Scope and Contents
This collection contains news clippings, press releases, correspondence, photos, institutional records, and audio materials that chronicle the rising support for fine arts and its impact on society in Houston, TX. Specific focus is given to the Alley Theater, Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony, Museum of Fine Arts, architecture, and the role of the arts in the economy, politics, and society. Each arts genre contains a chronology comprised mainly of news articles, most of which are written by Ann Holmes, and explores the difficulties, successes, and scandals in expanding and building arts organizations in the city. Numerous events connected with each organization are detailed in programs for concerts, plays, and exhibitions and in press releases describing the content of the events, notable participants, and dates of show. Business files, membership listings, and architectural designs are included for several museums and theaters, including extensive records on the Contemporary Arts Museum. The collection also includes biographies of various persons influential in both the local and international fine arts community and covers major events and contributions to the art scene in other cities worldwide. Actors, directors, dancers, musicians, conductors, writers, visual artists, administrators, and prominent supporters and donors are featured among these personalities, including Dominique de Menil, Nina Vance, Gerald Hines, and Edna Saunders. Interviews are included on audiotape and interspersed through the collection in note form. Holmes' research covers the time period of circa 1820-2008, the research materials themselves were created 1920-2008 (bulk 1950-2008).
1920 - 2008
Majority of material found within 1950 - 2008
Restrictions on Access
This material is open for research. It is stored off-site and requires 24 hrs. retrieval time. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713.348.2586 for access.
Permission to publish from the Ann Holmes Fine Arts Archive, 1920-2008, MS 546, must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
Ann Hitchcock Holmes was born on April 25, 1922 in El Paso, TX to Joy and Frederick Holmes. She later moved with her parents and her younger brother, Frederick Keating, to Birmingham, Ala. where she attended high school. The theater scene became an exciting part of Ann’s life at school, inspiring her career plans. After graduation, she attended Whitworth College in Brookhaven, Miss. on a drama scholarship, hoping for a life as an actress and a playwright. After Whitworth, Holmes spent a short time in Birmingham, writing plays, learning the art of painting, and studying sculpture. In 1942, she came to Houston after her grandmother’s death to visit her grandfather and quickly found herself assigned by theater and arts groups to volunteer tasks and working for a newspaper. She was signed on at the Houston Chronicle as a copy kid by City Editor Emmet Walter and was named military editor during the war. In 1947 she became fine arts editor and held that job, as overseeing editor and top critic of the arts in Houston and elsewhere, for four decades.
During those years she witnessed the start up and rise of the Alley Theater, the Houston Ballet, and the Houston Grand Opera. She retired in 1988 to write a book about Houston as arts capital but, almost immediately, her byline returned, this time as Critic at Large, covering architecture and classical dance. While waiting for the critic’s job, she wrote about military, the humanitarian organizations, civic groups, and law cases in the civil and federal courts. But, she also studied music history and theory at Southern College of Fine Arts and later was given a Doctor of Music degree from the school. She received a fellowship in 1953 from the New York Herald Tribune that provided funding and support for a year covering the arts scene in Europe and received a Guggenheim Fellowship for a year of arts visitations in America in 1960. Holmes was a founding member of the American Theater Critics Association in 1974. She has served on numerous boards, including the Houston Municipal Arts Commission, the Fine Arts Advisory Council of University of Texas, The Alliance Francaise Houston, and the Business Fund for the Arts. She is the author of three earlier books and has written articles for numerous publications, such as the New York Times. She won the John G. Flowers award for architectural writing four times and is listed in Who’s Who in America.
Holmes worked part time as Critic at Large until 1999 and died of congestive heart failure in March 2009 at age 86.
Excerpts from "Geo. H. Lewis & Sons obituary."
76 Linear Feet (76 boxes)
Language of Materials