American art and a Texas connection at the Meadows Museum

Section of 'Where the Mountains Meet the Plains' by Jerry Bywaters

Three important new Meadows Museum exhibitions, all opening Nov. 30, 2007, will explore the evolution of American art and offer rare insights into a Texas titan.

'Eight Bells' by Winslow HomerComing of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s” running through Feb. 24, 2008, explores the fertile period during which artists as diverse as Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Alexander Calder and Georgia O’Keeffe rose to international prominence.

“Jerry Bywaters, Interpreter of the Southwest” and “Lone Star Printmaker” run through Mar. 2 and promise a fully rounded look into the life and work of the Dallas artist who reshaped the Texas art world and brought national recognition for Texas artists.

(Top, a section of Jerry Bywaters’ Where the Mountains Meet the Plains, 1939; right, Winslow Homer’s Eight Bells, 1886. )

“Coming of Age” in America

'Manhattan Bridge Loop' by Edward Hopper

From the 1850s to the 1950s, American art and culture evolved from the provincial to the international. “Coming of Age” traces the development of American art during this period and features more than 70 masterpieces of painting and sculpture by the country’s most prominent artists – Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Alexander Calder, Jackson Pollock, Frederic Remington, John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer and James Whistler, among many others.

Works are drawn from the collection of The Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts; the Meadows Museum exhibit marks the first time such a large number of the Addison Gallery’s greatest treasures have ever traveled as a group.

Focusing on the key artistic movements during this period, “Coming of Age” is curated by William Agee, professor of art history at Hunter College, New York, and Susan Faxon, associate director and curator of the Addison Gallery. (Above, a section of Edward Hopper’s Manhattan Bridge Loop, 1928.)

A Lone Star focus

'Dallas County Courthouse' by Jerry BywatersMeanwhile, two Meadows Museum exhibits of prints and paintings by artist Jerry Bywaters are designed to reflect a three-dimensional portrait of the influential Texas artist, right down to his favorite houndstooth fedora.

Forty-two of Bywaters’ paintings in oil, watercolor and pastel will be exhibited together in “Jerry Bywaters, Interpreter of the Southwest.” Most are on loan from the family and private collectors. The artist’s 34 lithograph and five linoleum block prints will be exhibited together for the first time in “Lone Star Printmaker,” along with loose-leaf pages from the notebook he used to record the business and artistic details of his printmaking work.

“We want the exhibit to create a sense of the man in the round,” says Sam Ratcliffe, head of the Jerry Bywaters Special Collections Wing at Hamon Arts Library, and, with Ellen Buie Niewyk, guest curator of the exhibit.

Ratcliffe and Niewyk, who is curator of the Bywaters, are uniquely suited to serve as curators of the exhibit – both knew Jerry Bywaters well and regularly work with the papers, art and ephemera he gave to the library. Both also are authors of new books about Bywaters’ work. Bywaters served for 35 years as a member of the fine arts faculty at SMU and was director of the Dallas Museum of Art from 1943 to 1964. He also was the leader of the Dallas Nine, a group of artists devoted to Texas Regionalism.

Read more about the Bywaters exhibitions in the upcoming issue of SMU’s libraries newsletter, Annotations. (Above, a section of Jerry Bywaters’ Dallas County Courthouse, 1936.)