The Healer. Photography: Courtesy J.R. Mooney Galleries of Fine Art
The Healer. Photography: Courtesy J.R. Mooney Galleries of Fine Art

Texas artist Jay Hester tells the stories of Western legends.

“Southerner by birth, Westerner by heart” Jay Hester put down roots in the Texas Hill Country and began researching the state’s history for interesting stories to tell on canvas. On the easel right now in his Boerne studio is one of a dozen “Western ballad” paintings and four character studies on view at J.R. Mooney Galleries of Fine Art during October.

“For this exhibition, his first solo show in almost 20 years, Jay delved into Western legends in the Texas Hill Country and conducted research with historians and prominent families,” says gallery director Gabriel Delgado. “The minute details and historical accuracy of these scenes are a hallmark of Jay’s. You see similar meticulousness in the work of Howard Terpning, with whom Jay studied.”

“I share [Terpning’s] interpretation that attitude and composition say it all,” Hester says. “For this exhibition, I developed Texas stories through the colorful characters of the time.” Paintings depict Dr. Ferdinand Herff performing his innovative cataract surgery on a Comanche chief and the white-feathered arrow shot by raiding Indians into his fencepost as a sign to spare his ranch; tales from the life of Texas Ranger John Coffee “Jack” Hays; and the Treaty of Lasting Friendship, signed by Fredericksburg founder John Meusebach and Comanche chiefs Buffalo Hump and Santa Anna.

Also on display is the artist’s process. “Jay does a lot of studies, ink on paper or ink on napkins,” Delgado says. “Many mornings when he sits down for breakfast, he works out compositional ideas for paintings. The exhibition shows the beginning stages of his artistic process and then the realized paintings on the wall.”


Jay Hester: Texas — Stories of the Land is on view at J.R. Mooney Galleries of Fine Art in Boerne, Texas, October 8 – November 5.

From the October 2016 issue.

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