Gift of Texas art presented to Meadows Museum

The daughter of renowned Texas artist Jerry Bywaters donates 65 works by him and others to SMU's Meadows Museum.

San Millán Iglesia, Segovia, Spain by Jerry Bywaters, 1929

DALLAS (SMU) – Jerry Bywaters Cochran, daughter of renowned Texas artist Jerry Bywaters, has donated 65 works of art to SMU, including 49 by Jerry Bywaters.

The works of art feature a variety of subjects created over the length of Bywaters’ career in media ranging from oils and watercolors to pastels, graphite drawings and prints. Together with a bequest of additional works deeded to the museum, Mrs. Cochran’s contribution represents one of the largest gifts of art presented to the University.

“This tremendous gift will enhance the University’s role in preserving the art of this region and will make the Meadows Museum the largest depository of works by Jerry Bywaters, considered one of Texas’ most important artists,” says Mark A. Roglán, director of Meadows Museum.  “We are deeply grateful for Mrs. Cochran’s most thoughtful and generous gift.”

Jerry Bywaters
Jerry Bywaters
The gift will become part of SMU’s University Art Collection, which includes Bywaters’ Where the Mountains Meet the Plains (1939), considered one of his greatest landscapes, and will significantly augment the museum’s holdings of Texas regionalist art, Roglán says. The new works of art will be exhibited at Meadows Museum this summer in “The Collection of Jerry Bywaters Cochran: A Lone Star Legend,” June 3 through August 19, 2012.

The art complements the Jerry Bywaters Collection on Art of the Southwest at SMU’s Hamon Arts Library, creating a comprehensive view of the artist’s legacy. In 1980 Bywaters gave his papers, letters, prints and other ephemera to SMU, creating the archives. The documents provide insight to Bywater’s life as artist, teacher, museum administrator, writer, critic and historian.

A 1927 graduate of SMU, Bywaters’ art is characterized by his interest in the interaction between people and the land, influenced by the social effects of the Great Depression.  He frequently produced rural scenes and cultivated an interest in figure types such as oil-field workers, ranchers, Mexican women and Navajo men. Bywaters pioneered the style later known as Lone Star Regionalism and served as the leading figure for the 1930s and 1940s Regionalist artists known as the Dallas Nine.

Sixteen additional works, primarily by members of the Dallas Nine, also are included with Mrs. Cochran’s gift and will join other works of the Dallas Nine currently part of the SMU’s University Art Collection.

“Jerry Bywaters played an indispensable role in demonstrating how American artists could utilize regional subject matter to illustrate universal themes and ideas,” says Sam Ratcliffe, director of Jerry Bywaters Special Collections and editor of Jerry Bywaters, Interpreter of the Southwest (TAMU Press, 2007). “The works of art and papers donated by Jerry and his daughter provide the background for understanding the formative influences on his depictions of the land and people of the Southwest.”

Bywaters’ teaching career began at SMU in 1936 where he taught fine arts and art history until 1976. He received SMU’s 1978 Distinguished Alumni Award and 1987 SMU Honorary Doctor of Arts degree. Also a leader in the Dallas arts community, he served from 1943 to 1964 as director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, now the Dallas Museum of Art.

The Meadows Museum exhibited Bywaters’ work in 2007 in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth with concurrent exhibitions, Jerry Bywaters: Interpreter of the Southwest and Jerry Bywaters: Lone Star Printmaker.

Jerry Bywaters Cochran, daughter of Jerry Bywaters and Mary McLarry Bywaters, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in modern dance and ballet from the Juilliard School where she was honored by the American Guild of Musical Artists as the outstanding graduate in dance. After completing a Fulbright Fellowship in Paris, Cochran began a career as a dancer, choreographer and teacher with the Alexandra Danilova Concert Company, the Dallas Civic Ballet, the Southwest Regional Ballet Festival, Dallas Summer Musicals, the Karin Waehner Company in Paris, the Juilliard preparatory division, the Kurt Jooss Folkwangschule in Essen, Germany, and Baylor University.

In addition, she founded and directed the Jerry Bywaters Cochran Modern Dance Ensemble and the TCU Modern Dance Lab Company. The Dance Council in 1992 honored her with the Mary Award for her lifetime contribution to dance in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and created in 2003 the Jerry Bywaters Cochran Scholarship for Summer Study in Modern Dance. A dance professor at TCU for 17 years, she received a lifetime achievement award from TCU dance alumni and in 2006, she created the TCU Jerry Bywaters Cochran Scholarship for Excellence in Modern Dance. Currently Mrs. Cochran serves on the Dance Council Board of Directors and the artistic advisory boards of Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth and the Texas International Theatrical Arts Society.

“The importance of the art of teaching runs deep in our family,” Mrs. Cochran says. “We believe the arts are essential to our lives and culture.”

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.