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A Brief History of

Valley House Gallery & Sculpture Garden

In the early spring of 1953, artist Donald Vogel and his wife, Peggy, stood on a dead-end gravel road in far north Dallas County and looked into a heavily wooded six-acre lot. After walking among the trees and along the creek bordering the property, they decided to purchase the land to create a unique environment in which to live and continue their efforts to promote fine arts in Texas.

Knowing that the picture framing business would always be a reliable source of income, they first built a frame shop on the property. The frame shop was soon followed by the construction of a house of Donald Vogel’s own design. This house, which they named Valley House, originally functioned as a gallery, studio, and home for the Vogels. In 1957, the frame shop was expanded and renovated to create a separate gallery space. In 1961, the building program was completed with the construction of a new frame shop and guest quarters.

The Vogel’s philosophy of showing contemporary regional talent alongside internationally recognized artists evolved from their previous collaboration with Betty Blake, formerly Betty McLean. The Betty McLean Gallery, established in 1951 in Preston Center, was one of the first galleries in Texas to exhibit modern art.

In 1959, landscape architect Clarence Roy created an award-winning design for the sculpture garden. The inaugural garden show was a retrospective of Austin sculptor, Charles Umlauf. Other outdoor sculpture shows mounted in the early years were one-person exhibitions of Henry Moore, Sorel Etrog, and David Cargill.

Valley House Gallery gained international recognition for its direct access into the estate of the noted French dealer, Ambroise Vollard. Through this association, the gallery was able to bring major French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings to Dallas including works by Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet, and Auguste Renoir.

The gallery became well known for the quality of its exhibitions as well as the catalogues that often accompanied them. In 1962, Valley House Gallery published a catalogue of 54 paintings by George Rouault that were commissioned by Vollard to illustrate André Suarès’ poem, The Passion. Other notable catalogues included The Pont Aven Paintings of Emile Bernard; a retrospective of the paintings of Philadelphia painter Hugh H. Breckenridge; and Surrealism in Art, the first comprehensive survey of this movement in Dallas. Valley House Gallery has also published catalogues on the works of contemporary artists including Barnaby Fitzgerald, Scott Gentling, Gottfried Honegger, Zhang Jingru, Jun Cheng Liu, Loren Mozley, Donna Phipps Stout, Charles Umlauf, and Anne Weary.

In addition to publishing catalogues for their own exhibitions, Valley House Gallery curated and wrote the catalogues for The Amon Carter Museum’s traveling exhibitions of Texas folk painters Clara McDonald Williamson and Velox Ward in the 1960’s. The gallery also sponsored and co-wrote the catalogue for the traveling educational exhibition Connoisseurship and the Intaglio Print in 1990.

Valley House Gallery’s reputation for publishing catalogues and showcasing regional and internationally recognized artists led to an invitation to join The Art Dealers Association of America in 1964. Today the gallery is one of only two ADAA members in Dallas, and one of six in Texas.

In 1974, Peggy Vogel succumbed to an illness and Kevin Vogel, middle child of three, started work at the gallery to assist his father. In 1978, Cheryl Westgard came to work at Valley House and four years later Kevin and Cheryl were married. Donald married landscape architect Erika Farkac in 1981 and she quickly began to redesign the Valley House Sculpture Garden into one of the most beautiful in Texas. Donald Vogel gradually retired from directing the gallery to focus on his painting. Kevin and Cheryl have been guiding the gallery for over twenty years.

Today, Valley House Gallery and Sculpture Garden continues its fifty-year tradition of offering the highest quality fine art to collectors and museums. In addition to organizing exhibitions in the gallery, around the garden, and for museums, Valley House Gallery’s participation in art fairs around the country combined with our presence on the internet expand the gallery’s reach to both national and international audiences.

In addition to championing contemporary artists, Valley House Gallery regularly exhibits work by late nineteenth and twentieth century Texas artists including Dorothy Austin, Charles Bowling, Kelly Fearing, L. O. Griffith, Edmund Kinzinger, Hermann Lungkwitz, the Onderdonks, Frank Reaugh, and Everett Spruce. The gallery represents the estates of early Texas artists including Constance Forsyth, Otis Dozier, Edward Eisenlohr, Bertha Landers, William Lester, and Josephine Oliver. Important works by Thomas Hart Benton, Rosa Bonheur, Mary Cassatt, Giorgio de Chirico, George Inness, Berthe Morisot, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, Maurice Prendergast, and Diego Rivera have been among the gallery’s offerings of 19th and 20th century American and European artists.

The dead-end gravel road where the Vogels stood in 1953 is now a busy six lane concrete artery traversing north Dallas. The arts community has grown tremendously in North Texas since then. Valley House Gallery is proud to be part of this vital, burgeoning art community and looks forward to the future and to greater things to come.

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