Obituary of Linda Blackburn
Linda Blackburn, recognized and beloved Texas artist, died of natural causes at her home in Fort Worth, Texas, on January 1, 2022.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Blackburn received a BFA in painting from the University of Texas at Austin in 1962, and an MA in painting from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1965. In Berkeley she married the artist Ed Blackburn (b. Amarillo, Texas, 1940). The couple received their Masters degrees within a year of one another and shortly thereafter moved to Fort Worth, where both held various positions at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (then the Fort Worth Art Center).
At the Museum, Linda served in curatorial positions, taught studio classes in painting and printmaking, and also served as co-acting director with the artist Jim Malone. Her tenure there included working with the notable directors Henry Hopkins and Richard Koshalek and curatorial work on the notable 1975 exhibition The Great American Rodeo. Years later she would return to the Museum to teach further classes and also to give public talks and presentations as an artist. The Museum also holds two of her monoprints in its permanent collection.
Throughout her nearly six-decade career, Blackburn received numerous important awards including two National Endowment for the Arts awards (1988 and 1990). Significant commissions include two works at DFW airport, a stained-glass window Dove Flies to the Mountain, 2005, permanently installed in the non-denominational chapel, and a terrazzo floor medallion, Louise, 2005 (a collaboration with Ed Blackburn).
Blackburn worked in a variety of media during her career including painting, drawing, watercolor, sculpture, ceramics, as well as film and video. While she was a strong independent artist and metaphysical thinker, she also frequently collaborated with her husband Ed Blackburn. Together, the two artists produced a series of paintings in the 1990s broadly known as The Adventures of Eddie Leon under the pseudonym Ray Madison, and in 2007, they produced a feature-length film, The Lonesome Utrillo (in collaboration with the artist Brian Fridge).
In recent years Blackburn produced a comprehensive body of work based on vintage Western film imagery which was exhibited in solo exhibitions at The Volland Store, Alma, Kansas, Linda Blackburn: Law of the Saddle (2019) and the Old Jail Art Center, Linda Blackburn: Borrowed Trouble (2021). Her artistic estate is represented by ArtspaceIII, Fort Worth, Texas.
In a recent (2017) interview with Ed Blackburn and Dr. Mark Thistlethwaite, held at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, she was asked about her painting process and stated that in recent years she has eschewed formal models in favor of a more spontaneous process: “…As time goes by, I’m attracted to simple things, basic narratives, I really want the soul sense coming forward.” She also wanted art to be a connective element in our lives and strived for what she called “classical balance” meaning everything is where it needs to be compositionally – nothing can be changed – and “the whole can be seen at once.” She strongly subscribed to Einstein’s theory that everything in the Universe is connected.
Blackburn’s artwork has been exhibited nationwide and is in public collections of note including the Amarillo Art Center Museum; American Airlines; the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina; the New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut; Southwest Craft Center, San Antonio; Longview Museum of Art, Longview, Texas; The Old Jail Art Center, Albany, Texas; the Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler, Texas; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and many others.
She is survived by her husband, Ed Blackburn, daughter Rachael Blackburn Cozad, and son-in-law Kanon Cozad, both of Kansas City, Missouri.