to Know About
Champion of Texas Arts and Artists
Williamson Gerald “Jerry” Bywaters
By John Troesser
- Born in
Paris, Texas in 1906, Bywaters
was ten when the Paris Fire occurred. It was fitting that he was
later awarded the commission to paint the two
murals of the fire.
- He graduated
from Southern Methodist University in 1926 with a degree in comparative
literature (in 1987 SMU acknowledged his career with an honorary
to Dallas after trips
to Mexico, Spain and France in the late 1920s, Bywaters returned
to Texas to “organize” fellow artists
who shared a common interest in what was called Regional Art.
He became a spokesman for a group of young artists who lobbied
to paint the buildings at Fair
Park for the Texas
Centennial. The group, known as the Dallas Nine, later grew
to include numerous other painters and sculptors.
- His most
productive period of output was between 1937 and 1942.
was a founding member of Lone Star Printmakers, Texas artists
who produced and published original prints of Texas themes.
was employed as art critic for the Dallas Morning News from 1933
served from 1943 to 1964 as director of the Dallas Museum of Fine
Arts while teaching art and art history at Southern Methodist
- During the
“Red Scare” of the 1950s, the Dallas Museum was charged with exhibiting
“communist” works. Support for the museum was threatened but under
Bywaters’ direction, the threat dissipated while the museum stood
fast – placing art above politics.
never tired of producing catalogues for art exhibitions, publishing
art magazines, or editing books on art. He even used his own talent
to illustrate articles on art by other authors.
- After retirement
from Southern Methodist University, he became regional director
of the Texas Project of the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives
of American Art.
Southern Methodist University was bequeathed Bywaters’ personal papers
and remains the repository for Bywaters’ works and writings. He breathed
art – and his contributions to the world of Texas art came at a cost
of him producing his own work. He was married to Mary McLarry Bywaters
for 58 years until his death in 1989.
Works on Public
Texas murals included
three “standard” post office murals (Farmersville,
Trinity and Quanah) as well
as panels at the old Dallas City Hall (a collaboration with Alexandre
murals are exhibited in Paris
at the city library (two depicting the Paris Fire of 1916 and the
rebuilding of the city and portraits of Davy Crockett and Cattle Baron
John Chism). Murals in Houston
depicting the Houston Ship Channel are currently unavailable for viewing.
In The Public
Gift to The Paris Public Libary
from The Jerry Bywaters Family
In Memory of The Artist's Parents:
Hattie Williamson Bywaters (Honey
Porter Ashburn Bywaters, Sr. (Roxton,
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories,
landmarks and vintage or recent photos, please contact