The Bull Ring, and its art which is popularly called “The Hock Shop” collection, belong to A. C. “Ace” Cook, who began his art collecting career over a decade ago. Cook is the proprietor of the Bull Ring. He is an accomplished story-teller, a former airline pilot, and a raconteur who operated a pawnshop for many years, hence the name of the collection. The entire collection, most of which has been discriminatingly selected by Cook from careful purchases and not from having been pawned, consists of over 400 pieces, of which about 75 are on display at any given time in the Bull Ring.
Cook clearly prefers Texas art from the early to the mid twentieth century, with works by a wide array of important regional artists. Kathleen Blackshear, Douglas Chandor, Fred Darge, Dawson Dawson-Watson, William Lester, Blanch McVeigh, E. M. “Buck” Schiwetz, Coreen Mary Spellman, Olin Travis, and Julius Woeltz are among the many important Texas and Southwestern regional artists represented in the collection.
From time to time, parts of the collection have been exhibited at various special shows in museums across the state. The art museums in Tyler and San Angelo sponsored special exhibitions from Cook’s collection. Most recently, the University of North Texas at Denton sponsored a 2009 show entitled “The Hock Shop Collection: Reflections from the Heart and Soul.”