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Wittliff Collections Festival, celebrating Texas artists, coming in April

Joe Gross
Musician Robert Earl Keen, pictured here at Ray Benson's birthday party at GSD&M during South by Southwest this year, will perform with Benson at the Wittliff Collections Festival. [BRONTE WITTPENN/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

The Wittliff Collection, the renowned literary archive at Texas State University, on April 18 will put on its inaugural Wittliff Collections Festival, a fundraising celebration of Texas arts. The collection announced the festival Wednesday.

The fest held at the W Hotel will present panels of writers, photographers, filmmakers and singer-songwriters, followed by a red carpet gala at ACL Live with acoustic performances by Robert Earl Keen and Ray Benson.

The event also will honor the legacy of screenwriter, filmmaker, photographer and writer Bill Wittliff, who established the archive at Texas State University in 1986 and died at the age of 79 earlier this year. All proceeds from the festival will be used to acquire collections for the archive, according to a news release.

Panels for the Wittliff Collections Festival include:

• “The Writer’s Voice” with moderator John Spong, featuring writers Lawrence Wright, Stephen Harrigan, Sarah Bird and Elizabeth Crook.

• “The Photographer’s Voice” with moderator David L. Coleman, featuring acclaimed photographer Graciela Iturbide as well as Kate Breakey, Keith Carter and Connie Todd.

• “The Filmmaker’s Voice: Behind the Scenes with Lonesome Dove,” featuring Emmy-winning costume designer Van Broughton Ramsey, Emmy-nominated set designer Cary White, and property master Eric A. Williams (all of whom worked behind the scenes on the “Lonesome Dove” series), as well as actor Barry Tubb, who portrayed Jasper Fant

• “The Singer/Songwriter’s Voice” with moderator Joe Nick Patoski, featuring artists Terri Hendrix, Flaco Jimenez, Barbara Lynn and Max Baca.

» Related: Wittliff lands the papers of John Rechy, pioneer of American, LGBTQ and Chicano literature

In addition to Keen and Benson, the gala also will include a live and silent auction with rare items from the “Lonesome Dove” miniseries.

The Wittliff Collection, which began with the papers of Texas folklorist J. Frank Dobie, has grown into an archive with more than 500 prized collections focusing on Southwestern literature, Southwestern and Mexican photography and Texas music.

Holdings include the papers of writers Sam Shepard, Cormac McCarthy, Sandra Cisneros, Mary Karr, Stephen Harrigan and Lawrence Wright, as well as the entire Texas Monthly magazine archive and the “King of the Hill” collection; the largest collection of Mexican photography outside of Mexico; and the “Lonesome Dove” production archive.