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Cattle Baron's Daughter exhibit at the Nave Museum

Camille Doty

By Camille Doty
Feb. 3, 2012 at 4:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 2, 2012 at 8:03 p.m.

Gail and Stephen Dentler gaze at paintings by James Ferdinand McCan and Royston Nave at the Nave Museum on the opening night of the exhibit, "The Cattle Baron's Daughter and the Artists Who Loved Her."

Emily Knebel felt connected to her late grandmother, who she never met.

A life-size portrait in the Nave Museum gave the 43-year-old Atlanta native the opportunity.

"Sometimes, I think I look like her," Knebel said.

The restored painting of Alada Crain Knebel remained a part of her family for generations and is now on display.

Knebel, a volunteer at Citizens Medical Center, is the great-niece of the exhibit's muse, Emily McFaddin Nave. "Emma" was an art lover who believed in women's rights. She was described as a true force of nature.

"The Cattle Baron's Daughter and the Artists Who Loved Her" exhibit includes work from two renowned Texas artists - James Ferdinand "Jim" McCan and Royston Nave. Both were married to McFaddin.

The exhibit marks the first time their work is displayed together. Most of the 40 pieces came from private collections.

Nave came to Victoria to study with McCan.

"Emma" and McCan divorced after 18 years of marriage and one child. The following year, the cattle baron's daughter married Nave.

"I think she truly loved them both," said curator Julie McCan, whose husband is a descendant of Jim McCan.

Showing the combination gives art enthusiasts a chance to observe their styles, she said.

"It looks like McCan painted with a feather. Nave was more impressionistic," the curator said.

She encouraged Crossroads members to come for nostalgia's sake. There are paintings of people, items in nature, and beautiful landscapes from the area.

"It can take you back in time, to something pleasant you remember," she said.

Fellow curator Gary Dunnam said he appreciates this collection's traditional nature.

He said that he's in love with all the paintings, and the audience will come to feel that way, too.

"They'll walk by and say I would love to have this in my living room," Dunnam said.

Sharon Steen, another curator, said she was thrilled to put the collection together.

"It's been one of the most joyous voyages," she said.

Knebel said viewing the paintings of her relatives brought fond memories.

She said she was delighted the Nave Museum hosted this exhibit for her great-great-aunt.

"I'm glad she's being honored.



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