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The Wittliff Collections present inaugural festival celebrating music, photography, film and literature of the Southwest on April 18, 2020

Inside TXST

The Wittliff Collections | December 4, 2019

The Wittliff Collections Festival, a day of culture, connections and creativity celebrating the unbridled imagination of Texas and the Southwest, will honor the legacy and vision of the late Bill Wittliff; event to feature panel discussions with acclaimed artists and a star-studded gala with legendary Texas musicians Robert Earl Keen and Ray Benson

Storm From Dugout Wells, 1992, James H. Evans
Photo Credit: Storm From Dugout Wells, 1992, James H. Evans

The Wittliff Collections, an internationally acclaimed collection of Southwest writing, photography, film and music, will host its festival debut on April 18, 2020, in Austin, Texas, with a one-day event celebrating the unbridled imagination of Texas, Mexico and the Southwest.

The Wittliff Collections are a cultural treasure comprising a world-class research archive, exhibition gallery, and special collections library established at Texas State University in 1986 by acclaimed screenwriter and filmmaker Bill Wittliff and his wife Sally. The Wittliff Collections Festival will feature a full day of panels at the W Austin Hotel with writers, photographers, filmmakers, and singer/songwriters followed by a star-studded gala at ACL Live at the Moody Theater (310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd, Austin, Texas 78701) showcasing intimate performances by musical legends Robert Earl Keen and Ray Benson. All proceeds from the festival will be used to acquire important collections that preserve the culture of the Southwest. For more information on The Wittliff Collections Festival, see here, as well as this video. For ticketing info, see here or call 512-245-5154.

The festival will honor legendary screenwriter, filmmaker, photographer and writer Bill Wittliff, who passed away on June 9, 2019, by celebrating his vision and creative spirit.

“The Wittliff Collections Festival next April will be a time for us to celebrate Bill and Sally Wittliff’s incredible vision and their guardianship of the creative heartbeat of Texas, Mexico, and the Southwest,” said Wittliff Collections Director Dr. David L. Coleman. “The festival will also honor the writers, photographers, filmmakers, and singer/songwriters whose voices breathe life into what we call the Southwest’s ‘Spirit of Place.’ Plus – it’ll be one heck of a good time.”

Panels for The Wittliff Collections Festival include “The Writer’s Voice” with moderator John Spong, featuring renowned novelists Lawrence Wright, Stephen Harrigan, Sarah Bird, and Elizabeth Crook; “The Photographer’s Voice” with moderator David L. Coleman, featuring internationally acclaimed Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide as well as Kate Breakey, Keith Carter and Connie Todd; “The Filmmaker’s Voice: Behind the Scenes with Lonesome Dove,” featuring Emmy®-winning costume designer Van Broughton Ramsey, Emmy®-nominated set designer Cary White, and property master Eric A. Williams, all of whom played a central role in the authenticity of the Lonesome Dove miniseries, as well as actor Barry Tubb, who portrayed Jasper Fant in Lonesome Dove; and “The Singer/Songwriter’s Voice” with moderator Joe Nick Patoski, featuring artists Terri Hendrix, Flaco Jimenez, Barbara Lynn and Max Baca.

The Wittliff Collections Festival gala will treat attendees to an intimate acoustic performance by two musical legends, Robert Earl Keen and Ray Benson. The gala will also include a live and silent auction with rare treasures from the Lonesome Dove miniseries.

“Every great culture is made great in part by the contributions of its writers and artists, but that’s not enough,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright. “It also requires great institutions to support those creative efforts and to make them available to students and scholars and to the general public. And that’s exactly what The Wittliff Collections do. They are a part of the foundation of the creative arts of the Southwest and a repository for the future, and we’re grateful for its existence.”

What began with the papers of Texas folklorist J. Frank Dobie has grown into a cultural touchstone with more than 500 prized collections in Southwestern literature, Southwestern and Mexican photography and Texas music. Holdings include the papers of writers Sam Shepard, Cormac McCarthy, Sandra Cisneros, Mary Karr, Stephen Harrigan and Lawrence Wright, as well as the entire Texas Monthly magazine archive and the King of the Hill collection; the largest collection of Mexican photography outside of Mexico; a burgeoning collection of Texas music including Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker and Ray Benson; and the Lonesome Dove production archive. Plans are underway to add film and television to The Wittliff’s vast trove of primary source material.

For table and sponsorship info, please visit, email here or call 512-245-5154.


The Wittliff Collections comprise an internationally known research archive, exhibition gallery, and special collections library established in 1986 as a partnership between Texas State University and founding donors Sally and Bill Wittliff. The Wittliff Collections are dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing the creative legacy of the Southwest’s literary, photographic and musical arts, and to fostering the region’s “Spirit of Place” in the wider world. The Wittliff is located on the Texas State University campus in San Marcos. The Wittliff presents major exhibitions year-round; hosts readings, artist talks, lectures and other events; publishes significant books from its holdings; and makes its collections available to researchers from around the world. The Wittliff welcomes visitors, tours and classes. Admission is always free. For more on The Wittliff Collections, see here.

For general press inquiries on The Wittliff Collections, or for press RSVPs to The Wittliff Collections Festival, please contact:
Heather Wagner Reed - 713 208 3891 or
Tyler Ostby - 210 854 9119 or

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922