“The Magnificent Seven” may be the name on movie marquees these days, but in Bosque County it’s another seven — artists and not actors — that are being celebrated this month for bringing national attention to the county’s art scene.
The Bosque Seven, an informal nickname that stuck as a handy label, are seven artists whose work have won national attention over the last three decades. The artists — Melvin Warren, James Boren, Martin Grelle, Bruce Greene, George Boutwell, Tony Eubanks and George Hallmark — played a part in what became the Bosque Art Center’s successful annual Bosque Art Classic, in its 31st year, and the state designation of the Clifton Cultural District.
“With seven nationally known artists, we’re not exactly a stop in the middle of the road,” drily observed George Larson, director emeritus of the Bosque Museum in Clifton.
While the Bosque Seven helped put Clifton and the county on the art map, all seven had never shown their work together.
Until now, that is.
This weekend the Bosque Museum opens “The Bosque Seven: A Texas Treasure,” the first joint show by the Bosque Seven and one for which the museum will open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily during the two-week run of the exhibit.
Five of the seven continue to live and work in the county. Boren died in 1990 and Warren in 1995.
Exhibit and reception chairman Charron Denker said the works on display were chosen by the artists or, in the case of Warren and Boren, their families. More than 40 paintings and a handful of sculptures make up the exhibit contained in three of the museum’s rooms. The artwork comes from private collections, with pieces largely unseen by the public. “The Bosque Seven,” in fact, will feature the public debut of a Boren painting, she noted.
The Bosque Seven started with Warren, an artist trained in the European style during his studies at Texas Christian University in the late 1960s, said Larson. Warren persuaded Boren to retire to the county and set up a studio, which he did. Boren, in turn, served as mentor to Bosque County native Grelle, with Greene, Hallmark (the 1988 Texas State Artist), Boutwell (a former Texas Highways magazine art director) and Eubanks migrating to the area by the 1980s.
“In fun, they called themselves the Bosque Seven,” said Larson, who sees a longtime dream of a Bosque County artist exhibition coming to fruition with the museum show.
Four of the artists worked primarily with western themes and settings. Boren, Warren, Grelle and Greene are official members of the Cowboy Artists of America and their names often appear with a CA following to show that status.
The others show a broader range of subjects, with Boutwell focusing on Texana, Hallmark including colonial Mexico and Eubanks ranging from cowboy life, landscapes, animals and Native American studies.
Most of the seven work in oils although watercolor was Boren’s forte and Greene also crafted bronze studies of cowboys and their mounts.
A champagne reception at 6 p.m. Friday kicks off the exhibit, which opens to the general public on Saturday. Tickets to the reception are $50 and available by calling 254-675-3845.