• Improbable Waco artist designs scarves for Paris fashion label — and displays work at Baylor

    Kermit Oliver and Alice Starr

    Only one American has ever been tapped to design scarves for Hermes, the legendary (and luxurious) Paris apparel and accessory company — and he’s probably not what you would expect.

    Kermit Oliver is his name; a retired Waco postal worker, he lives in East Waco, just a short drive from the Baylor campus. While well-known in some circles for his collection of Hermes scarves and his world-renowned paintings, he’s also notorious for his reluctance to speak publicly or self-promote. (See this fascinating 2012 Texas Monthly article for more of his life story.)

    Yet, there was the famously reclusive artist (he estimates he’s given fewer than 10 speeches in his life), speaking at Baylor University’s Martin Museum of Art earlier this week, addressing a rapt audience in advance of an exhibition of his paintings and scarves at the museum. (That’s Oliver pictured with First Lady Alice Starr above, displaying one of his scarves.)

    Following the conclusion of his speech, Oliver surprised the audience by unveiling his latest painting, a work commissioned exclusively for Baylor by generous philanthropists Ted (BBA ’49, JD’ 51) and Sue (BA ’50) Getterman. The painting, titled “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. “Armillary” will remain a part of the Martin Museum’s permanent collection, a gift Museum Director Karin Gilliam called “extraordinary” due to the rarity of Oliver painting commissioned works.

    The exhibit of Oliver’s work (including his new painting for Baylor) is on display at the Martin Museum through July 13. Check it out; not only will you get a rich cultural experience, but it’s also more affordable than the hundreds (or thousands) of dollars it could cost you to purchase one of his rare and luxurious scarves.

    Sic ’em, Kermit Oliver and Martin Museum of Art!