Texas has been in the news a lot lately. Recent events involving divisive issues like gun control, abortion, immigration and LGBTQ rights have placed the state at the forefront of the National debate and have called into question Texas’ current politics and leadership. Now comes a book that reminds Texans and the world that it wasn’t always this way.
Pentagram Austin has designed and produced The One Ann Only: Wit and Wisdom from Governor Ann Richards, a small but substantive volume featuring photographs and quotes from the iconic, beloved Texas leader–the last Democratic Governor of the state of Texas.
The book, distributed by the University of Texas Press, was unveiled at the Austin Public Library last week during an event featuring a panel discussion by Richards’ former Press Secretary and founder of the Ann Richards Legacy Project Margaret Justus, contributing photographer Ave Bonar, author Sarah Bird (who wrote the book’s foreword) and photojournalist and philanthropist Lynne Dobson.
The impetus for this new book was a series of street banners designed by Pentagram Austin to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Ann Richards’ inauguration as the 45th Governor of Texas. The banners, created through a partnership of the Ann Richards Legacy Project and Downtown Austin Alliance, lined both sides of Congress Avenue (“The Main Street of Texas”) a grand, mile-long thoroughfare that stretches from the Texas State Capitol to the Congress Avenue Bridge (now called the Ann Richards Bridge) that spans Lady Bird Lake in the heart of the city. After their debut in Austin in 2021, the banners traveled to Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and El Paso.
For DJ Stout, Principal of Pentagram’s Austin office and a partner since 2000, the “Ann Banners” and the book project were a trip down memory lane. In 1992 when Stout was Art Director of Austin-based Texas Monthly magazine, he designed a now iconic cover for the publication featuring Ann Richards straddling a Harley Davidson “hog” motorcycle. The image of the feisty, white-haired Governor decked out in white, western-styled motorcycle leathers and cowboy boots was accompanied by the coverlines “White Hot Mama: Ann Richards is Riding High. Can She Be the First Woman President?” On Texas Monthly’s 30th Anniversary, the magazine’s readership chose the “Ann on a Motorcycle” cover as the publication’s most memorable cover.
Although she never became President, in 1992 Ann Richards really was at the height of her popularity and political power. A few years earlier, she delivered a legendary speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, where she took a dig at President George H.W. Bush, quipping “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” Ironically, Richards was defeated by George H.W.’s son George W. Bush when she ran for a second term.
Like the street banners, The One Ann Only features Richards’ signature wit but also her serious, heartfelt beliefs about citizenship, character and responsibility. The book also includes Ann’s personal ruminations on family, womanhood and her battle for sobriety. The quotes are set large in a beautiful Roman typeface called Independent, originally designed by Pentagram partner Matt Willey for the British newspaper The Independent.
Contributors to The One Ann Only include renowned photographers like Annie Leibovitz, “Paparazzo Extraordinaire” Ron Galella and regional talents including Wyatt McSpadden, Ave Bonar, Bob Daemmrich, Kirk Tuck, Jana Birchum, Scott Newton, Will van Overbeek, and Bill Kennedy. The book also features vintage family pictures from the personal collection of Ann’s daughter Ellen Richards.
The cover portrait by the late Pam Francis is of Ann Richards in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC – an ironic image during these troubled political times if there ever was one.