watercolor Society 5th Annual Exhibition, Witte Museum, San Antonio, Texas; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas

· 1954 Young Collections 1954—Holiday Show, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas

· 1955 Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Oil Paintings, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Museum of Fine Art, Boston, Massachusetts

· 1955 17th Annual Exhibition of Texas Painting and Sculpture 1955-1956, circulated: Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Fort Worth Art Center, Fort Worth; Witte Museum, San Antonio; Texas Fine Arts Association, Austin, Texas (cash prize)

· 1956 D. D. Feldman Collection of Contemporary Texas Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas (merit award)

· 1956 18th Annual Texas Painting and Sculpture Exhibition 1956-1957, circulated: Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Witte Museum, San Antonio; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Texas Fine Arts Association, Austin; Museum, Texas Tech, Lubbock, Texas

· 1956 D. D. Feldman Collection of Contemporary Texas Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

· 1956 Gulf-Caribbean Art Exhibition, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, traveled to: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica; Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg; Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado (catalogue) (purchase prize)

· 1957 Survey of Painting in Texas, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas, circulated by American Federation of Arts (catalogue)

· 1957 7th Southwestern Exhibition of Prints and Drawings, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas (purchase prize)

· 1958 Texas Oil ’58, A Salute to the Oil Industry of the State by Texas Painters, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, traveled to: Bank of the Southwest, Houston; Dallas Public Library, Dallas; Republic National Bank of Dallas, Texas (catalogue)

· 1958 8th Southwestern Exhibition of Prints and Drawings, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas

· 1959 Texas Watercolor Society 10th Annual Exhibition, Witte Museum, San Antonio, Texas; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas

· 1959 21st Annual Texas Painting and Sculpture Exhibition 1959-1960, circulated: Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Witte Museum, San Antonio; Beaumont Art Museum, Beaumont; Museum, Texas Tech, Lubbock; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

· 1959 Young Collections 1959, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas

· 1959 Made in Texas by Texans, Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art, Sheraton-Dallas Hotel, Dallas, Texas (catalogue)

· 1959 9th Southwestern Exhibition of Prints and Drawings, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas (cash prize)

· 1961 Texas Watercolor Society 12th Annual Exhibition, Witte Museum, San Antonio, Texas, included on 1961 circuit: Junior League, Galveston; Texas A&M University, College Station; Public Library, Dallas; A&I College, Kingsville; Gates Gallery, Port Arthur; Art Association, Wichita Falls; Art Forum, Waco; Texas Fine Arts Association, Austin; Texas Western College, El Paso, Texas (purchase prize)

· 1961 23rd Annual Texas Painting and Sculpture Exhibition 1961-1962, circulated: Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Witte Museum, San Antonio; Beaumont Art Museum, Beaumont; Museum, Texas Tech, Lubbock, Texas

· 1962 The Southwest: Painting and Sculpture, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

· 1962 24th Annual Texas Painting and Sculpture Exhibition 1962-1963, circulated: Witte Museum, San Antonio; Centennial Art Museum, Corpus Christi; Beaumont Art Museum, Beaumont; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas

· 1963 University of Texas Art Faculty—Past and Present, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

· 1963 25th Annual Texas Painting and Sculpture Exhibition 1963-1964, circulated: Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Centennial Art Museum, Corpus Christi; Beaumont Art Museum, Beaumont; El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso; Witte Museum, San Antonio; University of Texas at Austin, Texas

· 1966 Texas Painting and Sculpture Exhibition 1966, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas

· 1971–72 Texas Painting and Sculpture: The 20th Century, Pollack Galleries, Owen Arts Center, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, traveled to: Witte Confluence Museum, HemisFair Plaza, San Antonio; University Art Museum, University of Texas at Austin; Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth; The Museum, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas (catalogue)

· 1983 Images of Texas, Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas at Austin, Texas, traveled to: Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi and Amarillo Art Center, Amarillo, Texas (catalogue)

· 1998–99 Oil Patch Dreams: Images of the Petroleum Industry in American Art, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, Texas, traveled to: Museum of the Southwest, Midland; El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso; Austin Museum of Art, Austin; Wichita Falls Museum and Art Center, Wichita Falls (catalogue)

· 2003–04 Neighbors: Texas Artists in New Mexico, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas, traveled (selection of work) to Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler, Texas

· 2007 Texas Modern: The Rediscovery of Early Texas Abstraction (1935-1965), Martin Museum of Art, Baylor University, Waco, Texas (catalogue)

· 2007-08 Urban Texas: Changing Images of an Evolving State, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas

· 2009 Painting West Texas: 35 Artists/100 Years, William Reaves Fine Art, Houston, Texas (catalogue)

· 2009 Texas Paper: Watercolors, Pastels and Drawings from the Lone Star State, 1938-2008, William Reaves Fine Art, Houston, Texas

· 2010 Water Rites: Rivers, Lakes, and Streams in Texas Art, William Reaves Fine Art, Houston, Texas

· 2010 Michael Frary: In Sight, Grace Museum, Abilene, Texas

· 2011 Breakthrough: Sixty Years of Texas Abstraction, William Reaves Fine Art, Houston, Texas

· 2013 Restless Heart: The Collectors’ Quest to Find Texas in Art, San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, San Angelo, Texas (catalogue)

· 2013 Rhythms of Modernism, William Reaves Fine Art, Houston, Texas

· 2013 Summer Encore Exhibition, William Reaves Fine Art, Houston, Texas

· 2014 A New Visual Vocabulary: Developments in Texas Modernism 1935-1965, One Allen Center, Lobby Gallery, Houston, Texas

Selected Public Collections

Bocour Collection, New York, New York
Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, Texas
Grumbacher Collection, New York, New York
Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, California
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.
Virginia Museum of Art, Richmond, Virginia
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York
Witte Memorial Museum, San Antonio, Texas


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About  Michael Frary

Born:  1918 - Santa Monica, California
Died:   2005 - Los Angeles, California
Known for:  modernist town-landscape and still life painting