Each year, as many as 4,800 visitors stroll through the galleries of the historic Nave Museum to appreciate fine art created mainly by Texas artists. The museum typically hosts six annual exhibits that are free and open to the public.

The current exhibit, “Underdog,” by Patricia Compton features almost 20 oil, watercolor and acrylic paintings. Compton, a Goliad resident born in Refugio, began winning art awards as a child, and her work has continued to garner attention throughout her life. She earned a degree in design from the University of North Texas before she moved to New York City for a decade, during which time she established a successful painting career. Numerous galleries in New York, Washington, D.C., and Texas have shown her work.

The support that the museum is providing the immensely gifted Compton and the ingenious artwork the community is able to access perfectly sum up the benefits the museum brings to Crossroads artists and art lovers as well as those interested in learning more about art.

When possible, a preview party for each exhibit features an artist’s talk. The parties are popular because they create opportunities for guests not only to hear the talks but also to individually meet and engage the artists in conversation. They also get to mingle with the other guests and enjoy complimentary wine as they browse the exhibits.

The preview party for Compton’s exhibit enjoyed a healthy crowd including a nice representation of supporters from Goliad, said Diana Kallus, operations manager for the museum. Compton shared the inspiration behind her works during her talk, but described the creative process as evolutionary and encouraged guests to find their own meanings in her paintings, Kallus said. Compton is well known in her community for her exhaustive dog rescue work, and as much now if not before, for her boundless talent as an artist.

The next exhibit, featuring the paintings and mixed media artwork of beloved local artist Madeline O’Connor who died in 2002, will open Sept. 27. The museum last showed her work in 2008, so members of the community were anxious to see her collection again, Kallus said. O’Connor was “well-loved” as an artist and member of the community, so the exhibit is expected to be well attended.

The Nave Museum also has become integral to art education for college students in the Crossroads. Both of Victoria’s institutions of higher learning, Victoria College and the University of Houston-Victoria, take advantage of its offerings. Art appreciation instructors make assignments for their students to visit the museum and contrast two works of art or critique one, Kallus said.

Day care centers in the Crossroads also utilize the museum. Private tours are given to the children by museum staff, and art projects often follow. Kallus mentioned that volunteers who are well-versed in the arts are needed periodically to help lead the art presentations and projects. Conversely, the cost to bus a load of primary or secondary school students to the museum is cost prohibitive unless the teacher formally designs the visit as a field trip, Kallus said.

The fact that art classes are not taught at every grade level in those schools also presents a challenge, but the museum’s education committee is working to increase participation among those students as well. The committee intends to soon have a structured plan in place to present to those schools in the Crossroads.

The museum’s annual fundraiser, Polo at McFaddin, also has developed into a popular area attraction during the last decade. Next year’s event, which includes a polo match, auctions and tailgate tables, among other festivities, is scheduled for April 4.

Taking a look back, the origin of the museum and its evolving mission over almost 90 years represents a chapter in Victoria’s rich history. Appropriately, the Greek revival architecture of the building that houses the art galleries also is a work of art standing stately on a corner in downtown Victoria.

Emma McFaddin McCan Nave commissioned the museum in 1931 in memory of her husband, Royston Nave, a Texas artist born in La Grange, who died unexpectedly that year. Atlee Ayres, the San Antonio architect who designed the museum, also designed the Spanish colonial revival house in 1928 that currently serves as the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, among other historic homes and buildings in Texas. Initially, the museum housed Nave’s paintings, mainly portraits and landscapes, and eventually, it doubled as a library until the Victoria Public Library was built in the 1970s. The Victoria Regional Museum Association now owns the building.

The Victoria Advocate encourages Crossroads residents to make time to see “Underdog” and the following exhibit of Madeline O’Connor’s artwork as well as the free exhibits offered throughout the year. Join the Victoria Regional Museum Association, and in the process, support local artists, art appreciation and art education in the community.

This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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