06/02/2020 - 08/16/2020

O'Connor Gallery

The Art Museum of South Texas opened its doors in October of 1972 on this site with the Philip Johnson building. At that time, the museum was not planning to be a collecting institution. The art shown was to be primarily from rotating exhibitions that were organized or loaned from other institutions, galleries, collections, and artists. Yet, there were some early gifts to the museum that still are included today.

One such work is the Jerry Bywaters watercolor, Autumn Fields, 1945 gifted to the museum by Central Power and Light. The Texas-based artist rose to become the director of the Dallas Museum of Art from 1943-1964. He believed that museums should be responsible for inspiring and cultivating art within the community. He was the figurehead of the Dallas Nine, a group of artists from the Dallas area who emerged in the 1930s. They focused on individual artistic styles while working with others to portray the ‘American Scene”, by depicting qualities unique of the Texas landscape. Other artists included in the Dallas Nine and who are included in the permanent collection, are William Lester, Otis Dozier, and Alexandre Hogue.

The impactful image of the small family presented in Luis Jimenez’s Border Crossing, 1987, is a totem-like image. The lithograph depicts a man carrying a woman who carries a small child in her arms. Ultimately Jimenez created a fiberglass sculpture which he dedicated to the memory of his grandfather who crossed the Mexico/U.S. border with Jimenez’s grandmother almost a century ago. The artist’s work tells stories reminding us that our history has many points of view, with many tales and ways to tell them.

These artists depict stories through images representing the time in which they are made and together add to the body of art within the museum collection.  Over time these works will tell many stories and depict the growth and the shared experience of living during these times. We can see the development of culture through the art expressed now and through human history. In this example, these Texas-based artists reflect the development of the art made here about the lives of artists and the state of Texas.