Bill and Sally Wittliff, creators of The Encino Press, joined Virgil Musick, a faithful collector of their work, for an exhibition opening and panel discussion hosted by DeGolyer Library on February 23.
The exhibition, Bill Wittliff – Texas Man of Letters: Selections from the Virgil Musick Collection, features awarding-winning books from Wittliff’s time at the SMU Press and The Encino Press as well as broadsides, exhibit catalogs and photographs. It draws from a collection donated by Musick to the DeGolyer in 2016.
The Wittliffs started The Encino Press in 1963 in the carport of their Austin home. Although his degree was in journalism, Bill Wittliff had a talent for selecting typefaces, paper and colors that produced a distinctive style. The fine press specialized in regional material about Texas and the Southwest, publishing works by J. Frank Dobie, Larry McMurtry, Lon Tinkle, A.C. Greene and other greats of Texas letters. During its two-decade run, The Encino Press won more than 100 awards for design and content.
Wittliff is also a respected photographer and award-winning screenwriter known for the screenplays of Raggedy Man (1981), A Perfect Storm (2000) and other movies as well as the Lonesome Dove mini-series (1989).
A former Army radar operator at the North Pole in the early 1950s and later the founder of a transportation consulting company, Musick noticed something special about Wittliff’s work and started collecting it. During the discussion he related an anecdote about tracking down one of the last Encino Press publications, years after it was issued, paying a sum that he wouldn’t even share with his wife.
Selections from the Musick collection will be on view in the Hillcrest Foundation Exhibit Hall in Fondren Library through June 1. For more information, visit https://www.smu.edu/CUL/DeGolyer/Exhibits/Wittliff.