Category Archives: Books

Texas Sky

Texas SkyWhether it shows a summer thunderstorm rolling across the plains of the Llano Estacado or a full moon rising on a clear winter night, the sky is the most commanding presence in the Texas landscape. As Georgia O’Keeffe once wrote from Canyon to a friend, “I am loving the plains more than ever it seems—and the SKY—Anita you have never seen SKY—it is wonderful.” Wyman Meinzer observes that “recording the vibrant and sometimes forbidding nature of the sky has been one of the most enjoyable photographic endeavors of my career.”

The one hundred breathtaking color images in this book reveal the beauty, drama, unpredictability, and sheer expanse of Texas’ sky. Meinzer observes the sky from first light to the star trails in a night exposure. He presents the full palette of sunrise and sunset hues, the endless variety of cloud formations, and the cobalt blue of the sky after a winter norther. Most of all, he captures the feelings of freedom and power that so many people experience under the Texas sky.

In a beautifully written essay, John Graves connects Meinzer’s photos to the land and the people of Texas. Meinzer’s preface describes the careful planning and lucky chances that yielded many of these photographs, while interspersed among them are quotes from Texas skywatchers past and present. Taken together, the stunning images and eloquent words say all there is to say about the Texas sky.

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Working Dogs Of Texas

Working Dogs Of Texas“There is no doubt Texas hunters will appreciate the work of Meinzer and Chappell. When it comes to partnerships, there probably isn’t a stronger bond than the one between a hunter and his dog. What Meinzer and Chappell do with their latest book, Working Dogs of Texas, is show that the bond between dog and trainer is evident in all kinds of working situations!!” –Fort Worth Star Telegram

With text by author Henry Chappell and photos by Wyman Meinzer, Working Dogs of Texas is a salute to our canine companions whose training by dedicated owners and handlers contribute daily to the enrichment and often time safety of countless lives across our great state. Join us in our celebration for the working dogs of Texas!!!

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Inspiration Texas Style

Many Texans are proud of their state. The people, the places, the ideals and hearts all come together in a magnitude of pride exhibited toward the Lone Star. For many reasons, some more obvious than others, Texas holds a special place in hearts of inhabitants and visitors alike.

Texas State Photographer, Wyman Meinzer, is such a person, a native son, and a documentarian of what it means to be a proud Texan. I must admit that my Texas occupies that special niche in my soul known only to those who were born and reared within these recognizable borders. In this work, Inspiration Texas Style , we have chosen to ask a cross section of Texans to express their own feelings of what this state means to them. Some of these individuals are well known on the world stage while others are salt-of-the-earth beings. In a few cases, verities uttered long ago were from those not born in Texas but came later, their voices echoing a desire for inclusion beneath the title of Texans.

By pairing each verbal offering to images collected here, we hope to focus on both the rich visual heritage that our state offers to the American theme and also to recognize a collection of personal prose whose authors possess a definite sense of place. This is Texas as defined from the hearts of Texans.

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6666 Portrait of a Texas Ranch

6666 Portrait of a Texas RanchThe Four Sixes is not a relic, showpiece, or preserve. It’s a working cattle ranch, some 290,000 acres of West Texas prairie carefully used. Here, men still earn their livelihoods on horseback, not out of blind adherence to tradition, but out of necessity.

Since Samuel “Burk” Burnett began buying rangeland in King County in the 1890s, his cowhands have relied on methods developed by early vaqueros and refined on the great trail drives. In managing cattle, these methods are still the most efficient and humane. Spurs, broad-brimmed hats, and scuffed and patched boots are not fashion statements but essentials—as are loyalty, toughness, and resourcefulness, traits still common to those doing dangerous work in remote country.

Perhaps, though, the Four Sixes’ greatest legacy is the land itself. Across four generations, foremen have striven to nurture and restore, to leave a healthy range. That stewardship has produced some of the richest, most ecologically diverse grassland found on the Southern Plains today.

Meinzer and Chappell’s defining study of the Sixes’ heart, soul, and heritage illuminates and spellbinds, teasing out a continuum that reaches out to and claims us all with rich lessons in give and take, need and nurture, enterprise and farsightedness.

Wyman Meinzer and Henry Chappell take you on an unbelievable journey through the beauty, the grandeur, and the drama of one of the most magnificent ranches on the planet.

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Between Heaven And Texas

Between Heaven And TexasBetween heaven and Texas, there’s a sky that goes on forever. On cloudless mornings after a norther has blown through, the sky is such a perfect cobalt blue that you forget the “between” and know that heaven is Texas, or Texas is heaven—it doesn’t really matter which. But most days there are clouds between Texas and heaven—puffy white clouds that set us dreaming on lazy summer days or roiling storm clouds that unleash lightning, tornadoes, and hail. The sky between heaven and Texas is a stage for drama more often than not, just like the lives we live below it. Perhaps that’s why we’re always looking up.

In this beautiful book, noted photographer Wyman Meinzer revisits the place that inspires his most creative work—the Texas sky. His photographs capture the vast dramas that occur between heaven and Texas—rainstorms that blot out mountain ranges, lightning strikes that dazzle a night-black prairie, trains of clouds that rumble for miles over wheat fields, sunsets that lave the whole wide sky in crimson, gold, and pink. Meinzer’s striking images reveal that in the sky above, no less than on the land below, endless variety is commonplace in Texas.

Joining Meinzer in this celebration of the Texas sky are two fine writers, Sarah Bird and Naomi Shihab Nye. In her wonderfully personal introduction, Sarah Bird describes growing up as a dedicated cloud-watcher who, after several years among the cotton candy clouds and cool fogs of Japan, was shocked and exhilarated by the limitless hot skies of Texas. Naomi Nye has chosen poems by twenty-six Texas poets, including herself, which explore a spectrum of emotion about the sky above Texas and the weather in our lives beneath it. Together, photographs, memoir, and poems create a lasting connection with the power and presence of what Meinzer calls “that vast frontier and ocean above”—the sky between heaven and Texas.

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Texas Hill Country

Texas Hill CountryLimestone hills, cold spring-fed streams, live oaks and cedar, old German towns—the Texas Hill Country may well be the most beloved region of the state. Unlike West Texas with its dramatic expanses of plains and sky, or the eastern Piney Woods in their lush fecundity, the Hill Country never overwhelms. Its intimate landscapes of rolling hills, fields of wildflowers, and cypress-shaded rivers impart a peace and serenity that draws the urban-weary from across Texas and even beyond.

In this volume, two of the state’s most respected artists join their talents to create an unsurpassed portrait of the Texas Hill Country. With an unerring eye for landscape photography, Wyman Meinzer distills the visual essence of the Hill Country—long vistas of oak-and-cedar-covered hills, clear streams running over rocks, bluebonnets turning fields into lapis-colored seas. His photographs also go beyond the familiar to reveal surprising contrasts and juxtapositions—prickly pear cactus delicately frosted with ice, black-eyed susans growing among granite boulders.

With an equally true feeling for what makes the Hill Country distinct, John Graves writes about the land and its people and how they have shaped one another. He pays tribute to the tenacious German pioneers who turned unpromising land into farms and ranches, the Anglo-American “cedar-choppers” who harvested the region’s pest plant, and even the generations of vacationers who have found solace in the Hill Country. As Graves observes, “since well over a century ago, the region has been a sort of reference point for natives of other parts of the state, and mention of it usually brings smiles and nods.”

Together, John Graves and Wyman Meinzer once again demonstrate that they are the foremost artists of the Texas landscape. The portrait they create in images and words is as close as you can come to the heart of the Hill Country without being there.

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Texas Rivers

Texas RiversIn Goodbye to a River, John Graves defined what it means to know a river—as a real place, as a landscape of memory and imagination, and as “a piece of country, [that] hunted and fished and roamed over, felt and remembered, can be company enough.” Readers who’ve taken the canoe trip down the Brazos with him have long wished to travel other rivers with John Graves. Those journeys now begin in Texas Rivers.

This book marries the work of two Texas legends. John Graves brings to Texas Rivers his ability to weave history, geography, and culture into a vibrant portrait of a land and its people. Through photographs of rare beauty, Wyman Meinzer reveals the rivers as few will ever see them in person, distilling decades of experience in capturing light on film into a tour de force presentation of Texas landscapes.

In essays on the Canadian, Pecos, Llano, Clear Fork of the Brazos, Neches, and Sabinal rivers, Graves captures the essence of what makes each river unique. While the Canadian is a river of the plains that runs through big ranch country, the Neches is a forest stream heavily impacted by human encroachment. The Llano and the Sabinal remain largely unspoiled, though the forces of change ebb and flow about them. The Pecos shows ripples of its Old West heritage, while the Clear Fork of the Brazos flows through country still living in those times. Meinzer’s photographs offer a stunning visual counterpoint to Graves’s word portraits, and, together, they show clearly that rivers have been central to the development of the unique character of Texas.

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Windmill Tales

Windmill Tales“Windmill Tales deftly presents these mechanical wonders as western icons… Wyman Meinzer’s images, each executed with precision and thoughtful perspective, range from grand, silhouetted landscapes to nuanced details. Every picture invites the reader to investigate further, to explore the contraption’s engineering and rustic beauty” – “Great Plains Quarterly”.

“The only sound that day was from the windmill, a creaking sound that a windmill makes turning in the summer breeze. It is a memory I deeply cherish and why I love windmills so much” – A visitor to the American Wind Power Center.

On the prairies of North America, wind and water were pervasive, but whereas wind was tangible, water in quantity was hidden beneath the surface. The vast grasslands fed great herds of animals, which in turn sustained native Americans, but it was not until water could be brought to the surface that the plains could be cultivated and developed into a great agricultural bread-basket for the growing nation. The self-governing windmill forever changed the culture of this vast region.

The agricultural development of the plains is the story of the ingenuity, hardship, success, and sometimes failure of settlers as they applied a new technology in an environment with which they were barely familiar. The stories of these settlers and of their children and grandchildren often focus on the windmill, for this source of life-sustaining water often became the center of ranch and farm life. In “Windmill Tales”, in ninety-nine beautiful full-color images, photographer Wyman Meinzer shows American windmills as they appear today.

Many of them are still working, and others have fallen or are preserved at the American Wind Power Center, but all illustrate the way of life that was made possible by the windmill. Brief reminiscences and stories told by visitors to the American Wind Power Center give the reader a sense of the central importance of windmills in the lives of early pioneers in the West. Some of the stories reflect the sense of humor ranch and farm families developed to help them through hard times, whereas others hint at disappointment and tragedy. Together with the photographs they give us a fascinating insight into our history.

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Desert Sanctuaries: The Chinatis of the Big Bend

Desert Sanctuaries: The Chinatis of the Big BendExplore, as few have intimately done, the Big Bend Ranch State Park and the Chinati Mountains State Natural Area. Trust Wyman Meinzer to see as no one ever has the desert sanctuaries of the vast Big Bend and to pay tribute to their best-kept secret, the twin canyons of the Chinati Mountains, San Antonio and Los Pelos. Trust, too, that the images he delivers are as true as his eye, that the light bathing cholla at sunrise, on the eastern rim of San Antonio Canyon, is unfiltered.

Meinzer is one photographer who still waits for and catches the light, even if he has only a thirty-second window. ‘Placing a border around the vastness of the Big Bend is typically an invitation to disappointment. Reducing its depth to a medium of two dimensions tends to flatten a landscape known to be anything but flat. Catching the ever-changing moods of light and color in fractions of a second normally embalms the scene. So how does Wyman give us photos full of expansive depth and color? His skill is his passion for the beauty of Texas and his unwavering will to get to the toughest spots. He is an adventurer first and a photographer second. Wyman feels the land and sky. He becomes a part of the terrain, and his photos make you part of the scenery’ – From the Introduction.

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