John Wilcox was a Texas artist.
Wilcox grew up in Denison, Texas on the Red River. He attended public schools in Denison and later attended secondary school in Austin at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. From an early age John’s artistic abilities and sensibilities were clear for all to see. In high school at St. Stephen’s he excelled academically and won a first prize at the Laguna Gloria Art Museum in Austin for his canvases and drawings.
John attended Colorado College where he earned a BFA. Following his graduation Wilcox returned to Texas and worked at the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum (now the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth) during the late 1970’s. There he met and worked with the well-known artists Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and Dan Flavin.
In the early 1980’s Wilcox lived in California on a ranch where he was able to make his home in an old bunk house high above the Pacific coast. Wilcox then moved to New York in 1985. In New York his artistic talents were readily recognized by critics such as Roberta Smith of The New York Times and Charles Dee Mitchell of Art in America. Wilcox’s years in New York resulted in numerous shows both at Fawbush Gallery and Michael Klein Gallery in New York as well as Barry Whistler Gallery in Dallas. Wilcox’s contemporaries in New York included Joan Nelson, Don Powley, Nan Goldin, Judy Rifka and Kiki Smith.
In 1990 Wilcox returned to Texas and painted in a studio in Dallas near Fair Park and in a cabin on Lake Texoma. Over the following decades Wilcox’s minimalist, abstract body of work included large pointillist canvases, methodically layered monochromes, and works on paper. Wilcox’s works are ethereal, spiritual and at times taut with juxtaposing dynamics, capturing, as Wilcox noted, “everything and nothing all at once”.
Wilcox’s works have been shown at the Drawing Center in New York, the Weatherspoon Art Gallery at the University of North Carolina, The McKinney Avenue Contemporary in Dallas, and Artpace in San Antonio. His works are included in the permanent collection of the Dallas Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The University of North Carolina, as well as many important corporate and private collections.
While living in New York in the late 1980’s Wilcox witnessed first-hand the devastating impact HIV and AIDS had on the art community. Many of his contemporaries and friends such as artist Tom Brazelton and gallery owner Joe Fawbush eventually succumbed to AIDS. This experience led to a collection of monochrome painting and word drawings, meditations on the tragedy of the epidemic. These pieces were the subject of Wilcox’s last one-man show at Barry Whistler Gallery in 2010. In the catalog for the show, Frances Colpitt, the Deedie Potter Rose Chair of Art History at TCU, wrote: “Wilcox’s expressive process imparts meaning through every thoughtful mark, conveying discipline, restraint, and, above all, humility.”
John Wilcox died in June 2012 at the age of 57, leaving a substantial oeuvre of canvases, drawings, mixed media and works on paper.