The McNay Art Museum has acquired three extraordinary artworks by Jane Peterson, Deborah Butterfield, and Letitia Huckaby. These new acquisitions were purchased with support from a generous, anonymous gift of $500,000 for artwork in memory of celebrated Texas artist, Madeline O’Connor (1931-2002). O’Connor, whose career spanned 30 years, is represented in the McNay’s Collection through two artworks from the late 1990s: Woodstork and Cross/Plus. The artist’s lifelong love of art, nature, and animals was inspired by the ranch-like setting of her childhood home in Refugio, Texas, as well as her strong religious roots.

“This transformational gift empowers the McNay—a museum founded by a woman artist—to advance gender parity in our expanding Collection,” said Richard Aste, McNay Director and CEO. “We are profoundly grateful and look forward to identifying additional works of art for the Collection by women artists with this major support.”

The Green Dress by Jane Peterson (1876-1965) is the first work by this artist to enter the McNay’s Collection, expanding the Museum’s strength in American Modernism. In this painting, Peterson portrays a young woman in a modernist style with an expressive use of cool green tones and fluid brushstrokes. The artist reflects popular fashion choices of the 1920s through her model’s flapper haircut, dress with a neckerchief, and low hanging necklace.

Untitled by Deborah Butterfield (b. 1949) introduces the artist into the McNay Collection, expanding the Museum’s holdings of contemporary sculpture. This nearly life-size sculpture of a tame horse is made from steel armature, chicken wire, mud, sticks, paper, dextrin, and grass. The mare stands in as a soulful self-portrait and a feminist response to traditionally depicted images of aggressive stallions. The use of sticks jutting out beyond the smooth contours of the mud creates movement with the sculpture, and the artist’s experience owning horses adds to her ability to represent the animals with accuracy and nuance. This horse is one of eight that the artist made in this series, and the only one remaining in a private collection.

VR Sunil Gohil