Frank Dolejska

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Frank Dolejska

Frank Dolejska (1921-1989) 

Painter, watercolorist, sculptor, craftsperson, scenic painter.

 

Frank C. Dolejska was born in 1921 in Houston, Texas and was the first-generation child of immigrant parents (his father from Austria-Hungary, and his mother from Moravia).   Dolejska’s interest in art began early and he taught himself many of the skills used in his works. From 1938-1940, Dolejska studied under Ola McNeill Davidson along with fellow student, Robert Preusser. and was one of the modernist Houston artists who exhibited at Our Little Gallery in Houston in 1938.  Dolejska and Preusser were two of the first non-objective painters in Texas, with early works dating from 1938.   

After serving in World War II in both Africa and Europe, Dolejska returned to Houston where was one of the founders of the Contemporary Arts Association of Houston (later to become the Contemporary Arts Museum). He also was co-director of the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston from 1948-1956.

After departing from the CAA in 1956, Dolejska took up metal work, creating sculpture with copper and lead. During this time, he was married to artist Varah Jane “VJ” Tate who collaborated on numerous artworks and projects together.  In 1957, he co-founded Handmakers along with other craftsmen in Houston, and from the late 1950s-1970s, his metal works, along with works by local Houston artists, were sold commercially through the Handmakers shop. From 1966 – 1986, Dolejska was employed by Faroy, Inc. and the company marketed his limited edition metal wall decorations

Throughout his career, Dolejska was a member of the Texas Watercolor Society, Texas Fine Arts Association, Houston Art League, Art Association of New Orleans, Contemporary Arts Association and. The Handmakers. He died in Houston in 1989 and was known to have destroyed many of his paintings, making his early paintings quite rare.  

 

Selected Biographical and Career Highlights

  • 1921 Born in Houston, Texas
  • 1938-1940 Museum School, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Studied under Ola McNeill Davidson; Worked alongside Robert Preusser
  • Served in the U.S. Army during World War II
  • 1948 Curator and founding member, Contemporary Arts Association, Houston, Texas
  • 1948-56 Curator, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas
  • 1957 Founded Handmakers
  • 1966-86 Employed by Faroy, Inc., Houston, Texas
  • 1989 Died in Houston, Texas

 Selected Prizes, Awards

  • Houston Annual: Honorable Mention for Purchase Prize 1939; Honorable Mention 1938, 1949, 1951, 1953
  • 1938 Honorable Mention, Landscape with Two Trees, watercolor
  • 1939 Honorable Mention Purchase Prize, Music in Brasses, oil
  • 1949 Honorable Mention, Luminescence, watercolor 
  • 1951 Honorable Mention, Undergrowth, casein  
  • 1953 Honorable Mention, Tempest-Sea, Wind, Sky, casein 
  • Texas Watercolor Society: Materials Prize 1952
  • 1952 Materials Prize, Sunrise, watercolor 

Selected Exhibitions

  • 1937-39 Works by Southeast Texas Artists 1st-3rd Annual Exhibition, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
  • 1938 14th Annual Exhibition of Work by Houston Artists, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas (honorable mention)
  • 1938 Golden Jubilee Exhibition of the State Fair of Texas—Texas Painting, Drawing, Pastels and Sculpture, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas
  • 1938, Our Little Gallery, Houston, Texas
  • 1939 15th Annual Exhibition of Work by Houston Artists, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas (honorable mention purchase prize)
  • 1939 Texas Paintings (State Fair), Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas
  • 1940 1st Texas General Exhibit, circulated: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Witte Museum, San Antonio; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas
  • 1947 22nd Annual Exhibition of Work by Houston Artists, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas
  • 1948 Solo, Port Arthur Art Association, Port Arthur, Texas
  • 1948 10th Texas General Exhibition 1948–1949, circulated: Witte Museum, San Antonio; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas
  • 1949 Solo, Corpus Christi Art Museum, Corpus Christi, Texas, traveled to: Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
  • 1949 Texas A&I College, Kingsville, Texas
  • 1949 24th Annual Exhibition of Works by Houston Artists, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas (honorable mention)
  • 1950 12th Annual Exhibition of Texas Painting and Sculpture, 1950–1951, circulated: Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Witte Museum, San Antonio; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
  • 1950 Art Association of New Orleans, Louisiana
  • 1950 Texas Watercolor Society Exhibition, Witte Museum, San Antonio, Texas; Museum of Fine Art, Houston, Texas
  • 1950 25th Annual Exhibition of Works by Houston Artists, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas
  • 1951 26th Annual Exhibition of Works by Houston Artists, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas (honorable mention)
  • 1951 Solo, Frank Dolejska: Paintings, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas 
  • 1951 Margaret Brown Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 1951 Solo, Paintings by Frank Dolejska, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas 
  • 1951 Solo, Houston Little Theater, 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
  • 1951 Colorado Springs Graphics Exhibition, Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • 1951–53 Annual Exhibition, Texas Fine Arts Association, Austin, Texas
  • 1952 Texas Watercolor Society 3rd Annual Exhibition, Witte Museum, San Antonio, Texas; Museum of Fine Art, Houston, Texas (materials prize)
  • 1952 Solo, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas 
  • 1952 Sixteen Texas Painters, Betty McLean Gallery, Dallas, Texas
  • 1952 27th Annual Exhibition of Works by Houston Artists, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas
  • 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
  • 1953 28th Annual Exhibition of Works by Houston Artists, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas (honorable mention)
  • 1953 Houston Art League, Houston, Texas 
  • 1953 Houston Post Easter Exhibition, Houston, Texas 
  • 1954–55 29th–30th Annual Exhibition of Works by Houston Artists, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas
  • 1955 31st Annual Exhibition of Houston Artists, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas
  • 1960 La Porte-Bayshore Garden Club, La Porte, Texas (metal wall decorations)
  • 1965 Dallas Market Center, Dallas, Texas (copper /tin wall decorations)
  • 2004 A Selection of Art Made in Houston 1950-1965, Brazos Projects, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Texas
  • 2006 Houston Art in Houston Collections: Works from 1900 to 1965, Heritage Society Museum, Houston, Texas
  • 2007 Texas Modern: The Rediscovery of Early Texas Abstraction (1935-1965), Martin Museum of Art, Baylor University, Waco, Texas (catalogue)
  • 2010 Third Anniversary Show: A Tribute to Houston Artists, William Reaves Fine Art, Houston, Texas
  • 2011 Portrait of Houston: 1900–2011, Alliance Gallery, Houston Arts Alliance, Houston, Texas (catalogue)
  • 2011 Southeast Texas Art: Cross Currents and Influences 1925–1965, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Beaumont, Texas
  • 2013 Restless Heart: The Collectors’ Quest to Find Texas in Art, San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, San Angelo, Texas
  • 2014 Left Bank on the Bayou: Houston Avant-garde Art and Theatre in the 1930s, O’Kane Gallery, University of Houston-Downtown, Houston, Texas
  • 2014 A New Visual Vocabulary: Developments in Texas Modernism 1935-1965, One Allen Center, Lobby Gallery, Houston, Texas
  • 2015 Bayou City Chic: Progressive Streams of Modern Art in Houston, Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas (catalogue)

 

Selected Public Collections

  • Ben Taub Hospital, Houston, Texas (fountain)
  • Downtown Recreation Center, Houston, Texas (sculpture)
  • Stark Galleries at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
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