Spotlight on Dobie Paisano Fellow Diane Wilson

Activist, fisherwoman, mother….Diane Wilson has been called by many names, but the one she was always reluctant to give herself was author. In fact, her 93-year old mother once told her that if she ever actually got a book published, she would stand on her head in the middle of traffic.

Two highly acclaimed books later, the self-taught writer can add another moniker to her list…Paisano Fellow. The Dobie Paisano Fellowship, sponsored by The University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Institute of Letters supports writers while they live and work at the Paisano Ranch – J. Frank Dobie’s 254-acre retreat just outside of Austin.

“My feet have still not touched the ground,” says Wilson of her reaction to the recent announcement of her award. Born and raised in Seadrift, Texas, she was thrilled with the validation she felt as a writer with her selection as the Paisano Fellow starting in June, 2010.

Author of “An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas” and “Holy Roller: Growing Up in the Church of Knock Down Drag Out; or How I Quit Loving a Blue Eyed Jesus,” Wilson has received critical acclaim from the likes of Rick Bass, Molly Ivans and Garrison Keillor. “Holy Roller” was recently awarded an honorable mention by the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.

Wilson plans to spend her time at the Paisano Ranch writing about a topic close to her heart – fishermen and the sea. She is particularly looking forward to the solitude and time to reflect and to write during her stay. We can look forward to the results.

And by the way, despite the fact that Wilson is currently working on her third book, she has yet to collect on that promise from her mother.

Frida Kahlo biographer to speak at the Ransom Center

Fritz Henle. Frida Kahlo at Xochimilco, Mexico. 1937. © Fritz Henle Estate.

Fritz Henle. Frida Kahlo at Xochimilco, Mexico. 1937. © Fritz Henle Estate.

For the 2009 Amon Carter Lecture, Hayden Herrera, art historian and biographer of Frida Kahlo, presents “Frida Kahlo: Her Art and Life” at 7 p.m., Thursday, June 18 at the Harry Ransom Center.

Herrera’s talk interweaves Frida Kahlo’s art and life, focusing on her childhood, the accident that turned her to painting, her tumultuous marriage to the muralist Diego Rivera, Rivera’s influence and other sources of inspiration for Kahlo’s art, Kahlo’s childlessness, her frequent surgeries and her passionate love for her native Mexico.

Seating is free, but limited. This program will be webcast live.

Herrera is a New York-based art historian and critic whose first book, “Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo,” was published in 1983 and in 2002 became the basis for a major motion picture. Her second full-length biography, “Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work,” published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2003, was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. She has also written artist’s biographies, including “Mary Frank” (1990), “Matisse: A Portrait” (1993) and “Joan Snyder” (2005). Herrera has curated a number of exhibitions, including a Frida Kahlo show that opened at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art in 1978 and traveled for a year in the United States. More recently she co-curated the Frida Kahlo centennial exhibition that opened at the Walker Art Center in 2007 and traveled to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Currently she is working on a biography of the sculptor Isamu Noguchi.

Herrera’s talk is in conjunction with the homecoming of one of the Ransom Center’s most famous and frequently borrowed art works, Frida Kahlo’s “Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” (1940). The portrait is on display at the Ransom Center through January 3, 2010.

Summer Reading, Texas Style

Authors have created a literature around summer: at the pool, by the river, in the sweltering heat or in the shade. Whether it’s swimming, camping, hiking or just relaxing on the porch with a good book, summer is the season for enjoying Texas’ natural splendor.

Professor Emeritus Miguel Gonzalez-Gerth celebrates the season with poems highlighting the Lone Star State’s vast deserts, mountains, canyons and rivers.

He has been published extensively in anthologies and magazines, including “Looking for Horse Latitudes,” (Host Publications; 2008). 

Photo credit: NPS/Eric Leonard

Desert Sequence 
(Summer in the Big Bend National Park)
by Miguel Gonzalez-Gerth 
The sun descends
in layers of luminous air.
Through the Great Window of Chisos,
flanked by austere profiles,
the distance is resonant and misty.
On the other side of the river,
rises a northwest of sierra:
Undulant mountains floating night ward
with the incipient dark of evening.
An ether of silence burns in the sky, where the gaze
of distracted thoughts is lost.
The sun sets.
And something winglike flutters
amid purple music, as the turnings of vision and time are deeply sketched along the languid landscape.

In its azure height
The moon cradles nascent sleep.
Behind its back, Sirius and Procyon
bay in brilliant counterpoint.
Night lulls a slender breeze
with its fragrance of sage:
An extensive night flooding the world,
but at leaden gait.
Oh how many dead things
Are perceived in the air! Echoes in the wind and transient images.
The nomad redskin, riding the horizon,
anticipates my gaze with his falcon pupils.
…O Prophecy and Destiny! Gods
go up in smoke and other moons expire…
Night is slow
-like the wisdom of Man-; the stillness
so pure, made of shadows and sand;
a bird and its song perceive it, glissando.
Rain falls suddenly, with depth,
terse weeping from passive treetops.

Dawn winks behind the Rock of Casa Grande;
nebulous firelight glitters
along the burnished contours.
The sun blooms amid the clouds
and kindles distances to iridescence.
The sorrel mustang of morning
stamps upon hills, races through canyons,
sparks from his hoofs igniting
brush, cacti, sand and stone,
all in the desert silence…