Edwina Mintel: Hill Country Through the Artist's Eyes. Austin Center for Architecture. May 16 through May 29, 2009. The Exhibition was a result of collective effort of graduate students from the University of Texas at Austin. The following presentation is a part of an exhibition project: Framing Fredericksburg: Evolution of a Texas Landscape. Images from the Pioneer Museum. By Victoria Klimentieva
Framing Fredericksburg Images included in this exhibit, except when indicated, are used with permission of the Pioneer Museum, Fredericksburg, Texas. For research requests, licensing information and other inquiries, please contact the Pioneer Museum. Contact information can be found at: http://www.pioneermuseum.com/xContact.htm Edwina Mintel is one of so many local Texas artists who is virtually forgotten today. Yet, she had a unique view on the Texas Hill Country nature and history of her community. It is reflected in the nine sketches by Mintel which are today in The Pioneer Museum in Fredericksburg, TX. In this presentation I will compare Mintel’s sketches with photographic images of the Hill Country also found in The Pioneer Museum.
Framing Fredericksburg Edwina Mintel was born in San Antonio and died there, but Fredericksburg was her home and studio for many years. She began drawing as a child. Later she studied with the prominent Texas painters R.J. Onderdonk, Peter Hohenstend, John Philipponi, Jose Arpa and Rolla Taylor. In 1920-30s she operated an art school in San Antonio, which she called "Bluebonnet.“ Landscapes, flowers, especially bluebonnets, were her favorite subjects. In the early 1940's Mintel and her husband Otto moved to Fredericksburg. Mintel continued teaching art, using a room in the southeast corner of the old courthouse building. Her lessons were free! Mintel organized the Fredericksburg Art Club, as well as several art shows. In early 1960s the Mintel’s sold their business and farm in Fredericksburg and retired in San Antonio . Edwina Mintel 1896–1966 Photograph from “ Fredericksburg Texas. 150 Years of Painting and Drawing” By J. Maguire.
Framing Fredericksburg Edwina Mintel (right) with unknown man and woman at an art show. Undated Photograph. Gelatin silver print. Accession # 2002.042.002353
When the Mintel moved to Fredericksburg, they opened a gift shop and electric lighting and fixtures store in the 400 block of West Main Street. Framing Fredericksburg The Mintels Store Front. Undated Photograph. Gelatin silver print. Accession # 2002.042.000769
Framing Fredericksburg Edwina Mintel. Bear Mountain. Undated Sketch, charcoal on paper, 13 ¼ x 10 inches. The Mintel’s also bought a 360-acre farm north of Fredericksburg near Bear Mountain. Mintel’s sketch reflects the vastness of Hill Country landscape with rocky hills, small tress and bushes. The artist saw the rocky landscape of the mountain every day. She could have done this sketch on one of her walks on her farm. The photograph shows how little has changed in the landscape. Written in German on the front of the photo: “Barenberg Pastor Kueunnel. Verso: Baren Berg, 1903 Bei Fredericksburg. Rev F A Braches 1970. Bear Mountain. Photograph 1903. Gelatin silver print. Accession # 19xx.698.002
Framing Fredericksburg Supply Wagons Cross River. Photograph 1917. Accession # 2002.045.014 In May 1846 a small group of German settlers found a small town called Fredericksburg. Here is an extract from a journal of Alwin H. Sörgel, who was among the first German Texans. It gives an idea how the settlers came there: The road to Fredericksburg briefly follows the road to San Antonio; it goes in a west-southwest direction until it crosses the Cibolo River. (…) It is beautiful country side, idyllic, romantic, with a taste to each liking – but of little practical use. The valley of the Sabinas and the Guadalupe is broad, primeval and wooded; it extends before the traveler's eyes from west to east. (…) The river is crossed by horse. On the other side of Sister Creek a road follows the creek upriver. You ascend the Guadalupe Mountains.
Framing Fredericksburg Alwin H. Sörgel continues the journal’s entry : At the top is a plateau overgrown with shrub post oak and Black Jack. The trail descends again to Grape Creek and a valley with fertile patches of land and timber growth. One more time uphill, one more rime through a pass and then before you stretches the broad and wooded valley of the Pedermales, ringed on both sides by limestone mountains. Between them and a valley lie green and pleasantly shaped hills. There, six miles off, hidden in the trees, lies Fredericksburg. Arial view of Cross Mountain looking south with Fredericksburg in the background. Keller Studios. Undated Photograph. Accession # 1992.737.018
Cross Mountain is a landmark of Fredericksburg. On a hill overlooking Fredericksburg, the first settlers found the remains of a huge wooden cross of native timber. They (the John Durst Family) reassembled the cross and erected it on the hill. It has been assumed that Spanish missionaries placed the cross on the hill in the early 1800s. According to the legend, the Missionaries and Indians in the area gathered on the hill for council. Framing Fredericksburg Edwina Mintel. Cross Mountain. Undated Sketch, charcoal on paper, 13 ¼ x 10 inches.
The photograph above was taken at Easter time. Huge Easter bonfire is visible on the top of the mountain. Fredericksburg’s Easter Fires are the unique observance of Easter, blending the religious theme of the day with the gaiety of the fabled Easter Framing Fredericksburg Cross on the top of Cross Mountain. Undated Photograph. Gelatin silver print. Accession # 2003.023.024 Easter Fires on Cross Mountain. Photograph, 1946. Accession # 2002.042.000490
Framing Fredericksburg Edwina Mintel. Log Cabin. Undated Sketch, charcoal on paper. Edwina Mintel. Stone Building. Undated Sketch, charcoal on paper. Both sketches depict the hallmarks of pioneer architecture. This architecture is simple, yet noteworthy. In the beginning, homes and structures of the Hill Country were carved of wood and stone. Although Fredericksburg was founded by the German settlers, in a short time the town became home for people from Europe, Mexico and Indians. They built their town according to their traditional construction techniques, adapting them to local materials. The diverse architectural forms reflect the identity of this multicultural community.
Edwina Mintel. Sunday House. Undated Sketch, charcoal on paper. During the early years of the settlement and until the early part of the 20 th century Fredericksburg was known for its “Sunday Houses.” In those days they served their owners, farmers and ranchers, only on week-ends. People came to town on Saturday for shopping, entertainment and church service. They stayed over usually one night and returned home late Sunday. In the beginning Sunday Houses were single room huts with simple furnishing, providing only the bare necessities for a week-end stay. Framing Fredericksburg
Framing Fredericksburg Edwina Mintel. The Old Vereins Kirche. Undated Sketch, charcoal on paper. South side of Vereins Kirche as Chamber of Commerce. Undated Photograph. Gelatin silver print. Accession # 19xx.709.038 Vereins Kirche was constructed in 1847. Initially the building was placed in the middle of the Main Street, and was to serve as a church, school, community hall and fortress. In this church all denominations worshiped, each at their given time. The first building was demolished in 1897, but an exact replica was built in 1934-35. This time, however, not in the middle of the Main Street but 300 feet north on Market Square. Note a unique octagonal shape of the church. Today, Vereins Kirche is a museum of Gillespie County Historical Society with permanent exhibits focusing on the history of the area.
One of the most widely-known old home in Fredericksburg. The house was built of cut lime stone in 1856 by Johann Peter Tatsch (1822–1907). Tatsch was a “Tischler” or cabinet-maker. The walls of the house are almost 2 foot thick. The house has two front rooms, rear gallery kitchen and attic. The photograph was taken before the streets were paved. Inscription on the back: “Tatsch Home by Adolph Wehmeyer.” Framing Fredericksburg Edwina Mintel. John Peter Tatsch Home. Undated Sketch, charcoal on paper. John Peter Tatsch Home. View from the corner of North Bowie and West Schubert Streets. Undated Photograph. Gelatin silver print. Accession # 19xx.739.043
The most fascinating feature of the house is its two fireplaces, one of the unbelievable size of 13 foot. Framing Fredericksburg Side view of the John Peter Tatsch House. Undated Photograph. Accession # 2004.037.029
Edwina Mintel. Untitled (Peter Tatsch House). Oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches. Framing Fredericksburg The sketch from the Pioneer Museum was probably done for the painting above, which is today in the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Glen Treibs.
About 22 miles northwest of Fredericksburg in the Doss community, in the valley of Treadgill Creek, stands the old historic Lange’s Mill. The old rock mill was built by the Doss brothers in 1848. In 1859, the mill and its water reservoir were wiped out in a flood. In 1866 the Langes bought the mill. It was a crude gristmill, and in the very early days a distillery was also operated here. Indians would bring to the mill their treasures to trade for “firewater.” Framing Fredericksburg Edwina Mintel. The Lange’s Mill. Undated Sketch, charcoal on paper. The Lange’s Mill. Undated Photograph. Gelatin silver print. Accession # 2004.037.030
Framing Fredericksburg Undated Photograph of Ella Lange. She lived in the Lange’s Mill. On this photo she is ready for School. Accession # 2004.024.011
Framing Fredericksburg Edwina Mintel. Peter Pletz Home–now Perry Guest House. Undated Sketch, charcoal on paper, 13 ¼ x 10 inches. Peter Pletz immigrated from Germany with his wife and five children in 1845. He built a one-room log cabin and a kitchen with cooking fireplace of solid limestone rock. He was a laborer and later a wagoner. He also had an orchard of fruit trees near his home. Pletz's life had a tragic end. In a hot summer night in 1863, he was sleeping under a fruit tree near the house. Two locals Sam Doss and Sam Tanner invaded the little orchard and murdered Pletz when he got up to see what was going on. Today Perry Guest House is surrounded by fruit trees and grapevines and is one of the most picturesque old homes in Fredericksburg.
On this photograph (left to right) : Barbara Schmidt, Cynthia Talley and Penny Perry, dressed in traditional German costumes, in front of Dr. and Mrs. J. Hardin Perry’s guest house. Framing Fredericksburg Cover of the Houston Chronicle Sunday Roto Magazine, entitled “Texas, Old World Touch.” Undated. Accession # 2004.18.45, Heinen Collection.
Framing Fredericksburg Bibliography: Briggers, Don H. German Pioneers in Texas. A Brief History of Their Hardships, Struggles and Achievements. Fredericksburg, Texas: Fredericksburg Publishing Co., 1925. Edwards, Walter F. The Story of Fredericksburg. Its Past, Present, Points of Interest and Annual Events . Fredericksburg, Texas: Chamber of Commerce, 1969 Kowert, Elise. Old Homes and Buildings of Fredericksburg . Fredericksburg, Texas: Fredericksburg Publishing Company, 1977. Maguire, Jack. Fredericksburg Texas 150 Years of Painting and Drawing. Fredericksburg, Texas: Fredericksburg 150 th Anniversary, Inc. S ör gel, Alwin H., trans. W.M. Von-Maszewski. A Sojourn in Texas, 1846-47 . San Marcos, Texas: German-Texan Heritage Society, 1992. White, Roy J. and Joe B. Frantz. Introduction by Harry H. Ransom. Limestone and Log a Hill Country Sketchbook. Austin, Texas: The Encino Press, 1968.