ICYMI: Charles Umlauf, Seymour Fogel created two South Austin gems

Readers are flocking to this story about old structures renovated by modernists Charles Umlauf and Seymour Fogel, and now cherished by Austinites.

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The living room of the Umlauf house remains as it was, with its midcentury furniture. Alberto Martínez/American-Statesman

Two barnlike stone structures once stood abandoned in South Austin. One rested on a hill with a view of the city; the other, located farther south, spread out on lush flats near a creek and railroad tracks.

Separately in the 1950s, these old buildings were transformed into residences and studios by important Austin artists who were friends — until they were not.

Miraculously, both these partially modernist but stubbornly rustic retreats have been preserved, one in private hands, the other in public. While their separate histories have been told, their connections are still being made.

The onetime friends were sculptor Charles Umlauf and muralist Seymour Fogel.

Umlauf, who died in 1994, was a longtime University of Texas teacher and a prolific maker of flowing figures, many of which can be spotted all over town. He is best known these days as the namesake of and chief artistic contributor to the city-owned Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, just east of Zilker Park. Others remember him as the artistic mentor of late actress Farrah Fawcett while she studied at UT.

Fogel, who left Austin in 1959 and died in 1984, is less well remembered locally, despite his cultlike status among fans of midcentury modern Texas art. Perhaps his most visible legacy in Austin is the gorgeously preserved large mural inside the Starr Building, originally home to the American National Bank, now smartly occupied by the McGarrah Jesse marketing agency at 121 W. Sixth St. …


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