Women Artists at the Texas Centennial Fair

Six paintings from the 1936 Exhibition of Paintings Sculpture & Graphic Arts

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Artworks on display in the new Texas Art Gallery highlight the work of six female artists who were active in the Texas art scene in the 1930s. The paintings were all part of a much larger exhibition hosted by the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts as part of the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition at Fair Park in Dallas. On display together once again are works from Lura Ann Taylor, May Schow, Kathleen Blackshear, Leola Isabel Freeman, Maggie Joe Watson, and Coreen Spellman.

The Texas Centennial Fair was planned to commemorate Texas’s 100th anniversary of independence from Mexico. The fair’s organizers hoped the event would attract visitors to Dallas from all over the world. The Dallas Museum of Fine Arts curated Exhibition of Paintings Sculpture & Graphic Arts to give Texan fairgoers an introduction to European and American art history. But the exhibit was also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase the work of Texas artists to a global audience. The exhibit’s curators devoted the largest section to Texas art, selecting paintings, watercolors, prints, drawings, and sculptures from more than 160 artists. The artworks highlighted how the arts were flourishing in Texas in the early 20th century and made a statement that Texas art was integral to American art.

Female artists accounted for more than half of the Texan artists represented. In many cases, this was their first public showing and the exhibit helped launch their careers. Most of the artists studied art at colleges in Texas and had careers as art educators in addition to working as artists. The paintings seen here range from portraits to landscapes, all drawing inspiration from the artists’ lives in Texas.

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Women Artists at the Texas Centennial Fair Artifact from Dallas, TX
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