Ben Woitena is one of the few serious sculptors in Houston (a painting town, for some reason) and one of the few of that few who work really large, in metal…. he's the central-casting model of a big-scale welding sculptor: muscled, intent, full of energy and purpose…. He draws and makes small sculpture, but the juice for him is obviously in the big stuff,…His way with steel in space is lyrical and potent,…
Considered together, its technical mastery, its industrial finish and materials and its heroic scale say one thing most clearly: This is a work of art, not a precious object, or dazzling tour de force, not a searing confession or post-modern synthesis, simply a work-a task made permanent: that says, A man lived, loved his work, honored his materials, nurtured his skills, applied his talents and spent his energies to make this thing. This is his mark. And that literally and figuratively, is what the emblem of "Dos Equis" evokes for me-nothing more or less than a man's mark made permanent in welded steel: Two X's. What better signature for a working artist to sign on the sky? *
Woitena's shapes swell and lift in taut axial successions that are lyrical and erotic at the same time. Admittedly, the sculptures suggest the bends and folds of the body and pull of gravity. More often than not, they rise from the ground as monumental presences, confronting the viewer as tantalyzingly elusive beings. The sculpture is so direct in its address to one's body and one's imagination that the physical intuitions behind it seem more clairvoyant than analytical.…What results are bodies that have been given souls in addition to physical space. What we perceive are sculptures both strong and vulnerable, tentative and expansive. Woitena's sculptures are engaging, even gripping for the range of contradictions they set in motion. *
Born 1942, San Antonio, Texas
The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, B.F.A., 1964
The University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, M.F.A., 1970
Selected One-Person Exhibitions
1975 Sol Del Rio Gallery, San Antonio, Texas
1982 The Art League of Houston, Houston, Texas
1983 Century Development-Allen Center Rotating Sculpture Program, Houston, Texas
1988 Sharon Arts Center, A Sense of Site Specific Sculpture, Sharon, New Hampshire
1994 The Omni Houston, Afterimages, Houston, Texas
1994 Amarillo Museum of Art, Ben Woitena:Related Works, Solo Exhibition Concurrent With Dedication of Archway, Amarillo, Texas
1994 The Omni Mandalay, Afterimages II, Las Colinas, Irving, Texas
1995 Dakota Galleries, Ben Woitena: Image of the Object, Houston, Texas
1998 Altered States, The Art Center of Waco, Waco, Texas
Selected Group Exhibitions
1976 Monumental Sculpture: Houston
1975 Invitational, Houston, Texas
1977 Amarillo Art Center, Young Texas Artist Series, Amarillo, Texas
1978 Archer M. Huntington Art Museum, Made in Texas, Austin, Texas
1979 Art from Houston in Norway, Stavanger Denstforening
1989 Archer M. Huntington Art Museum, A Century of Sculpture in Texas, 1889-1990, Austin, Texas
1992 Jefferson Plaza, 64 Beds, Washington, Texas
1992 Lawndale Art and Performance Center, Politics As Usual, Houston, Texas
1994 The Art Center of Waco, Dana Campbell/Paul McCoy/Ben Woitena,Waco, Texas
1995 J. Wayne Stark University Center Galleries, Texas A&M University, Healthy Communities:Artists Taking the Pulse of the People, College Station, Texas
Holmes, Ann, Fine Arts Editor, "Houston Second City for Art?," Art News, December, 1975.
Smith, Roberta, "Twelve Days of Texas," Art in America, pp.42-48 July/August, 1976.
Livesay, Tom, "Young Texas Artist Series," Artspace, Fall, 1977.
Schjedahl, Peter, "Art and Money in the City of Future-Think," Houston City Magazine, pp.46 & 56, February, 1980.
Johnson, Patricia C., "Artist Ben Woitena: The Educator as practitioner," Houston Chronicle, pp. 18-20 August 8, 1982
Staff Writer, The Talk of the Town, "Kerouac," The New Yorker, pp. 18, 19, July 18, 1988.
Chase, stacey, "Redefining Kerouac in Granite," Pearl Street Press,Vol. 1, Number 16, pp. 8-10, Denver, Colorado, August 1, 1988
Pivano, Fernanda, "Reduci Bear a Passeggio fra Le Parole de Kerouac," Rorriere Del Sera, Italy, November 20, 1988.
Johnson, Joyce, "Cashing in on Kerouac," FAME, pp. 80-91, January, 1989.
-Reese, Becky Duval, Curator, Made in Texas, Archer M. Huntington Gallery, University Art Museum, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, August, 1979.
-Gleason, Ron, Curator/Kirector, Tyler Museum of Art, Collection '81-The Road Show, March/April, 1981.
-Brauer, David, Kunst Fra Houston I Norge: Art From Houston in Norway, June 1982.
-Swanner, Lin, Curator, 1984 Show: An Exhibition of Contemporary Houston Art, March, 1984. Sween, Trudy, Curator, Midtown Art Center: The New Nude, January 5-February 8, 1985.
Reese, Becky Duval, Abilene Fourth Annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, Spring, 1985.
-Hickey, Dave, Free-lance writer/art critic, "Outdoor Sculpture Looking at Art in Public Places 'Ben Woitena-Dos Equis,'" Abilene Fifth Annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition and Retrospective, June, 1986.
Morris-Little, Carol, A Comprehensive Guide To Outdoor Sculpture In Texas, pp. 25, 29- 30, 43, 54, 117, 278-279, 302, 402, 447, Austin, Texas, University of Texas Press, 1996.
-Thirty-minute documentary awarded by National Educational Television Station (Channel 8, KUHT, Houston, Texas) entitled, Actual Yardage Gained, 1976.
-Twenty-minute film in conjunction with The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, exhibition entitled Studio, 1977.
-Sixty-minute documentary by Professor Jay McHale, Associate Professor of English, Salem State College, Salem, Massachusetts, entitled Kerouac Commemorative Dedication, 1988.
-Eleven-minute documentary by National Television Station (Channel 8, KUHT, Houston, Texas) Entitled Sculpture on the Green, 1994.