Jerry Bywaters, Lone Star Printmaker: A Study of His Print Notebook, with a Catalogue of His Prints and a Checklist of His Illustrations and Ephemeral Works. By Ellen Buie Niewyk, Foreword by Ron Tyler, With personal reminiscences by Mary Vernon and Frances Bearden.
: Southern Methodist University Press, dist by TAMU Consortium, 2007. 12x9. 208 pp. 5 color, 34 b&w reproductions. 22 b&w photos. 111 illus. Bib. Index. ISBN 978-0-87074-519-5, cloth $35.00 http://www.tamu.edu/upress/ Dallas
The collaborative team for this remarkable retrospective survey of Jerry Bywaters' work includes Ellen Niewyk, curator of the Bywaters Special Collections housed in the Hamon Arts Library at SMU, Ron Tyler, director of Fort Worth's Amon Carter Museum of Art, Mary Vernon, SMU art teacher, and Frances Bearden, Bywaters's secretary at the Dallas Museum of Art.
Most artists do not combine the tasks of original artwork and the subsequent printing of copies, but Bywaters did just that. Most artist's quixotic lives resist their self-documentation. For over 10 years, 1935-1948 Bywaters kept a journal of his progress and techniques, and Niewyk deciphers that work to further illuminate his art, printmaking, art criticism via the
Bywaters (1906-1989) was born to a
Printmaking seriously engaged his life in lithographic printmaking after a visit of Thomas Hart Benton as Bywaters helped organize the Dallas Print and Drawing Collectors Society in 1935 and the circuit of Lone Star Printmakers in 1938. By Mutual adoption Bywaters fit right into
The book's photos are engrossing. You see his printing press and stones, tools, facsimiles of the journal, plus a casual photo of him outside at a gas station in the
Gargantua, the Lomax Victorian home in its shambled condition, is dated 1935 evokes a feeling of Halloween grotesque. Old Clown (1936) immediately projects the hard life of a Carnie. Mexican Mother (1936) and Mexican Lily Vendor draw heavily from Rivera. The Surgeons (1940) is executed in sharp black and white planes. On the Ranch (1941) is about as Daliesque as a Southwestern scene can be.
The back section on "Ephemeral Works" demonstrates Bywaters' skilled book imagery. He illustrated the first book of the SMU Press, Geiser's Naturalists of the Frontier (1937). Private printings included Dobie's Juan Oso Christmas card. The once very vigorous Tardy Publishing concern used him often as in Ehrenberg's With Milam and Fannin. Of course Stanley Marcus sought him for the Book Club of Texas as in Dobie's Tales of the Mustang, and again under the Somesuch imprint with Frontier Tales of the White Mustang. SMU's Southwest Review thirstily drew from the Bywaters well, even for their letterhead! But his work was sought out by outlanders; the Saturday Review of Literature's May 16, 1942 used him for their cover of the special issue on "The Southwest: Inventory and Sampling. My favorite? Maybe the enigmatic portrait of John Lomax.
If your library is lucky enough to have Bywaters' 12 from