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Matinee: June Van Cleef Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

25 July 2020

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 263rd in our series of Saturday matinees today: June Van Cleef.

This 1:57 clip from the Grace Museum presents a selection of images by June Van Cleef of the American West. The piece is breathlessly narrated in her own words if not her own voice.

Van Cleef was raised on a 96,000 acre ranch in West Texas, less than 100 miles from the border. She loved that life and wanted to preserve it in photographs.

'My photography is about the people who seem to have grown from the rocky earth and are as much part of the rugged landscape as are the cacti.'

We see a lot of those photographs in the video but the captions superimposed on them are a serious distraction. Fortunately, you can enjoy them at leisure on her gallery's page.

She was a professor of photography at Collin County Community College, where she founded the program in 1988. In 1995 she went on sabbatical to photograph life in Presidio, Brewster, Jeff Davis and Culbertson counties.

"My heart's desire to preserve my West Texas ranch roots and my love for everything that supports that way of life propelled me on this photographic journey," she said.

It took her seven years but resulted in Texas Outback, published by Texas A&M University Press and co-authored by Bill Wright. The 178-page book of photographs includes 91 pages of text on the history and people of this corner of the old west.

"My photography is about the people who seem to have grown from the rocky earth and are as much part of the rugged landscape as are the cacti," she says.

She captures both the Hispanic and Anglo cultures through their daily lives, simplicity and beauty of their dwellings and ruggedness of their land.

Her photographs are in the collections of the Dallas Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


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