At a crucial moment in the development of Texas art, an eccentric oil wildcatter form Massachusetts and Luling, Texas, turned to the prestigious San Antonio Art League with a proposal. He would fund a national art competition featuring the state's verdant fields of wildflowers and bring prominence to Texas art if the league would handle the details. Thus was born the Texas Wildflower Competitive Exhibitions, which in three years at the end of the Roaring Twenties awarded more than $53,000 in prize money for paintings of Texas wildflowers, ranch life, and cotton farming. This presentation of twenty-nine color plates of the competitions' best works includes paintings by such important artists as Jose Arpa, Dawson Dawson-Watson, Xavier Gonzalez, Edward G. Eisenlohr, and Oscar E. Berninghaus and Herbert Dunton (the latter duo having also served as founding members of the Taos Society of Artists). In the plates, the artists have portrayed a variety of landscapes and atmospheres to present the wildflowers loved not only by Davis but by generations of Texas art enthusiasts.
WILLIAM E. REAVES, JR. currently serves as assistant vice chancellor for public education with the Texas A&M University System. A former associate dean of the College of Education and Fine Arts, Tarleton State University, he has been an avocational art historian and collector of Texas art for the past twenty years. He holds the Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin.