Amon Carter Museum of American Art Exhibits Mural-Size Painting by Texas Artist Esther Pearl Watson

Release date: 
March 12, 2015

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art presents a mural-size painting by Texas artist Esther Pearl Watson (b. 1973) titled Pasture Cows Crossing Indian Creek, Comanche, Texas, Looking for the old Civilian Fort of 1851, North of Gustine and a mile west of Baggett Creek Church. Approximately 13 feet wide by 10 feet tall, the artwork captures her childhood memories of Comanche, Texas; it was created specifically for the museum and will be on view May 19, 2015, through May 30, 2016, in the Atrium.

“This exhibition is part of the Amon Carter’s ongoing program of showing work by living artists in the Atrium,” says Andrew J. Walker, director. “We are committed to exploring Texas artists and their contributions to modern American art, and it is truly an honor to show this wonderful narrative painting by Esther Pearl Watson.”

The painting features a wide swath of land in Comanche, where the artist’s grandfather operated a cattle ranch and was general manager of the local radio station. Watson highlights the canvas with landmarks and motifs that are identifiable to Texas natives, such as a barbed wire fence, cows, horses and a Ford pickup truck.

“This lively, storied painting is an homage to the artist’s family and the memories they built together,” says Shirley Reece-Hughes, associate curator of paintings and sculpture. “Although deeply personal, the narrative transcends Watson’s inner world and relays distinctive folklores and qualities that are unique to Texas.”

Born in Germany but raised in North Dallas in the 1980s, Watson grew up with an eccentric father who built spaceships in the front yard hoping to sell one to NASA. While her father thought of himself as an inventor, aspiring to create transportation for the future, Watson struggled to understand his intentions. It was not until she discovered an art book in college devoted to individuals who built flying saucers, along with Raw Vision, a magazine devoted to outsider art, that Watson understood her father’s dreams. She began to recognize him as a visionary, or outsider/folk artist—typically self-taught individuals who express their creativity in a personal way, irrespective of the mainstream art world.

“Because of my father, I have always felt at home with vernacular art,” says Watson. “My work has been called insider-outsider and faux naive. For me, it is a visual language I associate with the subjective.”

As a nod to her father’s influence, the artist often includes flying saucers in her canvases; a luminous pink one appears in Pasture Cows Crossing Indian Creek.

Watson holds a Master’s of Fine Art from the California Institute of the Arts, teaches at Pasadena Art Center College of Design, and exhibits internationally. In addition to her paintings, she is celebrated for her illustrated series of comic novels entitled Unlovable.

Concurrent with the Amon Carter’s exhibition, the artist has an exhibition opening at the Webb Gallery in Waxahachie, Texas. The exhibition, Mother Popcorn, is on view from June 7 to August 12.

The Amon Carter will also exhibit the work of 20th-century Texas folk artists such as H. O. Kelly, Reverend Johnnie Swearingen, Velox Ward and Clara McDonald Williamson in the exhibition Texas Folk Art, on view June 6, 2015–June 5, 2016.

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art offers outstanding exhibitions and public programs for adults and children and is open Tuesday–Saturday from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday from 12–5 p.m. Admission is always free.