African American Library at the Gregory School

Oscar and Maudene McNary Collection MSS.0022

An Inventory of her Records at the African American Library at the Gregory School, Houston Public Library

Descriptive Summary

Creator McNary, Oscar
Title: Oscar and Maudene McNary Collection
Dates: 1915-2008
Identification: MSS.0022
Quantity: 5.0 Linear feet
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: African American Library at the Gregory School

Biographical/Historical note

Oscar and Maudene McNary have been involved in the fine arts world for over 40 years. They are Texas natives and both had formal education and training in fine arts. They studied under a number of internationally known Texas artists and educators. Oscar McNary, an artist himself has also had his works displayed throughout the country. His other roles included being an art consultant, exhibiting works by such artists as Robert Neal Williams in galleries and art exhibits.

Never one to work alone, his wife, Maudene McNary collaborates with her husband in the purchase and the assessment of a particular piece that catches their eye. The art works the couple has acquired over the years reflects their educational background, training, appreciation, and work within the field. The criteria for collecting as they would express it would be, “Collecting Objectively.” What they decide to collect is something that attracts their eye, irrespective of the artist that created it. They do not let the artist influence their judgment of the object. They view the object in its own light, with the artist being a secondary factor. The criteria they establish for collecting materials include: quality, size, fragility, and variety. Art for them is not only a showpiece, but something they literally live with as a part of their home décor.

Although many of the works of art they have collected over the years represent works created by many prominent African American artists, they also collect works done by other multi-ethnic heritages as a sense of their own cultural awareness, that each culture has something to contribute. The couple has been involved in a variety of art, historic, and civic organizations in the Dallas area for nearly 30 years, and they are strong advocates of promoting young talent. They currently live in Richardson, Texas.

Scope and Contents note

The Oscar and Maudene McNary Collection contain newsclippings, correspondence, programs, photographs, art books and publications, and works of art by African American artists. The materials reflect their lives together as art collectors, art consultants, and the many artists they have known both professionally and as friends over the years.


Arrangement note

The collection is arranged by subject and material type.


Conditions Governing Access note

Access to documents and photographs are permitted. Access to works of art is restricted. Please consult with Archivist or Curator on staff.

Conditions Governing Use note

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Oscar and Maudene McNary Collection must be obtained from the African American Library at the Gregory School or the appropriate copyright holder. Please ask reference staff for information and assistance on the possibility of photo duplication and any associated fees. The library reserves the right to restrict duplication.

Index Terms

Maudene McNary, Mrs
Maudene McNary, Mrs
Oscar McNary , Mr
African American artists
Art, American

Administrative Information

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Oscar and Maudene McNary, April 2010

Processing Information note

Processed by Vince Lee, June 2010

Detailed Description of the Collection

Box Folder
1 1 Newsclippings
Collecting Objectively—McNarys fill passion for art by collecting—by Shannon Gilcrease—UT Dallas News (1993)
The Biggers Picture—by Lisa Gray, Houston Chronicle (2007)
John T. Biggers dies at age 76 by Janet Kutner, Dallas Morning News (2001)
Woodcarving Exhibit by Terry Can Sickle, Dallas Morning News (1984)
A Cultural Hero’s Legacy by Vicki Meeks, Dallas Weekly (2001)
Professor helped shape art department at TSU by Douglas Britt, Houston Chronicle (2010)
Gwendolyn Knight stands on her own with retrospectives by Catherine Fox, The Atlanta Journal (1988)
Knight is content with artistic shadow role by Deloris Tarzan Ament, The Seattle Times (1987)
Because the world is not drab by Allan Turner, Houston Chronicle Magazine (2001)
Assessing our bounty by Douglas Britt, Houston Chronicle Zest (2008)

Box Folder
1 2 Correspondence
Letter from Shannon Gilcrease to Oscar and Maudene McNary (1993)
Letter from Joan Adams Mondale to Oscar McNary (1983)
Note card from Eugene L. Forney to Oscar McNary (2004)

Box Folder
1 3 Programs
Oscar McNary—DMA Masters Exhibition (2000)
”Collecting Objectively” (1993)
The Creative Expression of Jacob Lawrence and Gwen Knight (2002)
John Biggers Market Art (1994)
Contemporary African American Ceramic Artists (1998)
The McNary Collection (1993)
The McNary Collection Flyer (1993)
Houston Colored High Schools Forty-Seventh Annual Program (1942)
Booker T. Washington High School 100th Anniversary Celebration (1993)

Box Folder
1 4 Photographs
MSS0022.001--Wagon by Robert Neal Williams
MSS0022.002--Robert Neal Williams with Wife (February 15, 1983)
MSS0022.003--Maudie and Richard Mosby at Houston Fatstock show and rodeo (1955)
MSS0022.003a--Accompanying written description of the photograph by Maudene McNary
MSS0022.004--Oscar McNary (n.d.)
MSS0022.005--Robert Neal Williams with Oscar McNary and wood caring scene at old City Park exhibit (February 15, 1983)
MSS0022.006--Elizabeth Catlett “Madonna” 1982 lithograph

Box Folder
1 5 Financial Records
Purchase Invoice for Elizabeth Catlett’s “Madonna” 1982 lithograph from Ellen Sragow Ltd. (1999)
Check image for the purchase of painting by Dr. Ruth McCrane from the David Dike Fine Art Gallery (1996)
Check image for the purchase of “old Woman” by John Biggers from the Black Heritage Gallery (1994)


Gwen Knight

Gwen Knight Dossier

Box Folder
1 6 Robert Neal Willams
Descriptive caption of “Folk Art” by Robert Neal Williams (n.d.)
Publicity/Press Release for the Dallas County Heritage Society by Oscar McNary (1983)

Box Folder
1 7 Dr. Ruth Mae McCrane
Funeral Program of Dr. Ruth Mae McCrane (2002)
Autographed publicity for Dr. Ruth Mae McCrane for David Dike’s fall exhibition (1996)

Box Folder
1 8 Art Book Art in Houston
Black Art in Houston by John Biggers and Carroll Simms with John Edward Weems, 1979 Texas A & M University Press

Box Folder
1 9 Art Book of John Biggers
The Art of John Biggers—View from the Upper Room by Alvia J. Wardlaw @ 1995 Museum of Fine Arts Houston Public Library

Box Folder
1 10 ElIzabeth Carlett Works on Paper,1944-1992
Elizabeth Carlett-Works on Paper 1944—1992 c. 1993 Hampton University Museum

Box Folder
1 11 After Vesalius
After Vesalius-Drawings by Jacob Lawrence c. 1996 Jacob Lawrence

Box Folder
1 12 Booker.T.Washington
Booker T. Washington—The Master Mind of a Child of Slavery by Fredrick E. Drinker c. 1915

Box Folder
1 13 Art book-Blackburn's Workshop of Color
Blackburn’s Workshop of Color (1992)

Box Folder
1 14 Miscellaneous
Historic timeline of John Biggers
Quotation Placard of Fredrick Douglas

Box Folder
1 15 Item Separated
16 Oversized items(Works of Acts)
“Old Woman”—John T. Biggers—1952 Lithograph (20 x 23”)
Ceramic Bowl—Carroll Harris Simms 1985
Folk Art—hand carved wooden miniatures by Robert Neal Williams
-farm scene of cow being led by man and woman
-man at churn
-boy running with dog
-baseball player holding a watermelon
-woman and driver in horse-drawn carriage
-Pastor delivering sermon from pulpit
-Woman sitting down performing chores
-horse drawn carriage
-2 hunters carrying their catch
-dog in alert standing position
-prospector leading a mule
-cow grazing
-African American Union Soldier on horseback
-2 swans
-horse-drawn wagon of Miller’s Fish Market
Gwendolyn Knight, “Diva”, silk screen print, 1994, 28 x 23”
Elizabeth Catlett, “Madonna”, lithograph, 1982, 21 1/8” x 15 7/8”
Folk Art Hand carved wooden miniatures by Robert Neal Williams:
-2 horse drawn carriages with driver
-tables with 4 chairs
-watermelon slices