Carol DeMoss loves being surrounded by nature and wild things, and she’s fine with it if sometimes it comes indoors.
“Obviously I have holes in the screens,” said the artist and illustrator whose free art exhibit “Nature Inspired” runs through October 1 at Puente Art Studio, 741 E. Elizabeth. St. in Brownsville.
“I have a Mexican tree frog that lives on the porch on a windowsill above the door,” said DeMoss, who lives in Bayview. “I call it my watch frog. He keeps me.
Her murals and other artwork can be seen in the Gladys Porter Zoo, where she first dipped a brush in paint in the early 1980s. DeMoss has a mural to complete inside the herpetarium, and she was part of a group of artists who painted the large mural above the alligator den, she said.
“They called me in to do the plants,” DeMoss said. “That’s how I got hooked. I have been painting there ever since. I just do everything I can. I have my photos all over the zoo. I’m all over the place.
Her work can also be found on interpretive/educational panels as well as the ceramic tiles of the zoo’s education department sponsors, she said. DeMoss’ work can also be seen elsewhere, including South Padre Island’s Sea Turtle Inc., where she has just completed work.
“They put (alligator snapping turtles) in there and it’s an outdoor facility,” she said. “They built a large outdoor tank. They needed a swamp mural, and I love swamps, so I did it. This one just ended. I don’t even know if they still have the turtles. They will have two. They’re going to branch out and have more turtles than sea turtles.”
DeMoss has also done murals for eco-lodges in Belize and painted a “back porch” mural at Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park.
“It was hilarious, because I was going there at night to work, and there was a nilgai that was a pest,” she recalled. “He came and he was shaking the trailer at night, doing all kinds of things. There was a rattlesnake that stayed around. It was hilarious. It was a treat. I really like my job.
DeMoss, president of the Wildlife Conservation and Education Society of South Texas, has more than 20 of her works on display at Puente Art Studio, including a rendering of a long-tailed weasel, a relative of otters and badgers that lives in Rio. Grande Valley, although very few people have seen one.
“It’s a nice little creature we have here,” DeMoss said. “No one ever sees him. It’s very secret. It is one of the most beautiful animals on Earth. And there they are, the long-tailed weasel.
DeMoss lived for years at Camp Lula Sams, a former Boy Scout camp on 86 undeveloped acres in Brownsville, now known as Camp RIO at Historic Lula Sams and operated by IDEA Public Schools. Wildlife encounters, including more than a few indoors, were a regular part of camp life, though DeMoss had never seen a long-tailed weasel there.
“Believe it or not, I saw them at Bayview,” she said. “There was one on our back porch when we moved in. I knew this was the place for me. We also had a bobcat.
The DeMoss exhibit, which opened Aug. 13, features many examples of valley wildlife in addition to the shy weasel, as well as “lots of rainforest photos,” she said. .
“I have a Rio Grande turkey in watercolor, but probably 80 percent is in acrylic,” DeMoss said. “I was painting until an hour before the show.”
Her hope is that “Nature Inspired” visitors will come away with a greater appreciation for the wild things right under our noses in the Rio Grande Valley, she said.
“Bringing attention to wildlife treasures in our own backyard is the goal,” DeMoss said.
Exhibition “Inspired by nature” by Carol DeMoss
Puente Art Studio, 741 E. Elizabeth St., Brownsville
Until October 1
Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Saturday 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Close on Sunday