The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 570
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Cover: Houses at Juarez by Paul Horgan, January, 1949. Watercolor, Chinese
white, India ink, 74 X lo inches. Collection Mrs. Vitya Vronsky-Babin. From
his book A Writer's Eye: Field Notes and Watercolors published in 1988 by Harry N.
Abrams, Inc. Copyright 1988 by Paul Horgan.
In his eighty-five years, Paul Horgan has accomplished enough for a
dozen men. Although known largely as a gifted novelist and historian,
his remarkable talents extend in many other directions. The subtle,
evocative watercolor on the cover makes clear that he is a skilled and
effective painter. Houses atJuarez, like the other paintings in A Writer's
Eye, was one of his "field notes," made as an aid to his research and
writing. This particular sketch was made in preparation for writing the
first of his two Pulitzer Prize-winning books: Great River: The Rio Grande
in North American History. Horgan notes in his preface to this collection
of paintings: "Urgency always attended the making of them. When I
saw a subject that gave reality to something I would write about, I could
not get at it with cool control. I must grasp it before my emotion of
discovery and recognition could fade. Often I found my subject by
coming on it while driving my car; and often, as I parked facing it, I left
the engine running as though to spur my urgency to get on with the
drawing in all possessed haste before the first impact of my subject
should have worn off." The image of Houses atJuarez captures for the
viewer the look and feel and soul of the Texas borderlands, just as it
held for Horgan a moment that he would later use in Great Rwer: "I
went at the paper with my India ink fountain pen, establishing the ob-
served facts in outline; and then with watercolors I tried to capture
light, form, atmosphere, harmony, and the scheme of values in the
near and far. Excitement attended the process, and something of that
excitement returned when I looked at the drawings later; and when I
treated the same subjects in words, perhaps the words were more true
and evocative as a result."
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/570/: accessed November 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.