Jerry Bywaters


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JERRY BYWATERS (AM. 1906-1989)


Jerry Bywaters was born at Paris, Texas, in 1906. He studied and absorbed the art and literature of the old masters. He simmered the ideas and techniques of the modernists, and used the residue- a strong, fresh expression of life on the progressive march. His pictures swing into being with the lilt and measured accent of a march.

Jerry Bywaters moved to Dallas in 1915, from Paris, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern Methodist University, Dallas. He spent a year in Europe studying the works in Tate, Louvre and Prado Art Museums. In 1928, he went to Mexico to study and write about the frescoes of Rivera and Orozco. He then studied at the Art Students' League, New York. From 1929, he worked in and out of Dallas, making sketching trips to New and Old Mexico.

For a brief period, he attended the Dallas Art Institute before going with painter Robert Vonnoh to the Old Lyme Art Colony in Connecticut to study with Bruce Crane. He studied at the New York Art Students League with Ivan Olinsky and John Sloan before returning to Texas. In Texas, he became a champion of regional art and an accomplished artist in his own right.

The many avenues by which Jerry Bywaters approached the art world made him cosmopolitan. He was versatile in medium and subject matter, working in oil (portrait, still life, and landscape), watercolor and lithograph. He successfully illustrated for magazines and books, and had also dabbled in industrial designing. He lectured on art and architecture, expressing his honest convictions in a straightforward manner, typical of his writing. Among his articles appearing in The Southwest Review are "Diego Rivera and Mexican Popular Art," and "Regional Architecture." He was one of the instructors at the Dallas Art Institute. He was editor of Contemporary Arts of the South and Southwest. In 1936, he exhibited at the Centennial, and the following year he began a notable teaching career at Southern Methodist University.

He was instrumental in founding the Lone Star Printmakers in 1938, and completed several murals for the government art projects throughout the state. He also illustrated books by J. Frank Dobie and others. In 1924, he was named director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts and served as such until his retirement.

As art critic for the Dallas Morning News, Jerry Bywaters dealt fairly and justly, pointing out merits, letting the defects be seen mostly by comparison, yet, not mincing words or giving ground in the unpopular, yet, unnecessary duties of a critic.

Jerry Bywaters' works have strong composition, rich color and secure precision. His tenacity, coupled with inherent literary and artistic ability made his rise swift and sure.

Sources: Forrester-O'Brien, Esse. Art and Artists of Texas. Dallas: Tardy Publishing Company, 1935.

Stewart, Rick. Lone Star Regionalism: The Dallas Nine and Their Circle. Dallas: Texas Monthly Press, 1985.

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