TASA HEROES / BOB HEXT: 1948 - 2007

NOTE from Linda Fawcett, TASA Past President:

Former TASA Board member and Sul Ross State University art professor Robert Charles "Bob" Hext, 58, passed away on February 11, 2007 of an apparent heart attack.

Hext, a native of Canadian, had taught at Sul Ross since 1974. He joined the faculty as an instructor and was subsequently promoted to assistant professor, associate professor and to his present rank. He was named chair of the Art Department in 1989. "Bob Hext's presence extended far beyond the campus," said Sul Ross President R. Vic Morgan. "He was a talented artist and extremely committed teacher. He will be sorely missed as a colleague and friend."

Hext, who was named to "Who's Who Among America's Teachers" several times, took art education far outside the classroom. For a number of years, he led art tours in Europe, and also taught classes about rock art in West Texas , taking his students to the sites. He studied Paleolithic cave art in northern Spain , was regarded as an international expert in the field, and was active both in preserving regional rock art and teaching students to create their own works.

Miriam Lawrence, past chairman of the art department at Sul Ross State University , got Hext interested in rock art back in the 1970s. Bob Hext enjoyed exploring rock structures with pictographs with an eye toward preserving them. Hext's biggest collaborator was Bob Mallouf, director of the Center for Big Bend Studies. They met at a Texas Archaeological Society meeting and combined interests - Mallouf's is in archaeology and Hext's in rock art.

Hext said, "I'm always totally overwhelmed by the ability of an Indian to stop and produce this rock art under the conditions he was living in." "It still takes my breath away to walk in there and see what those guys did," he said, adding that he admires the artists' willingness to put their work up on the wall. "You wish you could be that uninfluenced," he said. Hext shared his love of rock art with Sul Ross students and others over the years. Hext told students that the places rock art is found are like churches, so they should show respect. He also helped students realize they could preserve and document rock art for a living.

When Bob wasn't studying rock art, he made his own in the form of sculpture. Hext, an accomplished sculptor with wood as his primary medium, his works were exhibited in numerous shows. His metal "cowboy" sculptures are also visible in Alpine along Hwy. 67/90 near Sul Ross and in front of the Alpine Chamber of Commerce. Hext sculpted wood since 1970. "I was going to college in East Texas , and I couldn't afford paints," he said. Many varieties of wood were handy. "It was wonderful, so I just latched on to that and didn't let go," he said. "The thing about sculpture is that you're virtually unlimited in what you can do. Your only limit is your imagination."

Hext also worked with evaporative casting with aluminum ingots. He took bubble wrap, for example, poured the hot aluminum on it and the bubble wrap evaporates. For shaping, he used a cup as a mold. Hext said, "I've gotten sort of split between my art and my design, so lately I've been doing more design work with metal signs." "I'm trying to give people a little art and function at the same time." He also did glass fusing, which is taking a glass tile, for example, and fusing different colors of glass to it by putting it in an oven.

He was born May 26, 1948, in Canadian and graduated from Canadian High School in 1966. He attended Stephen F. Austin University in Huntsville , receiving a B.S. degree in 1970, an M.A. in 1971 and an M.F.A. in 1975. He taught at Nacogdoches High School from 1972-74 before coming to Sul Ross.

He is survived by his wife, Kristi, of Alpine; daughters, Ashley (Will) Baker of Alpine; and Andrea (Mike) Rudolph of Colorado; granddaughter, Berkley Baker, and grandson, Fisher Baker, both of Alpine; a brother, Phil Love, Michigan; nieces, Brooke Busbee, Arizona, Kassie Fuller, Alpine, and Heather Barron, Argyle; nephews, Clay (Courtney) Busbee, Dallas, Lance Posey, Austin, James Fuller, Arizona, Will (Brandy) Fuller, Midland, and E.O. Barron, Austin; seven great-nieces and nephews; many friends; and thousands of students. He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles "Hub" and Bessie Mae Hext; his sister, Dora Mae Busbee; and a nephew, Zack Busbee.


Professor works toward preserving ancient rock art - By Ruth Campbell, Odessa American

Memorial services today (Feb. 15) for Sul Ross Art Professor Bob Hext - the Sul Roll Styline Online, Feb. 15, 2007.