Nov. 29, 2007

New exhibits at the Meadows Museum feature
American art and a Texas connection

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

"Coming 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 March 2, 2008, 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.

See a gallery of some of the paintings that are on exhibit. Also hear an interview with co-curators Dr. Sam Ratcliffe and Ellen Buie Niewyk by Laurel Ornish of, along with remarks by Dr. Mark Roglán.

The Jerry Bywaters Exhibits

Jerry Bywaters, Antonio (The Carpenter), 1938; oil on canvas. Estate of Jerry Bywaters. Photo by Michael Bodycomb

From oil field girls to the big skies and terrain of Texas, works by artist Bywaters (1906-1989) captured the eye of the nation and the spirit of the Southwest. He played a major role in establishing the Texas Regionalism movement of the 1930s and 1940s, whose proponents depicted the many aspects of the natural world as well as rural, small town, and urban life, conveying the beauty and diversity of the Lone Star State to the rest of America.

“Interpreter of the Southwest” showcases 42 paintings and pastels, from stunning landscapes and murals to intimate genre scenes and portraits, which illustrate the artist’s lifelong interest in the land and culture of the American Southwest.

“Lone Star Printmaker” is the first definitive examination of Bywaters’ 13-year printmaking career. All 39 of his prints will be shown together for the first time – a grouping Bywaters himself never experienced – tracing the history of his important role in the development of Texas printmaking.

"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 current issue of SMU libraries newsletter, Annotations.

Coming of Age: American Art

"Coming of Age" includes approximately 70 iconic paintings and sculptures that reveal the complex and often contradictory impulses faced by artists seeking to define a new art form – an “American” art – identifiably their own.

Organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Addison Gallery of American Art, works in the "Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s" exhibit are drawn from one of the greatest collections of American art in the world, that of the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, which celebrated its 75th anniversary last year.

Winslow Homer (1836-1910), Eight Bells, 1886; oil on canvas, 25 3/16 x 30 3/16 in.

Beginning with masterworks of the Hudson River School and continuing to the mid-20th century abstract works of Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock, "Coming of Age" chronicles the complex process of maturation in a period marked by the rise of modernity and a dramatic change in the physical and social landscape.

In works by Albert Bierstadt, Asher Durand and Frederic Church, "Coming of Age" considers the influence of the American landscape on mid-century artists as they began to establish an idiom reflecting their uniquely American experiences and values. By the late 19th century, artists such as Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, and Eastman Johnson would portray the power and growth of America through native subjects while American expatriate painters John Singer Sargent and James McNeil Whistler created European-inspired paintings of European scenes. The generation of Ashcan school artists, including Robert Henri, George Luks, and John Sloan, concentrated on the American city which they portrayed through a painterly style based on European models.

The Armory Show of 1913 in New York exhibited the latest innovations in European and American modernism, opening Americans’ eyes to the expressive power of abstraction. Artists such as Arthur Dove and Georgia O’Keeffe relied on organic forms, shapes, and lines, creating a new visual language of abstraction based on color, space, and texture. In the 1940s, Abstract Expressionist painters like Jackson Pollock, Hans Hofmann, and Franz Kline shifted the art world’s focus from Paris to New York and American art became the avant-garde. "Coming of Age" concludes with works by such 20th-century leaders as John McLaughlin, Ad Reinhardt and Frank Stella, who developed radical ways to interpret color, shape and line, assuring that American art moved to the vanguard in international art movements.

John Singer Sargent Val d'Aosta: A Man Fishing, ca. 1906; oil on canvas 22 1/4 x 28 1/4 in.

"Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s" is organized by the American Federation of Arts, New York, and the Addison Gallery of American Art, and is accompanied by a full color catalogue published by Yale University Press. The exhibition is made possible, in part, by The Crosby Kemper Foundation and by Frank B. Bennett and William D. Cohan, with additional support from the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation Fund for Collection-based Exhibitions at the American Federation of the Arts. The Meadows Foundation has made it possible to bring the exhibition to the Meadows Museum.

About the Meadows Museum

The Meadows Museum, a division of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, houses one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Spanish art outside of Spain, with works dating from the 10th to the 21st century. It includes masterpieces by some of the world’s greatest painters: El Greco, Velázquez, Ribera, Murillo, Goya, Miró and Picasso. The museum is located at 5900 Bishop Blvd. on the campus of SMU, three blocks west of the DART light rail Mockingbird Station. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; and 12-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 per person, free on Thursday evenings after 5 p.m., and free for children under 12, museum members, and SMU faculty, staff and students. Ample free parking is available in the museum garage. For information, call 214.768.2516 or visit the museum’s web site at

About the Addison Gallery of American Art

Devoted exclusively to American art, the mission of the Addison Gallery of American Art is to acquire, preserve, interpret and exhibit works of art for the education and enjoyment of all. Opened in 1931, the Gallery has one of the most important collections of American art in the country that includes more than 14,000 works by prominent American artists such as George Bellows, John Singleton Copley, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe and Jackson Pollock, as well as photographers Eadweard Muybridge, Walker Evans, Robert Frank and many more. The Addison Gallery, located on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., offers a continually rotating series of exhibitions and programs, all of which are free and open to the public. For more information, call 978-749-4015, or visit the website at

About the American Federation of Arts

Founded in 1909 by an Act of Congress, the AFA is a non-profit institution that organizes art exhibitions for presentation in museums around the world, publishes exhibition catalogues, and develops education programs. For more information, visit

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