Frank X. Tolbert

About Frank X. Tolbert 2

Frank X. Tolbert 2, a prominent figure in the Texas art scene, continued the legacy established by his father, Frank X. Tolbert, a renowned journalist and the godfather of Texas chili. Born into a legendary Texas family, Frank X. Tolbert 2 nonetheless eschewed the traditional “II” or “Junior” monikers in favor of “2,” carving out a unique identity. Tolbert thrived as an artist, leaving an indelible mark on the art world while maintaining a deep connection to the Texan heritage embodied by his family.

Tolbert’s distinct narrative work earned him admiration from friends, fans, and art critics alike. Susan Chadwick, former art critic for the Houston Post, reflected on Tolbert’s innate talent, stating that his family believed he was “born with a pencil in his hand.” The artist’s most recent exhibition in North Texas took place in 2022 at William Campbell Gallery, further solidifying his status as a respected figure in the contemporary art scene.

Frank X. Tolbert 2’s work found a home in major museums across Texas and beyond, including the Dallas Museum of Art and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. His exhibitions, marked by a unique narrative style, captivated audiences, showcasing his ability to intertwine art with the rich tapestry of Texan history.

In his artistic process, Tolbert employed a mix of oil sticks, oil paints, and pencils on canvas. His technique, often referred to as tosco, meaning rough in Spanish, brought a raw and textured quality to his creations. Katherine Brimberry of Flatbed Press observed him working on prints at her press in Austin and described his technique as scumbling*, highlighting the nuanced and deliberate marks that characterized his art.

Frank X. Tolbert 2’s dedication to his craft echoed the sentiment expressed by jazz pianist Pamela York, who once remarked about her own work, “I have one foot in tradition, and one foot in the future.” This sentiment resonated with Tolbert, encapsulating his approach to art that both honored the rich traditions of Texas and pushed the boundaries of contemporary expression.

Frank X. Tolbert 2 passed away on July 13, 2023 at his home in Houston at the age of 77. In the wake of his death, friends and admirers mourned the loss of a man blessed with a legendary wit and gentlemanly manners. His ability to find humor in any situation endeared him to those who cherished his presence. Frank X. Tolbert 2’s legacy endures as a testament to his contributions to the art world and the continuation of a family tradition deeply rooted in the heart of Texas.

*Scumbling is the technique of scrubbing an undiluted, opaque, and generally pale pigment across others for special textural effects or to raise the key of a dark-colored area.