“Hue !! A Decade of Houston Rodeo Documentation” gives Crossroads residents the opportunity to indulge their cowboy, clown and carnival cravings since the event was closed by the pandemic.
Award-winning columnist and street photographer Daniel Kramer’s photography exhibition is curated by Ann Harithas and documents over a decade of the iconic Houston Rodeo, from 2007 to 2020, at the Five Points Museum of Contemporary Art. The work will be on display until May 30. Originally, a lighter version of the exhibition, curated by Noah Edmundson, was on display at the Art Car Museum in Houston.
The first year Kramer photographed the rodeo and carnival, he quietly walked around capturing footage, a period in which he realized the vast potential of a business photojournalism project. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is billed as the world’s largest entertainment and breeding show. The following year, he set up a portable studio near one of the stadium’s ramps to take portraits in addition to roaming around as a street photographer to capture spontaneous shots of the rodeo and carnival chaos. His portraits include cowboys with their saddles and ropes, some sweaty with dirt on their faces after spending time in the arena, and clowns, or bullfighters as he calls them, in full dress.
“That’s the fun part of being a photojournalist – being able to ask to go where no one else is going,” Kramer said. “The biggest entertainment event is quite a hook for a long-term documentary project. “
Kramer has “chopped up” at the rodeo over the years to capture every aspect of the magic, from the various characters who, in all their glory, make up the event to the massive sensory overload that accompanies all activity.
As a freelance photographer and part-time educator, Kramer teaches a Basic Photography Course and Aesthetic Design Course in addition to a Street Photography course for the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University. In 2010, he took his street photography course at the rodeo and carnival, and the experience was like “pulling fish in a barrel”.
“There are wonderful characters, the light, the shadow and the dark,” he said.
The Five Points Museum exhibit features around 100 photographs of Kramer in various sizes, from large-scale prints to small, intimate prints. From perfectly lit studio-quality portraits to street photography, Kramer is an “exceptionally good” and “technically accurate” photographer, said Maurice Roberts, chief curator of the Five Points Museum.
“There are a lot of portraits of horsemen and bullfighters, who are clowns risking their lives for guys,” Roberts said. “Carnival photos are more in the street photography category – candid photos of carnival attendees and vendors serving food. It captures many different aspects of it – mariachis getting ready to go on, people getting ready to play, rodeo action shots, guys getting carried away on stretchers, showing off the most dangerous parts of the rodeo as well.
Kramer graduated from the University of Minnesota with a journalism degree in 1990. It was during his studies, as a student in an introductory visual communication course, that he discovered his love for communication. photography. After graduation he worked for small newspapers in South Dakota and California as a sports writer who wore many hats.
“I would roll the film cartridges, take the photos, develop the film, choose the photos to print, print them, lay them out and write the articles and headlines,” Kramer said in an interview.
Even though he loved seeing his work in the newspaper, he couldn’t afford to pay for his car insurance because his career of choice was not very lucrative. After asking Hal Wells for advice on his photography with the LA Times, he finally decided to pursue photography full time, rather than trying to write too. He enrolled at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, now Academy of Art University, where he obtained his master’s degree. He was selected by Atelier Eddie Adams as one of the nation’s Top 100 University Photojournalists, which was a huge feather in his cap. After attending the workshop, he got an internship at Newsday in New York.
During the 1990s, after having read “Following the Equator” by Mark Twain, he retraced the author’s footsteps around the world, with a stopover in Madagascar in addition. British Columbia, a leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Molokai, New Zealand, Australia, Srilanka, India, Pakistan, South Africa and England were among the 11 locations he visited for 10 months, accumulating debt on nine credit cards. The photo expedition was funded in part by ShopKo, who donated 2,000 rolls of film and film development for the project, which equates to approximately a grant of $ 40,000. The fortuitous deal grew out of a corporate dinner Kramer attended with his father, Jerry Kramer, who played football for the Green Bay Packers.
Kramer also photographed the Green Bay Packers, and his photographs have been incorporated into his friend’s book as well as his self-published book, “Return to Glory.” Also during this decade he traveled to Cuba to photograph the visit of Pope John Paul II. There he fell in love with the place – the music, the cars, the culture and the cigars. He has returned to Cuba several times on self-funded trips to photograph the aforementioned people in addition to the sugar cane and tobacco workers. These images eventually landed him a job with Houston Press.
Kramer’s favorite photo from “Giddy Up” is of a teenager working behind a grill full of bratwurst and hot dogs. As the boy looks into the distance, he seems to be watching the other children enjoying the carnival.
“They laugh, scream, run and play while he’s been behind the grill for how many hours?” Kramer asked.
The photograph was selected for the exhibition “The National: Best Contemporary Photography 2014” at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and acquired for the museum’s permanent collection.
“It’s always wonderful that a photo is selected for an exhibition, and the icing on the cake is when they want it for the permanent collection,” Kramer said.
Kramer’s work is part of the permanent collections of the Phoenix Art Museum; the Houston Museum of Fine Arts; and the Ramones Museum in Berlin, Germany.
“’Giddy Up’ is a very Texan spectacle, but it extends beyond geography and captures the heritage, skills and global phenomenon of rodeo,” said Roberts.
Elena Anita Watts covers arts, culture and entertainment for Victoria Advocate.