National award-winning art criticism.
Ground-breaking, in-depth interviews with contemporary art icons such as the late Donald Judd and Robert Rauschenberg.
Leading expert on Texas art and architecture. Long time art and architecture critic for Texas Monthly magazine. Author of major catalogs on Texas art and artists.
Long time contributor to Architectural Digest.
Articles on art and architecture for Western Interiors and Design, Esquire, I.D., ARTnews, Artlies, Playboy, American Express Departures, and many others.
Santa Fe Sundial
Lake/Flato Architects, Winner of the American Institute of Architects 2004 Firm of the Year Award, moves New Mexico tradition into the twenty-first century.
photography by Timothy Hursiey and Dominique Vorillon / text by Michael Ennis
THIS YEAR’S AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS (AlA) ARCHITECTURE FIRM AWARD, PRESENTED TO SAN ANTONIO-BASED LAKE/FLATO ARCHITECTS, shows just how far a firm can go by remaining faithful to a particular sense of place. The honor, the highest the AlA can give a firm, validated Lake/Flato’s reputation for environmental awareness, sensitivity to site and, above all, fidelity to its Texas roots. Fusing the practicality of nineteenth-century Texas vernacular with modern form and function, Lake/Flato has created a generation of buildings as carefully fitted to the Texas climate and landscape as a pair of custom cowboy boots.
So what happens when the quintessential Texas firm designs a hilltop residence just outside Santa Fe, which is across the state line but remains almost a continent away in terms of climate, landscape and local tradition? “The differences are huge,” says Ted Flato…. read article
Fusion, Texas Style
Global Sensibilities Come Together in a 21st-Century Villa in Austin
Architecture by Dick Clark Architecture/Interior Design by Emily Summers Design Text by Michael Ennis/After Photography by Paul Bardagly
IT WAS GRIM,” SAYS TEXAS ARCHITECT Dick Clark, offering an assessment one wouldn’t expect of a Tuscan-style villa romantically perched on a sun- washed cliff high above Austin’s Town Lake. “With tiny little windows and hardly any view of the lake, the whole house felt dark and oppressive. I said, ‘This is ridiculous. We’ve got to totally open up the entire lakefront side of the house.”
Engaged for a remodel that turned out to be an almost complete reconstruction, Clark, whose firm is based in Austin, and Dallas interior designer Emily Summers did much more than just perk up the dreary Tuscan cloister. Clark and Summers sweepingly transformed a plodding period piece into an elegant expression of 21st-century modernism…. read article
The 10 Best Buildings in Texas
An architectural tour.
by Michael Ennis
In the long war to convince the rest of the world that our taste rises above the level of provincial, we Texans have achieved one notable victory: Even our most grudging critics now concede that we have somehow acquired remarkably commendable taste in architecture. Several of the twentieth century’s most prominent architects built some of their very best buildings here, beginning with Louis Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum, which was anointed an instant classic upon its completion, in 1972. Since then, a succession of not-to-be-missed landmarks by superstars like Philip Johnson, Renzo Piano, and Tadao Ando has transformed Texas into a destination for design cognoscenti…. read article
Wal-Mart Experimental Store, McKinney, Texas
Wal-Mart dabbles in sustainable design. Are we dreaming? Are they?
by Michael Ennis
Perhaps the idea of Wal-Mart’s going green isn’t entirely beyond imagining. After all, today’s technology-intensive sustainable scene fits Wal-Mart’s early-adopter mentality, which has led the corporate behemoth to pioneer efficiencies like computerized inventory management. But Wal-Mart’s "everyday low prices" are partly a product of everyday low wages, its stores have contributed to America’s ex-urbanization, and its $i5 billion yearly trade with China has helped erode domestic manufacturing. The WaIl Street winner has an increasingly toxic image on Main Street. So when Wal-Mart opened its first environmentally correct Experimental Store in McKinney, Texas, in July, you didn’t have to be a cynic to wonder if "this next step in evaluating the impact we leave on the environment" (as a senior executive put it) wasn’t just the next step in cleaning up a public relations mess…. read article
The Nasher Effect
Raymond and Patsy Nasher left Dallas a brilliant art museum by Renzo Piano, a stellar collection of contemporary sculpture and a transformative vision that continues to shape the city’s future
text by Michael Ennis
RAY MET PATSY THE NIGHT TRUMAN BEAT DEWEY. As Raymond Nasher, who at the time was getting his master’s degree in economics at Boston University, told the story decades later, that 1948 presidential election was the first to be televised, and he had invited some people over to watch the results. And what struck him about Patsy Rabinowitz, a dark-haired Smith College student from Dallas, Texas, was that she was the only one there who thought Harry Truman was going to win.
In retrospect, it makes sense that the story of Raymond and Patsy Nasher would begin that way, with a vision that no one else could see. As neophyte collectors, they anticipated the value of modern sculpture in a market that overwhelmingly preferred paintings. During the sixties, seventies and eighties, while they were assembling the greatest collection of modern sculpture in private hands, they discovered a unique way to share it with a vast audience at a time when public art was barely being discussed. And today the enduring legacy of their vision is a one-of-a-kind institution, the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. read article
Texas Vision: The Barrett Collection
SMU Press/The Meadows Museum
Edited by Edmund P. Pillsbury, with essays by Richard R. Brettell, Michael Ennis, Bill Komodore, A. Kate Sheerin
…this volume contains a landmark essay by Michael Ennis, which provides a host of clues to the cultural and historical reasons for the emergence of Texas art as something of quality and enduring value…. read “Texas Vision” essay
Texas: Art of the State
Harry N, Abrams, Inc., Publishers
Text by Michael Ennis
“Texas isn’t a state, it’s a state of mind,” the oft—heard saving goes. But Texas is actually a remarkably variegated meeting of the minds. a place of historic collisions: between native Americans and immigrant Americans: between the old South aid the New \Vest; between the Anglo-Protestant culture of North America and the Hispanic-Roman Catholic culture of Latin America; between remarkably persistent small town values and the glittering postmodern internationalism of three of the nation’s ten largest cities, where even the suburbs have designer high-rises… read an excerpt
Sam Gummelt: Then and Now 1970-2005
The McKinney Avenue Contemporary
Text by Michael Ennis
To understand the significance of the thirty-five years of work encompassed in Sam Gummelt: Then and Now, it’s instructive to do a bit of time travel: Back to 1970, when Gummelt did the earliest work in this show, the sewing machine-stitched Minimalist abstraction Two Boxes. In 1970, Donald Judd’s first modular boxes were just five years old: the seminal Minimaiist exhibition Primary Structures had taken place only three years previously: and Judd was still two years away from buying land in Marfa. Frank Stella had begun his Protractor series three years earlier and Sol Lewitt had just started his geometric. programmatic wall drawings. In 1970, Dallas gallery owner Jane C. Lee noted as a connoisseur of works on paper. Lee later became drawings curator at New York’s Whitney Museum) walked into Gummelt’s frame shop near downtown Dallas and spotted two of his sewing-machine geometric drawings” tacked to the wall; within days Lee had sold one of them to legendary New York dealer Betty Parsons, who twenty-two years previously had shown the first of Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings, at a time when Pollock was still trading his canvases to pay his grocery bills. Now, of course. Modernism is overtaking Impressionism as the go-to moneymaker at the big auction houses: as the period style of a previous century it’s just one of many historical epochs available for borrowing by Postmodern neophytes. But in 1970 Modernism still had a keen cutting edge, and it’s hard to think of another Texas artist whose work was as close to that edge as Sam Gummelt’s was then…. read the catalog essay