UTA Magazine
And the rest is ... art history
Camouflage painting courses helped art program survive struggles

Art Exhibit Invite More than 65 years ago, North Texas Agricultural College (now UTA) Dean E.E. Davis had a grand idea. He wanted to create an art department at NTAC before The University of Texas had one.

His plan was simple: hire an experienced artist and educator who would give the program instant credibility. The year was 1937, and the man Davis lured to Arlington to carry out his agenda was Howard Joyner.

Joyner had studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in France and at the University of California, Harvard College and the University of Iowa. He taught at several universities, including Michigan State and Stephens College (Mo.), and was head of the art department at the University of South Dakota before coming to NTAC.

"If it wasn't for Howard, who knows when the art department would have gotten started here?" said Jack Plummer, an art professor at UTA since 1970. "He was a tremendous networker and was able to get funding needed so that the department could grow."

In those early years, Joyner's wife, Arista, also taught art at NTAC, but she soon resigned so they could start a family.

One of Joyner's early hires was a young sculptor from the Kansas City Art Institute named Delmar Pachl. Pachl was granted a leave in 1943 to enter the Army and was killed in 1944 during the invasion of Leyte. A residence hall was named in his honor in 1948.

World War II decimated class enrollments in the art program. But Joyner had a novel idea that would not only boost the war effort but increase campus participation.

Items that Howard Joyner donated to UTA's Special Collections Division included a program from a 1938 art exhibit and a photograph of him teaching a painting class, circa 1940.
He sought and received classified material from the War Department and started teaching camouflage painting to the Marines and Navy young men of the V-12 Unit, which was established at the college.

"This camouflage painting was very important to the War Department, and it brought more and more students into the art classes," Plummer said.

The move is widely credited with saving the department.

After the war, the department added faculty and continued to grow as the school's name changed to Arlington State College in 1949. In 1961, two years after ASC became a four-year university, the department relocated to a separate building from music and drama and began to flourish.

By fall 1969, one of Joyner's longtime dreams became reality when the University instituted a bachelor of fine arts degree. Joyner retired that year and was honored with the title of professor emeritus.

He died in 1996 at age 95, but his legacy lives on. Housed in the UTA Special Collections Division of the Central Library are photographs, paintings, posters and other items donated by the Joyners.

Today, UTA's Department of Art and Art History offers studies in more than 15 areas, including sculpture, screenwriting, painting, metals and glass. All can be traced to Dean Davis' plan and the dedicated efforts of Howard Joyner.

And Davis' timing was pretty good, too. The big university in Austin established an art department in 1938--one year after the little school in Arlington.

— Jim Patterson

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Camouflage painting courses helped art program survive struggles

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