Dave Anderson’s photographs from his Rough Beauty series were taken in Vidor, Texas, a town known for extreme poverty and racism as it was formerly the site of Ku Klux Klan activities. The reputation of the town and its isolation is in part what brought Anderson to Vidor, along with his insatiable desire to travel across the country on the road. While these photographs were taken almost 20 years ago, there is a lot about these images that would resonate with contemporary issues of race, poverty, and isolation. The people of Vidor are adamant that the labels placed on them are not true to their actual character and that they are a kind, close-knit community. In June 2020, a Black Lives Matter group successfully staged a peaceful protest in the town. In Leashed, a dog is chained to a clothesline that is barely discernible in the background of the image, making it look almost as though the end of the chain is floating in space. The dog is looking out in the distance, head lowered as if he is about to pounce on something. Standing on top of a car with weeds and brush growing out of the engine bay, the dog balances his front paws on the metal. While it is assumed that this image is taken in a backyard, without any people in the photograph or landmarks to indicate where the image is placed, it is hard to imagine the nature of the dog’s location. Anderson’s photograph leaves the viewer to confront the dog on their own.
Martin Z. Margulies Foundation Stephen Wirtz Gallery