Reflections of East Texas


Five talented and versatile artists with strong ties to the region are in the spotlight with the Tyler Museum of Art’s next major exhibition, Reflections of East Texas. The exhibition opens Sunday, July 26 and continues through Sept. 13 at the Museum, 1300 S. Mahon Ave. on the Tyler Junior College main campus. Admission is free.

Organized by the TMA and co-curated by the Museum’s Jon Perry and Derek Frazier, Reflections features more than 30 works across a broad spectrum of media by artists Keith Carter, Ted Ellis, Diane Frossard, Mike Perry and Franklin Demetrius Willis. Several of the works included in the exhibition recently were completed and will be seen by the public for the first time during the show’s run.

“This exhibition is a homecoming to East Texas, if you will” Jon Perry said. “Each of these remarkably diverse artists, in his or her unique way, shows how profoundly they have been influenced by their experiences in this region and how they continue to evoke those memories in their work. The subject matter is varied, the geographical boundaries are loose – from the Piney Woods to the Gulf Coast – but Derek and I hope audiences come away with a genuine sense of moods and feelings that characterize a broader sense of the East Texas experience. There’s no place like it.”


Keith Carter (b. 1948) holds the Endowed Walles Chair of Art at Lamar University in Beaumont, his home of more than 40 years. He is the recipient of the Texas Medal of Arts, the Lange-Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, and the Regent's Professor Award from the Texas State University System. Carter’s work has been shown in more than 100 solo exhibitions in 13 countries, and he is the author of 11 books including Fireflies, Mojo, Keith Carter Photographs: Twenty-Five Years, Heaven of Animals, and From Uncertain to Blue. The series of images showcasing scenes from rural East Texas that form his publication The Blue Man was purchased by the TMA for its Permanent Collection in 1990, and selections from that series will featured as part of Reflections of East Texas. Carter's work is included in numerous additional private and public collections including the National Portrait Gallery, Art Institute of Chicago, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, J. Paul Getty Museum - Los Angeles, Museum of Fine Arts - Houston, George Eastman House, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Ted Ellis (b. 1963) grew up in New Orleans, a city known for its rich African-American heritage and history, but has lived and worked for the last 25 years in the southeast Texas city of Friendswood. A former environmental chemist, the self-taught painter blends realism and impressionism in his work, “evoking nostalgia and inspiration” in his subjects that celebrate the African-American experience of the rural South. Ellis has been commissioned by such brands as Walt Disney Studios, The Minute Maid Company, Coca-Cola, Phillip Morris, and Avon, Inc., and his “Juneteenth Freedom Series” recently was featured at the U.S. Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., as part of the Juneteenth Independence Day Celebration organized by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.

Dallas native Diane Frossard (b. 1962) spent 10 years as a geologist before turning her attention to painting and drawing full time. In 1998 she relocated to Tyler, where she continues to live and work from her family ranch with her husband, Mike, and daughters Hannah and Kelly. Painting primarily in the plein air tradition, Frossard has won numerous awards at Plein Air Southwest Salon at Southwest Gallery in Dallas, and been featured in multiple shows at Tyler’s Gallery Main Street. Recent projects include the book cover design and illustrations for the magical realism novel The Artemis Connection by David Di Paolo. Reflections of East Texas marks the artist’s first museum exhibition.

Mike Perry (b. 1970) was raised in Tyler, graduating from Robert E. Lee High School and Tyler Junior College before moving on to study under acclaimed Texas artist Vernon Fisher in the bachelor of fine arts program at the University of North Texas. He and his wife, Janna, relocated in 2000 to Jacksonville, Fla., where he began painting full time after a 10 year-career in interior design. His impressionistic landscapes and abstracts have been featured in several gallery exhibitions including the recent solo show New Horizons at Stellers Gallery-San Marco, and have been purchased for numerous public and private collections including Nordstrom Department Stores and the home of Ted Turner. Reflections of East Texas also marks his first museum exhibition.

Longview native Franklin Willis (b. 1963) studied at Kilgore College before moving on to receive his B.F.A. degree from Corpus Christi State University and a master’s degree at the University of Michigan. He recently was promoted to professor of art at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where he and his wife Liz Archuleta have lived for the last two decades. A veteran of numerous museum shows including a two-year traveling exhibition organized by the Arizona Commission for the Arts, Willis’ work last was featured at the TMA during the 2008 solo exhibition Influence of the Sabine: The Artistic Journey of Franklin Demetrius Willis, from which the Museum purchased his triptych The 7th Year Harvest for its Permanent Collection.


Support for Reflections of East Texas is provided by Collectors’ Circle Platinum Sponsor The Byars Foundation and Executive Partner Sponsor Southside Bank, with special thanks to The Perry Family, Stellers Gallery-San Marco and The Dorsey Group.

TMA members and special guests are invited for a first look at the exhibition during the Preview Reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 25 at the Museum. To RSVP or for information on becoming a TMA member, call (903) 595-1001 or visit