As we age, a man wears his character in deeply etched lines on his face and skin, and in the apparel he chooses. Dignity is a matter of self-acceptance, and clothes can tell a story of where a man has been and what he is made of.
In the 1980’s, I was a regular visitor to the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center as I covered their events and activities, then delivered prints to their facility on Guadalupe Street. This old caballero was waiting for the bus outside the center one day. I generally respect these characters and leave them alone, but as I went in to the Guadalupe, I encountered GCAC director Pedro Rodriguez, and he dragged me outside. “This guy is too perfect – you need to photograph him, “Pedro said. I asked the gentleman if I could take his picture, and he nodded, but I wasn’t sure if he understood my question, so I repeated the question in Spanish. He nodded again in affirmative and I took a couple of frames.
As I printed the photo, I began to appreciate just how rich a photo it was – his hands and face told of many long days in the sun. He wore a bolo with horses on it, and embroidered horses on his shirt, framed by a pocket watch chain. He had an armadillo pin on his hat and a buckle worthy of a rodeo star. I carried a print in my car for a year to give to the man if I ever saw him again, but I never did. I have loved this photo for 30 years and it is in my Stories & Metaphors collection on exhibit at Cappy’s on Broadway until October 23. After I take the exhibit down on Sunday, I am moving the prints that have not sold to my newly renovated studio/Gallery. Someday, the Cisco Kid will tell his story on a collector’s wall.