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Flora Cameron

A Peek at the Cameron Collection
January 19- March 14


Flora Cameron Crichton was born in Waco, Texas on January 12, 1925 into a prominent Waco family. She was the daughter of William Waldo and Helen Miller Cameron, and the granddaughter of philanthropists William Cameron, namesake of Waco’s Cameron Park, and Flora B. Cameron, whose portrait is hanging across the gallery. Crichton grew to become a philanthropist herself, as well as a San Antonio socialite, art collector and connoisseur, and a political activist.


Flora Crichton was described by those close to her as a vibrant and glamorous woman in all aspects of her life. She hosted memorable dinner parties for such notable friends as Sen. John Tower, Nelson Rockefeller, and members of the Bush family. Serving as a Trinity University trustee from 1965-2004, she was made the school’s first female chair from 1976-1978. Among other distinctions, she served as a member of the Board of Directors of the San Antonio Art Institute, a member of the National Advisory Council of Georgia O’Keefe Museum, and a member of the National Council of the Metropolitan Opera. In addition to service, her interest in the arts led to numerous contributions, such as the spectacular “Confluence of Civilizations” mural by Mexican artist Juan O’Gorman, given to the city of San Antonio in celebration of its 1969 World’s Fair.

Before her death on March 2, 2019, at the age of 94, she instructed her foundation, The Flora Cameron Foundation, to sell her art, jewelry, furnishings, and other possessions to support the foundation’s work. In true philanthropic fashion, Flora Crichton requested that her art collection be shared with the people of Waco by being donated to Art Center Waco.


Flora Cameron Crichton loved the world of art and giving back to her community. We celebrate her legacy through a sample of the artwork she collected in A Peek at The Cameron Collection. 


Over her lifetime, Flora Cameron Crichton amassed an art collection of approximately 80 significant pieces, only a fraction of which are exhibited here in A Peek at the Cameron Collection.


The works chosen for this exhibit were acquired during her regular visits to Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico. She purchased many of the pieces from the renowned Forrest Fenn, founder and former proprietor of Fenn Gallery (now known as the Nedra Matteucci Galleries) on Paseo de Peralta in Santa Fe.


This exhibit consists of ten artists who were central to the development of art in New Mexico through the middle decades to the 20th Century, including three who were members of the Taos Society of Artists, which contributed to the development of the tiny Taos art colony into an international art center and two were members of Los Cinco Pintores, a group of early 20th-century modernist painters in Santa Fe. Also included is Irving Ramsey Wiles, who painted the Portrait of Mrs. Flora B. Cameron, grandmother and namesake of Flora Cameron Crichton.


Northern New Mexico was home to nine of these artists for at least a portion of their careers, despite their being born in places as diverse as Russia, Germany, and the American Midwest. Of the ten, Peter Hurd was the only New Mexico native and the only one who lived and painted in the southern end of the state. It was worth nothing that Hurd worked alongside Andrew Wyeth, cited as a major influence by our previous exhibiting artist, Kermit Oliver. Hurd married Wyeth’s sister, Henritte; all three of them studied under N.C. Wyeth.


Northern New Mexico provided a fertile place for the artists during the time of the tuberculosis pandemic (1852-1954). Several of the artists sought refuge in this southwestern state to avoid or to ameliorate the symptoms of TB. At least one, Willard Nash, died young of the disease. The artists were not only attracted to the dry air and open landscape because of safety concerns, but the climate was optimal for the light and inspirational scenery that artists crave. There, in the desert air, was where Flora Cameron Crichton saw the beauty in these pieces. 


Here, we celebrate the beauty that she brought to us today. 

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