Recent Books | July 1998

By Donna Tennant

Utah Painting and Sculpture
Edited by Vern G. Swanson, Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit

The first European settlers in the future state of Utah recognized the need for fine arts, and many generations since then have continued to cultivate them. Consequently Utah, along with California and New Mexico, has been ranked as one of the three great art centers of the western United States. Utah Painting and Sculpture traces the history of artists in the state from pioneer times to the present. First published in 1991, this lavish edition is expanded and revised with 56 additional pages, 50 new artists, and a chapter on Utah art today. Three scholars put it all in historical context: Vern G. Swanson, director of the Springville Museum of Art, Springville, UT; Robert S. Olpin, dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City; and William C. Seifrit, an expert on the pioneer period. William Gerdts of City University, New York, NY, wrote the introduction. 1997 Gibbs Smith, Layton, UT (ISBN 0-87905-817-X), 308 pages, 219 illustrations, 156 in color, $60 hardbound

Texas  Art and a Wildcatter's Dream, southwest art.

Texas Art and a Wildcatter’s Dream: Edgar B. Davis and the San Antonio Art League
By William E. Reaves Jr.

When a Texas oil man funded a national art competition in the late 1920s to depict wildflowers in the state and asked the San Antonio Art League to handle the details, the generous prize money attracted nationally known artists such as Dawson Dawson- Watson, Oscar E. Berninghaus, José Arpa, and W. Herbert Dunton. That man was Edgar B. Davis, an eccentric oil wildcatter from Massachusetts who came to Luling, TX, to develop the oil field there. He initiated the Texas Wildflower Competitive Exhibitions and over the next three years gave more than $53,000 in prize money. The event was a milestone in Texas art history that catapulted Texas into the national art scene.

The first half of the book relates the story of Davis and the competitions; color plates of prize-winning paintings make up the second half. Author William E. Reaves Jr., who is assistant vice chancellor of public education for the Texas A&M University System, has collected southwestern and Texas art for nearly 25 years. A foreword by art historian Cecilia Steinfeldt places the competitions in historical perspective.1998 Texas A&M University Press, College Station (ISBN 0-89096-812-8), 100 pages, 50 illustrations, 29 in color, $49.95 hardbound

Raised on Good Pasture, southwest art.

Raised on Good Pasture
Drawings by Robert “Shoofly” Shufelt
Poetry by Audrey Hankins

It’s the perfect marriage—Robert “Shoofly” Shufelt’s drawings and Audrey Hankins’ poems. Shoofly’s pencil drawings [swa dec 89] are remarkable. Whether he depicts a dog resting in the shade of a corral fence or a hard-driving cowboy roping a steer, he evokes the tough but appealing world of the working ranch—and Hankins’ poems expand on the experience. Hankins writes about being relegated to chief cook when she would rather be riding with the cowboys; about an old horse and a colt who become friends for life; about a son who is drawn to the big city and a daughter who marries a Wyoming cowboy. Hankins also writes about people like “the windmill man,” who keeps the wells flowing with water:

…He’s there to check the well again
In the freshness of next early dawn.
Satisfied cattle have vanished
But he surprises a doe and a fawn.
In the dust he reads the tracks
Of all God’s creatures that drank.
They’ve come and gone, their lives go on
With a windmill man to thank…
The book is available through Settlers West Book & Print Gallery, Tucson, AZ, 520.323.8838.

1997 Western Images, Rochester, IL,72 pages, 49 illustrations, $27.50 softbound

Featured in July 1998