Felix "Fox" Harris and AMSET
For over twenty years, self-taught artist, Felix “Fox” continually created an
environment of totem-like sculptures in his urban yard in Beaumont, Texas. The sculptures were made of discarded objects such as old tools, machinery, toys as well as scraps of metal and plastic. Many of the sculptures were decorated with metal designs, each meticulously cut using a butter knife and ball-peen hammer.
In 1985, shortly after the artist’s death, 120 sculptures were deeded to the museum by Harris’s nephew, Elray Wolfe. The museum immediately accepted the gift, and found a need to preserve a unique part of Beaumont’s African American culture.
Upon accessioning, the sculptures were photographed, properly catalogued and placed in storage to avoid vandalism in their original location. At that time, the Beaumont Art Museum was in the process of moving from the location of a converted residence to its present location. It was determined then that the collection would be installed on the grounds of the new facility.
The initial donation of the 120 totems helped define a new area of collecting for the museum. Since 1987, the museum has built a reputation as being supportive of folk art. As a result, the museum’s contemporary folk art collection has grown to over 300 pieces (30%) through gifts from collections in and out of state. In recent years, the art of Felix Fox Harris has become more widely known as a select number of the museum’s totems have appeared in several major folk art exhibits around the country.
Art Museum of Southeast Texas