I stumbled across a fascinating videotaped interview of Garry Winogrand by Bill Moyers on Jim Arnold’s Web site (see the video here). I had no idea this tape existed and when I saw the interview it brought back some fascinating memories about Garry Winogrand. I emailed Jim Arnold to let him know how much I appreciated him putting that interview with one of my photography instructors on theinternet. He emailed back that I should post stories about my class time with Garry on the Internet. So here goes…
My intent is to lend my small bit of insight and a few photographs of the Garry Winogrand I knew back in the mid 70s. During my time at UT I had the opportunity to take four semesters of classes with Garry Winogrand. I found the two “disciplines” (photojournalism and art photography)within the great context of photography in general, to be quite eye-opening.
The years were 1974, 1975 and 1976.
Step back to those years in what was the active, peaceful city of Austin, Texas. The city is nestled hard against the banks of the Colorado River that cuts through central Texas. This state governmental seat was changing as it always has and always will, even though noone but realtors seemed to care what it was changing into until it was too late. Although the home of Texas’s state government, Austin’s main claim to fame was the University of Texas.
If ever a campus in this country could be called eclectic it was the UT. At least it seemed so to me when I first arrived at UT fresh from Corpus Christi, Texas. I was a down home Hispanic who had surfed, focusedon athletics, always did well in school and had just completed an Associated Degree in Journalism from Del Mar College. I was ready for the big time, to study photojournalism at UT.
I guess UT seemed eclectic to me because Austin was certifiably weird back in the 70s. The remnants of the love generation were still aimlessly walking the Drag, or Guadalupe Street, across the street from the maincampus. My second day in Austin I walked into the Whole Earth Provision store a block west of the Drag and ran into a guy walking a real live wolf tethered to him by a thick chain. Marilyn Horne was singing at Batts Hall that year. The full Met production of Aida was due in the fall. The Darrell Royal UT football team was consistently winning. The Armadillo World Headquarters was headlining bandslike Charlie Daniels, Marshall Tucker, Leon Russell and the Allman Brothers. And let’s not forget crashing the frat parties, the pill (long since perfected), cheap dope, beer was
under $1 and rent below $250 a month. Yes Austin was a popular place in the mid 70s. I
got there in 1973 and didn’t leave for another 13 years.
If you walked far enough north on Guadalupe Street where it bordersthe UT campus, you came to the “red rusty building.” It was thus called because the façade was a failed experiment in exposed metal that painted itself into a red, rusty patina. I liked it for the simple reason that if anyone was searching for the Radio, Television and Film Department, the Journalism Department or the Communications School, that’s where you would send them. Inside its walls wasalso a thriving Photojournalism (PJ) Department, a subset of the Journalism Department.
Leading the PJ department were J.B. Colson and Larry J. Schaaf. Both instructors were extremely talented and remarkably different. J. B. Colson studied under the direction of Clarence White for his BFA in photography and studied documentary film at UCLA. J.B. was just beginning the first of many excursions toMexico for one of his favorite projects, documenting native life high in the Mexican Michoacán Meseta, a truly spectacular
Larry J. Schaaf leaned more toward photographic history, early photographic developing processes and his 8x10 view camera. He faithfully answered all the newbie questions he was asked and was my main instructor and counselor. Schaaf is now an independent photo...
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