It’s difficult to overstate the influence that Austin’s Bill Wittliff has had on Texas letters and photography. Over the years, he and his wife, Sally, have founded Encino Press, the Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern and Mexican Photography, and the Southwestern Writers Collection. But he’s best known for producing the Lonesome Dove miniseries in 1988. “At the time, the only things deader than westerns were miniseries,” he says. During filming, Wittliff snapped countless photos that have been collected in a new book, and some of them can be seen in “Horsemen, Pass By”. “It’s a miracle if anything on television gets made,” he says. “It was God’s own miracle that Lonesome Dove was made so well.”
You can’t accuse Erin Trieb of wasting time. Three weeks after graduating from Texas A&M–Commerce, in 2004, she moved to Israel to pursue photojournalism. She covered Yasser Arafat’s funeral, then traveled to Southeast Asia. She spent the summer of 2006 in Uganda. Now she’s back in Texas, where about eight months ago she swapped her longtime Dallas address for a new one in Houston. She started shooting for Texas Monthly last year, and this month her image of an Austin funeral director graces The Working Life. “If I could have gotten him in a casket, that would have been great,” Trieb says with a laugh.
These are heady days for illustrators, particularly those who specialize in drawing George W. Bush. Just ask New York’s Robert Grossman. “He’s the most lampooned president of all time,” he says. “I suppose that demonstrates how ineffectual artists are, given that Bush was reelected.” Grossman’s illustration accompanies an excerpt from Robert Draper’s new book on the president (see “The Evolver,”), and it depicts Bush in various stages of his life, from a diaperless toddler with a silver spoon to a full-grown decider in a flight suit. Though Grossman is not a fan of the president’s, he does admit to one thing they have in common: “I graduated from Yale in the sixties—just like Bush.”