J. P. Bryan, whose monumental collection of Texas art is the source of this traveling exhibition, determined that he would collect only those artists who had actually participated in the settlement of Texas—not artists who imagined the events after they were history. Thus, as editor Michael Duty observes, Deep in the Art of Texas constitutes not just a tour of Texas artists, but a virtual tour of the romantic history and vast geography of the state itself.
Recognition that art is an essential part of Texas culture came late. Ron Tyler points out that if you searched art in the first edition of the Handbook of Texas, you discovered that it was “a small town in eastern Mason County.” The lively essays here—by Bryan, Duty, and Tyler, the former director of the Amon Carter Museum—do more than illuminate the works themselves: they shed light on the creators and collectors of Texas art from the nineteenth century through the middle of the twentieth. Deep in the Art of Texas pulls pieces from the Torch Energy Advisors Collection of Texas Art, which showcases the likes of Charles Franklin “Frank” Reaugh and Robert Julian Onderdonk. The collection is housed at Torch Energy Advisors Inc. in Houston.
The former executive director of the National Western Art Foundation in San Antonio, MICHAEL W. DUTY has over thirty years experience working with museums throughout the country. The author of two award-winning books, The Cowboy Artists of America and Western Traditions: Contemporary Artists of the American West, Duty owns Michael Duty Fine Art in Dallas.