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Texas Folklife Presents SaddleUp - Texas Ranching Tradition Virtual Photography and Film Exhibit Available to View Starting June 4th



Maya Williams-Britton

(512) 441-9255, 



Austin, Texas – May 6, 2021 – Just in time for the 300th Anniversary of the origination of cattle drives in the East Texas region, Texas Folklife opens SaddleUp—Texas Ranching Tradition, a documentary photography and film exhibit on June 4th


View the exhibit at


About the Exhibit

Featuring work from renowned artists Lori Najvar and Joe Vitone, the exhibit depicts a contemporary story of todays’ rancher and lifestyle. Texas ranchers have played an instrumental role in shaping American ranch practices and have adapted to urban and agricultural shifts over time. They have found ways to survive the ongoing challenges of current economics. The exhibit looks at a group of Texas ranching families from Valentine in west Texas and Ezzell in east Texas and their place in American ranch practices.  

“The challenges of a rancher require a 24/7, 365-days-a-year attention span where mobile devices have not taken over,” said Lori Najvar, Project Director and Co-Producer of the SaddleUp Exhibit. “Ranchers are multi-generational ‘do-it-all' folks…navigating day-to-day uncertainty of mother nature and business challenges. It was an honor for Joe Vitone and myself to connect with these four ranching families presented in this body of work. Along with PolkaWorks, we thank Texas Folklife for sharing this Texas story.”

This exhibit is available to view online at

To see sample works from this exhibit as well as marketing materials, please visit


About the Artists

Project Director and Co-Producer Lori Najvar is a native Texan and long-time Austinite who has an intimate knowledge of and deep love for Texas traditions. Because of this, she created the multi-media non-profit called PolkaWorks with the preservation of cultural traditions as the primary focus of the organization. Lori has worked as a graphic designer, photographer, and videographer for numerous companies and educational institutions. Along with her PolkaWorks team, Najvar developed the multi-media traveling exhibits Going, Going, Gone! Story of the Texas Auctioneer!  and Texas Czechs: Rooted in Tradition, which toured throughout Texas. Another production, The Grove, Texas documentary, has been awarded “People’s Choice” at the Rockport Film Festival and “Best Texas Film” at the Hill Country Film Festival. The Grove, Texas, has aired on Texas–PBS network.


Photographer and Co-Producer Joe Vitone is a documentary fine art photographer and educator living in Austin, Texas. He is a Professor of Photocommunications at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas where he has lived with his family since 1991. In 2001 he was a senior Fulbright scholar in fine art teaching and working on a photography project centered around small-scale family-based agriculture in Costa Rica. Abroad, he has lectured on his photography in China, France, Japan, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Involved in international education, he has led American students on study programs in China, France, and Japan. With a focus on documentary photography, he has worked with students at universities outside of the United States. His work has been exhibited at various venues, including exhibitions at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Instituto Cultural Peruano-Norteamericano in Lima, Peru, the Oregon Center for Photographic Arts in Portland, and the Houston Center for Photography in Texas. His work is held in many collections, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Center for Creative Photography, the Museum of Fine Art, Houston, and the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History. 


About Texas Folklife

Texas Folklife is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to the presentation and preservation of the diverse cultures and living heritage of the Lone Star State. Since 1984, Texas Folklife has honored the cultural traditions passed down within communities, explored their importance in contemporary society, and celebrated them by providing accessible and joyful arts experiences.


1708 Houston St.

Austin, Texas 78756

T (512) 441-9255

F (512) 729-5752 


Media information: Maya Williams-Britton (512) 441-9255 /

Program information: Rebecca Bingman (512) 441-9255 /


Image Credits

Image 1: Searching for cattle at sunrise, near Valentine, Texas, 2016. Credit: Joe Vitone

Image 2: Husband and wife with horse and hanging tree dog, Jeff Davis County, 2016. Credit: Joe Vitone 


This virtual exhibit was made possible in part by support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed on this website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Learn more at