Posts Tagged 'The Stewpot Art Program'

Art Runs in the Family

Creativity is all around us in Dallas, and we love highlighting and honoring our local creative community at the Museum. This year, we have the special opportunity to celebrate the work of two relatives: Willard “The Texas Kid” Watson, whose drawings are in For a Dreamer of Houses, and his nephew Stephen McGee, whose painting is featured in We Are ARTISTS: The Stewpot Art Program.   

Willard Watson, affectionately known as “The Texas Kid,” was raised in Dallas and wore many hats—literally and figuratively—over his lifetime. He served as a solider in the South Pacific  in World War II, and was also a tailor, a cook, a carpenter, an upholsterer, a shade-tree mechanic, a handyman, and an actor. Around town, he was best known for his creative homemade outfits, customized cars, and front yard sculpture garden.

Willard “The Texas Kid” Watson’s customized car
Photograph of Willard “The Texas Kid” Watson seated outside of his home and posing in front of the sculptures placed in his yard for his portrait. Creator: Unknown, 1993–01. This photograph is part of the collection entitled The Black Academy of Arts and Letters Records and was provided by UNT Libraries Special Collections.

His artworks often included found objects and everyday materials. Using colored markers, pencil, and paper, Watson created a series of Life Cycle drawings that showed scenes from his home and family life and were narrated with vivid captions. Thinking back on his childhood in Dallas, he wrote:

My middle sister, Mable, had taken sick and I to go down to Elm Street to Otis drug store to pick up some medicine, But first I had to get some money from Daddy, who worked at S&S grocery store. I had to walk a mile down Central tracks and a mile back. And when I got Back my mother was drinking Buttermilk, I will never forget it. Tears were in her eyes, and it made me feel very Bad. She was depressed. She Loved her children so much that when one got sick she’d show it By tears. She say she Be praying But she always had tears. I kind cheered her up. The other Children were out Playing.

Willard Watson, “The Texas Kid,” born 1921 in Caddo Parish, LA; died 1995 in Dallas, TX; Untitled, 1985. Colored marker and pencil. Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Friends of Willard Watson, 1985.181.8

Watson shared his love of art with his nephew Stephen McGee. McGee relished working in acrylic paint, pastels, colored pencils, and charcoal mediums. He particularly enjoyed portraiture, and he completed art projects for the nonprofit organization CitySquare that involved creating drawings of former talk show host Jay Leno, Lyle Lovett, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, and Dallas Cowboy Tyron Smith. McGee had loved art since he was a small child, and next to his love for God, art was his life.

Stephen McGee working on a portrait of Robert Johnson
Retrieved April 10, 2020, from FPCDallas
Fast Cheetah by Stephen McGee

McGee became a member of the Stewpot Art Program community in 2010. The Stewpot offers a safe haven for people experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness in Dallas, and the Art Program provides class time and art supplies for individuals looking to express themselves creatively, grow as artists, and support themselves through the sale of their work. You can learn more about The Stewpot and how to support their work here.

The Art Program helped McGee take his artistic practice to a higher level, form lasting friendships, and make his life more positive. McGee passed away on August 8, 2019, leaving a host of family and friends who love and remember Stephen “The Artist” McGee for his tremendous resilience, kindness, and creativity.

How are you spending time with loved ones right now? How are Willard’s scenes similar or different from your home life? Have you ever shared a special legacy with an important person in your life or passed down something you care about to a younger generation? These artworks make us think of home, family, and the ways that we can support one another during these uncertain times. 

We hope the artwork and life stories of Willard Watson and Stephen McGee inspire you to create, share joy with your loved ones, and continue to explore our city’s rich creative communities in For a Dreamer of Houses and We Are ARTISTS: The Stewpot Art Program.

Stephen McGee with his Stewpot Art Program class on a visit to the DMA. Stephen is third from the right in the white shirt.

Mary Ann Bonet is the Director of Community Engagement and Lindsay O’Connor is the Manager of School Programs at the DMA.

Friday Photos: A Better World Is…

stewpot-talent-show-12

Claire Nilson’s vision for a better world.

What does a better world look like to you? Yesterday I joined my friends from The Stewpot Art Program for an afternoon of music, art, and fun at The Stewpot’s annual talent show in beautiful Encore Park Dallas. And to top it all, my mom is visiting from Charleston and had the opportunity to meet some of the amazing artists who participate in our Stewpot partnership here at the DMA.

The theme of this year’s talent show was “A Better World Is…” Members of the Stewpot community used their outstanding talents to explore their vision for a better world – categories encompassed fine art, spoken word, essays and poetry, voice, and instrumentals. We certainly did not envy the judges! The afternoon included original compositions, powerful meditations on the role each of us plays in creating a better world, and a rocking version of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.”

Suffice to say, we have some amazingly talented members of our North Texas community at The Stewpot! Please be sure to mark your calendar for The Stewpot Art Program’s upcoming show at the Dallas Public Library and check out other opportunities to support this wonderful community outreach program. As one participant observed, “A better world starts when we realize we’re here to learn to be better and make the world a better place.”

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Lindsay O’Connor
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs

Friday Photos: The Stewpot Art Program

One of the many perks of being a museum educator here at the DMA is having the opportunity to connect with amazing people in our North Texas community and beyond. Thanks to Tanya Krueger, one of our superstar volunteer docents, I’ve learned about the important work being done by The Stewpot, a community outreach program dedicated to serving homeless and at-risk populations here in Dallas.

Tanya volunteers for the Stewpot Art Program, a special program that provides class time and art supplies for individuals looking to express themselves creatively, grow as artists, and support themselves through the sale of their work (be sure to check out opportunities to support the program by donating supplies or purchasing artwork – the artist receives 90% of the sale and the remainder goes back into the program for art supplies and field trips for the artists.) The Stewpot artists themselves are a remarkable group of people. Plan a visit to the studio and you’ll be struck by each artist’s individual style, creative drive, and kind spirit.

Together with Cynthia Brannum, Stewpot Art Program Director, we’ve launched a monthly program for the Stewpot artists here at the DMA that includes a gallery discussion and lots of art-making activities. Speaking for myself, working with the Stewpot artists has been one of the highlights of my summer. Take a look at our first two visits!

Lindsay O’Connor
Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs


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