The East Texas Oil Museum at Kilgore College is hosting a display of more than 40 artworks by famed Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias.

Described as “one of the most famous Mexican artists of the 20th century” in a press release, Covarrubias’ artistic style focused on caricature, or exaggerated, sometimes-comical portraits of celebrities, cartoon characters and everyday people.

“We want to, with our special exhibits, offer something a little bit different and a little bit unique each time,” Museum Manager Olivia Moore said. The museum’s special exhibits have presented a wide range of subjects, from photography from the set of famed TV series “Lonesome Dove” to artifacts found at the sites of abandoned East Texas sawmill towns.

“We hadn’t had any caricature art, and (Covarrubias) is of Mexican heritage so that’s brought another layer of difference from the previous exhibits. We just want to continue to not only have new special exhibits to draw folks in, we want to have different types of history and art, as well.”

The traveling exhibit, “Miguel Covarrubias: Caricaturist,” will be on display at the museum through Feb. 20. It focuses on the sophisticated caricatures that made Covarrubias famous.

Moore said she first learned about Covarrubias’s artworks when researching possible future exhibits at the museum. A caricature by the artist featuring famous people from the 1930s (including Mickey Mouse) first caught her eye during the research, and she felt this art style would catch the interest of locals in East Texas. Also, because much of Covarrubias’ work was done in the 1930s — the same time as the East Texas Oil Boom which put Kilgore on the map — the exhibit offers a look at the culture of the times in which Kilgore was growing and changing.

Moore said the exhibit spans much of the artist’s career, including work he created for Vanity Fair magazine while in New York City.

The artworks on display cover a surprising variety of styles, colors and textures. Some are comical, while others offer slice-of-life portraits of big-city America in the 30s, including several depictions of jazz musicians.

The artist did not shy away from social commentary, as some of his works denounce ideologies of the time, including Nazism and fascism.

Moore said the museum has plans to continue its exhibits, and their next exhibit, set to open in March, will be focused on the women in the U.S. Senate.

The Covarrubias exhibit, which opened last Saturday, has already attracted interest, Moore said, noting a group came to the museum on the first day of the exhibit to view it.

The exhibition was created in cooperation with the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin and a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information about viewing hours or to arrange group visits, contact Moore at (903) 983-8297 or omoore@kilgore.edu.

The museum is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is limiting the total number of guests at a time due to COVID-19 protocols. Face coverings are required for all visitors.

Visit the museum online at www.kilgore.edu/etom.

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