New Narratives, New Beginnings
Kermit Oliver (born 1943, Refugio, Texas) graduated from Texas Southern University in 1967, inspired by the drawing skills and discipline of his professor Dr. John Biggers. In 1969, Oliver was given his first solo show by Courtney Gallery, Houston. In 1970, with DuBose Gallery, he became the first African-American artist in Houston to be represented by a commercial gallery. In 1984, Oliver and his family moved to Waco where, despite the growing fame from his Hermès scarf commissions, he retreated from the art world. Since the late 1980s, his work has been represented by Hooks-Epstein Galleries, Houston, with biennial solo exhibitions. In 2005, Oliver was honored with a retrospective exhibition at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. In 2013, Oliver was the recipient of the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Art League Houston.
His work is included in many public collections: Texas Southern University; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; San Antonio Museum of Art; Dallas Museum of Art; Art Museum of Southeast Texas; El Paso Museum of Art; the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.
Featuring some forty paintings and works on paper - spanning from 1970 to 2021- generously loaned by high profile collectors in Houston, Dallas and Waco, as well as from the artist’s personal collection, the exhibition offers the opportunity to examine Oliver’s art through a larger lens. At least a half dozen framed Hermès scarves will be on view. Oliver, the famed French fashion house’s first American designer, has created seventeen scarves over the past three decades. An original painting of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Conservation scarf design will be included from the artist’s collection.
Significantly, this is the first time that many of these important works - “Dusk”(1970), “Annunciation” (1973), “Bella Donna” (1978), “Young Christ with Saint Christopher” (1978), among others - have been brought together for a museum exhibition. The power of the paintings, drawings and scarves will come as a revelation to those encountering Oliver’s art again or those seeing it for the first time.