State Artists for 2015 & 2016

The Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) is pleased to announce the Texas State Legislature’s 2015 and 2016 appointments to the positions of state poet laureate, state musician, state two-dimensional artist and state three-dimensional artist.


Jimmie Vaughan

Dallas native Jimmie Vaughan is one of the most respected and critically acclaimed guitarists in the world of contemporary music. His groundbreaking band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, introduced the Texas blues to the MTV generation and a universal audience. Jimmie Vaughan is a four-time GRAMMY winner. The critically acclaimed Family Style, which he recorded with his younger brother Stevie Ray Vaughan, sold over one million copies worldwide. Jimmie has performed and recorded with legends such as Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Albert King, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Carlos Santana, Don Henley, and his younger brother Stevie Ray Vaughan. Throughout his career, Jimmie has carried on the Texas blues tradition of T Bone Walker, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Lightning Hopkins, while creating his own unique sound and style. Jimmie Vaughan is proud and honored to be a Texas musician.


Carmen Tafolla
photograph Magdalena Yznaga

Beloved for her moving performances and poetry readings, Dr. Carmen Tafolla is a poet, storyteller, performance artist, motivational speaker, and Associate Professor at UT San Antonio. The author of more than 20 books, she is one of the most widely anthologized of Latina writers. Her work appears internationally in five languages in high school and university textbooks, newspapers and magazines, and elementary school readers. Chosen in 2012 as the first Poet Laureate of the City of San Antonio, she presented at more than 300 schools, universities, professional conferences, and community arts centers in her two-year tenure. Called by Roots author Alex Haley a “world-class writer,” she has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Americas Award, presented to her at the Library of Congress in 2010; five International Latino Book Awards; two Tomas Rivera Book Awards; two ALA Notable Books; a Charlotte Zolotow Award; the Art of Peace Award; and Top Ten Books for Babies. Dr. Tafolla has been recognized by the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies for work which “gives voice to the peoples and cultures of this land.”


Vincent Valdez

Vincent Valdez grew up in San Antonio and demonstrated talent for drawing at an early age. He received a full scholarship to the Rhode Island School of Design, where he earned his B.F.A. in 2000. In 2004 at age 26, Valdez was the youngest artist to have a solo exhibition at the McNay Museum in San Antonio when Stations, his suite of monumental charcoal drawings, was shown. Other exhibition venues include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Snite Museum of Art, Parsons Paris, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, OSDE Buenos Aires, and the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University. A recipient of residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and the Kunstlerhaus Bethania in Berlin, Valdez currently serves as Chair of the Drawing and Painting Department at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio.


Margo Sawyer

Margo Sawyer’s sculpture investigates the relationship between color, space and transcendence. Art and architecture converge in her works to transform mundane structures into euphoric icons, marrying exquisite materials in unexpected ways to form large public spaces that become intimate refuges. Her recent body of work, Synchronicity of Color, includes the lauded work that is a focal point at Houston’s Discovery Green. Margo Sawyer holds a B.A. Honors Degree from the Chelsea School of Art in London and an M.F.A. in sculpture from Yale University. Sawyer has been the recipient of numerous awards including a National Endowment for the Arts Artist Fellowship, two Fulbright Research Awards, the Japan Foundation Fellowship for Artists, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award. She has been a fellow of the American Academy in Rome and an ArtPace resident artist in San Antonio. Her sculpture is in the public art collections of the Cities of New York City, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston, and at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis, Indiana. Sawyer is a Professor of Sculpture and Extended Media in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Texas at Austin.


Joe Ely

A true pioneer of the Americana sound, Joe Ely’s boundary-blurring blend of rock, country, blues and folk might most accurately be described as “Texas Roadhouse.” His musical roots were established as a boy growing up on the vast and empty plains of West Texas. Ely’s legend was forged onstage, with relentlessly riveting live performances, hammered out over thousands of shows and countless touring miles from Lubbock to London and back again the long way around. Ely is embraced as a kindred spirit by artists as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt and the Clash. Over his four-decade career, he’s been at the forefront of Outlaw Country, Alt-Country, and Texas Country and has been recognized as one of the best songwriters of his generation. Ely has garnered well-deserved accolades including a GRAMMY Award, a CMA Award, and the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance. In addition to his groundbreaking work as a solo artist, he is also widely known for his musical partnership with country’s first super group, The Flatlanders, with fellow Texas troubadours Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock.


Laurie Ann Guerrero

Born and raised in the Southside of San Antonio, Laurie Ann Guerrero holds a B.A. in English Language & Literature from Smith College, where she received the Academy of American Poets Prize, and an MFA in poetry from Drew University. Her first full-length collection, A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying, received the 2012 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize and an International Latino Book Award, and was listed as one of 14 must-read works of Chicano literature by Rigoberto Gonzalez. Guerrero’s work has also been honored with the Panhandler Chapbook Award, and grants from the Artist Foundation of San Antonio and the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation. In 2014, Guerrero and was appointed poet laureate of San Antonio by Mayor Julian Castro. Her latest collection, A Crown for Gumecindo, will be released by Aztlan Libre Press in spring 2015.


Dornith Doherty

Photographer Dornith Doherty’s work explores the complex relationship between the natural environment and human agency through photographic projects focusing on landscape stewardship and genetic resource preservation. A 2012 Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, Doherty was born in Houston and received a B.A. cum laude from Rice University and an MFA in Photography from Yale University before becoming the Distinguished Research Professor of Art at the University of North Texas. In addition to the Guggenheim Fellowship, she has also received grants from the Fulbright Foundation, the Japan Foundation, the Society for Contemporary Photography, the Indiana Arts Commission, and the United States Department of the Interior. Her work has been exhibited and collected extensively, both nationally and internationally.


Dario Robleto

Dario Robleto was born in 1972 in San Antonio, where he received his BFA from the University of Texas at San Antonio. His sculptures, prints and installations combine esoteric materials and processes to explore forgotten corners of history, art and science. Robleto has had over 30 solo exhibitions since 1997 and has had works included in many prestigious group shows and collections. His work has been seen most recently in solo exhibitions at the Menil Collection, Houston and the Baltimore Museum of Art. He has received numerous awards, including the 2007 Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, the 2009 USA Rasmuson Fellowship, and the 2011 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. He is currently an Artist Research Fellow at Rice University in Houston, where he lives and works.