A century of fine art in the Big Bend: SRSU faculty and students

Courtesy of the Museum of the Big Bend / “Oxen and Carts,” an undated print by Anna E. Keener held in the Museum of the Big Bend collection, will be on display in their latest exhibition.

For over a century some of the best Texas-based artists have traveled to the Big Bend of Texas to experience its vast desert landscape and wide open skies. Artists have explored from the Rio Grande to the majestic Davis Mountains, recording their impressions on canvas and paper. The “Dean of Texas Painters,” Frank Reaugh, led art groups out to West Texas in the early twentieth century. The establishment of Sul Ross Normal in 1920 included art classes for the students working on their teaching degrees, leading to the creation of an art department led by instructors such as Mabel Vandiver, Anna E. Keener and Elizabeth Keefer.

By 1932, a summer art colony was established and was incredibly successful for the fledgling college. Through 1950, Texas regional artists, including Julius Woeltz, Xavier Gonzalez, Otis Dozier, William Lester and Harry Anthony DeYoung, taught during the summer sessions using the dramatic landscape to challenge themselves and their students.

The Sul Ross State University Art Department continued to grow with instructors such as Miriam Lowrance, Bob Hext and Jim Bob Salazar and continues the tradition of bringing fine art instruction to the students and community through the commitment of the school’s current faculty members Carol Fairlie, Avram Dumitrescu and Gregory Tegarden.

Director of the Museum of the Big Bend Mary Bones said: “For those interested in learning about a century of fine art in Texas, from the novice to the long time collector, this exhibit is a must see. Great works by both the instructors and their students, showcasing their skills and love of the Big Bend. Help us to continue bringing engaging exhibits, like this one, to the Big Bend by making a donation to the Museum of the Big Bend.”

The show runs from April 20-May 28, 2021, and the museum is open Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.