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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Local couple celebrates individuality, creativity in artwork


Jill and Robert Pankey in their studio in Buda, Texas.

Married in 1989, Jill and Robert Pankey knew that their love for art would open new opportunities that they could endure together. Now, the Pankeys have both of their art displayed in galleries in Sante Fe, New Mexico, Coronado Island, California and Buda and Bernie, Texas, have a published coffee table book and a current art show in Buda.
Jill, a Texas State alumna and former senior lecturer in the School of Art and Design, co-owned Aerobics Plus Fitness at Corpus Christi in the late ’80s, creating designs for marketing and t-shirts. Robert, who is currently a Texas State kinesiology professor, was a professor of kinesiology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi at the time.
The couple met in a fitness class at Aerobics Plus in which Robert was a guest speaker and the rest was history.
“We’re not very common when it comes to the art dual couples,” Robert said. “There’s not a lot of married people that both have interest in art, so it’s kind of a limited dichotomy.”
At the age of five, Jill Pankey grew a passion for art. Being born in the border city of Del Rio, Texas, and always witnessing vibrant colors throughout her hometown inspired her to create vivid works displaying the female form.
“Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been interested in figures, and I thought I would focus on women because I know my species,” Jill said. “There’s so many different types of body types, too — endomorph, ectomorph, mesomorph — we’re all different types of bodies. I liked the idea now that I’m getting older, I’m not so interested in pretty and perfect; I like real and activity.”
Robert began creating pen and ink illustrations while he was a graduate student in kinesiology and biomechanics at Texas A&M University in the early ’80s. His time spent with wildlife hunting and fishing throughout his lifetime created the direction for his art.
“Birds, longhorns, bobcats and other animals are really attractive to me and when I paint it, it doesn’t have to be so exact like when you’re painting someone’s portrait, you have to be really exact, where a bobcat you could have different looks and colors to it,” Robert said.
Their choice to live in San Marcos sparked from Jill and Robert’s love for Texas State. Jill attended Southwest Texas State before transferring to Corpus Christi State University in the late ’70s. After receiving her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2002, Jill returned to Texas State from 2002 to 2013 to teach basic drawing, figure drawing and painting courses as a senior lecturer in the School of Art and Design.
The was the chair for the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, as well as a kinesiology and biomechanics professor in 2000. Although he retired from being the chair in 2016, Robert is still a professor at Texas State, teaching an online class in sports sociology.
Jill and Robert extend their love to Texas State by donating their art to fundraisers such as Bobcat Bonanza. Jill’s art is displayed on the right side of the Undergraduate Academic Center.
“[Texas State] is a part of us now,” Jill said. “People are always asking for money and I think we’d rather give through our art than money. We like the idea of giving through art, because the money will be spent and gone, but the art lives on.”
Although their artwork differs, the Pankeys share a similar theme in using vibrant colors. They take inspiration from Jill’s birthplace of Del Rio as well as San Marcos. Jill said San Marcos has a colorful atmosphere like Del Rio and that the college student demographic creates a more active city.
The Pankey’s self-made path influences Wendi Martin, Jill’s daughter. After working in the corporate world for a few years, Martin founded Kick Pleat, a boutique in Austin and Houston that features a range of modern styles for women, in 2003.
She realized that her corporate jobs lacked individual creativity, redirected herself and found support and inspiration in her parents, who showed her it is okay to take an uncommon approach to a career.
“I saw them do their own thing, which wasn’t very conventional,” Martin said. “I think they helped me with modeling not with words, but by action.”
Last year, Kick Pleat was listed in “The Best Fashion Boutiques in the Country, According to Vogue Editors” by Vogue.
The Pankey family strives to put their best feet forward. As of February of this year, Robert published two books that feature both his and Jill’s artwork, “Wildlife Art: by Robert Pankey” and “Patterns: by Jill Pankey.”
Jill and Robert currently have an art show titled “Figure, Floral & Fauna.” The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays at the Assemblage Gallery in Buda, Texas, until Nov. 30.
Other than the art show, Jill plans on remaining consistent throughout the year and keeping up with her love for painting.
“I just want to maintain what we’re doing,” Jill said. “I paint slower than him because my paintings are big, whereas he can whip up a painting in a couple days, but my goal is to just keep painting.”
To learn more about Jill and Robert Pankey, visit https://robert-pankey.pixels.com/. For more information on “Figure, Flora & Fauna,” visit https://glasstire.com/events/2022/10/24/figure-floral-fauna/.

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  • Robert Pankey holds Annie in front of his painting “Good Morning Annie,” October 2017, at La Posada de Santa Fe.

  • Jill Pankey works on her art piece “Floral Fandango,” September 2022, in Buda, Texas.

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