Although he insists it isn’t necessary, renowned Waco painter Kermit Oliver interprets latest work

Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 5:42 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Kermit Oliver doesn’t seem to get out very much. Although he has lived in Waco for decades, a Kermit Oliver sighting out in public is very rare.

This reclusive artist is well known around the globe for his work. His realistic depiction of animals and people in sometimes bizarre situations has become a signature that makes his artistic creations sought after and quite valuable.

As Oliver strolls thru the gallery at the Waco Art center, he explains that painting is not, and has never been, the focal point of his life.

“Oh no, I never looked at it as I would be established as a renowned artist. It’s just something that I do and I had the vehicle to achieve it and it just happened,” Oliver said.

The painter grew up near Refugio where his dad worked on a ranch. While many kids were busy with baseball and other sports, the young Kermit loved to spend his time pouring thru magazines looking for pictures that caught his eye and sketching the various wildlife that he came across.

Kermit Oliver Painting
Kermit Oliver Painting

While attending art school in Houston, it was clear Kermit was destined for greater things. As fate would have it, the French fashion house Hermes would eventually come calling.

They felt that their legendary line of beautiful silk scarves needed a fresh look, something different. Perhaps they thought they would find an interesting designer in America.

They did, and Kermit was the chosen one. At first, he didn’t understand the significance of this opportunity. “I still don’t. I’m overwhelmed by it,” he said.

“Why Hermes? Why did they asked me to do it? I don’t  know why, but it was treated the same as my other art.  Do it the way you do it. They were looking for a change in the style in what they were doing, so it all worked well.”

Many of the scarves that often fetch thousands of dollars by collectors are now on display at the Waco Art Center.

Some of the paintings on display, even the artist hasn’t seen since he finished them. Others have never been publicly displayed at all.

The show also features some of his latest works.

One in particular is getting a lot of attention.

"A Meadow Lark Carols Saint Ceres Before the Sacred Silos" by Kermit Oliver
"A Meadow Lark Carols Saint Ceres Before the Sacred Silos" by Kermit Oliver(Courtesy Photo)

It’s titled “A Meadow Lark Carols Saint Ceres Before the Sacred Silos” and features the famous downtown Waco silos with a beautiful young woman in the foreground who was modeled after his daughter Kristi.

It helps to have the artist nearby to interpret.

“The sliced apple is the first state of man in the garden. The bread is the body of Christ. The butterfly is the spirit and the Meadow Lark is caroling Saint Ceres before the sacred silos,” the artist said about the work on display.

Oliver’s work is steeped in mysticism, mythology and religion and is dripping with symbolism. Oliver, however, prefers that you interpret them for yourself, because what he was trying to express is not what’s important.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s  what you bring to it. You take control of the art when you look at it. When you stand in front of it. I have no more control of it. What dialogue that happens between you and that art is what makes the work valid to me. The only thing that is important is how it makes you feel.”

The works of Kermit Oliver will be on display at the Waco Art Center at 701 South 8th street in Waco until December 17th.

A limited number of prints of “St. Ceres and the Sacred Silos” are available for purchase.

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