Scorched: Texas Summer Malaise, in Pictures

by Lucia Simek June 21, 2011

April 2011. Marfa, Texas. by Allison V. Smith, courtesy Barry Whistler Gallery

 When we came back down to visit Texas a few years after moving to New England in a giant green Mercury Continental, I have the distinct memory of stepping out of the car and then climbing right back in, because the air outside was like jumping into hell itself — so freaking, searingly, take-your-breath-away hot. “How do people survive here? How do they actually live here and not die?” I cried to my mom. “Your blood thins out,” she said.

Blood? Why live in a place where your blood has to do anything except what it does?

Every summer, for the fourteen years since I’ve been back in Texas as an adult, I wonder the same thing when I find myself house-bound or covered in sweat from a mere moment outdoors.  Truly, it’s malaise inducing, this heat — flat lining, soul-sucking, blah-making. The lack of water way or vista or breeze causes a panicked claustrophobia that can only be relieved by fleeing to a place with beaches or mountains. But I’ve come to love that particular dusty awfulness of the Texas summer– nostalgia is written on the landscape: a story of thirst and heat and endurance. Maybe my mom was right — your blood does thin. Maybe that’s just a clever, Texas way of saying that I’ve been scorched, branded, claimed by the Lone Star State. There’s no way out now.

So here’s a toast, in images, to Texas summer: to that particular, brain-scorching, blood- thinning entrapment of this odd place that I love to hate. Happy First Day of Summer. (*sigh*) 


Alessandro Pessoli, Primo Giorno, 2005/6, Oil, enamel, spray paint on aluminum, courtesy Anton Kern Gallery


Dorthea Lange, Texas Migrant, 1940

Martin Paar, The Sun, courtesy Janet Borden Inc.

Alessandro Pessoli, Untitled, 2003, gouche on paper, courtesy Anton Kern Gallery

Nic Nicosia, Real Pictures #11, 1988/92, courtesy MOCP

Jesse Morgan Barnett, To Accident and Abandon (C), 2009, archival Ultrachrome print, courtesy Marty Walker Gallery

Richard Patterson, Backyard Ritual, 2004, oil on canvas, courtesy Timothy Taylor Gallery

Grant Mudford, US-146/10, Dallas. 1975, courtesy Rosamund Felsen Gallery

Tim Berg and Rebekah Myers, Here today, gone tomorrow, 2010, fiberglass, wood, paint, courtesy Dean Projects


  Russell Lee, Farmhouse in High Texas Plains, 1940

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