A meaningful gift

July 25, 2014

Painter and Hermés Scarf Designer creates original work for Baylor

Kermit Oliver is legendary in the art world for his incredible talent, his reticence and the uniqueness of his story. He is the only American ever to have been tapped to design scarves for Hermés, the luxurious Paris apparel and accessory company. A retired postman in addition to being an artist, his world-renowned paintings are created in his East Waco home, just minutes from campus. Now, the campus is proud to be home to an original work he painted exclusively for Baylor.

>“Armillary” was commissioned by Baylor philanthropists and art lovers Sue, BA ’50, and the late Ted, BBA ’49, JD ’51, Getterman and given as a gift to Baylor’s Martin Museum of Art. (See story on Mr. Getterman, p. 68)

>Oliver, a private man who estimates he has given only 10 speeches in his life, said he is “complimented” to have his painting become part of the University that has been his neighbor for three decades.

>“It’s extraordinary because Mr. Oliver doesn’t do many private commissions,” Karin Gilliam, director of the Martin Museum of Art, said. “He paints very much from the heart and is a very private person. I thought the painting was perfect, and we will absolutely cherish it.”

>“Armillary” features symbolism of the new beginnings represented by each Baylor student: the quest for knowledge, our ability to illuminate darkness through our time on earth, and much more. Religious symbolism is a staple of his work, and it is present in “Armillary.” However, Oliver believes those who view the painting will add their perspectives and meanings.

>“I hope that something from the work resonates with their experience,” Oliver said. “Each person can expand its meaning in a way I never could have imagined. What I do is nothing until it comes into a public venue, like here at Baylor, and then it takes on a very different dimension.”

>The Gettermans are longtime friends of Kermit Oliver, and their efforts brought the painting to Baylor.

>“The Gettermans stepped in and said, ‘We’d like to make this happen,’” Gilliam said. “Mrs. Getterman contacted him and talked to him about the commission and concepts for the painting. Mr. Oliver is an internationally recognized artist whose work is becoming part of major museums, much larger than ours. For them to make it possible for our small museum to have that, it’s quite an honor.”

>“Armillary” will remain a part of the Martin Museum of Art’s permanent collection.

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