"BLESSINGS AND BESOS" celebrates the photographic legacy of our visionary founding donor, Bill Wittliff (1940-2019), whose enormous and award-winning talents included screenwriting, filmmaking, collecting, book designing and publishing. Together these endeavors embodied his greatest passion—storytelling. Photography, too, was storytelling for Wittliff, and perhaps above all others it was his most private and personal medium.
This exhibition features more than 80 of Wittliff’s photographs, showcasing highlights from each of his major series: vaqueros working cattle in Mexico, the making of the Lonesome Dove miniseries, and his pinhole photographic projects La vida brinca, México lindo and SunriseSunset. The exhibition also includes his first successful photograph (taken as a child) and several images that have never been shown, including an image from his last roll of film.
Whether considering his enthusiasm for transforming history and tradition into myth, or his embrace of the unpredictable, Wittliff’s photographs reflect many of the themes that would thread throughout his creative life: an abiding love of Texas and Mexico—both their peoples and their shared culture; empathy for human imperfection; and the ability to find profound meaning and the mystical in the everyday world.
The title of this exhibition, “Blessings and Besos (kisses),” was a favorite inscription for Wittliff when signing books.
Exhibition organized by David Coleman, Joe Pat Davis and Carla Ellard.