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Rest in Peace | Al Barnes
IN MEMORIAM: AL BARNES (1937-2015) ROCKPORT, TX. Rockport Center for the Arts mourns the loss of Al Barnes, who passed away Thursday, November 12th, 2015 at his hill country home outside Johnson City.
Barnes was born in Cuero, Texas in 1937. His artistic course was set when he moved to Port Isabel when he was an elementary school student. He became enchanted with nautical life when a local ferry captain allowed him to freely ride and steer the vessel back and forth between South Padre Island and the mainland. He sold his first painting in the sixth grade, using watercraft and coastal waters as inspiration in early works.
Barnes fulfilled his desire to become a professional artist, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1967 from the University of Texas at Austin. After graduation and marriage, he relocated to Dallas, where he worked as an illustrator, freelancer, and art director for thirteen years. After completing a large mural commission, Barnes was ready for a change. The tide pulled him back to the coast.
Barnes nourished his ongoing fascination with the waterfront as a crew member on boats traveling from New England to the Caribbean, Texas to Florida, and Florida to Belize. The clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean and native boats were common themes in many of his works. Informed by his early influences, much of his work originated in his urge to paint water. In a 1977 interview Barnes said “The different landscapes and people on the coast have always been in my paintings and always will.” Barnes preferred beginning with the ocean or a landscape, allowing the subject to insert itself into the composition. Birds and boats worked themselves into picture plane in uniquely natural ways.
Barnes’ artistry and talents were nationally recognized, but while he was inspired by the Caribbean, he felt more at home in the coastal marshes of South Texas. Barnes called Rockport-Fulton home for over forty years. In 1995 Rockport Center for the Arts selected him as the Art Festival poster artist.
Barnes had numerous solo and group exhibitions. His works are in numerous private and corporate collections around the world, including the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi, the National Wildlife Museum in Jackson Hole, the American Museum of Fly Fishing, and Meredith Long and Company. His accolades and accomplishments are many. Barnes was named National Ducks Unlimited Waterfowl Artist of the Year, two-time Texas State Ducks Unlimited Artist of the year, National Ducks Unlimited Stamp Artist, Coastal Conservation Association Stamp Artist, three-time Texas Saltwater Stamp Artist, and two-time International Game Fish Association featured artist. His works were accepted in a number of important shows, including the Birds in Art show in Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, The Mystic Maritime International in Connecticut, the Southwest Pastel Society, and the Southwest Watercolor Society to name a few. He was honored at the Harvey Weil dinner last year. Barnes’ paintings have also been featured in notable publications such as Sporting Classics, Gray's Sporting Journal, Southwest Artist, Florida Sportsman, Marlin Magazine and Artist Magazine.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, fellow artist Nanci Barnes, and their two sons Thad and Collin. Barnes was a tremendous supporter of Rockport Center for the Arts and a mentor to many artists in South Texas. His legacy in the arts is enduring.
(To see more works by Al Barnes, visit www.albarnes.com.)
About Rockport Center for the Arts
A non-profit organization in its 46th year of operation, Rockport Center for the Arts is dedicated to providing an environment that nurtures the expressing and appreciation of art for residents and tourists. For more information, call (361) 729-5519, or visit www.rockportartcenter.com. The City of Rockport, famous for its vast colony of more than 800 artists has been identified as one of “The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America,” by John Villani, and listed as one of the “Top 10 Art Colonies” by Allen Bunting in Coastal Living. Admission to the Art Center is always free and open to the public.
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