Thursday, November 1, 2012

Public Art In A Desert Town


Clear skies, empty roads, and about half an hour will get me from my home in rural Tom Green County to the city of San Angelo.  Regular readers of the blog know this is dry country on the northeastern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert.  But unless a reader lives in the Concho Valley or has visited the area, he/she may not know this frontier hamlet (which was briefly home to a shady gambling lady on whom radio and television's Gunsmoke "Miss Kitty" character was based) is an Arts Friendly town...
Return of an Old Friend, Richard Salmon (detail)
Ranching Heritage Mural, Stylle Read (detail)

This week, we'll stroll downtown and take a look at a small number of the multitude of murals and sculptures hiding in plain view of Angeloans...

Pearl of the Conchos, Garland Weeks


Working Cowboy, Scott Sustek (detail)
Sailor Kissing Woman, Anonymous.  This
recreaction of a famous World War II photo
is one of dozens of painings in the
"Paintbrush Alley" section of San Angelo

You and I shall just enjoy what we see and I won't add much commentary.  We've got a few links down below that should answer most of the questions you have about the men and women who've shared their vision with us.  Some remain anonymous, painting and sculpting in secret.  Other have been kind enough to take credit for work they do to help make a dusty old desert town an increasingly poorly kept secret amongst art lovers...

Two of our selections today are details from murals done by Stylle Read, a specialist in historically accurate recreations of western scenes.  Mr Read is based out of Cleburne, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth named after Confederate General Patrick Cleburne who was born in Ireland and came to the United States after service as a foot soldier in the British Army.  He'd enlisted after failing the required entrance exam for Trinity College of Medicine in Dublin.  In the United States, he became a successful pharmacist in Ohio before relocating to Helena, Arkansas, where he purchased a half-interest in the local newspaper and passed the bar examination.  Cleburne was a prominent attorney when the Civil War broke out.  He chose to fight in the Confederate Army, he said, not out of any love for the repulsive institution of slavery but out of affection for Southerners who'd "adopted" him as if he were a hometown boy...

RAN, John Raimondi (detail).  This enigmatic
space-age desert Stonehenge has decorated San
Angelo's Civic League park since 1979.


Las Dos Angelas, John Noelke (detail).  This sculpture of Angela Merici, founder
of the Ursuline Order, stands behind the Visitor Center in downtown San Angelo
alongside a statue of Angela Garza DeWitt, wife of the town's founder.  DeWitt,
a widower, originally called the settlement Santa Angela, either in honor of his
beloved wife or her patron saint.

Elmer Kelton Mural, Stylle Read. (detail)

Stylle Read's selections commemorate the ranching heritage of southwestern Texas and the literary career of Elmer Kelton, the San Angelo journalist and novelist voted "greatest western writer of all time" by the Western Writer's Association, leaving Zane Grey in the dust and easily outdistancing Louis L'Amour.  The military men seen in the Kelton mural detail were Buffalo Soldiers aka The United States Colored Troops aka The Negro Cavalry.  They were black men sent to guard frontier outposts on the Great Plains and Southwestern Deserts,  fending off attacks by red men on whose lands the white men were encroaching.  Buffalo Soldiers were stationed at Fort Concho near Santa Angela, which became San Angelo, at various times between 1873 and 1885...

Paintbrush Alley, San Angelo
Psst..., Anonymous.

Enough jabbering.  Let's take a walk and see what we can see...

Red Barn, Joe Sackett.
Untitled and Anonymous



Links for More Information about the art and the artists:

Secret Garden, Anthony Fuentes (detail)

REQUEST FOR READER HELP:  If a reader can identify either artist or title of works that I've listed as anonymous or unknown, please leave a comment so I can update the blog to give proper credit where it's due. 

Untitled, "Eitzel"


One very easy and inexpensive way to build a collection of work by some of today's finest painters, sculptors, and photographers:  Greeting cards from Fine Art America. 

Even easier: browse the Louis Nugent gallery at Fine Art America.  Choose from 250+ unique ideas for home and office decor or holiday and birthday cards for yourself or a special someone who deserves something extraordinary.  Individual cards cost less than $5.  Wall prints from $22.  Readers interested in purchasing prints of Return of an Old Friend, Red Barn, or Pearl of the Concho may follow the link below:

Portrait of a Woman on a Downtown Wall, Louis Nugent

Follow and Like Louis R Nugent Photography on Facebook @ louisnugent22.

Fine Art America now features painting, drawings, and photographs by sixteen artists who celebrate the majestic and uncompromising landscapes, settlements, people, plants, and animals of West Texas.  Featured this week:
The Ascension, Joe Jake Pratt

Fine Arts America now features  work celebrating the mysterious and lovely Bayou State of Louisiana and its unique lifestyle:


Note: All photographs for this essay were located through Google Images or Wikipedia, without authoritative source or ownership information except as noted: all photographs by Louis R Nugent.

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