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Preserving Historic Artwork by Mexican-born Dallas Artist & Teacher Octavio Meddellin

Workers removing Octavio Medellin's stained-glass windows - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Workers remove stained glass panes from a metal matrix of art by the late Dallas Artist Octavio Meddellin.

The City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs is leading1 [sic] the effort to save three2 [of four] historically significant works of art by sculptor Octavio Medellin, originally created for Trinity Lutheran Church in 1960.

In a public/private agreement, the three abstract stained glass windows were donated to the City by the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas as they prepare for construction of the new YMCA at White Rock. Art conservator Michael van Enter with Van Enter Studios is overseeing the removal and restoration of the windows.

A fundraising effort to reinstall the windows in Dallas City Performance Hall begins today and will continue to the end of the year. Trinity Lutheran Church is located at 7112 Gaston Avenue, Dallas 75214.

“We are thrilled that the YMCA made this generous donation to the City,” says Office of Cultural Affairs Director, Maria Muñoz-Blanco. “We plan to reinstall these historic windows into the lobby of Dallas City Performance Hall, where the natural light will show off Medellin’s exquisite craftsmanship and design. They will be a wonderful addition to the Dallas Arts District.”

The Office of Cultural Affairs is launching the Windows at Dallas City Performance Hall fundraising campaign to reinstall the windows in the Dallas Arts District. The online Kickstarter campaign seeks to raise $7500 for the installation; $2500 for each window. Donations begin at $25 and incentives range from on-site acknowledgements to invitations to the reinstallation party. To join the campaign, go to Kickstarter.com. The campaign runs through December, 31, 2013.


Octavio Medellin Stainglass Windows - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Last Major Area of Octavio Medellin's Stained-Glass Window at the Church

The Office of Cultural Affairs is also in discussion with Adopt-A-Monument, a Dallas-based public/private entity created to fund the conservation and maintenance of public sculpture and monuments in the City of Dallas. The organization has been instrumental in the rescue of other works in Dallas, including the Miguel Covarrubias mosaic that is now displayed at the Dallas Museum of Art. 

“With help from the community, we’ll be able to display this work in a location that is highly accessible to the public,” says Public Art Manager, Kay Kallos. “I would like to thank Craig Reynolds from BRW Architects for bringing the project to our attention. We’re also grateful for the cooperation and support of the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas and the Texas District Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.”

Octavio Medellin was well known for his generosity of spirit and eye for talent; traits that endeared him to his students and made him a force in bringing people together to make the most of their abilities. He was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico in 1907 and fled to the United States during the Mexican Revolution.

Medellin began his studies at the San Antonio Art Institute and later at the Chicago Art Institute. A trip to Mexico to study the art and culture of his native land inspired him for a lifetime and influenced his work throughout his career. In 1938, Medellin began teaching at North Texas State Teachers College, now the University of North Texas.

Medellin also taught at Southern Methodist University and the Dallas Museum of Fine Art School. He was named an Honorary Life Member of the Texas Visual Arts Association in 1977. In 1966 he opened the Medellin School of Sculpture in Dallas and continued to teach until 1979.

His work is included in major collections in North Texas and throughout the United States. Medellin’s artwork can be seen at the Dallas Museum of Art, the Meadows Museum at SMU and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth.

Octavio Medellin's STained-Glass Windows Marked for Reinstallation - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Octavio Medellin's Stained-Glass Pieces Marked for Reinstallation with Blue Tape

The Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) provides opportunities for all Dallas citizens and visitors to have access to the arts and the means of cultural expression. The Office of Cultural Affairs works with its citizen advisory board, the Cultural Affairs Commission, to foster the development of the cultural system in Dallas.

OCA provides a variety of programs and services, including the management and operations of cultural facilities, a public art program, cultural funding programs and WRR Radio. More information on the Office of Cultural Affairs’ programs can be found on its website at http://www.DallasCulture.org.


The City of Dallas Public Art Program works to enrich the quality of life for the citizens of Dallas and enhance the cultural appeal of the City to visitors by overseeing the integration of high-quality visual art into public spaces. The Program provides opportunities for local and regional artists as well as visual artists from around the globe through commissions of works of public art.

The program also supports donations of public art to the City of Dallas that are subject to a review process for acceptance that includes members of the Public Art Committee and the Cultural Affairs Commission. The Public Art Program is a division of the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs. 


1  It's always fascinating when The City claims they are in the lead on something I know they were put up to by somebody who was, in-turn urgently informed about it by former Octavio Medellin Student and well-known Dallas sculptor David Hickman, who alerted me to the issue a couple months ago. Unfortunately I neglected to visit earlier, or I might have better images of all four Medellin windows.

We doubt he would have succeeded with the City Arts Program directly, but the architect with whom both he and The City had previously worked, certainly did and that's the important thing. If it had not been for the artist and the architect, the Medellin windows might well have been destroyed by now, like much of the woefully unprotected church's interior.

Several panes of the larger window pictured above were already missing, although if someone is putting it back together, Hickman has some of the formulas and colors, so it would be easy to interpolate for the two or three panels that are missing.

Thanks to their collective action, The City now thinks it is in the lead on this project and we should probably let them think that. Otherwise, they might do their usual absolutely nothing for extending the lifetimes and usefulness of our cultural heritage.

It's sad, too, that The City Arts Program insists upon taking the windows that have been, for all these decades, a part of an inner-city neighborhood and installing them in the very commercial so-called Dallas Arts District, where no Dallas artists make art and where their work is rarely shown or performed.

But it is so difficult to get The City's mind out of their same-old same-old thought patterns. As if art of this city really belonged in the Developers' Official Arts District, not its people.


2  Actually, there were four stained-glass windows created by Octavio Medellin for his 1960 commission with Trinity Lutheran Church. Three tall, skinny windows called The Trinity, each window of which is 24 feet high by 24 inches wide and comprises six 2 x 4 feet panels.

The three large pieces are topped with what David Hickman characterizes as overtly religious symbols, then the design spreads down into color and shape abstraction toward the bottom. Those are gone now, their spaces empty.

For awhile, at least, the much larger, apparently unnamed window shown in my photographs above was or is being considered for the new architectural design of the White Rock Lake-area YMCA, which, as you can see, is pure color and abstraction. Perhaps that is why The City Arts Program is leaving it out of its count of the Medellin windows in danger.

Apparently, the YMCA (formerly Young Men's Christian Association) did not wish to incorporate the windows showing religious designs, even if their designs are so abstract we'd probably have to have it explained, although those are the windows that might be repurposed somewhere in the so-called Downtown Arts District.



counter since February 26 2014, when this page finally got relocated from the New DARts Calendar.