The Cerebral Gesture: The Legacy of Alan Stacell

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The Cerebral Gesture opened Saturday, April 5, and is the newest exhibit in Texas A&M University’s Wright Gallery, located on the second floor of Building A in the Langford Architecture Center. The exhibit features the paintings of the late Professor Alan Stacell, and will run until May 10.

By Jamie O’Toole

Vibrant and bold, colorful and chaotic, yet somehow still composed and complex. The thick brush strokes and bright colors of Alan Stacell’s work seem random at first glance, but after perusing the entire collection, it becomes apparent that he placed each stroke with precision, creating both emotional and thought-provoking compositions .

The Cerebral Gesture opened Saturday, April 5, and is the newest exhibit in Texas A&M University’s Wright Gallery, located on the second floor of Building A in the Langford Architecture Center. The exhibit features the paintings of the late Professor Alan Stacell, and will run until May 10.

Stacell was a professor in the College of Architecture at Texas A&M from 1960 until 2000 and passed away in 2001. He formally taught design studio, but everyone who knew him says he taught a great deal more both in and outside of the classroom.

“He influenced almost all of the distinguished alumni coming out of the architecture program,” says Curator Stephen Caffey, who is also currently writing a book on Stacell’s life and work. Though Caffey never had the opportunity to meet Stacell, he says it is inspiring to study the mind and hand that influenced generations of Aggies.

The expanse of Stacell’s influence was reflected by the crowd in attendance at the exhibit opening Saturday evening. “The composition of the crowd is unlike anything I have ever seen,” says Caffey. Colleagues, administrators, friends, family, and both former and current faculty and students all came to pay homage to the man who committed 40 years to touching the lives of everyone he encountered at Texas A&M.

Professor by profession but painter at heart, Stacell painted nearly every day and his collection contains hundreds of works. The exhibit consists of 20 pieces from a 300-piece collection owned by his family; friends, former co-workers, and students mostly own the remainder of his works.

“He never really talked about it and he did not like to sell it,” says daughter-in-law Tamara Stacell. “He just gave things away.”

For Stacell, his artwork was more about the process than the final product, but for his admirers, the final products truly are works of art. “The intensity and vitality of the color and gesture are very deliberate and it appeals to both the senses and the mind,” says Caffey as he describes what initially drew him to Stacell’s work.

Each of the 20 paintings in the exhibit is a unique composition, some of them seemingly abstract and others containing scenic landscapes or human figures. A transformation will occur part way through the exhibit as well, because a number of the paintings have complete compositions on either side and will be flipped midway through the exhibition.

The Wright Gallery is free and open for viewing Monday through Friday between 8am and 5pm or by special appointment, which can be made by contacting Jan McCoy at (979) 458-0539 or jmccoy@arch.tamu.edu. The Langford Architecture Center is on east campus and visitor parking is available for a fee at the Central Campus Garage. For alternative parking options, visit www.transport.tamu.edu.