Gallery opens with last of godfather prints

On left, Jayne Duryea, art instructor at Coastal Bend College, explains that these 25 paintings, plus 35 more, will be on up for auction Oct. 17 with the money raised benefiting the college art gallery and the Rockport Center for the Arts.

BEEVILLE – Nearly half of the remaining Simon Michael paintings still for sale were unveiled Wednesday, Sept. 4, inside the Coastal Bend College gallery. 

The 25 pieces on the walls of the gallery that bears Michael’s name will be auctioned off Oct. 17 along with 35 more that were donated to CBC art instructor Jayne Duryea  for this purpose.

“In the Coastal Bend College permanent art collection, we have quite a few pieces that we have acquired over the years but they’re not for sale,” Duryea said.

During the gallery opening, Duryea said that Michael’s nephew made the donation two years ago.

“We want to now offer these for auction — the last of his works. And the proceeds will be split between this gallery and the Rockport Center for the Arts,” she said.

The gallery at CBC is the only remaining one to bear the artist’s name. A second in Rockport was sold and, after Hurricane Harvey caused extensive damage, its purpose was changed and will now become condos.

“We’re trying to keep him alive and promote his efforts,” Duryea said. “He was known as the godfather of art and painting for years all over the South and into Rockport.”

This work now on display tells a story of his life and travels, Duryea said. Paintings depict life in Greece, desert inhabitants and their camel  mounts along with  scenes closer to home in the wilds of South Dakota.

“When I came in and took over teaching painting at Coastal Bend College, he was still here,” Duryea said. 

“After he left the college, I took the painting students every spring to his studio in Rockport.

“Simon Michael would graciously greet us with open arms, and tour his private collection in the gallery.”

The auction on October will be the last to feature so many of the late painter’s works.

“We are keeping with the old prices,” Duryea said. “The drawings range from $25 to $3,000. Perhaps they will go down but maybe the prices will go up.”

Duryea is hoping to raise enough that the college’s portion of the proceeds will fund some significant improvements to its gallery.

She hopes to raise enough to make some renovations here, including a storage room for the college’s permanent collection.

Those wishing to register for and attend the auction can call either Duryea at 361-354-2322 or the Rockport Center at 361-729-5519.