40 Prominent People | Gary BeBout

Gary BeBout
Co-Founder of Southwest Art Magazine • Stockport, OH

Gary BeBout

Distinction: Along with his partner, Bill Freckleton, BeBout founded Southwest Art magazine in Houston, TX, helping to legitimize and chronicle the western art movement.
What prompted you to start Southwest Art magazine in 1971? There was no vehicle at the time for communications between the artist and the gallery, or the gallery and the public, except the Eastern magazines Art in America and ARTnews. My co-founder Bill Freckleton came up with the idea, we chatted with local galleries such as Meredith Long & Company, and they encouraged us and helped us with advertising to get the publication off the ground.
What was the biggest challenge in publishing the magazine in the first few years? It was very expensive, and we had little or no money to get it started. Our challenge was to find the right people to help us into this endeavor, like Jeanne Parker in ad sales and our editor, Vicki Baucum. They, along with Bill and myself and our gal Friday, Coma Richardson, were the staff. We had published theatrical programs—showbills—so our printing connections were established.
What is the strangest story or funniest moment you recall from those early years? Way too many to pick out one in particular. We made publishing Southwest Art fun, and we were always there for the client; we built this publication on that reputation. Bill would get requests to jury an exhibition—well, they didn’t have money to pay him, but they could provide food and drink free, and Bill loved to eat!
How had the art world changed by the time you sold the magazine in 1983? The Southwest was in a bit of a recession, dollars were tight, and people became demanding as to the type of art they wanted. Our business had by then grown to a staff of 20 people with offices in a high-rise in Houston. We were big-time, and we were recalling the fun times that were no longer fun; it became work. We sold the magazine to a group of investors who thought they wanted to be publishers.
What have you been up to since then? I moved to Palm Springs, CA, in 1984; Bill passed away in 1994; and in 2000 I returned to my family roots and my family home in Stockport, OH. I live in the country and enjoy the pleasures of country life.
Do you have a collection yourself? I have a wonderful collection of paintings and sculpture that I have amassed over the years. Some of the major pieces I have sold. My favorites are my Norma Andraud paper castings, R.C. Gorman, Rory Wagner, my Joe Incrapera sculptures, and of course many others.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? Having created such a great publication as Southwest Art. That is our legacy. Each time I pick up a copy, I get incredible flashbacks—all pleasant, happy thoughts.

Featured in “40 Prominent People” in May 2011.