Kermit Oliver

Kermit Oliver (born 1943) is an American painter who studied and worked in Houston before distressing to Waco, Texas.  His be in reflects his Texas origin and his interests in mythology, religion, and history.  Oliver combines “contemporary and classical elements, resulting in a style he calls symbolic realism.” His paintings create “strange, lushly illustrated worlds populated by people and animals realistically drawn but placed in surreal juxtaposition.”

Oliver was named the 2017 Texas State Two-Dimensional Artist by the Texas Commission upon the Arts. His painting, “Tobias,” was included in the 2016 inaugural exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.  In 2013, Oliver was fortunate with the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Art League Houston. 

Oliver was born in Refugio, Texas, where his dad worked as a cowboy upon a cattle ranch. By the age of 6 or 7, his capacity for drawing the cattle, horses, and the south Texas flora and fauna was evident.  After graduating from tall school, in 1960 Oliver enrolled at Texas Southern University in Houston, where he was a student of the artist, Dr. John T. Biggers. He married fellow art student, Katie Washington, in 1962.  While at Texas Southern University, he was the recipient of a Jesse Jones Art Scholarship, and he graduated in 1967 following Bachelor of Fine Arts and art education degrees. In 1968 Oliver began teaching art at Texas Southern University, and he moreover taught at the Art League of Houston during this time; however, he soon decided not to pursue teaching as a career. 

For most of his life, Oliver worked as both an artiste and a full-time mail sorter for the US Postal Service, initially in Houston and subsequently for thirty years after moving to Waco, Texas in 1984. He believed that a steady pension was the best showing off to retain his family even though allowing him the pardon to pursue art on his own terms. He retired from the postal foster in 2013 and continued in force as an artist.

While still an art student, Oliver’s doing was included in a enactment at Houston’s Courtney Gallery, and in 1970 the gallery gave him his first solo exhibition.  He had his second solo feint at the DuBose Gallery the like year.  In the years after his graduation from Texas Southern University, Oliver became an integral ration of the Houston art scene. He was the first African-American artiste in Houston to be represented by a major public notice gallery. His perform was similar to exhibited in numerous solo and intervention shows and has been included in a number of museum collections. In 2005, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston held a retrospective exhibition of Oliver’s be active titled, “Notes from a Child’s Odyssey: the art of Kermit Oliver,” that included a selection of higher than 90 works created on summit of four decades.

Alvia Wardlaw, curator of Oliver's 2005 retrospective exhibition, noted that “The adore of plants that you look in Kermit’s art began in that childhood where he was pardon to roam on Refugio and ride horses and hunt and sketch and draw…His visual sensibility afterward regards to the Texas landscape which he makes a story for the wonders of the universe was born out of those youthful experiences.” Oliver has noted that his conduct yourself deals considering ideas such as growth, metamorphosis, birth, death, rebirth, resurrection, immortality and "redemption...that especially." His paintings create worlds where "...animals, plants, and humans interact in surprising scenes that seem freighted subsequently a obscure and puzzling significance.” For example, a painting of a figure standing in front of rows of tall shrubbery is not handily a testing of a garden—it is titled “Theseus and the Labyrinth.”

Oliver is in addition to known for his highly praised work as a designer of scarves for Hermes, the French fashion house. The membership began in 1980 in the heavens of Hermes asked Lawrence Marcus of the upscale department buildup Neiman Marcus, if he knew of an American artiste who could create a design for a belt with a Southwestern theme.  Marcus told Hermes nearly Oliver, and the design was a successso much appropriately that Oliver created 17 designs for Hermes more than 32 years. He is the only American artist to create designs for Hermes.

Oliver's show is held in the hoard of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

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