The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

will prevail." That saying represents the underlying optimism of a man who saw
racial tension and prejudice increase throughout his life, all the while working
tirelessly to oppose them. Written in the earnest style of an earlier time, this
book offers a valuable message to this one. A story of fathers and sons and the
coming of age of a man, a race, and a nation, My Life and An Era can be read
with profit by everyone from high school students to scholars.
Indzana Hzstoncal Soczety J. KENT CALDER
Texas Art and a Wildcatter's Dream: Edgar B. Davis and the San Antonzo Art League By
William E. Reaves Jr. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1998. Pp
xiv+144. List of illustrations, list of plates, foreword, acknowledgments, after-
word, appendix, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-89096-812-8. $49.95,
cloth).
The burgeoning interest in Texas Art has resulted in the publication of a
number of notable books on the subject. In Texas Art and a Wildcatter's Dream,
William Reaves has made a significant contribution to the history of art in Texas.
In his first chapter, "An Introduction and Backdrop," he provides an in-depth
discourse on the development of the art scene in the state, which is concise and
informative and is of inestimable value to the student, researcher, or collector.
The author then explores the extraordinary life of Edgar B. Davis, the eccen-
tric entrepreneur, with empathy and compassionate perception. He relates how
Davis, a self-made man, won and lost two fortunes before he became a "wildcat-
ter" and really struck it rich in Texas in the Luling oil fields. Davis's mysticism,
his religious beliefs, his interest in the fine arts (which included music, painting,
and the theater), are discussed at length with clarity and discernment. Also dis-
cussed is how Davis's philosophy prompted him to conceive and endow the
Texas Wildflower Competitive Exhibitions. Davis was a very sensitive man and
became inspired to perpetuate the beauty of Texas Wildflowers in paint as he
saw them while he traversed his oil-drilling sites.
Mr. Davis, knowledgeable in business as well as the arts, recruited Ethel
Drought, grand-dame of the arts in San Antonio and president of the San Anto-
nio Art League, to assist him in this venture. The Art League was housed in the
fledgling Witte Museum, opened in 1926, so the project was a learning experi-
ence for all. The author's discussion of how these competitions developed over a
three-year period and their impact on the local and national art scenes is thor-
oughly researched and narrated in a comprehensive and entertaining manner.
These competitions have never before been presented in complete form with
listings of the competitors and winners. These facts alone make this publication
a must for all Texas art aficionados and researchers.
In addition, the comments of Richard Casagrande, art appraiser and teacher,
about the competitors and their work provide an extension to Texas art history.
The twenty-nine color plates are pleasing in reproduction and demonstrate the
quality of painting extant in Texas in the early years of the twentieth century.
William Reaves is to be commended on a job well done.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/. Accessed January 30, 2015.