Seeing ‘More Land Than People’ in photography exhibit in Lipscomb

The Wolf Creek Heritage Museum in Lipscomb is pleased to present “More Land Than People: Life on the Texas High Plains,” a Master of Fine Arts exhibition by John Van Beekum. In this exhibition, Van Beekum returns to his roots, as he explains: “Land dominates the everyday lives of the sparse population on the flat, arid Texas High Plains. Their very existence is continually shaped by this single, most important fact. As I stepped into, out of and around farms, workplaces, ranches, oil fields and homes, the images I brought back reflect the region’s rich light and detailed colors. These complement the uplifting spirit, determined optimism and guarded wariness of a people in wait of what the next dawn will bring.” The work was created in all-digital, high-resolution photography and is presented in large format, archival prints, mounted in unfinished wood frames.
During 2013–14, Van Beekum traveled to the Texas Panhandle region multiple times to engage ranchers, families, farmers, oil field workers, and friends through candid portraiture. He visited and re-visited four areas, starting with Perryton, Booker, Darrouzett, Lipscomb and Canadian in the northeast. Moving on to the oil fields surrounding Amarillo—mainly Dumas, Channing and Stinnett, he watched derricks being disassembled and moved by large cranes. Further south, in the Nazareth, Hart, Dimmitt triangle, he spent a week during the October 2013 corn harvest. Finally outside of Lubbock and just off the caprock west of Post, he explored the changing landscape where the high plains drop in elevation to become low plains.
It is fitting that he agreed for the first showing of his project in Texas to be at Wolf  Creek Heritage Museum. His intention is to display his images near the communities where he shot much of the work so they could see what the heck he was doing. The Lipscomb museum was building an expansion that tripled their exhibition space at the same time Van Beekum was passing through Lipscomb, eating lunch at the food trailer—now a part of recent history—and getting to know several of the area residents. Inspired by Doug Ricketts’ 2003 art and history exhibit, “Art from the Ruins,” now on permanent display at the Museum, he set his sights on traveling his show to Lipscomb.
A native of Lubbock, Van Beekum has exhibited his fine art photography in juried national exhibitions in the United States since 2005. This is his second solo exhibition since he returned to creating personal documentary and non-objective photography after four decades of career photojournalism, working in Texas, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Miami. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Miami in 2012, he pursued and was awarded a Master of Fine Arts in Photography/Digital Imaging from UM’s College of Arts and Sciences on the strength of his thesis exhibition, “More Land Than People: Life on the Texas High Plains.” He is currently teaching classes in digital photography in the University of Miami’s Art and Art History Program as an adjunct faculty member.
“More Land Than People: Life on the Texas High Plains” will be on view from May 6–July 6 in the central exhibition hall at the Wolf Creek Heritage Museum, located at 13310 Highway 305 in Lipscomb. There will be a grand opening reception on Sunday, May 8, from 2 to 4 pm, with the artist in attendance.
Museum hours are Monday–Friday, 10 am to 4 pm. For more information about the exhibition, contact the Museum at 806.852.2123 or email them at staff@wolfcreekheritagemuseum.org.

Lipscomb museum hosts digital camera workshop
The Wolf Creek Heritage Museum in Lipscomb will be the site for “The Beautiful Downtown Lipscomb Digital Camera Workshop” scheduled for Saturday, May 7. The workshop will be conducted by John Van Beekum, a Florida photographer and adjunct faculty member at the University of Miami’s Art and Art History Program. Van Beekum’s exhibit, “More Land Than People: Life on the Texas High Plains,” will open at the Museum on May 6, with an opening reception on Sunday, May 8, from 2–4 pm.
The workshop is free and open to all area residents with digital cameras, but participants must register with the Museum by 4 pm Friday, April 29—in person or by phone at 806.852.2123. Participants are asked to take at least 20 exposures of a sunset and/or a sunrise scene between 4 pm Friday, April 29, and 10 am Saturday, May 7. They should then download these images to a USB flash stick or thumb drive and bring to the workshop, along with their digital cameras and lenses.
The workshop will begin at 10 am with a slide show and discussion, followed by an introduction to Van Beekum’s master’s thesis project and resulting exhibition. There will be a photo scavenger hunt until 2 pm. Participants are asked to bring a snack to the workshop to share with others, such as baked goods, fruit or chips. Coffee, tea and water will be provided.

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