Ben Jorj Harris

(1904-1957) “Ben Jorj Harris” is actually the nom de brosse of the combined talents of Benjamin R. Harris and his wife, Georgette, who joined forces to freelance after both had worked for various design firms. The birth/death years are his. He is erroneously listed as African-American in many online bios.

Ben Harris is born and raised in Albany, Georgia, a relative of Joel Chandler Harris, author of the popular Uncle Remus stories. Little survives of his timeline prior to arrival in New York, but all accounts make him something of a renaissance man. He is a licensed pilot, architect, artist, photographer, engraver and gifted raconteur.Image Ben Harris and wife Georgette Courtesy of Don MacNeil

Georgette graduated from Skidmore College and dives into newspaper work, both as a writer and cartoonist. She next appears as a teacher of airbrush art at the College of New Rochelle before being named Art Director of Warner Bros. music publishing division.

Together they produce sheet music cover art, covers for national magazines and ad layouts for clients like Pabst beer, Hiram Walker, Standard Brands, Dr. Pepper and A&P supermarkets.

But their highest profile work is that done for Newman Décor, a high-end national furniture distributor that boasts original artworks guaranteed to match their fabrics.

They publish a how-to instruction book, “Airbrush Illustration” in 1947.

Their style remains unwaveringly Art Deco, a design look that surfaces internationally in the mid-1920s and thrives into the 1950s.

bio submitted by Nat Humphreys

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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