Seminole Canyon, Shelter I. These copies are made so that no space is omitted between plates. All pictures
are in one color and no animal or human figure is drawn in outline. Not only has the color faded, but water
and dampness have caused the rock to flake until the paintings now appear to be rough. Watercolor by
Forrest Kirkland, copied July 8, 1936, courtesy of the Texas Memorial Museum. (Acc. No. 2261-42)
certain sites record their churches and
mounted soldiers. This aspect characterizes
the fourth style, termed Historic.
For all their beauty and cultural importance,
both archeologically and iconographically,
these paintings are slowly
disappearing. The mineral paints are fading,
lichens and algae grow on their surfaces;
the wind blasts them and rains soak
them. In some areas, natural and mancaused
flooding wear them away. Not the
least of the harms that come to the ancient
artworks is that of deliberate vandalism:
names and dates are gouged into some of
the paintings, spray paint covers others
and ballistic pot shots found some of the
Figures as their targets.
Fortunately, several serious measures
have been and are being taken to preserve
the rock art for future generations.
The importance of the rock art in Texas
has been realized by a handful of fore
sighted individuals during the past sixty
years. These men and women have made
concerted efforts to make records of the
paintings. Judge 0. L. Sims owned the
land that contained one site, called Paint
Rock, on the Concho River (Fig. 5). In
the late 1920's he traced some of the
paintings and made an effort to keep interlopers
from vandalizing the site.
In the late 1920's and early 1930's, A. T.
Jackson of the University of Texas Anthropology
department made an exhaustive
study of rock art sites throughout
Texas. He recorded innumerable details
about their styles, their representations,
and about the style and element associations
between the sites. In 1938 he published
his findings in a book entitled Picture-Writing
of Texas Indians.
Perhaps the most important among these
conservation-minded individuals in terms
of preserving a visual record of Texas
rock art is Forrest Kirkland. He was a
self-employed advertising artist whose
business specialized in making threedimensional
renderings of machines for
catalogs. In the early 1930's, he and his
wife Lula had the weekend hobby of
searching for fossils and stray arrowheads
in the countryside around Dallas. The
hobby soon turned to a more serious avocation
when he saw his first rock art site
at Paint Rock, near Breckenridge in 1933.
He was impressed by the style and beauty
of the ancient paintings and was concerned
by their poor state of preservation.
He writes of that first visit:
A hurried look over the cliff and the paintings
convinced me that no one with whom
I had talked had seemed to fully appreciate
the significance of these pictographs.
We decided that we might make some copies
with my watercolors, which I always
take with me on trips. . .The color and
HERITAGE * Fall 1985
Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 2, Number 4, Fall 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45445/. Accessed November 26, 2015.