Maurice Schmidt has been creating art for decades. He has collectors and his work has been displayed in museums and galleries but, Vanessa Reiser says, “he’s not as well-known as we all think he should be.”
Reiser is the director and producer of a short documentary. “Majesty and Tenderness: The Art of Maurice Schmidt” was commissioned as part of a retrospective celebrating Schmidt’s work at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts.
Reiser says she also hopes the film will exist outside the exhibit, “so that more people can have the opportunity to know Maurice Schmidt.”
The film is screening both in person and virtually as part of the Austin Jewish Film Festival.
Schmidt was born in New Braunfels and spent much of his life in South Texas. He was a professor at Texas A&I (now Texas A&M) University in Kingsville. Reiser says Schmidt grew up as a practicing Jew but in his adulthood found God in nature and the everyday.
“He would drive his son to his bar mitzvah training from Kingsville, Texas to Corpus Christi. And throughout the course of the year, he would watch as the crops would grow and then be harvested. And he would connect that to the metaphor of agriculture that you see throughout the Torah,” Reiser said.
Schmidt is a figurative artist and he paints the scenes of life he sees around himself.
“Whether that’s a cotton field being harvested in the summer or cows in a field, it’s really every day images of life that we all see, but we don’t see the way Maurice does,” Reiser said. “And there’s a lot of tenderness in how he depicts people and animals.”
The Austin Jewish Film Festival runs through Nov. 16. The retrospective at the San Angelo Museum of Arts is on display through March 20.