Carol DeMoss loves being surrounded by nature and wild things, and it’s okay with her if she goes inside sometimes.
“Obviously I have holes in the screens,” said the artist and illustrator, whose free art exhibit “Inspired by Nature” runs through Oct. 1 at Puente Art Studio, 741 E Elizabeth St. in Brownsville.
“I have a Mexican frog that lives on the front porch on the windowsill above the door,” said DeMoss, who lives in Bayview. “I call him my clock frog. He watches over me.”
Her murals and other art can be seen at the Gladys Porter Zoo, where she first dipped a brush in paint in the early 1980s. DeMoss has a mural to complete inside the herpetarium and was among a group of artists who painted the large mural above the alligator pit, he said.
“They called me to do the plants,” DeMoss said. “That’s how I got hooked. I’ve been painting on it ever since. I just do the best I can. I have my photos all over the zoo. I’m pretty much everywhere.”
Her work can also be found on interpretive/educational panels, as well as the sponsor’s ceramic tiles in the zoo’s education department, she said. DeMoss’ work can also be seen elsewhere, including Sea Turtle Inc. from South Padre Island, where he just finished a job.
“They’re putting some (alligator turtles) in there and it’s an outdoor facility,” he said. “They built a big outdoor tank. They needed a swamp mural, and I like swamps, so I did that. That one’s just finished. I don’t even know if they still have the turtles. They’re going to have two. They’re going to branch out. and they’ll have more turtles than just sea turtles.”
DeMoss has also done murals for eco-lodging in Belize and painted a “back porch” mural at 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,” he recalled. “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 treat. I definitely enjoy my job.”
DeMoss, president of the Wildlife Conservation and Education Society of South Texas, has more than 20 of her works on display at Puente Art Studio, including a depiction of a long-tailed weasel, a relative of otters and badgers that lives in the Rio Grande . Valley, although very few people have laid eyes on one.
“This is a beautiful creature we have here,” DeMoss said. “No one ever sees it. It’s very secret. 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 in the backcountry, were a regular part of camp life, although DeMoss never saw a long-tailed weasel there.
“Believe it or not, I saw them in Bayview,” he said. “There was one on our back porch when we moved in. I knew this was the place for me. We’ve also had a bobcat.”
DeMoss’ exhibit, which opened Aug. 13, includes many examples of valley wildlife, in addition to the shy weasel, in addition to “a lot of rainforest imagery,” he said.
“I have a Rio Grande turkey in watercolor, but it’s probably 80 percent acrylic,” DeMoss said. “I was painting up until an hour before the show.”
His hope is that “Nature Inspired” visitors will leave with a greater appreciation for the wild things that are right under our noses in the Rio Grande Valley, he said.
“The goal is to draw attention to the wildlife treasures in our own backyard,” DeMoss said.
Exhibition ‘Nature Inspired’ by Carol DeMoss
Puente Art Studio, 741 E. Elizabeth St., Brownsville
Until October 1
From Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m
Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m