Josephine Oliver joined Reaugh's painting campaign in 1925 “to sketch Double Mountain. The impressive peak was among Reaugh's favorite sites. At an elevation of 2,400 feet, the mountain dominates the surrounding plain, expressing a stalwart grandeur. As a well-known Texas landmark, Double Mountain evokes the state's exploratory history.” (Lawton and Vogel, 2007)
In 1932, Oliver again painted her impressionistic pastels of the Brazos Canyonlands, including the Double Mountain. This grand, beautiful view continues to be painted and photographed by today's artists.
The Amon Carter Museum has added works of Josephine Oliver to its collection, as well as paintings by L.O. Griffith.
Earth & Sky
The Pastels of Josephine Oliver Travis (1908-1991)
In 2007, the Valley House Gallery in Dallas and the Museum of Art in Tyler hosted an extensive exhibit of artwork by this “Renaissance-woman.”
Josephine Oliver Travis
Josephine Oliver (1908–1991) was born in Paris, Texas, in 1908, and moved with her family to Oak Cliff in 1911. In 1920, her family rented the main house on a property owned by Frank Reaugh (1860–1945), one of Texas' most respected artists and teachers. Reaugh quickly realized the 12-year-old Josephine Oliver had great potential as an artist and uncommon proficiency with the violin. She started taking art classes with Reaugh and in 1923, at 15 years of age, joined Reaugh and a group of his students on a month-long sketching trip to West Texas. Shortly thereafter, Josephine became Reaugh's teaching assistant overseeing students who were expected to sketch up to four pastels a day on the expeditions.
By 1933, she had traveled to West Texas eight times with Reaugh and company, sketching many of the region's most scenic landmarks including Big Bend, Double Mountain, Tule Canyon, Blanco Canyon, and Margaret's Peak. On her last trip in 1933, she developed a friendship with Olin Travis (1888–1975), another well-established Dallas artist. They were married two years later and Josephine turned her attention to the violin, eventually playing with the San Antonio, and then the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, until her retirement in the late 1970s. She passed away in 1991 at 83 years of age.
L.O. Griffith & Josephine Oliver
Rebecca E. Lawton, Curator of Paintings and Sculptures at the Amon Carter Museum and Kevin Vogel, Director of Valley House Gallery have co-written two recent books on Griffith and Oliver: Louis Oscar Griffith, Rediscovering a Texas Printmaker and Earth & Sky, the Pastels of Josephine Oliver Travis (1908-1991).
These two books focus on recently located works of Griffith and Oliver from this period and greatly enlarge our knowledge of the two artists, of their teacher Frank Reaugh, and of a fascinating period, when artists first ventured into the Texas frontier.
© Jim Watson