This article was written by By Micheal Granberry.  Tracy Hicks was one of my teachers and personal mentors and a great example of how to live as an artist.  His passing is a very sad thing indeed.  He cared so much about Nature and for the living creatures in this World.  May his work and legacy live on even though he is no longer with us !


Tracy Hicks, a renowned Texas artist who showed at the Dallas Museum of Art and numerous local galleries, and who later became an art fellow at the Smithsonian Institution, died Friday. He was 68.

Hicks suffered a heart attack in the mountains of North Carolina, where he and his wife, longtime Dallas journalist Victoria Loe Hicks, recently built a new home.

Born in San Antonio, Valton Tracy Hicks Jr. moved to Dallas with his family when he was a toddler. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School and lived in Dallas until moving to Atlanta in 2010.

“I met Tracy shortly after I arrived 30 years ago,” said fellow artist and close friend Barnaby Fitzgerald. “He had a beautiful, wonderful, magical studio on Routh Street, which was demolished not long ago to make room, ironically, for the Arts District.”

Fitzgerald described the studio as a whole-house haven chock full of “shelves of bottles and containers, glass containers full of artifacts. It was a mesmerizing place, and Tracy was a lot of fun. He had a great eye. He was a truly visual artist,” Fitzgerald said. But near the end of his life, his work became even more expansive, as he delved into science in ways that Fitzgerald labeled truly remarkable.

Four years ago, Hicks became part of the Smithsonian’s Artist Research Fellowship Program, which allowed him to “make friends with all these scientists,” Fitzgerald said. “And they fell in love with him, because he was so immersed in the study of reptiles. He got very involved with the demise of the amphibians. Amphibians are dying by the millions all over the planet.”

Fitzgerald described a trip to visit Hicks in the North Carolina mountains to attend the Big Art Salamander Science Weekend. “It was wonderful,” said Fitzgerald, who shared the event with some of the top scientists in the country. “It was incredibly inspiring, and Tracy made it happen.”

Kevin Vogel, one of the owners of Valley House Gallery, where Mr. Hicks had shown his work, called him “as much a scientist as he was an artist, and he was sort of an alchemist in putting both those elements together. I knew few people who were more concerned about the Earth and its inhabitants than he was. Everything he did was to point out the fragility of life, especially with his research in amphibians. As far as an artist, there were few his equal in the direction in which he was focused. … His heart, his intelligence, his production was always true to his wanting to show how we as a people can improve.”

In addition to Valley House, Hicks had shown at the DMA, which in 1994 staged a dual exhibition titled “Encounters 5” that featured Hicks and British artist Damien Hirst. The DMA also purchased a piece by Hicks for its permanent collection. In 1996 and 2002, he collaborated with Project Row Houses in Houston, co-creating a photo archive of Houston’s Third Ward.

Hicks staged shows at Conduit Gallery, the University of Texas at Arlington and McKinney Avenue Contemporary and in venues outside Texas.

He is survived by Victoria Loe Hicks, his second wife, a longtime staffer at The Dallas Morning News; his mother, Marilyn Larner Hicks; a son and daughter, Trae and Ashleigh Hicks; and granddaughter Luna Rae Hicks.

His wife suggests that anyone wishing to honor Hicks purchase a piece of Texas art. The family plans a Dallas memorial service in the coming months.


Tracy Hicks work can be seen at

"*America's Most Wanted* was an audacious painting, even by the inflated standards of the contemporary art scene.  In 1993, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, expatriate Soviet artists who had settled in the United States, received money from the National Institute to study the artistic preferences of people in ten countries.  They oversaw a detailed worldwide poll, conducted for them in the United States by Martila and Kiley and by various other public opinion firms overseas.  All participants were asked what they would like to see a picture of, whether they preferred interior or landscape scenes, what kinds of animals they liked, favorite colors, what sorts of people they enjoyed seeing depicted - famous or ordinary, clothed or nude, young or old, and so forth.  Extrapolated to the general populations of the countries polled, the graphs and tables of figures produced by Komar and Melamid's People's  choice project claimed, not unreasonably, to be a reliable report on the artistic preferences of "close to two billion people."

   But this project produced more than numerical preferences:  these talented artists then went on actually to paint most-wanted and least-wanted paintings for every country in the study- pastiches based on favorite colors, shapes, and subject matters for each nationality.

   The least wanted paintings are bad news for anyone hoping someday to see modernist abstraction achieve mass acceptance.  People in almost all nations disliked abstract designs, especially jagged shapes created with a thick impasto in the commonly despised colors of gold, orange, yellow, and teal.  this cross cultural similarity of negative opinion was matched on the positive side by another remarkable uniformity of sentiment:  almost without exception, the most wanted painting was a landscape with water and people, and animals.  SInce the overwhelming favorite in the World turned out to be blue, Komar and Melamid used blue as the predominate color of their landscape.  THeir Americas Most Wanted, the painting, based on the poll results from the United States, combined a typical American preference for historical figures, children, and wild animals by placing George Washington on a grassy area beside an attractive river or lake.  Near him walk three clean cut youngsters, looking like vacationers at Disneyland; to their right two deer cavort, while in the water behind Washington, a hippopotamus bellows."

     "People in very different cultures around the World gravitate toward the same general type of pictorial representation: a landscape with trees and open areas, water, human figures, and animals.  More remarkable still was the fact that people across the globe preferred landscapes that most resembled upstate New York than what we might think of as the present flora and terrain of Kenya.  In an interview, *painting by numbers* the book that presented the data and paintings for the project, ALexander Melamid remarks "It might seemlike something funny but, you know, I'm thinking that this blue landscape is more serious than we first believed.  Talking to people in the focus groups befoore we did our poll at the town hall meetings around the country after . . . almost everyone you talk to directly - and we've talked to hundreds of people - they have this blue landscape in their head.  It sits there, and its not  a joke.  They can see it, down to the smallest detail.  So I'm wondering, maybe the blue the landscape is genetically imprinted in us, thats it's the paradise within, that we came from the blue landscape and we want it . . . We now completed polls in many countries - China, Kenya, Iceland, and so on - and the results are strikingly similar.  Can you believe it ? Kenya and Iceland- what can be more different in the whole fucking world- and both want blue landscapes."

Painting has not died, painting never died ! Instead, it has been set free. In fact, Art is No longer responsible to any preconceived notion of art or reality.  And, rightly so, the only really viable place where True Anarchy can exist is in the art you create. The "post modernists" went beyond wild, triggering the evolutionary life of painting and AlL art in general to claim Absolute Experimental Freedom. The show is not over folks . . . It has just begun !  The markings made from Us, the Cultural record keepers Lives on.  Like everything else on the planet Earth, painting is evolving.