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 http://www.tracyhicks.com/