Visual Art

Spend Your Tuesday Night With Freak Folk, Microcinema and Bozo Texino, Whoever That Is

Who is Bozo Texino?

I have no clue. But The Public Trust plans to help answer that question at 7 p.m. Tuesday when they host artists Ralph White and Bill Daniel, who are currently on tour with their traveling exhibition, Tramp Species of the American Southwest.

Here's what we know: Ralph White is a freak/folk traditionalist/experimentalist and Bill Daniel is a hobo filmmaker and punk photographer. Now, those are some titles to carry around! Who else would you want to spend your Tuesday night with? I can't think of any better people. Seriously, a freak/folk traditionalist and hobo filmmaker? You're about to have the night of your life.

In some more understandable words, White is an experimental musician who used to be with the Austin-based band Bad Livers. Daniel is filmmaker and photographer whose film, Who is Bozo Texino?, is quickly becoming an art house favorite. The two have taken to the road this year to visit Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona with a multi-media traveling show that blends Ralph's musical performances--including an improvised set with 16mm films--and a screening of Daniel's Bozo Texino. Daniel will also be showing a series of new short films that survey the American microcinema scene (films that are shown at small film festivals and gallery settings), and will include work by Vanessa Renwick and Nancy Jean Tucker. But we only have one chance, and one chance only, to see the exhibition in Dallas. And that's on Tuesday night at The Public Trust.

While the details of White's performance will only be revealed the day of the show, Daniel's film has more accessible information.

Who is Bozo Texino? is a film that explores the 100 year old tradition of hobo and railworker graffiti. It is the result of a nearly 20-year study of "monikers" and the piecing together of 16mm and super 8 film clips that were shot on freight trips across the western United States. The film includes interviews with some of the railroad's greatest graffiti legends: Colossus of Roads, The Rambler, Herby, and the granddaddy of them all, Bozo Texino. The film also catches some of the socioeconomic history of hobo subculture from its roots after the Civil War to the present day. The range of the interviews, and the film's style, deal with both the clichés and the harsh realities of tramp life, which Daniel unravels to reveal the true histories of these people who are enigmas wrapped up in their own mythologies.

In a statement on his website, Daniel says that "at some point in the research and in the filming, I had to give up on the idea of being able to tell every story down to the detail. One of my initial impulses was to create a highly resolved document that would allow people in the future to see exactly what this culture was like....Gradually, I realized that to report on freight train culture I should just acknowledge this mythologizing that permeates the culture and adopt that as an essential part of my approach."

He does just that with the film, and has given us a view into the lonely reality that these travelers have lived and are currently living through. There is a certain mythology and mystery to any sort of graffiti--we never really know where it came from, who did it (unless it's clearly tagged), and we aren't always able to see the meaning behind the work--but Daniel doesn't try to answer those questions for us, he just wants to tell the story of people whose voices couldn't be heard otherwise.

Tramp Species of the American Southwest is an exhibition of photographs by Daniel, live music from White, and a screening of Who is Bozo Texino? The one night only event is this Tuesday, June 24 at The Public Trust. Doors open at 7 p.m., music starts at 8 p.m., and the film starts at 9 p.m.. There is a $5 donation at the door to keep these guys on the road, so bring a bit of cash with you.

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Danielle Georgiou