“First we shape our buildings, then they shape us” -Winston Churchill.
The first time I heard about “Culture Gulch” was from Dallas builder extraordinaire Cy Barcus, senior, who collects art by Dallas artist Jerry Bywaters. Cy began collecting art 35 years ago when he bought a single painting by Dickson Reeder from a gallery in Fort Worth. That gallery was owned by a man named Dutch Phillips. Phillips then focused Cy’s art appetite towards Texas regional art, including the Dallas Nine and the Fort Worth School, a group of young artisans. The Fort Worth School was a group of painters who, during the ’30s and ’40s, looked to the land and flavor of the Southwest for their inspiration. Cy’s vast collection includes works by Jerry Bywaters, Otis Dozier, Alexandre Hogue, William Lester, Florence McClung, and Charles T. Bowling.
Then, on February 21, I met Jerry Bywater’s daughter, Jerry Bywaters Cochran, at the Park Cities Historic and Preservation Society‘s February meeting at the Dallas Country Club. Cochran gave an overview of life with her father, Jerry Bywaters, former director of the Dallas Museum of the Arts, and spoke of how his travels and surroundings influenced his art, including his neighbors in Culture Gulch.
What I never knew was that there is a section Park Cities homes near Turtle Creek at Amherst near Thackeray that is called “Culture Gulch”. Why? Because the folks who lived in those O’ Neil Ford/Arch Swank designed homes were uber involved in the arts. Not just any “art”, and not just painters. Like The Fort Worth School and the Dallas Nine, art and culture was inspired by their own surroundings and homes right there on the banks of Turtle Creek.
The Bywaters lived at 3625 Amherst, Lon Tinkle at 3615 Amherst, Ed Bearden at 3607 Amherst and Dr. John Chapman, a physician, lived at 3606 Lovers lane. Lon Tinkle was an SMU grad and writer who later returned to the college as a professor of Literature and wrote Thirteen Days to Glory: The Siege of the Alamo, which was published in 1958. The book won several awards. He also served as historical adviser for the movie The Alamo starring John Wayne. BTW — Lon Tinkle — great name! Ed Bearden was an artist and another SMU grad who studied under Bywaters and later became his assistant.