Lucretia Donnell Coke is a distinguished artist and art teacher whose portraits and landscapes have brought honors to her not only in her native Texas, but also in New York and many other venues.Schooled in the distinctive pastel painting technique of Frank Reaugh, she was a youthful protégé of that noted master of Western pleine-aire art.
Reaugh enlisted her talents in teaching younger students in his legendary sketch trips to West Texas and New Mexico. Under Reaugh’s tutelage, the rigorous program called for four to five outdoor sketches each day. The aspiring artists camped out on private ranches and also in such favorite settings as TuleCanyon, PaloDuroCanyon, the Caprock, and DoubleMountain. The incomparable artistry of his western paintings has assured Reaugh’s place in art history. His name gains still more luster from the fact that he was the sole recorder of the unique time in Texas history when longhorns still roamed free on the plains.
The work of his apt student, Lucretia, has been shown widely. Most recently, her painting, “Cliffs of Tule,” has been selected for the permanent collection of the Texas Room at the Panhandle-PlainsHistoricalMuseum in Canyon Texas. This is the largest historical museum in the state.
Lucretia holds a degree in Art and Education from Southern Methodist University. She later studied at the Art Students’ League in New York City, culminating with a one-woman show in Manhasset, Long Island, N.Y. She has exhibited at the Dallas Museum of Art with the Frank Reaugh Art club, the Texas Fine Arts Gallery, and the Artists and Craftsmen Association. She is a member of the prestigious Pastel Society of the Southwest, based in Dallas.
In Austin, Lucretia Coke has exhibited with the Palette Club, Capitols Arts Society, Lake Travis Arts League, and at the Austin Woman’s Club member’ exhibits. Her portraits and landscapes hang in the homes of art-lovers in many states.
In 2001, her work was shown at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary Gallery (“The Mac”) Exhibit – “Frank Reaugh and His Students.” At this showing, Lucretia was asked to give a demonstration of Frank Reaugh’s pastel painting technique.
Fine art has surrounded her throughout her life. Her mother, Lucretia Ayers Donnell, was a widely recognized teacher of china-painting in Dallas and the founder of IPAT (International Porcelain Art Teachers).
And so it was that in the younger Lucretia’s girlhood home, she was always aware of the pungent scents of paint, clove oil, turpentine, wafting their message of creativity to the artist-to-be. The walls of the Donnell home were covered with fine paintings, many by artist friends such as Robert Wood, Charles Bowling, Frank Klepper, Adele Brunet, Reveau Bassett, Laura Buchannon, Jessie Davis, and of course, the revered Frank Reaugh, who was like family to the Donnells.
In those Depression years, the artist felt fortunate that Earl R. Donnell – husband to one artist named Lucretia, father to another – was warmly sympathetic to art lessons and to art purchases. As owner of Donnell Ice Cream Company, and later as head of Borden Ice Cream, Earl Donnell kept his artistic circle – both family and friends – well nourished!
Lucretia lived in Dallas for many years and made her home inNew York for a period. She and her husband, Jack L. Coke, moved from Dallas to Austin in 1990 to, as she says, “be near my favorite portrait subjects” – her grandchildren. Jack Coke was a practicing attorney for 50 years until his death in 1995.
Lucretia’s role in pleine aire art of the Southwest has been noted in various publications. Her painting, “PedernalesRiver near Johnson City, Texas” was pictured in the October, 2001, issue of the magazine, “American Art Review.” It was one of the illustrations chosen for the article, “Frank Reaugh and his Students,” by Michael R. Grauer. Lucretia was also seen in photographs in “The Pastel Journal, “for July-August, 2001, illustrating the article, “Building on a Legacy for Plein Aire Pastelists” by Bruce Defoor. An earlier issue of the Journal (November-December, 2000) showed Lucretia’s photograph in the article, “Frank Reaugh, 1860-1945, Pioneering Plein Aire Pastels in the American West,” by Grauer.
Lucretia is one of the Trustees of Reaugh’s estate, which has given to The University of Texas a highly valued collection of his “Paintings of the Southwest.” These are the only paintings known that were painted on location in this unique time of Southwestern history when the Longhorn ran wild on the open range. The donation of a special exhibit space for Reaugh at U.T. is the heartfelt dream of Lucretia and other artists who were taught by Reaugh or influenced by his genius. In such a space, they foresee future generations of young artists benefiting from Reaugh’s matchless celebration of the natural beauty of Texas.`