Simon Michael (1905-2002), "Withered Oaks", oil on canvas, 36 x 36", frame: 41 x 41"
Simon Michael is considered the Grandfather of the Rockport Art Community, and many consider his influence to spread throughout South Texas as an artist, teacher, and philosopher. Extremely well-traveled, Michael settled in Rockport in 1948, starting the Simon Michael School of Fine Art. He spent his time teaching and mentoring young artists all over the Coastal Bend, and his classes continued to gain in popularity. Among Michael's students was the Texas State Artist Dalhart Windberg, whose enduring career began by selling his first painting on the Fulton Coast while studying with Michael. Notable colleagues such as Lincoln Borglum, who had completed the Mt. Rushmore work begun by his father, became dear friends of Michael because of his unique approach to teaching. "Don't paint pictures," Michael is quoted as saying, "paint experiences." The Coastal Bend College's permanent art gallery is named after Michael, (The Simon Michael Art Gallery at Coastal Bend College), and Rockport Center for the Arts exhibited a retrospective of his work in 2006. The Simon Michael Art Gallery in Rockport continues to remain open, showcasing hundreds of Michael's original paintings as well as work in his personal collection. The out-of-print "Simon Michael: the Man, the Artist, the Teacher" by Dorothy Cosper Kucera was published in 1988.