Baylor University Poage Library

Critics' Comments on the Mosaic Portraits

From "Texas Heroes Mosaics by James B. Mason," First Edition. Longview, TX: Texas Mosaic Museum and Gallery, Inc., 1962.

Resolution passed House of Representatives of the Fifty-eight Legislature of State of Texas commending artistic achievements of Artist James B. Mason. (Adopted by the House on February 19, 1963)

"I consider these portraits an outstanding technical achievement. The shading achieved through the use of the wood fragments, using only the natural color of the woods is almost unbelievable™I feel that they should certainly be preserved for future generations to enjoy." M. W. Peterson, Head Curator, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (Letter, February 5, 1957).

"™worked 14 years on the first portrait™Mason profited by his own mistakes and eventually developed his own technique. As for the thirty-three portraits of the Presidents, several persons have offered to purchase individual pictures but Mr. Mason has decided to keep the collection intact." New York Times (Article, June 15, 1952).

"The pictures are fine examples of a painstaking art and to my knowledge are unique." William N. Watkins, Curator Division and Crafts and Industries, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C. (Letter, February 5, 1957).

"Using no pigments, a North Carolina Artist ‘paints' with wood chip." National Geographic Magazine. (July, 1951).

"Today creations bearing the Mason signature are possessions of Museums and Art Galleries." Robert Webb, New Orleans States. (November 15, 1949).

"A recognized founder of a new art medium, James B. Mason, the only wood mosaic artist in the world." Bob Sublette, The Clarion Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi. (Article, August 7, 1949).

"I fully appreciate your craftsmanship and artistry and we have many comments on the extraordinary skill of your work. The Portrait of Jefferson Davis hangs in the Search Room of the Department of Archives and History where it is always the subject of interest and admiration." Dr. William D. McCain, Director, Department of Archives d History, Jackson, Mississippi. (Letter, April 22, 1953).

"The unique collection, (Presidential Series), which is insured for a million dollars is work of the world's only wood mosaic portrait artist, James B. Mason, of Longview, Texas." Jo Thompson, State-Times, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Article, September 3, 1957).

You should be proud of having developed an entirely new approach in the use of wood as a visual art form, especially with such excellent results. It is our hope that our state will be lucky enough to have both you and your portraits located within her boundaries on a permanent basis. (Eugenia Blackburn, Curator, Kentucky Historical Society; Frankfort, Kentucky. Letter, Nov 2, 1960).

(James B. Mason) awarded Texas Heritage Foundation Certificate and Gold Medal award for his artistry in creating swirl and block wood mosaic portraits of ten of Texas' greatest heroes. (News Journal, Longview, Texas, Oct 15, 1962).

"And from the Longview, Texas Studio of James B. Mason emerge masterpieces unique and unmatched." Roy Covington, Charlotte Observer, Charlotte, North Carolina. (Article, November 9, 1956).

The fact that your craftsmanship has produce originals in Mosaic Art lends value which cannot be valued at any cost in coin or other values. Your work is outstanding, because it pioneers in effort both unique, and never before advanced to such a high degree. "Texas Heritage", Book by A. Garland Adair, 1962, Curator of History Emeritus, University of Texas.

"I would like to take this opportunity to tell you how pleased we at Big Town are with the results of the showing of Mr. Mason's "Presidential Collection." Estimated attendance of 40,000 in 5 days. (A. R. Henry, Jr., Promotion Director, Big Town Board of Trade; Dallas, Texas. March 5, 1962.

For 40 years or more, this slow talking artist has used bits of wood - estimated roughly at 16 million pieces to fashion portraits. Depending strictly on the natural color of the wood, Mr. Mason uses no paint, no watercolors, no artificial color of any kind to enhance the astonishing likeness he creates. (Dallas Times Herald Magazine Section Article by Paul Rosenfield, Art Critic, Historian).

"The exhibition, a must for every art lover." Clarion Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi. (Article, August 1949).

"His skill was recognized thoroughly by the National Geographic Magazine, July 1951." San Antonio News. (September 24, 1955).

"Careful selection from among his varieties of wood, gives him a color range many an oil artist would envy™His secret is what he calls ‘needlepoint inlays'™a practitioner of the vanishing craft of Mosaic Artistry." The Houston Chronicle. (Article, March 18, 1956).

"He calls the method "swirl and block" mosaic. When he has finished he smoothes the surface to an even texture with sandpaper. The portrait of the hero of the Battle of New Orleans is one of his 32 mosaics exhibited at the International Trade Mart." Carter Stephens, New Orleans Item. (Article, November 16, 1949).

"Careful color combinations go into Mason's selection of his woods." (Nashville Tennessean Magazine Selection. (Article, September 30, 1945).

"We appreciated the opportunity to display these portraits so that our many customers ad other friends could view them. Their response was very gratifying. Best wishes for your success in showing these portraits throughout the Country." D. W. Bell, President and Chairman of the Board, American Security and Trust Company, Washington, D. C. (Letter, April 18, 1957).

"His hand work, lauded by creative circles as a brilliant revival of an all but vanished art form." John London, Washington Post, Washington, D. C. (Letter, July 12, 1948).

"Highly skilled at his art™" Gene Campbell, The Daily Oklahoman. (Article, November 16, 1955).

"Gold comes from the Hedge Apple Tree, but to Mason, all woods glitter a little like it." San Antonio Light. (Article, September 26, 1955).

"I have never seen any selection of pictures or even any single picture produced with the original method that you have used™It is certainly monumental." Albert Constantine, Jr., President of Albert Constantine and Son, Inc., World's Largest Importers of Rare Woods. (Letter, April 18, 1957).

Artist James B. Mason ‘Makes watchmaking look clumsy'. (Lexington, Kentucky Herald, Article, October 13, 1960).

"Hundreds of thousands of pieces of wood and three months to a year later emerges a portrait which has delicate shading, three dimensional effect and a well sanded durability calculated to last longer than portraits done in oils." The Longview Sunday News-Journal, Longview, Texas (Article, May 26, 1957).

"The work is tedious and calls for more than average patience. The results are amazing and expensive." The Austin American (Article, September 20, 1955).

"™the showing of your beautiful pictures to the viewing audience was most interesting to them™It is always a pleasure having guests as talented as you." Vivian, Harry and Eddie Show, KCMA-KWTV, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Letter, December 1, 1955).

"I still recall with a great deal of pleasure the success we had here in the Fort Worth National Bank in displaying in our lobby your handsome wood mosaics of Christ™Our Bank received many favorable comments from Church groups and from friends and customers of the Bank." Reed Sass, Vice President, Fort Worth National Bank, Fort Worth, Texas. (Letter, January 3, 1957).

"We had a very pleased with the showing of your block wood portraits of Christ, which was exhibited in our lobby this year. Many people came in the bank especially to see this." O. H. Clark, President, First National Bank, Marshall, Texas (Letter, December 1, 1956).

"It was a pleasure to display your unusual and beautiful mosaic portraits in our bank lobby." Virginia O. Valentine, Public Relations Director, State Planters Bank of Commerce and Trust, Richmond, Virginia (Letter, June 6, 1957).

"™to become a rare artisan™" John Lovelace, Tyler Courier-Times Telegraph. (Article, July 31, 1955).

"Fame is no stranger to the man who started his Art career as a boy." Jeanne Martin, Longview Sunday News-Journal, Longview, Texas. (Article, June 19, 1955).

"Paintless Portraits." The Dallas Herald. (Article June 19, 1955).

"These unique works of art are accomplished by the painstaking position of thousands of tiny pieces of wood, creating some extremely beautiful effects." (Advertisement, First National Bank, San Antonio, Texas, September, 1955).