Introduction for an upcoming exhibition
When I moved to Marathon Texas in December 1988 what appealed to me as much as the mountains and space were the people. A month before I had visited Marathon with a friend. He knew the cook at the Gage Hotel and we went to see him. In that conversation the cook then, Phil Thomas, mentioned that they were looking for another cook to replace one that was leaving. I left with that information tucked in my brain. This was the third time I visited Big Bend, and I was already in love with the place. That week I met and partied with several locals. Uncle Joe, Aunt Roberta, John Suffaco, Susan Bryant, and a few names I can’t remember. I fell in love with them too, and on the way home I asked my friend Clif Ladd if he would stop back by the Gage Hotel. I met the manager, Giddings Brown, and applied for the cooking job. He asked if I knew how to cook, and I admitted that I didn’t. But I know what taste good I said. He hired me any way, and I went back to Austin, began closing down my studio, and contemplating my new life.
Since I was 21 and purchased a 35mm camera, I knew I wanted to be a photographer. I devoured books on the subject. In Austin I was doing commercial work and making artistic images on the side. I was aware of my age, and where my photographic career was. So when the cooking opportunity presented itself, I totally got what it would mean. I finally found it.
For the first six months I didn’t take a photograph. I would hike to a view and stay there all day, absorbing the light, the feeling, and the landscape itself. At that time the books of the area were mostly heavily filtered pretty picture books. Tourist directed taken by itinerant photographers, with no people. My strong suit was portraiture so I thought I would start there, and then learn how to photograph the landscape.
I mentioned that I was slow to photograph this landscape. I think I gained full knowledge of landscape photography in 2015, but until then I was still working on it. I am sure I could still be surprised. A friend of mine once told me there are 30 pictures of the park that everyone takes, and that has always been stuck in my crawl, and I too have taken those. It’s a barometer when I look at paintings or photographs of other people's work of the area. One of my first images of Santa Elena canyon is exactly where Ansel Adams stood. I am guilty.
I have a rewarding life. I have spent the best days of it in Big Bend. As I write this, I am looking out my window and clouds are breaking over the Glass Mountains. The mountains I’ve lived in front of for 30 years. The mountains I see today are the same as every human being before me has seen, and every human being after me will see. I have been in love with these people and this landscape since I found it. It is all ever wanted to be. It is all I can be. My wish would be that you can feel that love when you look at the work.
Happy Full Moon. Get Outside.