Carol DeMoss loves being surrounded by nature and wild things, and it’s okay with her if she ever comes inside.

“Of course I have holes in the screens,” said the artist and illustrator, whose free art exhibit “Nature Inspired” 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 in a window above the door,” said DeMoss, who lives in Bayview. “I call him my clockwork frog. He protects 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 she was among a group 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 connected. I have been painting there 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 sponsor ceramic plaques in the zoo’s education department, she said. DeMoss’ work can also be seen in other places, including Sea Turtle Inc. of South Padre Island, where she just finished a job.

“They’re putting some (alligator snapping turtles) in there and it’s an outdoor structure,” she said. “They built a big tank in the open. They needed a swamp mural, and I love swamps, so I did that. He just finished. I don’t even know if they still have the turtles. They will have two. They will branch out and have more turtles than just sea turtles.”

DeMoss has also done murals for eco-lodges in Belize and painted “back porch” murals at Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park.

“It was funny because I used to go there at night to work, and there was a nilgai that was a pest,” she recalls. “He went out and rocked the trailer at night, did all kinds of things. It was a rattlesnake that stood in the corner. It was hilarious. It was a pleasure. Of course I like my job.”

DeMoss, president of the South Texas Wildlife Conservation and Education Society, has more than 20 of her works on display at Puente Art Studio, among them a rendition of a long-tailed weasel, a relative of otters and the badger that lives in the Rio Grande. Valley, although very few people have laid eyes on one.

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

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, though DeMoss never saw a 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 even had a bobcat.”

The DeMoss exhibit, which opened Aug. 13, features many examples of Valley wildlife other than the shy weasel, plus “lots of pictures of rainforests,” she said.

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

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

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

Nature Inspired Exhibit by Carol DeMoss

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

Until October 1

Monday-Friday from 10:00 to 13:00

Saturday from 17:00 to 20:00

Closed on Sunday

Free entry

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