History of Lowell Daunt Collins and the Lowell Collins School of Art and Art Gallery
A great influence on Michael Collins' work was through his father, a renowned Texas artist. Lowell Daunt Collins was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1924, son of Ben Alvin Collins and Faye Gorham George. Living in Houston since the age of fifteen months, he enjoyed and explored many facets of the world of art. Beginning at the age of 11 as a young student at The Houston Museum School of Art, now known as The Glassell School of Art, his love of drawing painting and sculpture grew through the years of practice and study.
While in High School he obtained his pilot's license and enlisted in the US Air Force for WWII. He attended TX A&M University as a member of the corps until he was called up in his sophomore year for air cadet school at Creighton University. As he successfully completed his training, he was grounded due to a severe vertigo, later diagnosed as labyrnthitis. Because of this disability, he spent the remainder of the war working for the Air Force in Colorado Springs.
Lowell spent two years studying at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center as assistant and student of Otis Dosier, and one year at the Academie Grand Chaumiere in Paris, France. He also studied ceramics throughout Sweden and had a scholarship to Konstfackskolan-University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, Sweden. He finished his formal art studies with both a BFA and ML degrees in Art History, Painting and Sculpture at the University of Houston where he finished, receiving top honors.
His circle of fellow artists and friends from the 40’s and 50’s included Charles Schorre, Dr. John Biggers, Jack Boynton, Hack Miller and Robert Prusser and also included Charlie Bywaters and other notable Dallas artists. It was a small Texas art world. During this period his creative activities were at their most potent level as he began to serve others as teacher and mentor while still creating his own beautiful works and holding personal exhibitions. His works as an artist included drawings, watercolors, oils, encaustics and stone carvings.
He also did woodblock printing which he used to illustrate several books about Houston and Galveston Texas history. They included Houston, Land of the Big Rich and Houston: The Feast years by George Fuermann. He also did illustrations for The Galveston Era and The Unhappy Medium written by Earl W. Fornell.
His sculptures of various stones, including jade, were often mounted on unique metal stands that he created to support and display the stone carvings
Beginning in 1946, he was a professor and instructor at both The University of Houston and Rice University, all while teaching at the Houston Museum School of Fine Arts. He enjoyed a 21 year period at The Museum School of Art where he was Dean from 1958 to 1966.
In 1954, Lowell married Glinda Gayle Pritchett. In 1955, Lowell's only child was born: Michael Roque Collins. Michael became impassioned with the world of art under the early guidance of his father, mother and other family members who were artists.
Lowell left The Museum School of Art in 1966 to open his own art school, The Lowell Collins School of Art where he taught painting and drawing.
The 50's & 60's found Lowell exploring the art of other cultures, particularly that of major archeological sites in Meso-America. Traveling with, and eventually going into a business partnership with Charles Farrington, an architect and Professor at Rice University, the two men explored Mexico, Central and South American sites and managed to save many Pre-Columbian artifacts that were being bull-dozed for planting fields and new roads. The adventures they had, the history they learned and the historical artifacts they collected, led to stories that Lowell loved to share throughout the rest of his life.
This immersive history of travel, study and collecting antiquities through Meso-America added greatly to his teaching interests. In 1970, a new building was added to the Collins' Compound: The Lowell Collins Gallery. The gallery was built to represent contemporary artists as well as antiquities. In particular, the Pre-Columbian collection was spectacular. With Lowell as architect of the buildings, the metal structures, high ceilings, large windows and use of natural light made the buildings contemporary before their time.
Lowell’s love of old cultures began to dominate the next 40 years of his directorship at his gallery. His name and gallery became synonymous with Pre-Columbia and other antiquities. His interest shifted to appraising antiquities and fine arts. He became a Senior Appraiser for the American Society of Appraisers and President of the Houston Chapter and enjoyed 40 years of service to the arts community. His knowledge was vast and his passion for the subject led him to represent many of the finest collections from throughout the western hemisphere. From 1969 to 1986 he held the appointment of Honorary Curator of Pre-Columbian Art at The Natural Science Museum of Houston. He is recognized there for his generosity through his many donations, which are on view at the museum. Lowell was also a noted lecturer and teacher of Pre-Columbian art history.
In his final years, a shared love of art with his son Michael began to inspire him to hold exhibitions representing the cutting edge of contemporary fine arts in Texas.
Lowell Collins passed away in 2003. As a teacher, artist, appraiser and mentor to legions of collectors and artists, his love of art, life, humor and wit are missed.