Peanut butter - jelly. Mutt - Jeff. Helter - skelter.
By Jeff Prince
Some words just belong together. And when you say “Onderdonk,” you can bet the first word out of a Texas art collector’s mouth will be “bluebonnets.” Collectors are wild about bluebonnet landscapes, and the father of the genre is San Antonio’s impressionist painter Julian Onderdonk, who died in 1922 at age 40. Several of his paintings currently hang in the Oval Office, courtesy of its current occupant.
But there’s more to see than impressionist renditions of wild blue flowers when attending ‘Generations: Texas Masters Robert and Julian Onderdonk’ at the Fielder House Museum in Arlington. Several excellent bluebonnet works are included, but the exhibit of 34 paintings also shows an unexpected variety.
Julian’s father, Robert Onderdonk, did his share of Hill Country landscapes but wasn’t as keen on wildflowers as his son. He’s probably best known for his ‘The Fall of the Alamo’ painting that depicted Davy Crocket swinging his rifle over his head while fighting advancing enemy soldiers, a painting first exhibited at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. Robert also specialized in portraits, and the exhibit boasts a couple of dandies. Especially fascinating is the cowboy sketching Robert did for outlaw John Wesley Hardin’s autobiography. And take a gander at the broken watermelon painted by Robert in 1890 – the colors remain stunning some 118 years later.
Julian, too, gets to stretch his wings in this exhibit. The large impressionist painting “Brackenridge Park” was done in 1899 while he was still in his teens, but it’s as eye-catching as anything in the exhibit.
A $5 donation at the door helps offset the myriad of costs associated with maintaining a museum in a two story house built in 1914 by James and Mattie Fielder. The place is a quaint but entertaining trip down memory lane, with all kinds of knick-knacks, furniture, photos, and artifacts that tell the story of Arlington’s earliest days.
The Fielder House Museum is extending the Onderdonk exhibit for one more month -- until Oct. 31.
Fielder House Museum, (817) 460-4001, 1616 W. Abram St., Arlington, email@example.com
Hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wed. to Sat.; 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sun.
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