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“The Spirit of Place” evening celebration announcement

Date of Release: 04/18/2006
Special Collections at Alkek Library logo

Instructing • Illuminating • Inspiring

Woman walking on the side of a mountain holding a lantern
Mujer Angel (Angel Woman), a 16" x 20" photograph by
Graciela Iturbide, is one of the many fine-art items up for
bid in The Spirit of Place silent auction.

The Spirit of Place

Public Strategies, Inc.
an Evening to Celebrate the Images, Literature
& Legends of the Southwest & Mexico

Marking 20 Years at the Southwestern Writers Collection and 10 Years at the Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern & Mexican Photography

ON MAY 27, 2006, Texas State University-San Marcos will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Southwestern Writers Collection and the 10th anniversary of the Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern & Mexican Photography with a salute to the cultural legacy of literature, film, music and photography preserved by these two archives. The evening also honors the vision and creativity of Bill and Sally Wittliff, who founded the two repositories, exhibition spaces, offices, and reading room now housed in the Special Collections Department at Texas State’s Albert B. Alkek Library.

The event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin—emceed by Texas Monthly editor, Evan Smith, and titled, “The Spirit of Place: An Evening To Celebrate the Images, Literature, and Legends of the Southwest & Mexico”—includes a gourmet dinner, silent auction, and Southwest-flavored entertainment.

The evening’s program will reflect the literature, film, music, and photography of Texas State’s Southwestern Writers Collection and Wittliff Gallery, with readings by celebrity guests Tommy Lee Jones and Sam Shepard, music by Jerry Jeff Walker, and performances of the works of John Graves, Larry L. King, Katherine Anne Porter, and other artists represented in the collections.


Acoustic guitar Throughout the evening, ticket holders will vie for lots in an extraordinary fine-art silent auction, bidding on donated works from such renowned artists as Kate Breakey, Keith Carter, David Everett, Graciela Iturbide, Robb Kendrick, Michael O’Brien, Ken Rosenthal, Rocky Schenck, Julie Speed, Bob “Daddy-O” Wade, Kenneth Grey Wilson, and Geoff Winningham. Photographs by Bill Wittliff from the filming of Lonesome Dove, and three rare photographs printed and signed by FSA-era photographer Russell Lee are just a few of the highlights.

The 100-plus items up for bid include sought-after books as well, among them a first-edition trilogy of All the Pretty Horses, Cities of the Plain, The Crossing, as well as No Country for Old Men signed by Cormac McCarthy, a leather-bound limited edition of James Michener’s Texas, signed by Michener and illustrator Charles Shaw, first editions of Goodbye to a River and Blue & Some Other Dogs, signed by John Graves, and Balades au Paradise signed by Sam Shepard. Also on the block: a Fender acoustic guitar signed by Willie Nelson.

Funds raised from the event will be used for acquisitions and to grow the Southwestern Writers Collection and Wittliff Gallery endowment. Generous support is needed to ensure the future of these still relatively new collections and to strengthen their ability to preserve the literary and photographic arts of the Southwest and Mexico, and the rich cultural heritage they represent.

Important gala support includes Presenting Sponsors AT&T, and PUBLIC STRATEGIES, INC.,

Principal Promotional Sponsor TEXAS MONTHLY, Platinum Sponsor MFI FOUNDATION, and Gold Sponsors: Deborah & Dan Bullock, Don & Kathryn Counts, Frost Bank, Deborah Green, Sue Brandt McBee, Janis & Joe Pinnelli, John Scanlan, Sunny & Shelton Smith, Cathy Supple/CD3 Discgear/Dan Matheson, and Jim Wiatt/William Morris Agency. In-kind support includes floral arrangements by BIG RED SUN and framing by JOHN SCOTT FRAMES.

AT&T logo Public Strategies Inc logo
Texas Monthly logo mfi Foundation logo Big Red Sun logo John Scott logo

A steering committee of volunteers (see below)—led by Mary Margaret Farabee and Janis Pinnelli—are donating their time and effort to create an evening that is not to be missed. John Graves and Ann Richards, who spoke at the dedication of the current Southwestern Writers Collection facility in 1991, are serving as honorary co-chairs.


Honorary Co-Chairs: John Graves & Ann Richards

Event Co-Chairs: Mary Margaret Farabee & Janis Pinnelli

Event Committee: Rebecca S. Cohen / Eleanor Crook / Elizabeth Crook / Donna Hill / Tommy Lee Jones / Retta Kelley / Ecky Malick / Dan Matheson / Barbara Morgan / Elizabeth Nash / Jan Pickle / Peggy Pickle / Jean Rather / Amalia Rodriguez-Mendoza / Eddie Safady / Gabrielle de Kuyper Sheshunoff / Evan Smith / Jare Smith / Cathy Supple / Paul Supple / Bonnie Tilton / Reid & Susan Wittliff / Caryl Yontz

Bill Wittliff is a distinguished photographer and writer whose photographs have been exhibited in the United States and abroad, and published not only in his two recent books with UT Press, Vaquero: Genesis of the Texas Cowboy (2004) and La Vida Brinca: Tragaluz Photographs (2006), but also in numerous catalogs, books, and periodicals. Cofounder, with his wife, Sally, of the highly regarded Encino Press, Wittliff is also a past president and Fellow of the Texas Institute of Letters and a recipient of major awards for writing, photography book design, and filmmaking. As a screenwriter and producer, his credits include The Perfect Storm, The Black Stallion, Legends of the Fall, and Lonesome Dove, among others.

Sally Wittliff is an Austin attorney with a general practice. She is a member of Inns of Court and a Fellow of the Texas State Bar and Austin Bar Associations. She is a former secondary mathematics teacher, Chairman of the City of Austin Urban Transportation Commission, and board member of many civic organizations, including KLRU Public Television, Safe Place, and Austin Museum of Art. Cofounder, with her husband, Bill, of Austin’s Encino Press, Sally is also the business manager of Pangaea, Inc., an Austin film production company, and of Wittliff Properties.

In 1986, with the donation of their lifelong collection of original manuscripts and books—including a significant archive of J. Frank Dobie materials—Bill and Sally founded the Southwestern Writers Collection at Texas State University in San Marcos. Expanding the scope of the current facility, which already included a large selection of photographs by renowned photographers, the Wittliffs added the Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern & Mexican Photography in 1996. The Wittliffs have two grown children and two grandchildren, and live in Austin, Texas.

THE SPIRIT OF PLACE tables and tickets are selling fast. Contact Beverly Fondren at or 512-245-9058 for sponsorship opportunities and ticket information. More auction information and other gala updates will be available soon at

Instructing • Illuminating • Inspiring

The Southwestern Writers Collection, founded in 1986, houses and exhibits the papers and artifacts of our region’s principal writers, filmmakers, and musicians—the first such archive to begin collecting primarily the papers of living artists. The Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern & Mexican Photography, added in 1996, is a creative center, exhibition space, and photography collection with over 13,000 images—now one of the most significant holdings of contemporary Mexican photography outside of Mexico.

The collections are emerging as world-class repositories, with such significant holdings as: Lonesome Dove production archives & photographs; a 1555 edition of Cabeza de Vaca’s account of travel through the southwest; a songbook created by Willie Nelson at the age of 11; major archives of John Graves, Larry L. King, Bud Shrake, and Sam Shepard; production archives of Texas Monthly magazine and Fox’s animated television series King of the Hill; and major collections of photographs by Keith Carter, Graciela Iturbide, Kate Breakey, and FSA documentarian Russell Lee (vintage prints). These two counterparts of the Albert B. Alkek Library Department of Special Collections at Texas State University-San Marcos bring alive “the spirit of place” for students, scholars, writers, artists, and the community at-large.

Celebratory exhibits and programs are planned throughout the year. Call or visit online for information.

512-245-2313 • • Connie Todd, Curator.

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CONTACT: Michele M. Miller
Marketing & Media Relations
Alkek Library Special Collections