July 18, 2009 – November 15, 2009
The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin presents an exhibition of one of Texas’ most loved and celebrated artists, Jerry Bywaters (1906 – 1989). Organized by the Meadows Museum of Southern Methodist University, Jerry Bywaters: Lone Star Printmaker features 39 prints from 1935 to 1948, source photographs and select archival materials that illuminate the artist’s process. Included are Bywaters famous renderings of the American Southwest, West Texas landscapes and architecture, and depression-era scenes from daily life.
Many visitors to the Blanton have come to know Bywaters through his famous 1940 painting, Oilfield Girls, from the museum’s permanent collection. Indeed, this “regionalist master” began his career as a painter, studying at Southern Methodist University and later at the acclaimed Art Students League in New York City and the Old Lyme Art Colony in Connecticut. A member of the Dallas Nine, a group of young painters from the 1930s that helped establish a regionalist artistic identity and recognition for Texas art, Bywaters was often compared to Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton.
Beginning in 1935 Bywaters developed an interest in printmaking — a medium that allowed him to inexpensively produce multiple copies of his work and to circulate his regionalist aesthetic to a wider audience. From 1935 – 1948, the artist created over 39 prints, and in 1938, became a founding member of the printmaker’s organization, the Lone Star Printmakers. His unique interpretations of landscapes, portraits, and architectural and urban scenes helped propel Texas artists into the national spotlight, securing them a prominent position in the development of printmaking in the 20th-century.
Bywaters became a pivotal figure in the emerging Dallas art scene, serving as a professor of Art and Art History at Southern Methodist University for over 40 years and director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (now Dallas Museum of Art) from 1943 – 1964. A gifted writer, he was a frequent contributor to the Southwest Review, and art critic for the Dallas Morning News from 1933 – 1939. Bywaters’ accomplishments have been recognized by the Dallas Art Association and the Texas Arts Alliance, among other prestigious organizations.
This exhibition has been organized by the Meadows Museum in collaboration with Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, SMU. Major funding for this exhibition has been provided by The Meadows Foundation. Additional funding for the publication was provided by Margaret McDermott and the Trustees of the Eugene McDermott Foundation and the Texas Art Collectors Organization (TACO).