New Schmidt exhibit includes unveiling of restored portrait

John E. Conner Museum - 08/22/18 - 10/25/18

Contact: Julie Navejar or 361-593-2590

The next exhibit at the John E. Conner Museum at Texas A&M University-Kingsville is a special one as it features works by long-time art professor  Maurice Schmidt. His exhibit, I Call South Texas Home, opens Thursday, Aug. 30, and runs through Thursday, Oct. 25.

Making the exhibit extra special will be the unveiling of a special portrait during a reception from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept.4, at the museum. Schmidt will unveil a newly restored portrait of John E. Conner that Schmidt painted when Conner was 100 years old. 

Canvas prints will be available at the reception and all of Schmidt’s work in the exhibit will be for sale. Half of all proceeds from the art sales will benefit the museum.

Dr. John E. Conner, for whom the museum is named, was the university’s first history professor. It was his collection of historical memorabilia that started the museum. The portrait was thought to be lost, but it resurfaced in 2011 and was donated to the Conner Museum by Animal Rescue Kingsville (ARK). Schmidt, professor emeritus in art, painted the portrait in a live sitting without the use of photographs.

When the painting was discovered, it had been severely damaged.  Schmidt and his wife, Rebecca, had the painting restored by San Antonio art conservator Anna Zanikos. The restored portrait of Conner will hang in the museum lobby, opposite a painting of Conner done when he was in his 50s.

This is not the first time the Schmidt’s have given back to the university where he taught for more than 40 years. They have donated numerous original art pieces and started two endowments.

The first was the Maurice Schmidt Scholarship for the Visual Arts. The distribution from this endowment provides one or more scholarships to full-time students in good standing pursuing a bachelor of fine arts degree.

The second endowment is the Becky and Maurice Schmidt Conner Museum Endowment. Distributions from this endowment go to support museum operations and programming as well as exhibit curation, collection restoration, building maintenance and capital projects.

For Maurice Schmidt, establishing the endowments made perfect sense. “I wanted to give back. I had 41 years of teaching at the university, from 1965 to 2006. It was a life-inspiring experience, first teaching students and then watching them flourish. It became such a big part of my life and gave me satisfaction as a professor and artist. I truly miss it.

“I wanted to give back because of what the university allowed me to do—to have a wonderful career in creating art. I did it, and was able to be part of A&M-Kingsville history. Also, much of my subject matter was influenced by the history and lore of South Texas – I really do consider South Texas home.” 

The Conner Museum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, and closed Sundays and most university holidays. Admission is free. For more information, call 361-593-2810.