The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

These photographs of smallpox and cancer patients provide a sobering antidote
to the more exuberant photographs of proud citizens commemorating civic
accomplishments. Jazz Age Boomtown is, in short, a notable contribution to the lit-
erature of Main Street America and particularly to the popular cultural history
of Central Texas. The book should be of value to all those interested not only in
the Jazz Age itself and in historical and archival photographic research but also
to scholars interested in the development of rural Texas during the period of
elation and depression bracketed by two world wars. In addition to its interest
for Texas scholars and historians, Jazz Age Boomtown is a handsomely produced
volume that is easy to digest and thought-provoking to contemplate. The book
leaves one wanting to see even more of Clemons's photographs and to learn
even more about Breckenridge and its citizens.
Miami University, Hamilton Jack Rhodes
Exhibition Reviews
"Imagining the Open Range: Erwin E. Smith, Cowboy Photographer." Traveling
exhibition, organized by the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Fort
Worth, Texas. Barbara McCandless, curator. Accompanied by Erwin E.
Smith biography, Imagining the Open Range: Erwin E. Smith, Cowboy Photogra-
pher, by B. Byron Price. (Amon Carter Museum, 1998; $49.99)
Erwin E. Smith (1886-1947) developed a passion for the cowboy way of life as
a teenager in Bonham, Texas, coming of age in the decade after Frederick
Jackson Turner proclaimed the closing of the American frontier. For someone
so young, he held an old-timer's nostalgic concern for the passing of the tradi-
tional cowboy way of life, a passing that was rapidly underway at the turn of the
century, when many of the West's traditional open range ranches were either
being modernized or subdivided into farms. Already planning to study art, he
resolved to use his artistic skills to document cowboys and the cowboy life before
they passed.
Smith's primary interest was in sculpture, and he originally took up photogra-
phy as a tool for enhancing his sculpting skills. He studied art at the Chicago Art
Institute and at the Boston Museum of Fine Art, but never wavered from his
devotion to cowboy culture. He spent his summers living, working, and pho-
tographing traditional cattle ranches in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. As his
body of ranch photographs grew, so did his reputation as a western photograph-
er, coinciding with a burgeoning interest in cowboys and Indians sweeping the
country at that time. His dedication to realism, combined with his artistic sense
of composition, brought him immediate recognition, and today his photographs
taken between 1905 and 1912 are still widely regarded as some of the best of the
genre.

July

118

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/. Accessed July 30, 2015.