Fresno Ranch, an abandoned horse and mule operation located in a remote stretch of the Rio Grande River bordering Mexico, gives evidence of a human presence spanning centuries. The ranch saw a period of entrepreneurial mule breeding and ranching, and ownership by Texas artist and publishing heiress Jeanne Norsworthy, who built an off-the-grid, hand-constructed adobe studio on the premises.
Photographer and freelance writer E. Dan Klepper spent seven years, off and on, living and working at Fresno Ranch. By 2008, when the 7,000-acre property was acquired by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to become part of Big Bend Ranch State Park, the adobe studio dwelling and its associated structures had been sitting vacant for almost ten years—many rugged miles from the nearest electrical power line or municipal water system.
Between 2006 and 2013, Klepper assisted his friend Rodrigo Trevizo, park ranger and caretaker for the property, with the various chores required to keep the ranch in operating condition. The two excavated and repaired the primary water network, cared for the livestock, cleared brush, and maintained a small, solar-powered electrical system. Days of 110-degree heat, boiling water for washing and cooking, and keeping a wary eye out for rattlesnakes alternated with evenings spent in the flicker of kerosene lanterns, listening to the rasping of the ravens as they scoured the canyon in the gathering dark.
In vivid images and well-considered prose, Klepper reflects on his experiences at Fresno Ranch, “witnessing the unfolding of a natural world unfettered by the overpowering human footprint that has dominated so many of our remaining wild places.” For aficionados of fine art photography, cultural and natural history enthusiasts, and fans of the Big Bend region and its austere beauty, Why the Raven Calls the Canyon offers a provocative visual journal of off-the-grid living that celebrates the unique landscape of the Big Bend.
E. DAN KLEPPER is a fine art photographer and writer based in Marathon, Texas. He is the author of 100 Classic Hikes in Texas and other books, as well as a frequent contributor to Texas Highways Magazine. His art, featuring photography, sculpture, and experimental video, has been exhibited in the United States and abroad and can be found in collections across the state.?
What Readers Are Saying:
“I've known E. Dan Klepper for almost 20 years and feel privileged to have witnessed the development of his photography and writing. Klepper's artistic technique, always first-rate, is satisfying in both composition and sophisticated aesthetic. Likewise, his prose has become the work of a writer possessed with an important understanding of the natural world. All this makes me glad to be counted as among the first of many fans of Why the Raven Calls the Canyon.” — Alan Tennant, New York Times Best-selling Author of On the Wing
“E. Dan Klepper’s photographs speak to the resilience of the natural world and our ability to forge a lasting love affair with it, discovering our better selves in the process. For Klepper and his subjects, the reality of living in such a spectacular and unforgiving landscape becomes pure visual poetry. Celebrated Texas writer and photographer E. Dan Klepper’s chronicle of the Big Bend is melancholy, surprising, and wonderfully seductive. Klepper has captured something sublime, not only in nature itself but in humankind’s fragile relationship with the natural world.” — Christina Rees, Editor, Glasstire
“E. Dan Klepper observes and delivers his world with an intelligent eye, bringing our attention to details often overlooked, and enhanced through a display of contemporary clarity. Why the Raven Calls the Canyon is not a just coffee table depiction of his world but a beautiful challenge to our eyes, eliciting awe, wonderment, and respect for the power and delicacy of a place devoid of all comforts.” — Robert W.H. McCoy, Artist and Educator