It’s not every day that a fine photographer gets a career retrospective. Now, Janell Kleberg’s most beloved photographs are on display at the Witte Museum in San Antonio so that the world can enjoy Kleberg’s point of view of the Texas ranch scene.


By Lance Avery Morgan

Photography by Janell Kleberg


“The winter fog cloaks the land and lays down a blanket of refreshing dew on everything, even during the dry years,” recalled Janell Kleberg about one of her photographs taken on the King Ranch. “A place where laughter and stories are shared at the end of a day with the satisfaction of a job well done. The morning feels fresh, the grass is grazed down around the roundup ground, and the tiny purple phlox is visible in the sandy soil and the bare spots between clumps of bluestem.”


That sort of bird’s eye view is what Kleberg offers to the viewer of her photographs from her three-decades-long career. She captures the spirit of the land and those who work it, with the same gusto she approaches life. In the exhibit, Live the West: Photographs by Janell Kleberg, currently on display at San Antonio’s Witte Museum, an audio component with a story about each photograph is prominently featured to capture the fleeting moments of strength, beauty, and grace of the annual roundup on King Ranch from the 1970s to the 2000s.  


“Helen Kleberg Groves has wanted this exhibit at the Witte Museum for more than a decade,” said Kleberg. “I carried a camera during the years we worked cattle and horses to capture the life and the era she loved. It was a remarkable time and place to remember, and Helenita will be so pleased,” she continued. The Witte Museum is dedicated to telling the stories of Texas from prehistory to the present. The permanent collection features historical artifacts photographs, art, textiles, dinosaur bones, cave drawings, and wildlife dioramas, all from Texas. With this exhibit, the museum visitor is transported through the lens of photographer and conservation ambassador Janell Kleberg to the dusty coastal savanna in the sweltering heat of August during the time when the cattle grazing over thousands of acres are corralled. It’s where horse and rider work together as the calf crop is harvested, the dry cows are culled, and the results of years of selective breeding are judged.


“You will see the smile on Buster’s face and the relaxed seat he has in the saddle, despite the impending duel with a seriously wild Santa Gertrudis cow,” shares Kleberg about one shoot on the range. Kleberg revealed further insight into the story behind the excerpts from Janell Kleberg’s letters to her college friend, Julianna Hawn Holt. “Those cattle were straight out of the brush, some who had avoided being gathered for years, and the dry cows would hook a horse at every pass in the herd. It was simply the best day ever. I am so glad to share it with you, and I think of you each time I find an image such as this. I know that you understand what it means and how this time will never come again. What luck to be there on that day.”


What luck to have Janell Kleberg’s talents to accompany the largess of generous support by Julianna Hawn Holt, the Caesar Kleberg Foundation for Wildlife Conservation, and the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, in collaboration with the Witte Museum to create this one-of-a-kind exhibit. These powerful partnerships work with the land and the resources that come from it, through science and education with and for future generations. “Janell Kleberg’s photographs illustrate the dignity of work on what we call the wild and vivid land of South Texas, said the Witte’s President and CEO Marise McDermott. “We are so pleased to host this extraordinary exhibition of Janell’s photographic witness to the King Ranch.”


Live the West appears at the Witte Museum through June 6 in the Russell Hill Rogers Texas Art Gallery and is included with museum admission. For more information, visit

[et_pb_flex_gallery _builder_version=”4.6.0″ _module_preset=”default” gallery_ids=”41225,41224,41223,41222,41221,41220,41219,41218,41217″ show_title_and_caption=”off” hover_enabled=”0″ sticky_enabled=”0″][/et_pb_flex_gallery]


South Texas Charity Weekend Hosts 27th Annual Gathering


By Caroline McAllister        Photography by Marks Moore and Doug Smith


THE SETTING:  The wide open spaces of the King Ranch, the historic town of Kingsville, and the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Center were the backdrop for the 27th annual South Texas Charity Weekend. Guests came from around Texas and the country to enjoy a weekend with friends and to honor the 2020 South Texan of the Year, Red Steagall. 


THE STYLE:  The weekend’s festivities began with a cocktail reception Friday night, hosted by Tio and Janell Kleberg in their beautiful home on the King Ranch, welcoming new and old friends alike to South Texas. The next morning, guests chose between quail hunting on the legendary King Ranch or a shooting clinic with instruction from world-class instructors Charlie Wilson, Bill Massey, and Raye Massey. Lunch was served cowboy style in the field, a tradition the King Ranch is well known for around the world. HALO-Flight was onsite, giving guests a rare bird’s eye view from their Bell 407 helicopter.The pinnacle of the weekend was Saturday evening as guests gathered to celebrate Red Steagall as the 2020 South Texan of the Year. 

Tio Kleberg has earned a reputation for providing a memorable introduction, and this year was no exception. Kleberg entered the room dressed as a 1960’s western singer and went on to deliver a powerful introduction for Steagall, known as The Official Cowboy Poet of Texas. Following a touching acceptance from Red Steagall, he treated the crowd to the story behind his hit song Here We Go Again and then sang Hats Off To The Cowboy. As the crowd cheered, he then announced that he would donate the guitar he had just used to benefit the live auction. Needless to say, this created a tremendous boost of energy and the robust live auction that followed was one of the most successful yet.  On Sunday morning, guests gathered for a farewell cowboy breakfast at the King Ranch.


THE PURPOSE: Wildlife conservation, ranching heritage, and health care are the beneficiaries of the generous donations and underwriting from the weekend, which raised over a million dollars. The charities supported are the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management, CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital-Kleberg, and HALO-Flight.

[et_pb_flex_gallery gallery_ids=”38431,38432,38433,38434,38435,38436,38437,38438,38439,38440,38441,38442,38443,38444,38445,38446,38447,38448,38449,38450,38451,38452,38453,38454,38455,38456″ show_title_and_caption=”off” _builder_version=”4.3.4″ hover_enabled=”0″][/et_pb_flex_gallery]


Cowgirls Live Forever Luncheon Rides To Success

By Jake Gaines Photography by Greg Harrison

THE SETTING:  The 14th annual Cowgirls Live Forever scholarship luncheon and style show certainly lived up to its name as many of the city’s attendees filled the Mays Family Event Center at the Witte Museum to salute 2019 honoree Janell Kleberg. Presenting sponsor Julian Gold lit up the crowd with an east-meets-wild western style show featuring rodeo-season favorites and au courant spring fashion.

THE STYLE:  Couture cowgirls, as well as those who bring to life the stories of Texas legend and lore, came together at the sold-out event that each year serves to raise scholarship money for the youth of Texas. Honorary chair Tio Kleberg introduced this year’s honoree, Janell Kleberg, a devoted wife, mother and grandmother and an ardent volunteer for countless charitable causes in the city and South Texas. The guests then enjoyed the cowgirl-friendly luncheon cuisine by Rosemary’s Catering.

THE PURPOSE: The Cowgirls Live Forever scholarship luncheon and style show has awarded over $1.8 million in scholarships. Each year, an honoree is chosen based on her independence, courage and resilience as a woman whose life exemplifies all that preserves our western heritage and helps to shape Texas agriculture and the youth of Texas.

[et_pb_flex_gallery _builder_version=”3.19.11″ gallery_ids=”30461,30462,30463,30464,30465,30466,30467,30468,30469,30470,30471,30472,30473,30474,30475,30476,30477,30478,30479,30480,30481,30482,30483″ zoom_icon_color=”#a5469a” hover_overlay_color=”rgba(165,70,154,0.24)” hover_icon=”%%51%%” title_font_size_tablet=”51″ title_line_height_tablet=”2″ caption_font_size_tablet=”51″ caption_line_height_tablet=”51″ pagination_font_size_tablet=”51″ pagination_line_height_tablet=”2″ show_title_and_caption=”off” /]