Port Arthur artist’s envelope art on public display at AMSET

Published 4:31 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2016




WHAT: MAX BEAN: You’ve Got Mail/Art

WHEN: Through March 31

WHERE: Art Museum of Southeast Texas, 500 Main St., Beaumont

COST: FREE, donations accepted.


While serving in the U.S. Navy, Tina Touche especially looked forward to letters from her father.

As much as his words comforted her and brought news from home, it was the envelope that provided the most interest.

There, alongside the address lines, Max Bean had decorated each envelope intricate drawings done during a time when Ronald Reagan served in the Whitehouse and the Wall of Berlin had not yet come down.

From action figures of the day such as Conan the Barbarian, to whimsical drawings of cats, beautiful flora and fauna, fashions of the day, sailboats and even some religious themed, Touche never knew what fantastical imagery would greet her on the outside of the envelope.

“I think this is was his way of saying ‘I love you,’” she said.

Though her father, a self-taught artist with no professional training, died 30 years ago, his artistry lives on.

Bean’s envelope art is currently displayed in a special Café Arts exhibit in Beaumont’s Art Museum of Southeast Texas. The display is entitled MAX BEAN” You’ve Got Mail/Art.

“This certainly fits in line with what we focus on in the Café Arts exhibits. It falls in folk art, or vernacular art. I like the raw energy you see, and it is very fresh because he had never been professionally taught,” Sarah Beth Wilson, the museum’s curator of exhibitions and collections, said.

The Café Arts exhibit area is devoted to Southeast Texas artists, living or deceased, whose talent is vital to the history of the region.

Bean worked at a refinery in Nederland and was a body builder during at time when taking care of one’s physique was not as popular as it is today. He was also a military and history buff and loved to take his daughter shopping when she was young.

“My parents were divorced and my Dad did not have custody of me, so every other weekend, he’d take me shopping at the downtown Foley’s in Houston,” Touche said.

In recognition of his daughter’s love for fashion, many of his envelope arts depicted fashions of the day.

Bean’s art may not have been shared with the public if his daughter had not gathered her courage and called the museum.

“All my life I wanted to find something to do with them,” Touche said. “So, I got a wild hair and called the Museum and said, ‘I’ve got something you need to look at.’”

Right away, the museum curators were interested, and planned an exhibit so others could share her father’s creative vision and spirit.

For Touche, seeing her father’s drawings fills her with pride while reminding her of days on gone by.

“The fluffy, girl stuff he drew was geared toward me, and the boy stuff, well that was for my husbands,” she said.

Both husbands, one a bull rider and the other a racquetball player, are depicted on her father’s envelope art.

Since the exhibit first opened a month ago, Bean’s envelope art has been popular among museum patrons, Wilson said.

To dovetail with the interest in the exhibit, the Museum is hosting a mail art workshop the first Saturday of the month from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m.

“A lot of our patrons have wondered how he did it with no training. People have been very receptive to it because it is something different, not a sculpture or painting,” John Rollins, Museum Public Relations coordinator, said.

Bean’s works can be seen through March 31.

Art Museum of Southeast Texas hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 5 p.m.

Admission is free.

For more information call the Museum at 409-832-3432 or visit the Website www.amset.org/


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