AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s been 100 years since the 38th Texas Legislature established the Texas State Park System in 1923, which is now home to 89 sites and 640,000 acres of public land. Now, the Bullock Texas State History Museum is commemorating the milestone with its “Art of Texas State Parks” exhibit, created in coordination with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.
Angie Glasker, the curator at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, said the exhibit features 34 paintings created by 30 artists of the various parks, natural areas and historic sites within the state park system. The idea initially came from TPWD, with the state department commissioning the artists and then approaching Bullock staff about an exhibit.
As a curator, she helped craft the space and decide on a theme for 34 paintings included.
“We decided that we were going to separate the exhibit into sections, according to Texas’ very diverse eco-regions, so that the exhibit felt almost like you’re touring the state and seeing how those landscapes change, sometimes vary significantly, depending upon what part of the state you’re in,” Glasker said.
The 30 artists created a total of 65 paintings, with 34 selected for the exhibit. Glasker said her main tasks were ensuring all the artists had at least one painting included, along with ensuring all of the various geographical regions in Texas were represented in the displayed collection.
The paintings employed a variety of mediums, from oils and acrylics to pastels. Glasker said there was an intentionality to the mediums the artists chose to help reflect how the parks and natural areas are seen from their viewpoint.
“It does make for a very visually interesting exhibit because as you’re walking through, it’s not just the change in the landscape — it’s the change in a person’s perspective on what those landscapes are and how they can be achieved,” she said. “So very, very visually stunning exhibit when you’re actually standing in the gallery.”
Glasker said she hopes visitors recognize how vital it is to preserve these state parks and, in turn, Texas’ history. The exhibit includes paintings of natural areas from the early aughts of the state park system, like Mother Neff State Parks, to new sites not yet open to the public.
“They have been important to Texas for a very long time, and they’re a part of our identity,” she said. “I also hope that visitors come away with just that feeling of how unique Texas is, in terms of those landscapes.”
A book published on the 100th anniversary in conjunction with the exhibit will be available for purchase at the Bullock’s gift shop. The museum also hosts a free First Sunday every month, with family-friendly programming open to the public without cost. The Bullock has launched Third Thursdays, where the museum remains open to the public late on the third Thursday of the month.
The “Art of Texas State Parks” exhibit is open to the public through April 30.