I’VE ALWAYS HAD THE FEELING that Amarillo was more kin to the farm communities up through the Great Plains than any other town in Texas. The city sits lonely at the top of the state, surrounded by crops, cattle, and sky. For me, Amarillo and the Panhandle are where the real Texas is.
My dad was a Baptist grocery man; his dad opened Amarillo’s first market, Central Grocery. My mom was raised Catholic; her folks farmed east of town. Dad saw that his four kids were well fed, and Mom made sure we got a proper Catholic education. I worked at the grocery store after school from the age of ten until I graduated high school, in 1970. I spent much of that time caught up in the small but tight hippie group that had sprung up in those psychedelic years. I liked being a hippie and had no use for college. My real education began when Stanley Marsh 3 hired me to work odd jobs at his home, Toad Hall. Marsh is the oil tycoon, media mogul, art patron, and merry prankster who commissioned Cadillac Ranch. I’d never known anyone like him. His world was full of artists, eccentrics, intellectuals, cowboys, and his kids. He wanted photographs of everything that was happening, and that’s where I got the bug to begin shooting.
I started my photography business in 1976 and nearly twenty years later left Amarillo for Austin. People have an attitude down south about the Panhandle, as if living there