By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
In her review of the Frank Freed exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Shaila Dewan appears to be divided within herself. ["Frank-ly Speaking," August 22]. She decided that Freed was an artist whose work was "only" a constructive hobby and therefore not good enough to merit a show at the MFA had he and his wife not been wealthy supporters of the museum. Dewan describes her view (accurately, I think) as the "cynical" answer to why the museum organized this exhibition. On the other hand, she was caught up in the exhibition and catalog, did some research, has a favorite painting and thinks that in some ways the exhibition is appropriate for the MFA. Overall, I see Ms. Dewan's review as a stimulating, personal work exhibiting a capacity for self-criticism.
That makes it doubly disappointing to find that she has chosen to omit information incompatible with her "cynical answer" and, moreover, has taken out of context some of my statements in the catalog and opening lecture in such a way that they appear to support her negative viewpoint. She cited virtually every instance in which I wrote, said or quoted anything critical of the quality or skill of Freed's paintings, omitting the context of those statements that clearly testifies to my enormous respect for Freed and his artwork.
In case there is any doubt in the mind of Dewan or the readers of the Press, please know that nothing in the exhibition, the catalog or my lecture supports the "cynical" current in her review; she is really off the mark there. In my opinion, Freed's work is a little treasure in the history of Houston, and the best of it has a substance that will last. I did the exhibition and catalog because I thought it was important for this community. I did it with pleasure and no second thoughts; I am pleased to see that is has generated some critical discussion as well as considerable pleasure among visitors in the gallery.
William A. Camfield
Professor of art history, Rice University
It Ain't Cheap
All right already, Tim Fleck, enough about Betti Maldonado. For some reason, Fleck has found a need to kick her over and over again, ever since she broke up with his buddy, Marc Campos, the noted self-described "political whore" and of late, apparently a star plaintiff's witness in Sylvester Turner's lawsuit against Wayne Dolcefino. From the report of Mr. Campos' testimony in the Chronicle, it sounded to me as if he gave the Turner case a major boost by providing testimony to support a jury finding of malice by Dolcefino and Channel 13.
I am curious why Fleck hasn't taken a few swipes at Campos. After all, it is not the deepest secret in town that Campos seems to have a close relationship with a key member of the school board. I was surprised to learn though that, at least according to his testimony in the Turner trial as reported by the Chronicle, Campos was recently prostituting himself to the school board to work on the failed school bond election campaign; but then again, Turner's attorney is also a member of the school board that approved the Campos contract. It seems odd to me that after Campos' candidate for the Port Commission spot vacated by Ms. Maldonado was spurned by the mayor, Campos turns out to be a hostile witness to the Lanier mayoral campaign, of which he was a key architect.
These relationships seem to raise interesting questions. Unfortunately, it is my guess that they will not be examined in Fleck's column. One only has to think back to the hatchet job he attempted on Maldonado a few years ago when she was first appointed to the Port Commission (shortly after she publicly let it be known that she and Campos were not a romantic item any longer) to surmise that Fleck is more interested in being a rumor monger than in getting to the bottom of something that appears to have an unpleasant stench. Perhaps his column should be renamed for what it is: "Cheap Gossip."
Robert M. Rosenberg
Editor's reply: Mr. Rosenberg is referring to Campos' current romantic relationship with Paula Arnold, president of the HISD board. But he erroneously states that Campos was the recipient of a contract approved by the school board; in fact, Campos' contract to work in favor of the HISD bond issue was with the School House Committee, a pro-bonds political action committee funded by private contributors, not taxpayers' dollars.