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Way out ‘West’


by Alan Melson 21 Feb 2008

A new exhibit at Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery in the Design District provides a new look at the wide-open vistas of the High Plains. “West of Last Chance” features the work of Peter Brown, whose color landscape photographs take a decidedly different approach than the bleak, human-interest-oriented FSA works of Dorothea Lange and others […]

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West of Last Chance, by Peter Brown and Kent HarufA new exhibit at Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery in the Design District provides a new look at the wide-open vistas of the High Plains.

“West of Last Chance” features the work of Peter Brown, whose color landscape photographs take a decidedly different approach than the bleak, human-interest-oriented FSA works of Dorothea Lange and others who documented the effects of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression on the plains region in the 1930s.

The images to be displayed at PDNB come from a book of the photographs (with the same name as the exhibit) that Brown assembled with writer Kent Haruf (Brown and Haruf won the 2005 Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize for another project, High Plains). If you’ve ever driven across the Texas Panhandle, across flat, endless roads dotted with slowly-crumbling little towns, then the images will look familiar.


In one section, Haruf describes the effect of storms on these landscapes:

“Dark clouds. You hope for rain and no hail. For rain and no hail and no wind. If there is hail, that it’s pea-sized and little of it. If there is hail and marble-sized, that it misses you. If there is hail and marble-sized, that it lands on the fallow field north. The idea of golf-ball-sized you don’t even allow. You hope for rain though.”

Brown’s photographs evoke memories of growing up in North Texas, although it seems most of the empty, rolling hills that still remain in the vicinity of Dallas and Fort Worth are quickly being gobbled up by development.

Brown and Haruf will be at PDNB to sign copies of their book on Tuesday, February 26, 2008 from 5 to 8 p.m.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that Brown and Haruf will also appear on tomorrow’s Scene segment of KERA’s “Think,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. on KERA-TV 13. Check back here tomorrow evening, as we’ll post the video for your enjoyment.

If you’d like to hear more from the artist, listen to an interview with Brown conducted by Alexa Dilworth of Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies.

The exhibit coincides with a concurrent display at the gallery of works by Swedish artist Joakim Eneroth. “Comfortably Secure” takes a look at domestic scenes across Sweden, using the color red as a unifying theme.

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