• Old Jail Art Center (map)
  • 201 South 2nd Street
  • Albany, TX, 76430
  • United States

Curated by Shannon Steel. 

Artist, collector, Fort Worth Circle member, and Old Jail Art Center co-founder are just a few descriptions associated with William P. “Bill” Bomar (1919–1991). Bomar was born and grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, though claimed by Albany, the hometown of his mother and extended family. His lifelong artistic passion began at the age of seven. He studied painting at the Cranbrook Art Academy (1940–41) and later individually with painters John Sloan, Hans Hoffman, and Amédée Ozenfant. Bomar lived in Texas and New York and then moved permanently to Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico.

Bomar’s paintings and drawings often included the traditional subject matter of landscape, portrait, and still life. Yet, the styles for these subjects varied over his artistic career from purposeful application to loose and expressionistic application of various media. Simultaneously, Bomar used a mixture of these approaches to create works that incorporated mystic symbols and inner fantasy. Upon examination of his large body of work, he appeared more intent on experimentation of media and subject than establishing a personal or identifiable artistic “style.”

The surreal worlds manifested in his works resist depicting logic and clarity or recognizable reality. Instead they represent personal visions of a universe that are difficult to translate, but that contain familiar images that speak to the viewer in an alternative language of his own creation.

The OJAC’s core collection derived from Bomar’s eclectic personal collection of American and European art. Observed closely, one can see the influence of artists he admired and collected in his own works. Often the styles of Amedeo Modigliani, Paul Klee, Arthur Dove, and John Marin—not to mention his fellow Fort Worth Circle artists—were appropriated and reinterpreted into his own artistic language.

Bill Bomar first exhibited in Six Texas Painters at the Weyhe Gallery in New York in 1944. His art is in the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum; Dallas Museum of Art; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, New Mexico; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Museum of Fine Arts Houston; Old Jail Art Center; and numerous private collections. 

The OJAC has invited Shannon Steel to guest curate this installment of Texas Moderns featuring the works of Bill Bomar. Steel’s parents, Pat and Sara, were close friends of Bomar and Shannon’s personal relationship with Bomar developed as he spent part of his summers in New Mexico visiting, observing, and working with the artist at his home and studio. 

[Bill Bomar, Rita as Medea, c.v 1960s, oil on Masonite, 19.5 x 15.25 in. Collection of the Old Jail Art Center. Bequest of Bill Bomar known as the Jewel Nail Bomar and William P. Bomar Collection. 1993.026]


Texas Moderns: Bill Bomar is sponsored in part by Diana Nail, Betsy & Chuck Senter, and Rick Weatherl.


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