President Lyndon B. Johnson’s historic Hill Country ranch has long served as a National Historic Park. Now, thanks to the Cabinet Oak Project, it serves as a jumping off point for 59 artists from around Texas and the United States.
Last year, the preservation organization Friends of LBJ National Historic Park announced an open call inspired by a tree branch that fell outside the “Texas White House,” Johnson’s residence on the ranch. That large branch belonged to Cabinet Oak, a 300-year old live oak tree. Artists were invited to propose works using or based on chunks of wood from the fallen limb, and selected artists were delivered actual pieces of the tree to use.
The results of those projects will be exhibited and auctioned off beginning in April of this year. Proceeds from the auction will be used to fund restoration efforts at the Texas White House, which has been closed to visitors since 2018 due to structural issues. The money will also go towards establishing an artist residency at the LBJ Ranch.
The juror for the exhibition was Katie Robinson Edwards, Ph.D., Executive Director and Curator of the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden + Museum in Austin. In the call, artists working not just in sculpture, but in all media of contemporary art were encouraged to apply. That encouragement is reflected in the wide array of artists who were chosen to participate. A gallery page on the Cabinet Oak Project website indicates the presence of paintings, prints, and even a guitar, among the more traditional wood sculptures.
All the finished works will be exhibited at the LBJ Ranch Hangar Building from Saturday, April 1 until the end of May. Originally built to house Mr. Johnson’s plane, the hangar has also served as a barn, dining room, and private movie theater. It has since been repurposed as the LBJ Ranch visitor center, which includes exhibition space. An online auction of the works will begin on Thursday, April 6.
A celebration event for the project will take place at Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye, Texas on Saturday, May 6 from 6 – 9 pm. Tickets to the celebration cost $150 per person and include dinner, drinks, and live music. There will also be a live auction of the Best of Show pieces, as selected by Katie Robinson Edwards, during the event. According to an FAQ on the Cabinet Oak Project website, “online bidding for the selected Best of Show pieces will be suspended on May 5. The auction of these special pieces will be concluded live at the event. The highest online bidder will have the opportunity to continue bidding through a proxy at the event.”
For more information, visit the Cabinet Oak Project website.
Selected artists include: Reynaldo Alaniz, Greg Blair, Jessica Bodner, Marti Corn, Colleen Cosgrove, Lee Edwards, Dennis Fagan, Rheana Gardner, Tom Garrett, Ginger Geyer, Cindy Goldman, Larry Graeber, Harold Greene, Rosemary Holloway, Burton Isenstein, Mariko Jesse, Jennifer Kapnek, Patrick Kelly, Susan Kirchman, Cindee Klement, Catherine Lee, David Leitch, Dean Logan, John Mark Luke, Peter Mangan, Deborah Merskey, Rob Millard-Mendez, Greg Miller, John Moore, Suzanne Moroles, Katy Nail, McKay Otto, Alicia Philley, Burt Pritzker, JR Rapier, Greg Reuter, Barbra Riley, Margo Sawyer, Bob Schneider, DorRae Stevens, Stephen Sumrall-Orsak, James Surls, Ann Swingler, Ric Taylor, Ashton Thornhill, Kat Warwick, Mars Woodhill, and Rusty Yates.