The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996 Page: 576
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Well-researched and handsomely published by the University of New Mexico
Press, this study of a man who has been largely neglected by scholars is a wel-
come addition not only to the larger study of California history but also to the
local history of the Sonoma Valley.
City College of San Francisco VALERIE SHEARER MATHES
Jerry Bywaters: A Life in Art. By Francine Carraro. (Austin: University of Texas
Press, 1994. Pp. xx+282. Foreword, acknowledgments, notes, bibliography,
index. ISBN 0-29271-157-3. $34-95.)
Within the last few decades interest in the arts of Texas has flourished. Nu-
merous books have been written extending the knowledge of Texas history as
well as establishing the importance of Texas art to the mainstream of American
art. Carraro's biography of Jerry Bywaters contributes immeasurably to the un-
derstanding of Texas's part in the national scheme of American art history.
Bywaters was not only an artist; he was also a teacher, a writer, the director of
the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts for twenty years, and a champion and arbitrator
of the arts in Dallas.
Carraro's portrayal of this remarkable man and his influences on Texas art is
based on a thorough understanding of art history which enriches the biography
and places Bywaters among the major figures of mid-twentieth-century Texas
painting. The book traces Bywaters's life through his student days, his struggles
as an artist and writer, his dedication to keeping art alive during the Great De-
pression, and his successes in the post-World War II period as director of a pres-
tigious museum by emphasizing the importance of regional art and the Texas
The narrative is meticulously researched and sympathetically presented, with
quotations deftly woven into the text. Carraro articulates Bywaters's trials and tri-
umphs in an entertaining manner. But the scholarship is paramount in this story
of a man who developed from a mere painter into an authority on the Texas art
scene. He defended regionalism and by 1954 ranked among the leading muse-
um directors because of his high artistic standards. In 1963, Bywaters requested
to be relieved of his administrative duties as director, and later, when he became
chairman of the Art Department at Southern Methodist University and head of
the university's Pollock Galleries, he finally was able to devote more time to his
In 1971, Bywaters organized an exhibition, "Texas Painting and Sculpture:
Twentieth Century," with the cooperaiton of San Antonio's Witte Museum and
the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. It was a major achievement in promoting
If Carraro's examination of Texas art has a flaw, it is the omission of numer-
ous Texas exhibitions organized by the Witte Museum, first under Eleanor On-
derdonk, art curator from 1927 to 1958, and then under her successor Martha
Utterback. By the 1970s, Jack McGregor, as director of the San Antonio Muse-
um Association, also became aware of the importance of Texas regional art and
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996, periodical, 1996; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/m1/654/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.