This article first appeared in Texas Lifestyle Magazine on April 4, 2019.
Austin-based artist LuAnn Barrow’s paintings transport viewers into a world both impossible and seemingly only just out of reach.
This exquisitely wrought world, that brings both the familiar and the exotic, is on display now through April 28 at another Austin gem, the Neill-Cochran House Museum.
Built back in 1855 by Abner Cook, the architect of many of Austin’s most notable historic buildings, including the Texas Governor’s Mansion, the imposing Neill-Cochran House sits near the University of Texas at Austin, among the bustling streets of campus life. Many of its neighbors have long been converted to fraternity or sorority houses. However, the nonprofit that owns what is the 10th oldest building in Austin has succeeded in retaining the spirit of the home, while also making it a thriving family-friendly spot for year-round events and exhibits.
Enter the grand doorway, and down the wide hallway which houses a grand staircase you pass through the original house, with its rooms sympathetically furnished in the original style of the house, and into an airy gallery. This light-filled room currently houses the “Joy & Delight” Lu Ann Barrow exhibit.
Barrow has been painting the joys and journeys of life with a folkloric-style of pointillism for more than seven decades. Her paintings celebrate everyday life with a light-hearted attitude through her focus on themes of rural Texas life, Biblical stories and combining her travels to Egypt and Turkey.
Barrow was born in Rosenberg, Texas in 1934 and moved to the much larger town of Austin for college in 1952, where she was exposed to the dynamic and nationally-acclaimed Studio Art Program at UT-Austin. After graduating in 1956, Barrow quickly became a force in Austin and Texas and has been regularly exhibiting in both Dallas and Austin for the past seven decades.
Many of her paintings show her strong affinity for the work of both Vincent Van Gogh and Henri Matisse and, at times, combine the vibrant and strident colors and tilted perspective of Van Gogh with the flat, exaggerated decorative patterns of Matisse.
Barrows was recognized with a traveling retrospective exhibition and catalog 2006. Her work was also selected to represent the Texas Book Festival in 1999 and the National Book Festival in 2001. Barrow uses a familiar style of plain painting to connect the viewer on a primal level to Texan and American stories, which is one reason Austin’s Neill-Cochran House Museum is carrying Barrow’s exhibit this spring.
As a museum and organization, the Neill-Cochran House is dedicated to historic preservation and offers an intimate view of the fabric of the lives of prominent Austinites as well as many others living among them from the mid-19th through early 20th centuries.
Through visual information of historic architecture, period-correct family-provenance furnishings, decorative arts, and the changing styles of, what is now called, ‘Austin living,’ the Neill-Cochran House retells the life during the first century of Austin’s establishment in 1838.
Barrow’s Joy and Delight exhibit is free to the public and runs now through April 28 at the Neill-Cochran House Museum.