Searching for Texas Animals

In attempting to complete both archival work and schooling a first grader while also caring for a toddler (Hi toddler parents, I see you!!)….I figured I might as well experiment with using Bywaters Special Collections digital images with the K-12 crowd (i.e. my 7-year-old son). I quickly deduced that our online digital collections, while amazing for older kids and adults, are not easily browsable or readable for early readers. Instead, I’ll be searching and selecting specific images to showcase.

My first idea is to use images of animals from the DeForrest Judd sketchbooks for a lesson on native Texas animals. For our activity we’ll walk around our neighborhood to look for animals. Assignment is to draw an animal that we saw on our walk.

Thank goodness for a warm sunny day to complete this activity. The three of us took a long walk and saw birds, squirrels, dogs, tadpoles, butterflies, daddy long legs, yellow jackets (!), hawks, and cats and talked about the armadillos, deer, coyotes, bobcats, skunks and rabbits that we’ve seen before. After some lunch and nap time for little sister, my son drew a picture of Texas animals (including a couple we didn’t see on our walk- like beavers and a fawn).

The heart of the Texas Regionalism movement in the 1930s was creating art based on your local surroundings. As we shelter-in-place here in the Dallas area in 2020, I think we can all take this to heart and appreciate the beauty of our immediate surroundings – and attempt to teach and share that appreciation with others.

Image: Untitled by DeForrest Judd, watercolor and ink on paper

Blog post: Emily Grubbs
Courtesy of DeForrest Judd Artwork and Papers, Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University

Octavio Medellin and the St. Bernard Church of Clairvaux mural project

The art of this church has been the largest and most important commission given to me in the 30 years that I have been pioneering art in Texas.” 


On December 7, 1958, the Dallas Morning News published the above quote by Octavio Medellin in reference to his commission at the Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church, soon to open at 1404 Old Gate Lane in Dallas. The artist was commissioned to design two large murals on opposite sides of the church’s interior depicting the fourteen Stations of the Cross, each measuring eighty-seven feet in length and five feet in height. In collaboration with artist, Michael Kozlowski, Medellin began preliminary designs for the murals in the summer of 1957. For eight months the artists worked to create the large murals with small glass tiles. Together, the two artists hand cut the small smalti (sing. smalto), which are specialized mosaic tesserae made from richly colored glass. The glass was designed by specification and imported from Murano, Italy.   

Today, the preliminary drawings for these murals are housed in Bywaters Special Collections. In 1989, Octavio Medellin began donating his personal papers and works on paper to Bywaters Special Collections. This initial donation established the Octavio Medellin Collection. He continued donations, and in 1996 he gave his twelve large-format drawings, which were preliminary designs for the murals. The drawings had been tightly rolled for many years. To safely unroll the drawings and repair any damages that may have occurred over time, these works were sent to Carrabba Conservation, Inc. in Austin. Following conservation, the drawings were scanned and uploaded to the Octavio Medellin Art Work and Papers site in SMU Libraries Digital Collections: 

On the Hamon blog in April, conservator, Cheryl Carrabba, will explain the conservation process for these drawings.   

Blog post: Ellen Buie Niewyk, Curator, Bywaters Special Collections.

Image: Photograph, Octavio Medellin and Michal Kozlowski, 8th Station of the Cross, Tesserae on Paper, Pre-Installation, Stations of the Cross Mosaic Murals, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church, Dallas, Texas, 1958, at  

Courtesy of Octavio Medellin Artwork and Papers, Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University. 

G. William Jones Film and Video Collection – Winter 2019 Update


We thankfully survived the fall and winter months of 2019, so that we can ring in the new year and celebrate the Jones Collection’s 50th anniversary!

  • Reporter Chris Sadeghi, along with a film crew from WFAA, came down to the vault to film a promotional piece for Sadeghi’s REWIND series, which features footage from our WFAA Newsfilm archive.   Check that out here!
  • Two SMU classes, David Sedman’s Introduction to Film and Mike Morris’ 16mm Film Production, toured our facilities in October.  For Sedman’s course, Jones Collection curator, Jeremy Spracklen, gave a presentation on the history collection to the class and showed samples of 35mm films from our vault.  Morris’ students came back towards the end of the semester and had their films digitized and color corrected.  These students showed their films, along with a Jones Collection 16mm print of UN CHIEN ANDALOU, at Top Ten Records in December!
  • KERA’s FRAME OF MIND latest season included an episode on Norm Hitzges, which featured footage from our collection.  NORM HITZGES: AN OPINIONATED HISTORY OF DALLAS SPORTS had a special advanced screening at the Alamo Drafthouse before premiering on KERA in November.
  • Jones Collection curator Jeremy Spracklen attended the 2019 Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) conference in Baltimore.  While there, as part of the festival’s archival screening night, Spracklen showcased our footage of the Velvet Underground at a Vietnam War protest on Dallas’ White Rock Lake.
  • One of the collection’s highlights this fall was the digitization of a WFAA audio reel,entitled “A Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication,” commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Dallas.  Please give it a listen and read some of the Dallas Morning News’ Robert Wilonsky much needed context  here.
  • The Video Association of Dallas donated over 30 years of media materials to the Jones Collection, including features and shorts from its storied local festival, VIdeofest.  We at the Jones Collection couldn’t be more excited about this donation! Stay tuned for a more formal announcement to come!;

As we mentioned, this is the Collection’s 50th Anniversary, and we’ve had a number of exciting events in store including:

  • January 19, 2020 at 7:00 pm – The historic Texas Theatre will screen our beautiful 35mm print of the 1947 Bogart & Bacall noir, DARK PASSAGE. Tickets and info can be found here.
  • January 30, 2020 – The Jones Collection will offer tour of our facilities for attendees of the World Languages and Literature Department 2020 Film Festival, followed by a panel discussion and a screening of JUKE JOINT, which will be introduced by SMU film faculty member, Kevin Heffernan.
  • February 6, 2020 – The Jones Collection and the SMU’s Friends of the Library are so excited to host an evening with WFAA’s Tracey Rowlett, Doug Fox, Byron Harris, and John Sparks, discussing their favorite stories from the 1970s and behind-the-scenes tales from newsroom, along with footage from our collection. Current WFAA reporter, Chris Sadeghi, will moderate.

For more information on these and other events in 2020, check out our Facebook and Twitter.


The Jones Collection screened prints for SMU classes, continued its monthly series at the historic Texas Theatre, and had several prints travel nationally and abroad.  These include:

  • DEADLY SPAWN – 35mm – The Texas Theatre
  • BLOOD OF A POET – 16mm – Top Ten Records
  • UN CHIEN ANDALOU – 16mm – Top Ten Records

And we’ve got some big 2020 films lined up for classes at SMU and public screenings beyond, including:

  • COPS

In the Media

The Jones Collection was more than busy in the final quarter of 2019, and our footage could be seen everywhere!  Here are just a few of the notable highlights:

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