Paintings of Rediscovered Texas Artist on Display at the Witte Museum Starting May 17

James Ferdinand McCan receives his first solo exhibition, with paintings of Texas from 1895 through 1925, in the Witte Museum’s Russell Hill Rogers Gallery.

Exhibition complements “Changing Landscapes” theme for the 2022 Conference on Texas, with speakers including Texan by Nature CEO Joni Carswell, CreditHuman CEO Steve Hennigan and famed naturalist David Schmidly.

Turkey in the Brush painting by J. Ferdinand McCan. Courtesy King Ranch, Inc.

J. F. McCan,”Turkey in the Brush,” 1900. Oil on canvas. Courtesy King Ranch, Inc.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (May 6, 2022) – Explore Texas at the beginning of the 20th century—when Texans lived on vast ranches and in small towns, animals roamed freely and rivers rushed by—with James Ferdinand McCan: A Texas Artist Rediscovered,” opening May 17, 2022 at the Witte Museum. Tickets, with discounts for children (ages 0 – 11), seniors and military, are available at https://www.wittemuseum.org/ or in person at the Witte Museum. This exhibition is included with General Admission.

As an Irish immigrant, McCan marveled at Texas’ color and vastness; a stranger in a strange land. Over the decades, McCan’s vision and what he observed remained largely forgotten—until now. The exhibition showcasing this trailblazing and influential believer in the power of Texas art begins with the portraits McCan painted of prominent Texans of his time, followed by a gallery displaying his works that captured the incredible change in animals and landscapes occurring in the 30 short years (between 1895-1925) he was painting in Texas.

“A re-discovered Texas artist is especially tantalizing for museum professionals at the Witte, where Texas Art has had a central place since its founding in 1926,” noted Marise McDermott, Witte Museum President and CEO. “What is most alluring about James Ferdinand McCan’s work is the informality of his paintings, capturing the changing landscape of Texas at the turn of the 20th century.”

James Ferdinand McCan: A Texas Artist Rediscovered” features more than fifty of McCan’s paintings—most of which are rarely displayed to the public—from the McCan Cannon Collection, King Ranch and many other private and institutional collectors. Also included are studies (painted sketches that reveal his artistic process) on exhibition for the first time ever.

McCan’s paintings, capturing Texas’ wild and vivid lands and the people and animals that inhabited them at a pivotal moment in time, are on display at the Witte Museum through October 2, 2022.

James Ferdinand McCan: A Texas Artist Rediscovered is generously supported by the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation, O’Connor and Hewitt Foundation, the McCan Cannon Families and Summerlee Foundation.

Exhibition Catalog

In connection with this exhibition, the Witte has published a beautiful hardbound catalog with many of McCan’s paintings and studies, revealing his observations as he illustrated the beauty of Texas. M.M. McAllen, Director of Humanities at the Witte Museum, is the author of the catalog and curator of the McCan art exhibition. “James Ferdinand McCan: Painting a Historical Portrait of Texas, 1895-1925” is available for purchase at the Witte Museum’s Bolner Family Museum Store.

Related Events

Conference on Texas and Texas Trailblazers Award Luncheon
May 16 – 17, 2022 at the Witte Museum

McCan’s exhibition complements the theme, “Changing Landscapes,” of the 5th annual Conference on Texas. The 2022 conference features an engaging lineup of speakers, including Texan by Nature CEO Joni Carswell, CreditHuman CEO Steve Hennigan and famed naturalist David Schmidly. Texan by Nature founder and former First Lady Laura Bush delivers a special video message at the conference’s Texas Trailblazers Luncheon.

Mary Margaret McAllen, curator of the McCan exhibition and author of the accompanying catalog, will speak, along with Cina Forgason of the Kleberg Foundation, on May 16, 2022 at 4:45 p.m., sharing thoughts on what we can learn about South Texas from the rediscovery of McCan’s work. The exhibition will be unveiled following their presentation, and conference attendees are invited to an opening reception and book signing.

Tickets and a full conference schedule are available at https://www.wittemuseum.org/event/conference-on-texas-changing-landscapes/