Editor's note: The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum provided source material to Resource Library for the following article and essay. The essay is reprinted on August 12, 2005 in Resource Library with permission of the author and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:


Granville Bruce: Old Texas

July 30 - October 30, 2005


From July 30 through October 30, 2005, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum will host the exhibition, Granville Bruce: Old Texas. Organized by the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the exhibition will consist of 70 oils, watercolors, and drawings, most of which will be borrowed from the artist's family.

A Dallas-based nature and painter of romanticized Old West subjects, Bruce (1903-1989) was a native Nebraskan. Raised in Milwaukee, Bruce came to Texas in 1924. A student of the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee and the Art Institute of Chicago, he studied with Hugo Pohl in San Antonio in the late 1920s. Pohl and Bruce built a studio in San Antonio's Brackenridge Park and they took sketching trips to other parts of Texas in a converted Model-T. (right: Granville Bruce (1903-1989), Untitled)

In 1930, Bruce married Ula Lee Mead, the sister of artist Ben Carlton Mead, and the couple moved to Dallas. There Bruce did illustrations for Holland's Magazine and soon found work painting diorama backgrounds for the Dallas Museum of Natural History. He also painted murals for Dallas Sunset High School under President Franklyn D. Roosevelt's New Deal and a mural for the Texas State Fish and Game Commission in the John H. Reagan Building in Austin. Bruce had a solo exhibition at the Witte Museum in San Antonio and exhibited in the San Antonio Competitive Exposition in 1929. He also exhibited at the State Fair of Texas and in the Dallas Allied Arts exhibitions in the 1930s.

The exhibition will be a survey of Bruce's work from the late 1920s until the early 1970s. "In keeping with the Museum's focus on the American West, Bruce's paintings and drawings usually depict Texas and the Southwest in a romantic or nostalgic manner. Furthermore, his draftsmanship found few rivals in Texas. Granville Bruce's skill and choice of subjects will make this exhibition a favorite among visitors to the Museum," stated Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum Curator of Art Michael R. Grauer.


Granville Bruce (1903-1989)

by Michael R. Grauer


Known best for his later work on natural history diorama and scenes of historic Texas architectural subjects, Granville Bruce (1903-1989) may have been one of the finest draftsmen in Texas. A native of Grand Island, Nebraska, he was raised in Milwaukee, where he attended the Layton School of Art. Bruce also studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before moving to Texas in 1924.

In San Antonio he studied with Hugo Pohl in the late 1920s and they built a studio in San Antonio's Brackenridge Park near the zoo. From his base in the park Bruce produced beautiful sketches in pencil and charcoal of historic sites and genre scenes around San Antonio and nearby towns such as Goliad; using the sketches throughout his career. Bruce and Pohl took sketching trips to other parts of Texas and the Southwest in a converted Model-T, traveling through West Texas, El Paso, and north through Santa Fe to Taos in 1927, for example. Bruce submitted a painting to the 1929 San Antonio Competitive Exhibition ("Davis Competition") and had a solo exhibition at the Witte Museum in San Antonio about 1930. (right: 1925 photo of Granville Bruce)

In 1930, Bruce married Ula Lee Mead, the sister of fellow artist and Pohl student Ben Carlton Mead, and the couple moved to Dallas. There Bruce did illustrations for Holland's Magazine, Progressive Farmer, and other popular magazines. He also illustrated several books on Western history, including J. Wright Mooar's Buffalo Days and Westmoreland Gray's Aces Back to Back. In addition, under the President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal Bruce painted Public Works of Art project murals for at least two (and possibly four) Texas high schools, Dallas Sunset and Corsicana. Meanwhile, he continued easel painting, exhibiting at the Dallas Allied Arts in 1932 and the State Fair of Texas in 1934.

In the mid 1930s, Bruce found work painting diorama backgrounds for the Dallas Museum of Natural History, a partnership that lasted for almost fifty years. About 1963, Bruce was commissioned to paint watercolors of six Texas missions, which Governor John Connally presented to the Texas State Library in 1965. At about the same time, the Texas State Fish and Game Commission commissioned Bruce to paint a 68-foot panoramic mural, showing the landscape of Texas across the state, for the John H. Reagan Building in Austin. In his later career, Bruce painted a number of cityscapes and architectural projects in the Dallas area and created large-scale historical re-creation paintings.

Bruce moved to Irving, Texas, about 1950, then to Sanger in 1987. The Dallas Museum of Natural History hosted Bruce's last major exhibition in 1982 when he was featured in Southwest Art magazine.

Granville Bruce did not intend to stay in Texas when he visited San Antonio, planning instead to travel west to California and the Pacific Northwest. However, he was smitten by the Lone Star State almost immediately and "Old Texas" remained Bruce's favorite subject throughout his career. "I love this state," he said in 1982, "I just love to record historic things in it. I love its history, scenery, and people."



In July 2005 the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum produced its first podcast, which is available on their website. At the time of its posting, the podcast from PPHM was one of only two museums in the state using this new technology. (left: iPod image courtesy Apple Computer)

Podcasting provides audio broadcasting via the Internet and can be downloaded through an iPod or MP3 player. In addition to music, podcasts are used like a radio talk show or promotional piece to enhance existing text.

The museum's first podcast is an overview of Granville Bruce: Old Texas. It was produced by Buster Ratliff, PPHM Operations Coordinator, and includes a gallery talk by Michael Grauer. Personal impressions of the exhibit are expressed by Shianne McCracken and Ryan Brantley, both students at West Texas A&M University and employees of the museum.

"The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is constantly searching for ways to reach new audiences and provide visitors with an exceptional museum experience. By embracing new technology and making it free and accessible to all, we hope to better serve our visitors," stated PPHM Director, Guy C. Vanderpool

The podcast is available at the museum's web site on the exhibits sidebar, with the Granville Bruce exhibit information. The RSS (a feed to deliver an enclosed file) is given and people can cut and paste the URL into their podcast software (two examples are iPodder and RSS Radio) or simply download the MP3 file. Without an iPod or MP3 player, the MP3 download allows the podcast to be accessed on Windows Media, Real Player, or Quick Time.


About the author

John Hazeltine, director of TFAO, toured west Texas art museums in April, 2013. While visiting the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum he met Michael R. Grauer, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs/ Curator of Art at the Museum. Mr. Grauer has written several texts published in Resource Library. They are listed in TFAO's Author Study and Index. (left: Michael R. Grauer, 2013. Photo by John Hazeltine)

The Museum's website said of Mr. Grauer as of 2013:

Michael Grauer directs PPHM's curatorial staff, is the museum's Curator of Art, and oversees the weapons, sports, and cowboy and ranching artifact collections. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, he received a bachelor's degree with a double major in art history and painting from the University of Kansas and a master's degree in Art History from Southern Methodist University. After college he worked at the Smithsonian American Museum of Art in Washington, D.C. Michael didn't always plan on an art career, though. Originally, he wanted to play professional football or be a cowboy. Instead he went to art school, "because I could draw horses better than anyone and I didn't know what else to do." If Michael could live anywhere else in the world, it would be Taos, New Mexico (for the art scene) or Saskatchewan (because the name "sounds cool").



Resource Library editor's notes:

The Museum will sponsor a Palo Duro Paint Out within the dates of the Granville Bruce exhibit. The paint out is not related to the exhibit but is noted below for readers' interest.

Artists in any medium have the opportunity to paint plein aire in beautiful Palo Duro Canyon, during "Palo Duro Paint Out." Acclaimed watercolorist Walt Davis will assist artists in finding locations and the right times for optimum lighting on inspiring subjects.
Participants will present a closing exhibition of work produced during the "Palo Duro Paint Out" and will take away finished artwork and enough photographs and sketches to stimulate additional work for weeks and months to come.
PPHM will provide transportation to and from Canyon and Palo Duro Canyon State Park, as well as lunches and snacks each day. Saturday evening, participants will enjoy a catered meal in the canyon. Admission to the museum is included for each day in addition to a private tour of the Granville Bruce: Painting Old Texas exhibit.
The classes will be held Friday, September 23 through Sunday September 25, 2005. There is a fee for participation. Reservations are required and space is limited. Deadline for registration is September 6, 2005. For more information or reservations, please call or email the Programs Coordinator at 806-651-2233 or adavid@pphm.wtamu.edu.

Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Ms. Linda Moreland, Marketing Director at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, for assistance concerning the republishing of the above essay.

Resource Library readers can listen to more podcasts and other audio at Audio online, TFAO's new and growing catalogue of free online streaming and download audio recordings


Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. TFAO neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History.

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