Art That’s Wild: “Inspired by Nature” on display at Puente Art Studio

Carole DeMoss loves to be surrounded by nature and wild things, and it’s good for her to go inside sometimes.

“Obviously I have holes in the screens,” said the artist and illustrator, whose free exhibit “Inspired by Nature” runs through Oct. 1 at Puente Art Studio, 741 E. Elizabeth St. in Brownsville.

“I have a Mexican tree frog that lives on the front porch on the windowsill above the door,” said DeMoss, who lives in Bayview. “I call it my guardian frog. He protects me.”

Her murals and other artwork can be seen at the Gladys Porter Zoo, where she first dipped a brush into paint in the early 1980s. DeMoss is scheduled to complete a mural in the herpetarium, and she was among a group of artists who painted the large mural above the alligator pit, she said.

“They called me to do the plants,” DeMoss said. “That’s how I got addicted. I’ve been painting there ever since. I just do the best 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 ceramic sponsor tiles in the zoo’s education department, she said. DeMoss’ work can be seen elsewhere, including Sea Turtle Inc. on South Padre Island, where she had just finished work.

“They put some (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 like swamps, so I did it. This one just finished. I don’t even know if they have the turtles yet. They will have two. They will branch out and have more turtles than just sea turtles.”

DeMoss has also painted murals for ecolodges in Belize and painted a “back porch” mural at the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park.

“It was funny because I would go there at night to work and there was a nilgai that was a pest,” she recalls. “He would go up and shake the trailer at night, do all kinds of things. There was a rattlesnake that stayed in the corner. It was fun. It was a pleasure. I definitely enjoy my job.”

DeMoss, president of the South Texas Society for Wildlife Conservation and Education, has more than 20 of his works on display at Puente Art Studio, including a depiction of the long-tailed weasel, a relative of otters and badgers that lives in the Rio Grande Valley, though that very few people have laid eyes on one.

“This is a beautiful little creature we have here,” DeMoss said. “No one ever sees it. It’s very secretive. It is one of the most beautiful animals on Earth. And here they are, the long-tailed weasel.

DeMoss lived for years at Camp Lula Sams, a former Girl 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, although DeMoss never saw the long-tailed weasel there.

“Believe it or not, I saw them in Bayview,” she said. “There was one on our back porch when we moved in. I knew this was the place for me. We also had a lynx.’

The DeMoss exhibit, which opened Aug. 13, includes many examples of Valley wildlife beyond the shy weasel, plus “a lot of pictures of rainforests,” she said.

“I have a Rio Grande turkey in watercolor, but it’s probably 80 percent acrylic,” DeMoss said. “I was painting until an hour before the show.”

Her hope is that Nature Inspired visitors will walk away with a greater appreciation for the wild things right under our noses in the Rio Grande Valley, she said.

“The goal is to bring attention to the wildlife treasures in our own backyard,” DeMoss said.

“Inspired by Nature” Exhibition by Carol DeMoss

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

Until Oct. 1

Monday-Friday from 10 am to 1 pm

Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m

Closed Sunday

Entrance free

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