Ranch Gates of the Southwest
A lavishly photographed tribute to an iconic symbol of a vanishing Southwest
In the wide open landscapes of the Southwest, ranch gates stand out as singular icons of a way of life common to the region. Not only symbols of ranching culture, they also offer insight into the design, landscape, and cultural history of the Southwest. Ranch Gates of the Southwest explores in images and text how these entryways lead to an understanding of the people and the land across a territory that covers Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona.
Daniel Olsen and Henk van Assen present more than 225 color photographs of ranch gates taken over their many travels across the region. From rugged and functional to stylized and adorned, gates introduce ranches with names such as F.V. Cuahope Ranch, High Lonesome, Felix River Ranch, and Rancho Quatro Hermanas and reveal cultural history, landscape features, and individualism through language and design.
In an insightful introduction, cultural critic Lucy Lippard provides commentary on the gates’ idiosyncrasies, reaching beyond the gates themselves to comment on the overlay of cultures that created the Southwest and broader issues of land ownership and stewardship. Kenneth Helphand contributes a series of essays that explain the environmental history of ranches, from land appropriation and naming to the impact of gates on the landscape. Olsen and van Assen bring together a rich collaboration, complementing their photographs with text that tells the behind-the-scenes story of making the book. In separate essays, they describe type design and the language of landscapes from their perspectives as designers and photographers.
Ranch Gates of the Southwest is both a sumptuous documentary record and a tribute to a quintessentially American symbol.
“Ranch Gates is consummate myth-making, implying a kind of lost-Eden sense of abandonment, a quixotic relationship between people and the place they’ve settled.”
— Su Casa Magazine
“It’s a beautiful book full of large-scale horizontal photos from seven states that make the case that ranch gates, with their hand-wrought lettering and occasional embellishments, are a form of folk art.”
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— Austin American-Statesman