Home W A C O E V E N T S - Visit Waco, TX Kermit Oliver: New Narratives, New Beginnings


Art Center Waco
Art Center Waco
(254) 752-4371


Art Center Waco
Art Center Waco
701 S 8th St, Waco, TX 76706

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53 °F
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Feels like: 50 °F


Jan 22 2022


SAT: 10 AM-2 PM; SUN-MON closed
11:00 am - 5:00 pm



Kermit Oliver: 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.


In celebration of the new location and expansive building, Art Center Waco is honored to present “Kermit Oliver: New Narratives, New Beginnings,” a major exhibition featuring the works of Waco painter Kermit Oliver.

Featuring some 40 and works on paper – spanning from 1970 to 2021- generously loaned by high-profile collectors from Houston, Dallas and Waco, as well as from the artist’s personal collection, the exhibition offers guests a chance to examine Oliver’s art up close.

Oliver was the first American to create designs for French fashion house Hermes, and a half-dozen of his Hermes scarf designs are on display; he has completed 17 since 1980. An original painting of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Conservation scarf design is included from the artist’s personal 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.

All of Oliver’s works are visual cosmologies, referencing aspects of his early life growing up in the cattle ranching area of Refugio, Texas, as well as mythological, Biblical and art historical sources. It is impossible to account for the past half-century of Texas art without including him.

“I have lived and worked in Waco for 37 years,” Oliver writes. “By nature, and evident practice, I am reclusive and remain withdrawn from most events. However, Art Center Waco has over the years extended a courtesy of inviting me to participate in their exhibition presentations. I feel humbled and honored to be invited to participate in the inaugural presentation of this new center. I hope the small retrospective of my work may help to enhance the importance of this event for the city of Waco – hoping that it will encourage new viewers and old friends to recognize and appreciate the value of the Center’s forward journey to enlarge the community’s awareness and need for its continued participation.”

Kermit Oliver: New Narratives, New Beginnings” will galvanize the Waco community and create unprecedented excitement throughout Texas. The exhibition is curated by Lance Magid, Vice-Chair of Art Center Waco Board of Directors, and guest curated by Susie Kalil, who is writing a book on Oliver’s life and art.


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