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Issue: #10 June/2009

Summer is officially here in Texas, bringing rising temperatures and a slow down in art activities around the state. Summertime in the CASETA office signals the end of one Symposium season and the start of plans for next year.  Our Symposium committee is hard at work reviewing your comments and suggestions and planning for a blockbuster 8th annual Symposium next year in Houston.  Mark your calendars for April 16-18, 2010 and plan to join us!

We are also making some administrative changes this summer as we hire a part time office assistant.  We look very forward to better serving the needs of our members as we make this exciting addition to the CASETA team.
As Texas enjoys day after day of 100 plus degree temperatures this summer, many of you are probably venturing to cooler climates.  Between vacations, why not beat the heat indoors while enjoying some fantastic early Texas art?  See below for more information about CASETA's Texas Treasures now on view in Austin and Miles and Miles of Texas, opening in Houston in July.

Best wishes,
Courtney DiSabato
Director, CASETA
Beyond Blueprints:
The Texas Capitol Architectural Drawings
Elijah Myers

The State Preservation Board owns one architectural drawing from Elijah Myers in its collection:  this hand-colored piece is on display in the Texas Capitol.  Some of the original design elements for the building could not be completed.  For example, the limestone chosen for the exterior of the building was not suitable.  It developed rust-colored streaks when exposed to the weather.  After a two-year construction delay, the owners of Granite Mountain near Marble Falls offered to give the state free of charge all the red granite it needed for the exterior walls of the Capitol.  The elaborate designs shown in this drawing, including fluted-Corinthian pilasters and carved urns, eventually were removed from the plans. 

Greetings from Ali James, Secretary, Board of Directors

Early Texas Art means different things to different people. One of my favorite items in the Capitol Collection that really pushes the boundary for some is an architectural drawing that was created and hand-colored in 1882 as part of the design competition for the Texas Capitol. 

Beyond Blueprints:
The Texas Capitol Architectural Drawings
The 148 original architectural drawings of the 1880s Texas Capitol that survive in the Texas State Library and Archives collection are important to people for different reasons.  Historians study them as valuable records of the past.  Architects appreciate them as fascinating plans which document the design of a monumental nineteenth century public building.  Artists see them as intricate and beautiful works of art.  However, all agree that the drawings represent one of the finest remaining examples of what for some time has been a lost art form--the production of full-size, detailed, hand-drawn and hand-colored building plans--a process now accomplished through the use of computer-assisted drawing programs.
The drawings--ranging in size from 11" x 12" to 44" x 93"--are on linen drafting cloth which has been starched with gelatin.  Linen was chosen as a support due to its durability, translucency for tracing and ability to withstand a great deal of handling.  Architectural draftsmen produced the Texas Capitol drawings in the early 1880s using a wide variety of drawing instruments. Early technical pens, called stylographs, were designed specifically for drawing and fine writing. This type of pen preceded fountain pens.  The stylograph employed a hollow glass tube instead of a nib to transport ink to the linen, and produced lines with incredibly consistent widths and saturations. These pens were among the first practical drawing instruments to contain internal ink reservoirs, freeing draftsmen from the constant dipping required by earlier models. 
Dip pens also may have been used to render certain details requiring varied line widths.  The drawings contain at least five different colors of ink. Colors other than black and red were highly unusual in the late nineteenth century.
On November 20, 1880, the two Capitol Building Commissioners announced a national design contest for a new Capitol in Austin.  The winner's fee was $1,700.  Eight architects, using such imaginative pseudonyms as Pay as You Go, Woglosnop and Lone Star submitted drawings for a total of eleven different designs.  Famed New York City architect Napoleon Le Brun selected the design submitted by Tuebor, that is, Detroit architect Elijah E. Myers.  The Commissioners agreed with Le Brun's choice of architect and his suggestions for a few design changes in May of 1881.

Myers had submitted 15 drawings as part of the design competition for the Texas Capitol.  He envisioned a massive Renaissance Revival-style structure based on the architecture of 15th century Italy.  One of the design changes required by the Capitol Building Commissioners was to change the dome from square to round.  Upon Myers' arrival in Austin, the competition drawings and building specifications were revised to reflect these changes at no cost.  E. E. Myers signed the agreement to produce the construction documents for the building for $12,000 on May 17, 1881.  Although he helped to stake out the site of the building early in 1882 and eventually produced the documents, he failed to continue to revise them to the liking of the Commissioners.  He spent much of the time at his architectural firm in Michigan, and his relationship with Texas officials deteriorated.  Although he was never fired, his duties as architect were essentially over by the end of 1886.
Endangered Resource
Two factors led to the deterioration over time of this important collection:  the cloth upon which they are drawn and the uneven care of the documents earlier in this century.  Although the cloth is durable, it has organic sizing. This can provide a breeding ground for mold or vermin attack depending on storage conditions.  Prior to their transfer to the custody of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, the plans were handled and stored inappropriately and kept for many years in an environment that encouraged extensive mold growth, resulting in significant physical damage.  During the several years of the 1990s Capitol Restoration Project, it was essential to study the drawings in detail.  Although extreme caution and care was exercised, the unrolling and re-rolling exacted its toll on the drawings in terms of additional tearing.
Conservation, Duplication and Storage
In 1990, the State Preservation Board--in conjunction with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission--arranged for the drawings to be surveyed comprehensively by CASETA Advisory Board Member Cheryl Carrabba, a nationally-recognized, Austin-based paper conservator, who concluded that the drawings are threatened by eventual destruction due to their present condition.  Through the generosity of the Texas Inaugural Endowment Fund Committee, Carrabba was hired to treat the collection in 1997-1998.  Each drawing was flattened, cleaned, mended and reinforced.  The conserved drawings were then placed in protective plastic sheeting called Mylar and archival folders in cabinets specially designed for flat storage.  The conserved drawings were also photographically duplicated; both the originals and archival copies are stored at the Texas State Library and Archives; whenever possible, the copies are used for reference to decrease handling of the originals.
Enjoy your Summer and stretch your boundaries.
Ali James

Save the Date
  8th Annual Texas Art Fair and
Symposium on Early Texas Art

Please plan to join us April 16-18, 2010 in Houston for our 8th Annual Texas Art Fair and Symposium on Early Texas Art.  The 2009 Symposium was a huge success and the Symposium committee is already planning for next year.  Be on the lookout next month for ways that you can get involved in planning for next year's event.  Remember, your comments, suggestions and ideas are important to us! 
Texas Treasures: Early Texas Art From Austin Museums
Donald Leroy Weisman, Electronic Icon, ca. 1958
Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, 
605 Robert E. Lee Road, Austin, Texas 78704

May 1- August 30, 2009

Image: Donald Leroy Weisman, Electronic Icon, ca. 1958, Blanton Museum of Art, the University of Texas at Austin

The Center for Study and Advancement of Early Texas Art is proud to present Texas Treasures:  Early Texas Art from Austin Museums in connection with our seventh annual symposium to be held at the AT&T Center on the University of Texas Campus. 

Texas Treasures is the first collective exhibition of important early Texas artworks from the collections of the University of Texas Blanton Museum, the University of Texas Harry Ransom Center, the Austin Museum of Art and the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum.  Drawing from the extensive collections of these Austin institutions, Texas Treasures features twenty-four masterworks of early Texas art that have been rarely available to the public.  These seminal works express the breadth of Texas art: from the origins of classical portraiture and impressionist landscape painting in the nineteenth century, to the American Scene painting of the depression era, to the many interpretations of modernism at the mid-twentieth century. 

The Lone Star State
Through the Eyes of Buck Schiwetz
Schiwetz An Exhibition Jointly Sponsored by
The Heritage Society & CASETA
July 21- September 27, 2009

Image: Anderson-Clayton Cottonseed Oil Plant, Memphis, Texas, 1950, Mixed Media on Board, 17   x 31 , Private Collection, Houston

  The Heritage Society and CASETA collaborate to present a rare exhibition of the Texas works of E.M. "Buck" Schiwetz (1898-1984), one of the city and state's most beloved artists.  Originally from Cuero, Buck Schiwetz arrived in Houston in the late 1920's, by way of Texas A&M College.  In the seven decades thereafter, as artist and illustrator, he managed to draw and paint his way through Texas, recording the hallmarks and landmarks of the Lone Star State as no artist before or since.  Trained as an architect, he proved particularly adept at capturing the simple elegance and rich character of the state's indigenous structures, offering narrative images-- in graphite, watercolor, mixed media and oil-- that pay homage to Texas's earliest buildings and homes.  As a long-time illustrator with Humble Oil and their Humble Way publication, Schiwetz's body of work on the Texas oil field is unparalleled, capturing the evolution and ascent of this important industry during a period of stupendous growth and development.
Along the way, the artist's work was exhibited broadly and entered the permanent collections of important museums and universities throughout the state.  Schiwetz images have been more frequently published than perhaps any other Texas artist.  He received numerous awards and honors during his lifetime, culminating in his being named Texas State Artist in 1977.  His is an unrivaled visual legacy of the state in which he lived, and this is a "must-see" exhibition for all Houstonians.
Miles and Miles of Texas is on display at the Heritage Society Museum, 1100 Bagby Street in Houston, Texas from July 21 through September 27, 2009.  The exhibition offers a rich survey of the artist's work, including more than fifty of Schiwetz's finest Texas subjects.  The selection depicts the artist's range of styles and media, and shows works from throughout his long career.  A catalogue, including an essay by Michael R. Grauer of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, accompanies the exhibition.
Miles and Miles of Texas is made possible with support from CASETA through Houston Endowment Inc., and from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.

Early Texas Art Across the State
Current Lectures, Exhibits and Events
We know that our list is not complete, so please help CASETA keep its members in the loop!

If you are aware of any current or upcoming early Texas art exhibitions or events, please email information to

Early Texas Art Events

Collectors of Fort Worth Art- 8th Annual Show and Sale of Early Texas Art
Friday, July 10, 5-9pm and Saturday, July 11, 10am-5pm
Fort Worth Community Art Center
Contact Ken Jackson at (817)834-6951 for more information.

Texas Treasures: Early Texas Art from Austin Museums
Thursday, July 16, 6:30pm- Remarks from Dana Friis-Hansen, Executive Director of the Austin Museum of Art
Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum
Austin, Texas

Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts Annual Wine & Art Fundraiser
Saturday, July 25
Featuring Live Music, Fine Wines and Art
Including a lecture and exhibition, Impressions of Texas, curated by Michael R. Grauer, Curator of Art, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
Turner House, Dallas, Texas

Texas Art Seen
Opening Reception Friday, September 25
Symposium Saturday, September 26
The Grace Museum
Abilene, Texas

Texas Regional Art Symposium
October 10, 2009
Historical and contemporary art exhibits will feature well known artists of the region, such as Frank Reaugh, Jerry Bywaters, and Frank Klepper.  Distinguished speakers will include Lonn Taylor, Francine Carraro, Victoria Cummins, Bob Reitz, Light Cummins, Sam Ratcliff, and Carol Roark on subjects ranging from southwest material culture to original research on individual artists.  The capstone of the symposium will be an open discussion led by area collectors who will exhibit and discuss their favorite pieces of art. 
Heard Craig Center for the Arts
McKinney, Texas

David Dike Fine Art Early Texas Art Auction
October 17, 2009, 4pm
The McKinney Avenue Contemporary
Dallas, Texas

Early Texas Art Exhibitions

Off the Edge: The Experimental Prints of Cynthia Brants
May 2 - June 27
Austin, Texas

Texas Treasures: Early Texas Art from Austin Museums
May 1- August 30
Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum
Austin, Texas
James Surls: From the Heartland
May 2- August 22
The Grace Museum
Abilene, Texas

Miles and Miles of Texas: The Lone Star State Through the Eyes of Buck Schiwetz
July 21- September 27,Opening reception July 18
The Heritage Society Museum
Houston, Texas

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Courtney DiSabato
Program Administrator