JOE RUIZ GRANDEE - The first official Texas State Artist ~ Designated in 1971
Born a third-generation Texan in Dallas in 1929, Joe Ruiz Grandee has a background as colorful as his paintings. His great-grandfather, a Castillian nobleman, came from Spain to settle in Corpus Christi, where he built the town’s largest and most successful dance hall and saloon. Grandee’s grandfather, Banito, grew up in the family’s large home – a home that would ultimately be renovated and designated a historical landmark – and rose to become one of Corpus Christi’s most prominent and respected citizens. On his mother’s side, Grandee boasted two grandfathers with connections to history; one who captained a clipper ship that ran the blockade for the Confederacy between Port Lavaca and New Orleans, and another who was a judge and presided during the famous Sutton-Taylor feud trial.
To beef up his reference material, he became a consummate collector of authentic clothing, guns, saddles and cowboy gear. Today, his collection of more than 5,000 artifacts is on permanent display at the Joe Grandee Museum of the Frontier West Gallery, inside the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
In 1974, a one-man retrospective of his work was held at the U.S. Capitol, and he was appointed the official state artist of Texas by the Texas Legislature. He was active as a sculptor, illustrator, and painter of portraits, military scenes, and the history of the West. He has been cited for historically accurate depictions of the Dragoons and Cavalrymen of the US Army, and his work has been exhibited by the White House, Lyndon Baines Johnson Collection [Austin],the Harmsen Collection of Western Art [Denver], and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame [Oklahoma City].