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Texas History Through Oilfield Artwork

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Oilfield artwork has been available for a long time.  Throughout the last century, many artists have dedicated themselves to capturing the wells and other scenes that make Texas the great oil producing state that is known for in the country.  These scenes set the state apart from other parts of the country simply because there are so many of them.  They are part of the landscape and the renderings of many artists have preserved them well on canvas.

Texas first began finding oil in 1866.  While the results were not stupendously successful at first, by 1877 in Nacogdoches County the first successful operation was in full swing.  In 1894 in Corsicana a bigger operation was mounted with many different wells.  However, it was not until 1901 that a real gusher was found in Spindletop Hill, just outside of Beaumont, Texas.  From then on, Texas was known for its petroleum rich landscape.
It is no wonder that wells that are steeped in tradition and history have their own genre of paintings known as oilfield artwork.  There are many artists who have depicted life in the earliest times of the rush for Black Gold as far back as the mid 1800’s.  There is a certain magnificence that can be found by peering at one of these large structures in the middle of a barren landscape surrounded by tumbleweeds and prairie.  These giants look like invaders from another world standing up straightly against the big Texas sky.

The typical types of oilfield artwork can include anything from rough necks working the rigs out in the ocean, to the big wells that are constantly at work in the meadows.  It can include photographs of luxurious and luscious plains with a oil derrick off in the distance.  There are depictions of the giant equipment that is used to transport the petroleum as well as depictions of disasters such as fires that have resulted from drilling gone wrong.
There are many artists who have made a living from painting oilfield artwork.  Artists such as G. Harvey, Galen Cox, Andy Thomas and Gary Crouch are just a few of the names that one will see when searching through the great collections that are available in both museums and galleries.
In a state that prides itself on offering everything in a big way, oilfield artwork is definitely no exception to that rule.  There are museums that are set up to display this grandness such as the Texas Energy Museum.  There one can see how the process of finding petroleum and refining it began in the middle 1800s and follow the process up to the present date.  It is a fascinating look at how it all came to be.  One can learn what has to happen in order for this black gold to be created in the first place.  This is not only educational, but is interesting.
In a country that survives and thrives on Texas Tea or Black Gold as it is known, it is easy to see why there would be a genre carved out especially for it. It honors not only the landscape of the state, but also the men and women, and the industry that brings crude to the surface so that it can be used to power the many things that keep this country moving.

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