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Traveling Texas: Kerrville's Museum of Western Art 'jewel of Texas Hill Country'

Posted at 8:59 PM, Jun 07, 2022

The Texas Hill Country -- the crossroads where West, Central, and South Texas meet. And the beautiful vistas there serve as an inspiration to artists of all sorts.

Kerrville’s Louise Hayes Park is a beautiful place along the Guadalupe River to sit back and enjoy the tranquil beauty of the Texas hill country. Perhaps it's because of this beauty, that this area has become a favorite for creatives and artists.

We begin our visit at Stonehenge two in Ingram, Texas. This unusual art project came to life in 1989 when Doug Hill gave Al Sheppard an extra limestone slab from a patio project. Shepperd stood it up like a monolith in his pasture, and the idea took off. Made of plaster and graphite, it’s about half as tall as the mysterious stones in England.

Shepperd later added two 13-feet tall Easter Island heads. 12 years ago, the Hill Country arts foundation relocated the monument to its home outside Kerrville.

But Kerrville is where you’ll find the area’s number one tourist attraction.

“We get called the jewel in the Texas Hill Country all the time," said executive director of the museum, Darrell Beauchamp.

The Museum of Western Art Executive Director Dr. Darrell Beauchamp said the O’Neill Ford designed building is itself a work of art.

“He wanted to build it along the mansion hacienda style of building," said Beauchamp. “So it's a long, skinny building like a cross. But he used a lot of natural materials, the wood floors there. Mesquite cut almost a million tiles in the building, saw to tile throughout the building.”

Originally, the museum was strictly the home of cowboy artists—but that was too exclusive.

“That is a group of just basically old white guys. I mean, and, you know, it's kind of a running joke with us now, but we were excluding women, people of color, people from other countries who paint and sculpt the American west," Beauchamp said.

Professional artists like Carol Arnold, who specializes in pastels and wins first place awards for her landscapes. She tells me she’s always loved to paint.

“When I was in second grade, I won a contest at a slumber party for the best drawing of the turtle," said Arnold. “And I thought, well if I can win a turtle painting, there's just no stopping me. So, I just kept going. And as I got older, it filled a spot in my heart and in filled my soul.”

Arnold’s work can be found as far away as a gallery in the Gage Hotel in Marathon. But she especially values her relationship with the museum of western art.

“This is the most beautiful museum, the architecture and the shows that they have and the artists that participate here. It's remarkable," said Arnold. "It truly is something for anyone that comes to the hill country that they should stop by and see this, and I have just enjoyed and felt blessed to be a part of this and all that they do.”

The museum is also a repository for more than 7 thousand pieces of art from paintings to three-dimensional art. We got a behind-the-scenes tour of the climate-controlled vaults—containing hundreds of works by painters and bronze artist sculptors.

“Including some of the greats, William Lawyers and green speed and John Hampton. So, it's just it's a who's who of western art in the bronze world," Beauchamp said.

And outside the museum: plenty of art to see –from their collection of cowbells to larger-than-life bronzes.

“We've just recently added a TD Kelsey’s touching the sun, which is a fabulous bronze. We have works by Fritz White and Fred Fellows and several major works we call monumental because they're all bigger than life,” said Beauchamp.

The Museum of Western Art is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Here, you can immerse yourself in the art and culture of the American west while enjoying the scenic beauty of the Texas Hill Country.