That Day: Laura Wilson

Hollywood actor Owen Wilson has in his home “a great picture that my mom took of Donald Judd. He’s a great artist, and it’s in Marfa. It may have been one of the last photographs of him that was taken before he passed away.”

Owen pauses and says, “I think of her as my mom, and my mom is an artist.” The picture of Judd “is an artist taking a picture of an artist. Maybe that’s why she’s able to get such good photographs. She has the eye of an artist.”

Indeed she does. Laura Wilson’s lavish new book is That Day: Pictures in the American West. It is 231 pages of stunning images, which include mostly black-and-white portraits of fighter pilots, lion hunters, six-man high school football players, Hutterites and other images of the American West.

She explores dogfighting and cockfighting, debutantes, border issues, Lambshead Ranch in West Texas and the isolation and poverty of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Her portraits of memorable faces include those of singer-songwriter Jimmie Dale Gilmore, actor Harry Dean Stanton, playwright Sam Shepard and an artist-photographer who influenced her own work, the great Richard Avedon.

In addition to the book, Wilson will open on Saturday her second major exhibition at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, where That Day: Laura Wilson will showcase 74 photographs. As with many born during World War II, Wilson grew up watching Western movies and reading the Cowboy literature of America’s wild West.

“There is the myth and the romantic West, which are, of course, deep within me, growing up as I did in the 1950s,” she says. “I was very interested in the painting and the architecture of the West. I like the open space. I like everything about it.”

Text by Michael Granberry/The Dallas Morning News