Jerry Bywaters Cochran, daughter of renowned Texas artist Jerry Bywaters ’27, has donated more than two dozen works of art, including four paintings by her father, to SMU. The late artist served on the SMU faculty for 40 years and played a major role in the Texas Regionalism art movement in the 1930s and 1940s.
“The importance of the art of teaching runs deep in our family,” Cochran says. “We believe the arts are essential to our lives and culture.”
This is the second gift from Cochran and her late husband, Calloway. In 2011, she donated 65 works of art from the couple’s personal collection that included 49 pieces by Bywaters and 16 works by other members of the Dallas Nine, a group of influential local artists of which Bywaters was a leading figure.
Together with works previously given by Cochran, the donation represents one of the largest gifts of art presented to SMU and has become part of the University Art Collection, which is overseen by the Meadows Museum.
“Jerry Bywaters is one of Texas’ most important artists, and this gift makes the Meadows Museum the largest repository of his works,” says Mark A. Roglán, Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum and Centennial Chair in Meadows School of the Arts. “We are grateful for Mrs. Cochran’s thoughtful generosity and her trust in us to preserve the art of this region.”
Additional materials expand the Jerry Bywaters Collection on Art of the Southwest housed in SMU’s Hamon Arts Library. The collection was established in 1980 when Bywaters, who taught fine arts and art history at SMU from 1936 to 1976, began giving his papers, letters, prints and other ephemera to SMU.
Bywaters was a progressive influence on artistic subject matter, accessibility and regional art in the 1930s and 1940s, according to Ellen Buie Niewyk, curator of the Bywaters Special Collections.
“He demonstrated through his own art, and advocated through his role as a teacher, museum administrator and writer, that artists could focus on local scenes and subjects to portray universal themes,” Niewyk says. “Together, the works of art and archived materials create a comprehensive view of the artist’s life and legacy and the regionalist art movement in the American Southwest.”