1970’s Art

The 1970s found Camblin on even higher ground – in the prosperous and art savvy Houston. Here he discovered something remarkable – how to take art’s subjective, symbolic, and decorative functions and turn them into modern mysticism.  Over the next decade, he put this philosophy to work, averaging over five exhibitions per year, from one-man and group shows, to gallery openings and museum exhibitions. In the summer of 1969 he and newly-acquainted Rice University colleague and painter Earl Staley set up studios next door to each other and set in motion a pattern of working together that yielded rich results over the next four years.

Boxscapes Show, David Gallery, Houston, TX
Boxscapes Show, David Gallery, Houston, TX
Recent Paintings Show, David Gallery, Houston, TX
Recent Paintings Show, David Gallery, Houston, TX
Paintings and Drawings Show, David Gallery, Houston, TX
Paintings and Drawings Show, David Gallery, Houston, TX

“Collaboration is a natural extension of Camblin’s artistic/human beliefs,” says Patricia C. Johnson of the Houston Chronicle, “His art tells of his physical world and his friends as much as his experiences, past or present. Camblin soon became involved with activities at the Moody Gallery and when William T. Wiley came to visit, he brought the concept of collaboration as a method of increasing opportunities for chance occurrences to open up new directions in one’s art.

Camblin and Staley's art happening
Camblin and Staley’s art happening

He and Staley began planning ‘events’: outings to the beach where groups of artists destroyed huge junk sculptures (1969, 1971, 1972); a tattoo show (1970) and document show (1971) at David Gallery; three exhibitions at the University of St. Thomas; countless collaborative drawings; and a three-story sculpture outside their studio entitled, ‘An Imaginary Scaffolding for the Renovation of the Statue of Liberty, to be Completed by the Bicentennial in 1776.’ The focus of these activities was on the process itself, and this point was central to their activity. The object was viewed as merely the by-product that engaged in artistic activity. In this regard, they resemble their Dada forefathers and the more anti-materialistic movements of the 1960s.”

The Animals, collaboration with Earl Staley, dry point etching
The Animals, collaboration with Earl Staley, dry point etching

Camblin liked the power of crude and primitive work and discovered a borderline in which it didn’t look superficial, artificial, or on the other hand, unresolved.  He felt closer to his large eight-foot drawings than ever before, but the style of drawing never allowed nuances of the content to develop, as he had always wanted.  The new drawings were so meticulous in detail that to jazz them up would destroy the whole. He seemed to be damned if he did and damned if he didn’t.

Forrest Prince, c. 1970s, watercolor on Arches
Forrest Prince, c. 1970s, watercolor on Arches

He had the feeling that heavily relying on techniques was an easy way out and questioned the efficacy of them in general.  Thinking about his students, he wondered if he should even try to teach beyond technique. He thought that through art you could find yourself and discover that every problem has built into it a value structure that leads to the optimal solution. He would say:

“Pursued correctly, a two-dimensional solution results but perhaps more philosophical attitudes have become critical to its solution.  No games, yet a serious game.  Puzzles that demand concentration.  I wrestled with teaching only what could be taught and let the few survivors discover the truth. And the harsh truth was this: that as soon as they arrive at a technique that allowed them to do the concepts that interest them, they will soon become aware that our disposable culture requires a new novelty or they stop looking.”

Bonnie, Oil on canvas
Bonnie, Oil on canvas
Springtime, c. 1970s, oil on canvas
Texas Spring Time, c. 1970s, oil on canvas
Untitled, c. 1970s, watercolor on Arches
Untitled, c. 1970s, watercolor on Arches

“Stay anonymous and you are free from those petty demands,” he would say to the perplexed faces pursuing fame and fortune first. His message was invisible to them, and many became annoyed even as they became aware of how he was trying to seduce them into freedom. He realized art students travel the same path and yet he still struggled to get through to them:

Just because you can see the path doesn’t mean it will be easy, but it helps to know how to read the signs.  The path of least resistance just makes up part of it. There is always resistance.  The simplest solution is always the best.  Reduce everything by two until there is one. A child would have seen the truth in not using two words when one would do.

Yet, he was troubled by the irony, if not the paradox, of instructing art to the best and brightest, who were, it seemed, incapable of letting go through personal expression.

The time came, in 1974, when he threw his hands up in despair, quit and walked away never to teach again. Free at last, he spoke of immersing himself completely in his vision of art:

“To know how good it is, you have to stop it and do something else. And when that becomes good, you have to do something else. Eventually you’ll find that there’s no separation and you, ‘eat when you’re hungry and sleep when you’re tired.’  And that is all there is.  The monks say that we’re always the Buddha, but we keep forgetting it most of the time. I knew that, but now I know it! I didn’t learn anything new, but I know a lot more now.”

The Elements - Fire, a series of 4 lithographs
The Elements – Fire, a series of 4 lithographs
Untitled, watercolor
Untitled, watercolor
Untitled, watercolor
Untitled, watercolor
October Moon, watercolor on Arches
October Moon, watercolor on Arches

He once remarked that teaching people how to draw is like rocks and wood teaching about being human. He felt like he was “Living in the middle and looking to the close and far.”  He spoke of:

“Becoming the battleground because at either extreme one must eventually cross the middle ground; someone must stand there and get their views from the front and rear, why not me?  One must also react because the middle is constantly shifting and cause becomes cliché, left becomes right, and the man who looks too closely splits into two.”

He felt that since drawing was so introspective it was a humble path toward awareness:

“None of the glamour of film, computer graphics, large scale works, etc., demand at first glance the skills that we are incapable of.  Style, art, aesthetics, culture, and history become childlike and then grow.  For psychiatry to succeed it must hope that it will become unnecessary.  To succeed we will have to all become artists. 

“Finding the balance was not always easy for him. He understood offsetting negative events in life and in painting with positive ones and living in the present by appreciating who he was in the moment. His five senses were stimulated constantly like most of us, but the sensuousness of the world to an artist can diminish the direction that an artist might want to follow.  His limitation is that he enjoyed sight but there are four or more senses that were left out when he drew.  He believed to find balance in life one must to use all six senses.  Since he was stuck with eyes being his best shot, he could only get glimpses of the majesty of music, much more so with words, his sense of taste was just average, and smell was a zero.  Touch is a gas, but society gets a little uptight when you get carried away feeling things.”

iSi, watercolor on Arches
iSi, watercolor on Arches
Venus, watercolor on Arches
Venus, watercolor on Arches

He believed art is more likely to be made when the individual ego is submerged.  Without the interference of the ego, he felt that artists could make themselves available to creative possibilities by remaining open to new ideas and discovering new ways of seeing things:

“Why resist it if it doesn’t exist?  If you can’t benefit, why persist? Why does the will resist so strongly the learning of its powers?  Why do we have to trick the will into seeing the track?  Yet, too much energy would be expanded if everything were pursued.  A harmony is achieved when we will ourselves to excel and we balance in other areas and begin to say, ‘I can’t’ when we really mean ‘I don’t care to.’   When a person focuses on excelling in intellectual activities, intuitive balance diminishes.  Balance is precious when evolution, change, and moving become a normal activity in the late 20th century.”

These beliefs originated with his interest in Zen Buddhism and they prompted him to eventually take the extreme step of withdrawing his signature from most of his artwork.  In the mid-70s he began signing his work “anonymous box company” or “ABC” which (for people in the know) stood for “Another Bob Camblin.”  By 1976 he shed all vestiges of “the individual you knew as Camblin” because he hated that he had become more important than the artwork itself.

The following artwork is available in the gallery:

Title    Untitled
Dimensions   30 x 22.25
Signature  "Camblin"
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original pencil and watercolor
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Caption   "Houston, Texas Halloween 1974"

Title    Untitled
Date  
1974
Dimensions  
30 x 22.25
Signature  
“Camblin”
Gallery Location  
Available for viewing
State  
Original pencil and watercolor
Rights  
© The Camblin Gallery
Caption  
“Houston, Texas Halloween 1974”

Grey Sand

Title   Grey Sand
Date   1972
Dimensions   Framed 36 x 28 in. (image 29 x 21 in.)
Signature   “Camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Caption   “Camblin Houston, Texas Aug 1972”

Cosmic, 1974

Title   Cosmic
Date   1974
Dimensions   22.75 X 27.25 in. (image 15.75 x 19.75in.)
Signature   “The Holding Firm”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   AP 4
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Caption   “to Dave & Little Egypt”

Animals, Plate 2

Title   Animals, Plate 1
Date   1971-1972
Dimensions   22 X 30 in.
Signature   “Staley Camblin”
Gallery Location   On loan to the “Art Trip Retrospective”
State   Unnumbered lithograph
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Animals, Plate 2

Title   Animals, Plate 2
Date   1971-1972
Dimensions   22 X 30 in.
Signature   “Staley Camblin”
Gallery Location   On loan to the “Art Trip Retrospective”
State   Unnumbered lithograph
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Animals, Plate 3

Title   Animals, Plate 3
Date   1971-1972
Dimensions   22 X 30 in.
Signature   “Staley Camblin”
Gallery Location   On loan to the “Art Trip Retrospective”
State   Unnumbered lithograph
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Animals, Plate 4

Title   Animals, Plate 4
Date   1971-1972
Dimensions   22 X 30 in.
Signature   “Staley Camblin”
Gallery Location   On loan to the “Art Trip Retrospective”
State   Unnumbered lithograph
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Animals, Plate 5

Title   Animals, Plate 5
Date   1971-1972
Dimensions   22 X 30 in.
Signature   “Staley Camblin”
Gallery Location   On loan to the “Art Trip Retrospective”
State   Unnumbered lithograph
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Fire, 1974

Title   Fire
Date   1974
Dimensions   22 X 30 in.
Signature   “Camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Trial Proof
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Caption   “trial proof”

Water, 1974

Title   Water
Date   1974
Dimensions   22 X 30 in.
Signature   “Camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   BAT
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Caption   “bon à tirer”

High Tide, 1975

Title   High Tide
Date   1975
Dimensions   6.5 x 21 in.
Signature   “Camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Glass Bird Cage, 1977

Title   Glass Bird Cage
Date   1977
Dimensions   35.5 x 23.5 in.
Signature  “Camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   BAT; printer’s chop
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Caption   glass bird cage 1997 camblin thanks

Daves Backyard et al, 1977

Title   Daves Backyard et al
Date   1977
Dimensions   24.5 x 24 in.
Signature   “Camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   BAT
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Caption   “bon a tirer”

Objectrouve, 14.5" x 11.5", 1979, watercolor

Title   Objectrouve
Date   
1979
Dimensions   
14.5 x 11.5 in.
Signature  
“Anonymous” in pen (reverse)
Gallery Location  
Available for viewing
State  
Original
Rights  
© The Camblin Gallery
Caption  
“4 DAVE OBJECTROUVE 1979 anonymous”

Title   A Yankee Doodle Pass It On

Title   A Yankee Doodle Pass It On
Date
   1976
Dimensions   115 x 15.5 in.
Signature   “ABC”  “Robin Goodfellow”  “Anonymous”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Caption   Camblin Monologue

Title   Proposal For The Future

Title   Proposal For The Future
Date
   
1974
Dimensions  
22 x 19 in.
Signature  
“bob camblin”
Gallery Location  
Available for viewing
State  
Original
Rights  
© The Camblin Gallery
Caption  
Camblin Monologue

dandelion in dave's backyard

Title   dandelion in dave’s backyard
Date
   1978
Dimensions   24 x 24 in.
Signature   unsigned
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State  Lithograph
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Take a Shot
Date  1974
Dimensions   30 X 22 in.
Signature   Signed “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original watercolor, pen and ink, colored pencil
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Take a Shot
Date  1974
Dimensions   30 X 22 in.
Signature   Signed “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original watercolor, pen and ink, colored pencil
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Caption   Camblin Monologue

Title   Fire
Date   1974
Dimensions   30 x 22 in.
Signature   Signed "camblin"
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State  Stone lithograph, chop, trial proof

Title   Fire
Date  
1974
Dimensions   
30 x 22 in.
Signature   
Signed “camblin”
Gallery Location  
Available for viewing
State  
Stone lithograph, chop, trial proof, framed

Title  X Little Egypt Enters1976 
Dimensions   27.5 x 19.75 in. (image 19.5 x 12.5)
Signature   “ABC”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original dry point etching, 1 of 8
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Caption   “1976 Venezia 1/8”

Title  X Little Egypt Enters
Date  1976
Dimensions   27.5 x 19.75 in. (image 19.5 x 12.5)
Signature   “ABC”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original dry point etching, 1 of 8
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Caption   “1976 Venezia 1/8”

Title   Sapvinaw Deadfall
Date   c. late 1960s - early 1970s
Dimensions   40 x 30 in.
Signature   Signed “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State  Original watercolor, pen and ink

Title   Sapvinaw Deadfall
Date   c. late 1960s – early 1970s
Dimensions   40 x 30 in.
Signature   Signed “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State  Original watercolor, pen and ink

Title   Family Portrait
Date   1970
Dimensions   22 x 30 in.
Signature   “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Family Portrait
Date   
1970
Dimensions   
22 x 30 in.
Signature  
“camblin”
Gallery Location  
Available for viewing
State  
Original
Rights  
© The Camblin Gallery

Title   Figure Four Trap Deadfall
Date   c. 1970s
Dimensions   30 x 22.5 in.
Signature   “BC”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Figure Four Trap Deadfall
Date   c. 1970s
Dimensions   30 x 22.5 in.
Signature   “BC”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   In Our Own Sweet Time
Date   c. 1970s
Dimensions   30 x 22 in.
Signature   “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Comments   “ygwyd”

Title   In Our Own Sweet Time
Date   c. 1970s
Dimensions   30 x 22 in.
Signature   “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Comments   “ygwyd”

Title   Last One Of These Maps
Date    c. 1970s
Dimensions   29 x 23 in.
Signature   “BC”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Last One Of These Maps
Date    c. 1970s
Dimensions   29 x 23 in.
Signature   “BC”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Spavinaw Series 2
Date   c. late 1960’s – early 1970’s
Dimensions   30 x 22 in.
Signature   “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Spavinaw Series 2
Date   c. late 1960’s – early 1970’s
Dimensions   30 x 22 in.
Signature   “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Double Threat
Date  c. late 1960s – early 1970s
Dimensions   22 x 30 in.
Signature   “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Double Threat
Date  c. late 1960s – early 1970s
Dimensions   22 x 30 in.
Signature   “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Spavinaw Series 1
Date  c. late 1960s – early 1970s
Dimensions   22 x 30 in.
Signature   “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Spavinaw Series 1
Date  c. late 1960s – early 1970s
Dimensions   22 x 30 in.
Signature   “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Still Life
Date   1970’s
Dimensions   23 x 29 in.
Signature   “unsigned”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Still Life
Date   1970’s
Dimensions   23 x 29 in.
Signature   “unsigned”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Mind Games
Date   c. 1970’s
Dimensions   23 x 29 in.
Signature   “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Mind Games
Date   
c. 1970’s
Dimensions   
23 x 29 in.
Signature  
“camblin”
Gallery Location  
Available for viewing
State  
Original
Rights  
© The Camblin Gallery

Title   August First 1928
Date   c. 1970’s
Dimensions   23 x 29 in.
Signature   “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   August First 1928
Date   c. 1970’s
Dimensions   23 x 29 in.
Signature   “camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery

Title   Up and Down Lay Z River
 Date   1976
Dimensions    29 X 23 in.
Signature   "ABC" "Bob Bilyeu Camblin"
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Caption   “with love from the anonymous box co"

Title   Up and Down Lay Z River
Date
  1976
Dimensions    29 X 23 in.
Signature   “ABC” “Bob Bilyeu Camblin”
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Original
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Caption   “with love from the anonymous box co”

Title   Hilbert Spaces
Dimensions    24 X 20 in.
Signature   camblin
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Lithograph
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Caption   "trial proof" "Christmas 1974"

Title   Hilbert Spaces
Date   1974
Dimensions    24 X 20 in.
Signature   camblin
Gallery Location   Available for viewing
State   Lithograph
Rights   © The Camblin Gallery
Caption   “trial proof” “Christmas 1974”

Title  

Artwork by Bob Camblin (American 1928-2010)