Several donors have contributed individual pieces to the Museum of the Big Bend’s Special Acquisitions, many of which will be on display during the grand opening of the new Emmett and Miriam McCoy Building June 23-24.
Cindy and Chris Aldredge donated a large outdoor granite sculpture that her late parents, Charles and Nancy Terry, commissioned renowned Texas granite sculptor Jesús Moroles to create in 1986 for their home in Dallas. The name of the water fountain sculpture is “Interlocking Column” and is made with Texas granite. After her parents passed, the Aldredges had it moved to their home with the original idea to set it up as a water feature in their backyard pool. After further consideration, they decided the structure and their two teenaged sons might not be a good fit. When they moved again, they knew they did not have the space to properly display the piece. A friend suggested the Museum of the Big Bend, which pleased them greatly. Cindy and Chris had been out to the Alpine area frequently to help friends harvest wine grapes in the Cathedral Mountain area and knew the artwork would be a perfect fit.
Jesús Moroles was born in Corpus Christi in 1950 and graduated from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He apprenticed under Luis Jimenez and then worked in Pietrasanta, Italy, for a year before beginning his own work at his studio and shop in Rockport. “Houston Police Officers Memorial” is his largest single work and — perhaps his most well-known piece – is “Lapstrake 1987,” a 22-foot-tall sculpture located across from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2008, he was awarded the National Medal of the Arts. More than 2,000 of his works can be found in public spaces and private collections around the world. Unfortunately, his life ended tragically in a 2015 vehicle accident. “Interlocking Column” will have a permanent home in Alpine at the museum.
Sue Cobb, spouse of the late Alan Cobb, was also looking for a good home for some of her husband’s art. The couple were married 33 years, and in her words, were like two peas in a pod, making art and selling at shows together. Sue worked in ceramics and Alan as a craftsman, using his hands to create wood furniture and stained glass among other things.
Alan spent his career as an accountant for Mobil Oil, working abroad in Turkey and Libya for many years. Following retirement, he visited a printmaking class led by Larry Shoulder at Southern Methodist University, where Sue was working as an artist. He started taking classes and began a new career as a master printmaker.
The pair traveled around Texas in their van, through the Hill Country, East Texas and West Texas. They would stop at locations that interested them to draw and sometimes Alan would etch on copper. Sue donated some of his art specific to the Big Bend including some pastels he created on-site as well as etchings, a wood cut, an aqua tint, and an itaglio print. Alan fed his printmaking passion for more than 25 years, leaving behind a meticulous, detailed body of work that reflects the rich Texas landscape.
Anna Keener lived life on her own terms as a prolific artist, activist and educator.
Born on the eastern plains of Colorado in Flagler in 1895, Anna Keener grew up in Dalhart, Texas, a town in the northwest part of the Panhandle where her father worked for the railroad. She earned a bachelor’s in Fine Art and a master’s in Arts at Bethany College in Linsborg, Kansas. She studied with the Swedish block printer, Birger Sandzén. Her early pieces are much like his style as he was her mentor, friend and an important influence on her art.
After formal schooling, Anna enlisted in the Navy during WWI when women could provide clerical help, and while serving in Detroit, she took night classes at the Detroit School of Design. Upon her discharge, not many opportunities existed for an art career, and she taught in public schools in Globe, Ariz. and Kansas City. While there she attended the Kansas City Art Institute. She taught at what was then called Sul Ross State Teachers College in Alpine for two years, then moved back to Dalhart and eventually to New Mexico schools. She painted a mural in the McKinley County Courthouse in Gallup.
Lured by the landscapes of the Southwest, she eventually landed at what is now Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, serving as head of the Art department and developing engaging curricula that included Native American guest lecturers, trips to Taos and Santa Fe to meet artists, and visiting museums and galleries. She earned two more degrees, a master’s in Art from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque with a thesis on Zuni pottery, and master’s in Art Education from Colorado State Teacher College in Greeley. Throughout her working life, she continued to paint, expressing herself using different styles and media. She was also a printmaker and sculptor, though those works are difficult to find.
Anna retired in 1953 to her home in Santa Fe, but remained active in the art community and maintained membership in and led many organizations such as art fraternities, state art associations, educational boards, and national organizations while continuing to make and exhibit art.
Her granddaughter, Tsenre Devereaux, fills in some of the gaps missed by speaking only of Anna’s art and professional life. The entire family lived together in Santa Fe and Tsenre knew her from the time she was born until Anna passed away in 1982. She described her as a wonderful teacher, fearless, courageous, caring and generous. She remembers Anna as a very strong woman who lived with polio and then asthma in her later years, but she never let anything get her down. She added that Anna wanted to give people the opportunity to produce the art they wanted and promoted art education for children in school and students in higher education.
Tsenre donated 25 pieces of Anna Keener’s art to the Museum of the Big Bend and is happy to share it so everyone can experience the feeling of familiarity her landscapes impart even if one has never visited them.
For more information, visit www.museumofthebigbend.com.