‘Inspired by Nature’ on display at Puente Art Studio

Aug. 20—Carol DeMoss loves being surrounded by nature and wild things, and it suits her 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 him my guard frog. He guards 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 pit, she said.

“They called me in to do the plants,” DeMoss said. “That’s how I got hooked. Since then, I paint there. I do everything I can. I have my pictures all over the zoo. I’m pretty much everywhere.”

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 big outdoor tank. They needed a swamp mural, and I love swamps, so I did that. That one just ended. I don’t even know if they still have the turtles. They’re going to 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 used to go 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 hanging 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. “Nobody ever sees it. It’s very secretive. It’s 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 that was the place for me. We had a bobcat too.”

The DeMoss exhibit, which opened Aug. 13, features many examples of valley wildlife in addition to the shy weasel, as well as “many photos of the rainforest,” 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.”

She hopes “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.

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MORE INFORMATION:

Exhibition “Inspired by nature” by Carol DeMoss

WHERE: Puente Art Studio, 741 E. Elizabeth St., Brownsville

WHEN: Until Oct. 1 Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Sunday

FREE ENTRANCE

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