San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

December 2nd, 2010
Wittliff Collections to screen Buck Winn documentary

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The work of Wimberley artist Buck Winn is the subject of a Hays County Historical Commission documentary that will be screened on the campus of Texas State.

STAFF REPORT

The Hays County Historical Commission will screen its latest documentary at the the Wittliff Collections on the seventh floor of the Alkek Library at Texas State on Dec. 7.

“Larger Than Life: The Story of Buck Winn,” will have a reception at 5:30 p.m. before the 6:15 p.m. screening. The event is free and open to the public.

The film chronicles the life of Wimberley artist James Buchanan “Buck” Winn, Jr. (1905-1979), whose murals and architectural art in Texas can still be found in bank buildings, libraries, theaters and university campuses throughout the region. His murals often dealt with both the factual and the mythic elements in Texas and Southwestern history and culture.

Many of his large public works have been lost as buildings were demolished for new development so the remainder of his legacy is all the more precious. Winn’s local work includes the large ceramic and glass bas relief on the side of Flowers Hall at Texas state.

Winn was a multifaceted artist who patented techniques and machinery for the use of lightweight concrete and fiberglass. He was especially interested in durable economical building materials that also could be used for housing in addition to artworks. He was a pioneer of “fan-folded roof” designs. He tested many of his ideas at his ranch art studio in Wimberley, which served as a laboratory for his ideas.

Because Winn’s work was so desirable and because he was so industrious, his work is often overlooked. He did not need to participate in the famous WPA Post Office mural project of the 1930s, having enough private commissions to keep him busy.

The Wittliff owns three 28-foot long by 6-foot high painted panels of Winn’s depicting the history of cattle ranching in the Southwest. They were originally part of a 280-foot canvas mural painted for the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, which was, at the time, the largest such mural in the world. The Wittliff’s three sections are waiting for restoration, after which they will be displayed at the Texas State Library.

Winn’s other accomplishments include lecturing on architecture at the University of Texas, Texas A&M, Princeton, California and Rice. He also designed the U.S. postage stamp commemorating Texas statehood.

“Larger Than Life” was shot in 18 locations in the Southwest and is the first complete coverage of Winn’s work.

The film was directed by Richard Kidd and produced by Kate Johnson.

More information about the film is available at the Hays County Historical Commission website at www.hayshistoricalcommission.com.

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Section of the Buck Winn mural owned by the Wittliff Collections currently waiting for restoration.

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