A Short Breather

The opening reception for We’re Not Telling You Everything was a great success. Many old and new friends braved an Oklahoma-strength thunderstorm that seemed to roll in out of nowhere just as the reception was about to begin. Maybe it added some extra energy–there were lots of spirited conversations, laughter, and hugs in the galleries. We gave an artists’ talk discussing the Wichita Mountains project, and our friend, the photographer and curator Chris Engholm, filmed it. He was kind enough to post an edited version:

We will do another, more extensive gallery talk on November 22, but before we prepare for that and other projects, we are taking a short break to go hiking in the Ozarks, catch up on correspondence, weeks of New Yorkers, and some TV shows, and pet the dog.

It’s All Coming Together

We’re getting pretty excited over here in Hazel Valley. Our exhibition at the Fayetteville Underground opens next week, and we’ll start hanging the show on Monday. We have postcards, we have catalogues, we have text panels providing some background information–and we hope to have many friends at the opening reception.

Here’s Sabine checking proofs for some of her color images. The final prints are 20×30 inches!

sabine working #2

We’re Not Telling You Everything

… but Don House and I will be showing you our new work at Fayetteville Underground in November. It’s a showcase of the three years we spent visiting the Wichita Mountains region in southwest Oklahoma. We’re Not Telling You Everything is the title of our exhibition, and it was inspired by a place we visited there.

A catalog with images from the exhibition will be available at the Underground. The exhibition opening is part of the First Thursday reception on November 5, 2015, between 5 and 9 pm and will include an artists talk in the gallery. Later in the month, we’ll be offering a more extensive walk and talk about the exhibition. Here’s a preview:

“For three years, photographers Don House and Sabine Schmidt traveled to southwest Oklahoma to photograph the land and the people of the Wichita Mountains. The mountains—among the oldest but least known in North America—rise up from the plains like a beacon for shelter, water, and nourishment. 

A small range, the Wichitas stretch only about 40 miles from east to west, but they hold a central position in the history and lives of Apaches, Comanches, Kiowas, and other plains tribes. The Fort Sill military installation shares a winding fence through the mountains with one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the country. Ranchers and wheat farmers, amusement park owners, retirees, soldiers, waitresses, preachers, rangers, locals and strangers all make their homes in the shadows of the ancient granite mountains.

Don House created classic black-and-white portraits with his Hasselblad. Sabine Schmidt is showing color images of human interactions with the landscape.”

exhibition prints drying

Some of Don’s prints drying.

Join us on First Thursday at the Underground and ask us anything–we may tell, after all.

The Semi-Planned Trip: Snakes, Angel Wings, and an Angry Mutti

Schmidt & House recently returned from another excursion to the Wichita Mountains. Don took portraits–some arranged beforehand, others spur of the moment–, and I photographed mostly buildings and landscapes.


Geronimo High School

One of the most obvious but also difficult things I have learned about photography is acceptance of the unexpected. My paper houses project involved careful planning; yet, many of my favorite photos from the series came about because I happened to have a miniature house with me in the right place at the right time. Work on the Schmidt & House Wichita Mountains project has been following a similar approach of knowing what we want to do, but only to a certain extent. We map out some definite stops, put our equipment in the truck, and start driving, ready for whatever and whomever we will encounter on the road.

Still, we weren’t quite prepared for the aggressive pygmy rattlesnake we met on a hike at the end of the first day. It challenged us on a hill in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and refused to budge. That’s unusual behavior, even for a rattler. (Venomous snakes encountered in my fifteen years in the U.S. before meeting Don: one. Since meeting Don: I don’t even know. Life has become much more interesting.)


Wichitas sunset. Somewhere, a pygmy rattlesnake is awaiting us.

We made a planned stop at the Holy City so Don could take a portrait of the director. A friendly employee asked me if I wanted to try on an angel costume, and I hesitated for only a second. He led me to one of the prop rooms, where the costumes, Roman soldier helmets, a Judas effigy, and an infant Jesus doll for the annual Holy City passion play are stored, and fitted me with giant wings. I posed in a courtyard in a white gown with two wings made from white shag carpeting spreading out from my back. Don has Hasselblad evidence.


The Holy City: looking like Jerusalem since 1935.

Driving through an industrial section of Lawton a few days later, we noticed a nondescript building with a huge German flag and the sign “Mutti’s German Restaurant” on the front. It’s like being offered a chance to wear angel wings: you don’t turn it down. We went there for dinner the next evening. When  we arrived an hour before closing, the place was almost empty. It looked exactly as I had imagined–posters of German tourist sites, garden gnomes, blue-and-white table cloths, and a long list of beers. The food was fantastic, probably the most authentic I’ve had outside of Germany. But my happy nostalgia ended during dessert. Twenty minutes past closing time,  we had overstayed our welcome. In wonderfully, authentically German passive-aggressive manner, Mutti started vacuuming the restaurant. The American waitress apologized. We left. There is no photographic evidence.


This is the new home on the web for Schmidt & House. We are at work on a book of photography, essays, and poems on the Wichita Mountains in southwest Oklahoma. We will be posting images and texts as the project develops. We also plan on announcing a fundraising page soon and invite you to check back (or subscribe to updates) if you are interested in the book project.

Sabine Schmidt & Don House

Hazel Valley, Arkansas

Questions or ideas? Please get in touch.