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Prolific Texas artist Billy Hassell in spotlight for Tyler Museum of Art's Illuminating Nature exhibition
Road Runner South of Marfa, 2007. Oil on canvas, 60 x 72 in. Gift of 2011 Tyler Museum of Art Collectors’ Circle.

TYLER, TX.- New works by a Texas artist and environmentalist widely known for capturing the natural beauty of his native state on a grand scale are the focus of the Tyler Museum of Art’s new major exhibition Illuminating Nature: Recent Paintings and Works on Paper by Billy Hassell, opened to the public Sunday, Dec. 15.

The exhibition continues through March 23, 2014 in the TMA’s Bell Gallery.

Organized by the TMA, Illuminating Nature features close to 30 recent paintings, lithographs and mixed-media creations by Hassell, an artist noted for his large canvases and vivid color palette – including several freshly completed pieces never before seen by the public. Many of the notable works in the exhibition highlight the Dallas native’s best-known subject of birds, such as Road Runner South of Marfa, a painting the TMA added to its Permanent Collection in 2011; and a woodland scene capturing the distinct character of the Tyler area, 2012’s Spring in East Texas.

Hassell selected the exhibition’s title to illustrate the complexity of his creative vision, which throughout his more than three-decade career has blurred the lines between the literal and conceptual representation of the flora and fauna of Texas.

“The title of my show, Illuminating Nature, is based on two meanings of the word, illuminate, the first being to cast light upon or clarify and the other to embellish – as when referring to the embellishment of a Medieval manuscript,” Hassell said in his artist’s statement. “In my work I do both – clarify nature as I see it – and embellish it by emphasizing colors and than patterns that occur in nature.”

Hassell has been the focus of more than 40 solo gallery and museum exhibitions since the early 1980s (including the Longview Museum of Art), and he has received numerous public commissions to create artwork for clients including Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Audubon Society of Texas. In addition to the TMA, his work is included in the permanent collections of the Dallas Museum of Art, Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston – and in the private collection of former President George W. and First Lady Laura Bush.

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