Drive the backroads of Texas long enough, and you’re sure to spot a distinctive symbol on the side of a weathered barn or atop a wavy tin roof. Perhaps you’ve also seen it on a water tank, the tail bone of a windmill, or a ranch gate-folk art inspired by the state’s red-white-and-blue banner abounds from Amarillo to Brownsville. A new book by photographer E. Joe Deering—Lovin’ That Lone Star Flag (Texas A&M University Press, 2009)- documents the phenomenon with more than a hundred striking images.
Deering began shooting the creative depictions in 2000, when he was still a photographer for the Houston Chronicle and chasing story leads around the state. He found Texas-flag representations on everything from buses to barbecue grills. His mix of pix includes guitars, mailboxes, boots, and even a bathtub. The common denominator among all the artists or owners: unmitigated pride in their state. Deering not only photographed the flag-art, but he spent hours talking to the proud Texans who display it. Some of the backstories are as entertaining as the photos themselves.
Like when Deering photographed Doug Moreland’s flag-painted 1972 Cadillac, complete with a pair of six-foot-long horns mounted in front, on the sidewalk in front of the State Capitol. The photograph almost didn’t happen, but a state trooper guarding the entrance eventually proved understanding.
And then there was the photo shoot of Bruce Lavorgna’s hot air balloon. During the process, the second balloon in which Deering was flying crash-landed in a field while Lavorgna’s Lone Star-adorned balloon sailed on serenely. Deering survived and got his shot as well.
Happy 174th birthday, Texas. Long may your colors wave, from the flagpole and beyond. To order the book, call 800/826-8911; www.tamu press.com.