Heritage, Volume 04, Number 02, Fall 1986

Historic Texas sought to answer the
question of what it meant to live in Texas
during each of its decades of existence.
A chronological system of organization
seemed natural, and presents a synthesis
of several visions of Texas and Texas photography.
The editors were careful to include
a representative selection of subjects,
styles, techniques, and equipment
to show what photography reveals about
Texas.
At the same time, the editors tried to
relate each image to the social and cultural
context of Texas history. Furthermore,
minorities were placed side by side
with dominant ethnic groups and economically
powerful Texans. Despite the
fact that photos of women, Blacks, and
Hispanics were not created by photographers
and preserved by archivists in as
great numbers as other groups, the editors
have included as many as possible. As to
the geographic coverage, the editors
never intended that their selection capture
each and every Texas county. Rather,
their choices were meant to reflect the
broad regional differences expressed in
the Texas landscape. As a result of these
considerations, Historic Texas transcends

Office of the Waco Examiner. Unidentified
photographer. An albumen cabinet print circa
1873. Texas Collection, Baylor University. The
Examiner was established in 1867. By 1873 the
paper was publishing both weekly and daily
editions, which are advertised in the photograph.
the limits of a purely chronological approach
and presents a lively and compelling
portrait.
In contrast to the historical focus of the
first volume, Contemporary Texas was intended
as an intensive character study of
Texas in the 1980s. Editor Sandweiss
points out: "This book is less a systematic
visual survey of Texas life than a series of
vignettes or records of what was important
to sixteen different people. The photographers
all convey a powerful sense of
place in their work, be it a place defined
by land, work, culture, or imagination.
And taken as a whole, the pictures suggest,
even if they don't define, the patchwork
of people and places and buildings
that make up contemporary Texas."
In the case of Contemporary Texas, the
editors chose to trust in the poetic vision
of the photographers they commissioned.
Each editor sought proposals from five
photographers of their choice on the basis

of their own understanding of the styles
and strengths of contemporary artists.
The editors sought a breadth of styles,
both black and white and color media,
and some assurance that the images
would reflect the various regions and livelihoods
of Texas as well as some of the
"movers and shakers" of today's Texas.
Again, there was a preference for documentary
photography, in a broad sense of
the term, over abstract pictorial work.
Sixteen photographers accepted the
editors' challenge: Jim Bones, Paul
Hester, Mary Peck, Michael Allen
Murphy, Carol Cohen Burton, Rick
Williams, Peter Helms Feresten, Stuart
D. Klipper, George Krause, Ave Bonar,
Frank Gohlke, Frank Armstrong, Gay
Block, Skeet McAuley, and Frederick C.
Baldwin and Wendy V. Watriss. Each of
these photographers pursued their survey
of Texas and, at its close, submitted their
ten best images to the editors for publication.
With only a few changes, these are
the photographs found in Contemporary
Texas.
Beyond the photographs found in the
book, it is important to realize that complete
sets of the photographs, along with

-T , " 74
I "4

Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 04, Number 02, Fall 1986. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45442/. Accessed April 27, 2015.