Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Allie Tennant's Dallas Studio

The Sitting Room of Allie Tennant's Studio, circa 1939
with some of her favorite pieces

In the mid-1920s Allie Tennant built a studio located in the backyard of her family’s home on Live Oak Street. Dallas architect Walter Sharp designed the studio. He created an “Old English” building of the cottage style with a large work room located on the northern end of the structure so placed to catch the best natural light. The studio had "a vaulted ceiling, large north windows, and had shelves and niches for her work lining the walls." It also sported a large and gracious fireplace for winter heat. Tennant particularly liked the design of the studio because of its large north window. “North light is liked by all artists,” she once explained to a journalist interviewing her, “because there is no sunshine with it.” This building would be her studio for the remainder of her life, with all of her best-known work created there. She displayed many of her pieces on pedestals around the sitting room located at one end of the building.
Exterior of Allie Tennant's studio as it appears today

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tennant's 1939 Exhibiton at the Hockaday School in Dallas

Tennant's 1939 portrait bust of Hockaday's Mariam Morgan
In 1939 the Hockaday School sponsored an art show in honor of Allie Tennant, who had close ties to this prestigious Dallas school for girls. Its head, Ella Hockaday, served with Tennant on the board of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Allie’s long-time friend and fellow southwestern Regionalist, Alexandre Hogue, taught at the school where he served as chair of the art department.  Allie had recently sculpted a bronze portrait bust of Miriam Morgan, the beloved head of the residential department at the Hockaday School. This show highlighted that portrait of Morgan. The organizers dealt imaginatively with a problem that soon emerged in assembling an exhibition of Tennant’s work; namely, many of her most important sculptures were public art and of heroic size or garden pieces permanently affixed en situ, thus making it impossible to have the actual items in the show. Tennant solved this by furnishing large photographs of many of these pieces, which Hogue and his exhibition committee placed in the display area intermixed with smaller examples of her work which could be brought to the exhibition hall at the school. Critics raved about the Hockaday exhibit, noting that it constituted the most complete collection of the sculptor’s work that had ever been assembled in Dallas at one location to that date.