Jerry Bywaters was an important voice in the arts in Texas, having trained in Dallas and in the East with Robert Vonnoh, Bruce Crane, and John Sloan. He was a founder of the Dallas Artists League, editor of the magazine "Southwestern Arts," a critic for the "Dallas Morning News," and director of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts from 1942 until his retirement in 1964. While many regional artists in the prewar years were painting nostalgic anecdotal visions of America, Bywaters took a different tack. Like a "memento mori" still life of an earlier century, "On the Ranch" is an eerie assemblage of detritus cataloguing the history of Texas--from the American Indian symbolized by the arrowhead, to the gunslinger, the cowpoke, the rancher who fenced in the range, and the vanished inhabitants of Bywaters's own time, driven from the ranch perhaps by the blows of depression and drought.
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