Growing Up @ OJAC

Growing Up @ OJAC

In seventh grade I became a Junior Docent (or JuDo) at the OJAC. The Junior Docent Program is a teen volunteer program at the museum that teaches local 13-16 year olds about visual arts and culture as well as museum work. My older brother had also been a Junior Docent and later an intern at OJAC. As any younger sibling does, I looked up to my brother and aspired to have the same experiences!

I’ve always been creative with a passion for art- and the Education Director at the museum pushed each of the Junior Docents to trust and pursue these interests. I remember being excited for our Wednesday meetings to come every week so that I could feel a sense of belonging and involvement in something creative- something that made me feel unique. I spent the next 3 years working family and public events, preparing supplies for programs, learning how to study and speak about art and what it is like to work at a museum. I was certain of my “yes” answer when the Education Director asked me to join their High School Intern program at the end of my Sophomore year. The OJAC had become my second home by this time, and I felt as if I could be my true self, (weird, quirky, creative, etc.) She always took the time to teach, help, and mentor and I looked up to her throughout Jr. high and High School.

As high school graduation approached I remember looking back on my growth during my 6 years at the OJAC. I had gone from being shy to confidant, gaining public speaking and organizational skills. The Education Director had not only helped my love for art grow, but also pushed me out of my comfort zone and shaped me into someone who felt like I could conquer anything I put my mind to.

After graduating from AHS I attended Dental Assisting School and moved to Austin for work, I spent a year working with an incredible dentist, but Austin was just too big for a small town girl. I moved back to Albany and reconnected with the Ed Director in July of 2018 (not that we ever really lost touch). She informed me that the museum was seeking an interim Admin Assistant. I gladly said yes, as being back at the OJAC (even for a short period of time) was a happy and familiar feeling. As I worked in an interim capacity I decided to apply for the full-time position during their candidate search. I was thrilled they decided to hire me full time starting January 1st of this year. It’s a position where I get to interact with my community, visitors from all over the world, and be a part of a team of creative people who share my passions for art and history.

Life has a funny way of bringing you back to your roots when you feel like you are lost. Austin was not ‘me,’ but Albany was somewhere I knew I could be my true self. My student experiences at the museum helped shape me into who I am today; they gave me a great work ethic, problem solving skills and can-do attitude.  I am incredibly grateful the OJAC has these great programs to teach, mentor and inspire young students. I know that I am not the only example of the impact of these programs in our small town. The museum’s Junior Docent and HS Internship programs have impacted the lives of many of Albany’s youth and I hope they continue for years to come.

-Tatum Green, Administrative Assistant and Visitor Services Coordinator

OJAC Celebrates 10 Years of the Cell Series

OJAC Celebrates 10 Years of the Cell Series

Ten years ago the OJAC renovated its historic 1877 jail building. Following the renovation, the Asian collection was installed in the two lower galleries with new interpretive materials and exhibition furniture. The upstairs was to be devoted to a series titled A Cell of One's Own initiated by Margaret Blagg, the director at that time. Since that first exhibit in the fall of 2008, which featured artist Denny Pickett, the now titled Cell Series has hosted 28 other shows in the series. With exception of only a couple of artists, all are from or have a close connection to Texas. 

The Cell Series, along with other exhibitions, has garnered the OJAC a statewide reputation as one of the few art institutions that promotes contemporary Texas artists and their work. This is not unusual for the OJAC, as our co-founders Reilly Nail and Bill Bomar did the exact same in past OJAC exhibits as well as through their personal collection. 

For many visitors to the museum, this series of exhibits may be their only exposure to vanguard art being created at this moment in history. The Cell Series presents a rare opportunity to encounter work that is attempting to interpret and translate the world we universally experience in creative and surprising ways. 

I am reminded of a story that makes being part of a museum staff worth the many efforts. During a student art competition a few years ago, students were asked to created an artwork in response to the work of a Cell Series artist and submit a comment to accompany their piece. One student wrote a short statement that included the sentence, "I've never seen anything like that before." That simple statement succinctly sums up what many artists are attempting to do - create something never before seen. I sincerely hope that is what we all see in art and life.. to see and experience the "new" even though it can sometimes be challenging and unfamiliar. There is no guarantee in art or life that we will like the new things, but I am confident that if we are openminded, art will allow us to see something unique and many things new again. 

Our audiences have enjoyed ten years of the Cell Series and can now help us welcome the 30th exhibit that will feature the work of Cam Schoepp this fall. Coincidentally, founder Reilly Nail was a friend and collector of Schoepp and his work beginning about 30 years ago. It only seems appropriate that his exhibit will help us celebrate this moment in the OJAC's continuing history of supporting and exhibiting Texas artists. 

- Patrick Kelly 

OJAC Executive Director 

Banner Image: CAM SCHOEPP, paint/lift/line (installation detail), 2017, paint, chain and barrel, electric motor. Courtesy of the artist. 

37th Hour

37th Hour

Recently the OJAC acquired 37th Hour, a large and colorful painting by Brooklyn based (but Texas born) artist Matt Kleberg. I was curious about the title so I did some digging on my own, but came up short and even more perplexed. What I had considered as possibly inspired by Southern Gothic writings, or even a biblical code (as suggested by the internet), or simply an ironic or random phrase, actually turned out to be a very personal story. With Matt’s permission, here’s the inside scoop that inspired the title:

Matt Kleberg: "[37th Hourwas in a show in NYC last year. I was working on the paintings for that show while Liz (his wife)was pregnant and the show opened pretty soon after we had Waylon. The titles of the paintings all reflected the birth, and 37th Hour was in reference to the 37.5 hour long labor that Liz had, and the drawn out anticipation of it all. The meaning of the work for me, or at least the context that gives a painting a reason for being is always shifting. During Liz’s pregnancy, the empty niches in the work took on an expectant, anticipatory charge. They became about waiting and wondering about who this person coming into our lives was going to be. The paintings, in that regard, were 'pregnant spaces'." 

MATT KLEBERG, 37th Hour, 2017, oil stick on canvas, 72 x 58 in. Museum purchase. 2018.002

MATT KLEBERG, 37th Hour, 2017, oil stick on canvas, 72 x 58 in. Museum purchase. 2018.002



OJAC Receives Art Works Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

OJAC Receives Art Works Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

 National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $25 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $22,000 to the Old Jail Art Center for the upcoming exhibition René Treviño: A New Codex. In this exhibition contemporary Mexican-American artist René Treviño will create an installation comprised of his own work alongside his personal selections from the Old Jail Art Center’s Pre-Columbian collection. The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts. 

“It is energizing to see the impact that the arts are making throughout the United States. These NEA-supported projects, such as this one to the OJAC, are good examples of how the arts build stronger and more vibrant communities, improve well-being, prepare our children to succeed, and increase the quality of our lives,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “At the National Endowment for the Arts, we believe that all people should have access to the joy, opportunities, and connections the arts bring.” 

“An NEA Art Works grant is a validation of the type of quality exhibitions the OJAC provides to a diverse audience. This support is vital to the mission of the OJAC to provide art for all that is free for all,” said OJAC Executive Director Patrick Kelly. “In addition, it allows visitors to see ancient objects in a new light with the help of contemporary artist René Treviño.” 

Utilizing extensive research of Mayan and other cultures’ carvings, Treviño develops contemporary images from Mesoamerica’s ancient steles and codices. He then combines these forms and symbols derived from ancient culture with popular culture references such as Wonder Woman, Oreo cookies, and pop designer Lisa Frank’s canon. The OJAC installation will incorporate Treviño’s large-scale works on paper along with smaller works on leather skins and short looped digital animations. Many of the objects in the OJAC Pre-Columbian collection to be utilized are figurative. Those figures become the “players” in drawings and animations. Placing his own sculptural objects, like jewelry, masks, or small drawings, into the vitrines with the objects from the museum’s collection, will further challenge visitors to see and seek relationships between the ancient and contemporary. The result is an artist’s created world that references our past and speaks to our present and future. 

 René Treviño: A New Codex is on view from September 15, 2018 – August 24, 2019. This exhibition is organized by the OJAC and curated by Patrick Kelly. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit 

Additional Support

Support for René Treviño: A New Codex is also provided by Anonymous, Erin Cluley, Pam and Bob Tidwell, and Travis Vandergriff.

General Operating support is provided by the Still Water Foundation, Summerlee Foundation, T.J. Brown and C.A. Lupton Foundation, Texas Prairieland Foundation, and the OJAC’s dedicated board, patrons, and members. 

 OJAC Mission

The Old Jail Art Center seeks to enhance the lives of area residents and visitors by providing art for all







Spring Student Programs!

Spring Student Programs!

Currently on display in the Stasney Center for Education are forty artworks by young artists from the surrounding area. The artists are local 7th-12th graders and are all students who benefit from the OJAC's monthly in-school program, Art-to-Go. In January, one of our staff members and ATG instructors presented these students with five pieces by known artists in the OJAC collection. In cooperation with our theme "Talking Back," each student chose one of the five collection pieces as inspiration and responded by creating their own unique artwork. The collection pieces serve as a "jumping off point" for the students as they find their own voice or show us their own take on the subject matter, technique, or style of the original. As a part of the learning experience and honing their own artistic voice, students are also asked to write an artist statement with their work. 

We call it a Student Art Show not only for the artist participants but also for its jurors. The OJAC is proud of our Junior Docent corps, 7th-12th grades students who volunteer or work for the Education Department. The annual student art show is one of the JuDos' biggest projects during the school year. In the week before the show opens, JuDos volunteer their time and efforts to judge hundreds of submissions and carefully curate a show of artworks that speak to the theme and meet quality standards of creativity and craftsmanship. At the opening reception (held Saturday, March 10th) our JuDos present the winning students with certificates and prizes for Honorable Mention, Best in Category, and Best in Show.

On Saturday April 14th, JuDos will be hosting International Slow Art Day at the OJAC. Each of them are already hard at work to prepare a small gallery talk and activity for museum guests. Their research and presentation will be based on their favorite piece from our current exhibitions. In the coming weeks students will contact contemporary artists and research the history and style of their piece to give visitors a fresh look at their chosen piece and facilitate a more interactive museum experience. 

All in all, we're proud of the young artists and art appreciators in our area. It's deep within our mission at the OJAC that art is for all and we work hard to make it so. Be sure to come by and check out the Student Art Show before it goes off display at the end of March and mark your calendars to show your support for our students on International Slow Art Day, Saturday, April 14th.

2018 - Year of Conservation

2018 - Year of Conservation

As you may recall, the Old Jail Art Center designated 2017 as the "Year of the Membership" and successfully increased our membership by about 120 percent. 2018 will be the "Year of Conservation" and will encompass a variety of initiatives. Conservation, preservation, sustainability, and stewardship are all related concepts that describe the multiple projects taking place throughout the year.  

Efforts to increase funding for much needed conservation and preservation on works in the art and archives collections will focus on the Fort Worth Circle paintings and the original Shackelford County courthouse drawings. The OJAC has already taken the first step in its conservation endeavors by submitting a grant to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to fund a survey of 83 paintings by Fort Worth Circle artists. During that process, it was realized that the OJAC has the largest holding of Fort Worth Circle art works by any museum in the world. The original courthouse drawings on linen in the OJAC's Robert E. Nail Jr. Archives are in need of stabilization and archival framing. These are just two examples on a prioritized list of collections care. 

The much-anticipated initial series of video interviews in the Ardon Judd Oral History project administered through the OJAC's Robert E. Nail Jr. Archives will debut in October. This project demonstrates the importance of preserving regional history, while also making that history accessible to visitors, students and researchers. This wealth of information will be valuable resource for research, education and enjoyment for current and future generations.

The OJAC takes another step in sustainability by being awarded a grant from the The Green Mountain Energy Sun Club ® to install solar panels, which will reduce our energy expenses. Sun Club funds will also be provided for education programs that will dovetail with our current curriculum utilizing collection objects to promote stewardship and sustainability of our natural resources. Not only will the OJAC take a leadership role in this important endeavor for our region of Texas, but also reduce operating cost - directing those savings to other programs. 

These activities emphasize the imporantance of the OJAC as not only the primary repository of cultural and historical items and information, but also our obligation to protect and preserve that which we hold in public trust. 

- Patrick Kelly

Executive Director and Curator of Exhibitions 



The Path Into the Blue

The Path Into the Blue

OJAC Collection favorite Der Weg ins Blaue (The Path Into the Blue) will be on exhibit at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, Germany this March.  The Pinakothek der Moderne is one of the largest museums in the world for art, architecture and design of the 20th and 21st centuries.

"The exhibition, 'Construction of Mystery' is the first major exhibition of Paul Klee's work to be held at the Pinakothek de Moderne. The substantial holdings in Munich will be presented alongside more than 120 works from important Klee collections in Europe, the United States and Japan. The show follows Klee's path as a 'thinking artist' who systematically explores and transcends boundaries of the rational in his work. At the center of the exhibition is the 1920s, a time in which Klee responded to the challenges of the new technological world and its impact on the creativity of the modern artist. As a Bauhaus master, Klee questioned the dominance of rationalism and strove to balance understanding and feeling, construction and intuition. This exhibition shows the continued relevance of Klee's work, addressing fundamental conflicts of the modern subject. " -Pinakothek der Moderne 

PAUL KLEE    Der Weg ins Blaue (The Path into the Blue) , 1934  Encaustic on canvas mounted on board  Gift of Bill Bomar, 1991.002.


Der Weg ins Blaue (The Path into the Blue), 1934

Encaustic on canvas mounted on board

Gift of Bill Bomar, 1991.002.

OJAC Staff and Board Members attended the opening reception of Paul Klee:  Construction of Mystery.  This exhibition   will be on view at the Pinakothek de Moderne from March 1, 2018 - June 6, 2018. 

OJAC Staff and Board Members attended the opening reception of Paul Klee: Construction of Mystery. This exhibition will be on view at the Pinakothek de Moderne from March 1, 2018 - June 6, 2018. 

Katie Robinson Edwards @ the OJAC

Katie Robinson Edwards @ the OJAC

The OJAC Focus Lecture Series is a quarterly offering of presentations by artists, speakers and historians on a variety of social, cultural and historical topics ranging from the visual arts to community and Texas History.

Katie Robinson Edwards, the curator of the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum in Austin and author of Midcentury Modern Art in Texas was at the OJAC to share insights about midcentury Texas art, specifically highlighting the artists of The Fort Worth Circle. The OJAC is home to the largest public collection of works from artists of The Fort Worth Circle - a group of artists that became teachers, university faculty and mentors to a new generation of Texas artists.

Banner Image: 

Head, 1953.
Bror Utter

American (1913-1994)
Oil on board
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. W. Ernest Chilton, Jr.



OJAC Inmates select new work for Permanent Collection

Recently, the OJAC Inmates [an affinity group of museum members between the ages of 25-45] voted and selected Exegesis by artist Matthew Cusick to be accessioned into OJAC's permanent collection.

Take a sneak peak below at our newest accession!

Matthew Cusick,  Exegesis , 2010  Inlaid maps and text on panel, 18 x 24 in.  Image courtesy the artist

Matthew Cusick, Exegesis, 2010

Inlaid maps and text on panel, 18 x 24 in.

Image courtesy the artist

About the Artist: Matthew Cusick was born in New York, New York and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. 

"A multimedia artist working in collage, painting, and book art, Matthew Cusick is best known for his map collages of intricate, warmly colored portraits and landscapes. 'Maps have all the properties of a brushstroke: nuance, density, line, movement, and color,' he says. 'Their palette is deliberate and symbolic, acting as a cognitive mechanism to help us internalize the external.' " 


37 Years of Art for All

37 Years of Art for All

Happy Birthday OJAC! This week we celebrate 37 years of art for all

OJAC began in December of 1980 when cousins and OJAC co-founders Reilly Nail and Bill Bomar opened the museum with four small galleries in the original Shackelford County jail building. In 37 years, the museum has expanded from four small galleries into 17,000 square feet of gallery, education, archive and research space that offers diverse and innovative exhibitions and education programming that serves a core audience of 25 rural counties. OJAC is also part of a select group of museums accredited with the American Alliance of Museums. 

Since the beginning, the philosophy of the OJAC has been to offer engaging exhibitions and education programs free to the public, at no cost to visitors.  

Thank you to our OJAC Board and Docents, volunteers, donors, and members that continue to make our vision of art for all that is free for all possible!


2017 - Year of the Membership

2017 - Year of the Membership

2017 was the "Year of Membership" for the OJAC, our goal in January was to increase membership by 25% by year-end and I'm happy to announce we have surpassed our original goal! OJAC membership has grown by 118%! 

The OJAC thanks our generous members that carried out a "random act of membership" (aka R.A.M.) by purchasing memberships anonymously for friends, family, and even strangers.

A huge thanks as well to those who renewed their memberships, not to mention our membership committee for their efforts. Dare we ask to keep that percentage going up? 150% is a nice even number!

You can become a member, renew a lapsed membership, or give a membership as a holiday gift. Purchase or Renew your membership by clicking here or when you visit the museum! 

Thank you for helping the OJAC share and support ART FOR ALL.


OJAC Co-founder Bill Bomar

OJAC Co-founder Bill Bomar

Born in Fort Worth, Texas on December 30, 1919, Bill Bomar began his life-long love of painting at the age of seven. It was at this young age, while sitting for a commissioned portrait by the artist Murray Bewley, that Bomar’s interest in the world of art was kindled

For nearly 30 years Bomar made his home at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, using the space as a studio and absorbing the city's engrossing artistic atmosphere. "A person is exposed to a wide range of expression in New York," he commented. "It is invaluable to anyone who is trying to discover his own vocabulary in painting." In 1970 Bomar left the city and moved full time to New Mexico, a place where he had spent many summers.

It was through his mother, Jewel Nail Bomar, and the Nail family, that Bomar maintained a connection with the Albany, Texas area. In the late 1970s, together with his cousin Reilly Nail, the two co-founded what would become the Old Jail Art Center. Combining their collections of 20th century modern art along with art from their mothers’ collections, the museum opened in December of 1980. Today the Old Jail Art Center encompasses some 17,000 square feet and is a thriving, widely-acclaimed art museum dedicated to the visual arts and to preserving the local history of the Shackelford County area.

Banner Image Credit:

Nile at Luxor, 1954


American (1919-1991)

Oil on linen

Bequest of Bill Bomar known as the Jewel Nail Bomar and William P. Bomar, Jr. Collection


Diwali at the OJAC!

Diwali at the OJAC!

Diwali, known as “the festival of lights”, is celebrated every year during autumn in the northern hemisphere. It is an official holiday in many countries around the world - celebrated by around 15 % of the Earth's population!!  This holiday spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair.

As a symbol for this victory, millions of lights in many forms cover homes, neighborhoods, and city streets. The preparation and festivities can last up to five days and celebrates everything bright and beautiful. Families spend time together eating special foods and reveling in what is good in life. For many, Diwali is also a time for renewal. Some of the annual traditions include cleaning, and renovating homes as well as buying new clothes to signify hope and putting your best foot forward in the year to come.

At the OJAC, our Diwali celebrations have already begun. On Tuesday, this month's After School Drop-In featured a children's book about the traditional Diwali decoration called Rangoli by Anuradha Ananth. Students went home with their very own sand rangoli ornament.

Over 2,000 students, in surrounding area schools K-12, will be receiving a visit from one of our Art-to-Go Instructors this month as we teach about the Festival of Lights and guide them in creating their own decorations for Diwali. Home School families won't miss out either when they come to Home School Family Friday on the fourth Friday of this month. 

Last but not least, the OJAC will be hosting our own Diwali Family Festival on Saturday, October 21st. YOU are invited! All ages are welcome so bring the whole crew!

 Experience traditional foods, games with prizes, music, artwork, and much more!

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OJAC selected to receive loan from Art Bridges

OJAC selected to receive loan from Art Bridges

Arts patron and philanthropist Alice Walton recently announced the formation of Art Bridges, a 501(c)(3) foundation with the mission to share works of exceptional American art to a wider audience. The Old Jail Art Center (OJAC) is among a handful of institutions that have been selected to receive a loan from Art Bridges. Other institutions include Amarillo Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Blanton Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art, El Paso Museum of Art, Portland Museum of Art, Tyler Museum of Art, and Yellowstone Art Museum. Each of these institutions are designing innovative programming to engage audiences with the loaned objects, as well as works in their collections, through Art Bridges support. The work on loan to the OJAC, Untitled (Subway Station), 1945, by Norman Wilfred Lewis, is on view now in the Nail Gallery. 


NORMAN WILFRED LEWIS,   Untitled (Subway Station),   1945, oil and sand on canvas. On loan from Art Bridges.  LX.085

NORMAN WILFRED LEWIS, Untitled (Subway Station), 1945, oil and sand on canvas. On loan from Art Bridges.  LX.085

A native of New York City, Norman Lewis began his career during the 1930s as a social realist. He shifted from an overtly figural style, depicting bread lines, evictions, and police brutality, to non-objective abstraction in the 1950s, but remained active and consciously aware of social inequalities, particularly those faced by African Americans. Lewis was an important member of the Abstract Expressionism movement. His work is characterized by the duality of abstraction and representation, using both geometric and natural forms, in the depiction of both the city and natural world, and expressing both righteous anger and joyous celebration.

Image Credit: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Exhibition,  Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis. 

Image Credit: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Exhibition, Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis. 



Anniversary and Acquisition

Anniversary and Acquisition

If you haven’t already heard, 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Fort Griffin on the Texas frontier. For those of you celebrating this milestone, you’ll also want to make a special trip 15 miles south to the OJAC to view our most recent acquisition, Nocturnal (Ruins of Old Fort Griffin) by Charles Peter Bock.

This rare work depicts the ruins of Fort Griffin, located just north of Albany, Texas. In August and September of 1908, Bock, and fellow artist Frank Reaugh, went on a “sketching trip” from Dallas to West Texas traveling by covered wagon and this painting is a result of that excursion. The finished oil on canvas was exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in December of the following year. Nocturnal (Ruins of Old Fort Griffin) depicts one of the structures at sunset or early dark—a personal favorite time of day for Bock and Reaugh.

This new OJAC acquisition is now on view in the Nail Gallery. 

-Amy Kelly, Registrar


Image Credit:

Nocturnal (Ruins of Old Fort Griffin), c. 1908


American (1872-1952)

Oil on canvas 

Museum purchase through funds provided by Shirley Caldwell in honor of Clifton Caldwell, her husband of 59 years






Recognizing Talent

Recognizing Talent

I enjoy looking at other museums’ (particularly Texas museums) publications to see what type of exhibitions and events they are presenting. I was pleasantly surprised to see in the Amon Carter Museum of America Art Program for August 2017 – January 2018 that an upcoming exhibition Commanding Space: Women Sculptors of Texas was featuring the work of three contemporary artists that have had exhibits at the OJAC.


Linda Ridgway participated in the OJAC’s Cell Series in 2015 and Kana Harada did so in 2013. Both solo exhibits, in our upper galleries of the historic and artistically challenging jail cells, were fantastic. We also purchased two drawings by Linda from another OJAC exhibition Drawn in Drawn Out of 2014 and a sculpture of Kana’s that was included in her installation. 


Another artist that is in the Amon Carter exhibit is Sherry Owens.  A large and elaborate work of hers was shown at the OJAC when she participated in our West Texas Triangle summer exhibition in 2010.


I’m glad to see that the Amon Carter is showing the work of these three talented artists along with two others—Celia Eberle and Sharon Kopriva. I know that the OJAC audiences enjoyed the works of those three and anticipate a larger audience will do so as well in Fort Worth. I look forward to visiting the Carter to see the exhibit.


-Pat Kelly

Director and Curator of Exhibitions


[image: Kana Harada’s installation Anything You Want, 2013 in the OJAC Cell Series.]

A Stradivarius on the Prairie?

A Stradivarius on the Prairie?

Berta Hart Nance (1883-1958), a charter member of the Poetry Society of Texas, wrote the poem "Cattle," which is read at the opening of each performance of the Fort Griffin Fandangle.

Growing up in Fort Griffin, Nance learned to play the violin at a young age. When she was in her early teens, her father ‘Dutch’ Nance, purchased her a better violin for $50 from a traveling theatre player named John Hervey, who had become ill while visiting the town and needed the money. Hervey related to the family that he had purchased the violin from a German immigrant down on his luck in Galveston.

Nance owned and played the violin for 60 years, and, after her death in 1958 her great nephew, Jack Reynolds, cared for it for a number of years before it came to the musem.

While readying the violin for display this summer, OJAC staff noted that the instrument is labeled as a Stradivarius from 1723. Though it has been retrofitted with modern parts, the body could be authentic. We are hopeful and excited to potentially have this information confirmed in the future!


-Molly Sauder


Summer Student Programs- That's a Wrap!

Summer Student Programs- That's a Wrap!

We just wrapped up a Summer of student day camps. July and August were extremely busy months for everyone in the Education department- from the interns up to the department director!

Over the years, our Summer Student Programs have become a reunion of sorts with many familiar smiling faces we may not see too often during the school year. Some students we saw for their last summer as they graduate out of the age range of our day-camps and some students began their summer tradition with us for the first time.

We made wind chimes and weavings, puppets and paintings, metal tooling and plastic bottle boats. We explored ancient aztec culture, contemporary Mexican culture, and concepts of recycling and creative re-use. We dove deep into the ocean for science and STEM connections through a variety of games and activities. Even character building lessons found their way into our discussions and crafts as we learned what it means to be resilient, work together, and try new things.

Our inspiration comes from many things either from the museum vault or prize winning children's books but our goal is always the same: to educate the children in our community and open their eyes to new things from our past and present that might aid them toward a brighter future. By sharing our enthusiasm for the beautiful artwork, culture, and amazing things our big and varied world has to offer we hope to instill a similar appreciation in our students and in all the people who are touched by the OJAC and our programs. 


-Molly Gore Merck

Education Coordinator

A Month of Teacher In-Service

A Month of Teacher In-Service

July 2017 was the 19th year of Summer Teacher In-Service at the OJAC. This season we enjoyed visiting classroom instructors from Abilene, Albany, Anson, Breckenridge, Cisco, Cherokee, Clyde, De Leon, Haskell, Hawley, Leuders Avoca, Merkel, Stamford and Wylie. 

Weekly Teacher Workshops are very interactive as instructors explore the OJAC collection through cross-curricular and TEKs aligned lesson plans and art activities. Teachers leave with freebies, classroom art supply sets, a full curriculum packet (printed and digital) with colored prints of collection objects, as well as their completed sample of each craft or activity. 

2017 Themes ranged from Hispanic Arts and Culture, local West Texas History, Global Printmaking traditions and Visual and Language Arts Connections for Early Learners. 

At  ¡Fiesta!: A Celebration of Hispanic and Latin Culture through the OJAC Collection, Spanish language and social studies teachers explored traditions, celebrations, artists and history of Hispanic and Latin Cultures through the lens of the museum collection. They created Incan Quipu, Spanish Colonial Straw Applique, Amate Bark Paper Paintings, Tres Reyes Wishing Shoes, Peruvian Bird Gourds, and learned the traditional Mexican children's game of La Vieja Ines

At Printmaking: A sampler of Cross-cultural traditions, visual and fine art teachers learned fun and budget-friendly ways for their students to explore ancient printmaking traditions from countries such as India, Mexico, China, Ghana, Japan and the Netherlands. They experimented with a variety of materials and techniques presented through the lens of Visual Art and Artifacts from the museum collection.

At The Art of Reading, teachers of PK-2nd grade students investigated connections between popular and classic children's books and the museum collection. Participants practiced instruction of visual thinking and language arts activities and enjoyed games and crafts corresponding to each book. 

Our final workshop was a Local History Tour, where social studies and history instructors enjoyed a guided bus tour of local historical sites, followed by instruction at the museum. Participants enjoyed a performance by a singing Cowboy Poet, as well as crafts connecting to frontier life and Native American Cultures in our region. 



Western Swing 2017

The 22nd Annual Western Swing Fundraiser was a big success! 

Thanks to all who came out for this fabulous exhibit opening and fundraiser benefitting OJAC Education Programs!

Each individual ticket sponsors 5 students for a year of school outreach through Art-To-Go.

Make plans to join us next June for this special event!