PHOTOS: Here's A Look Back At Austin Through The Lens Of Photographer Lisa Davis

Jul 17, 2020

The Austin History Center is rolling out the digitized work of Lisa Davis – a renowned Austin photographer whose work appeared in The Austin Chronicle, The New York Times and Out Magazine, among other publications.

For years, Davis documented Austin's music scene, the LGBTQ community, protests for racial equity and general political goings-on – balancing straightforward documentation with an empathetic eye toward the communities and movements in which she both participated and observed.

This week marks the 25th anniversary of her death, and her entire collection of 29,000-plus images were donated to the History Center to digitize. (If you want to better know Davis, I implore you, read Kate X Messer's heartrending elegy for her in The Chronicle's archives.)

Below is a collection of some of Davis' most striking portraits of luminaries like Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, W.C. Clark, Willie Nelson and even the world's longest-reigning monarch.

If you'd like to check out the full collection, head over to the Portal to Texas History or view the Austin History Center's entire exhibit.

An undated photo of two icons of Texas history, former Gov. Ann Richards and former congresswoman, state legislator and orator Barbara Jordan.
Credit Lisa Davis, via the Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-05-07-017

Then-state Rep. Wilhelmina Delco speaks at the Texas Capitol in October 1984. Delco was elected to head Austin's school board in 1968, becoming the first Black Austinite elected to the at-large position. She later served 10 terms in the Texas House.
Credit Lisa Davis, via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-02-09-064

Longtime Austinite and sculptor Charles Umlauf poses in front of his work "Man in Supplication" in his garden, which is now the Umlauf Sculpture Garden. A memorial service for Davis was held at the sculpture garden when she died in 1995.
Credit Lisa Davis, via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-05-29-002

An Austinite at a pride event some time in 1993.
Credit Lisa Davis, via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-09-10-003

Austin blues luminary W.C. Clark performs during a dress rehearsal for Austin City Limits at KLRU in 1989.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-02-49-032

Gonzalo Barrientos with his family in October 1992. Barrientos represented Austin in the Texas House and Senate for decades, serving from 1975 to 2007.
Credit Lisa Davis, via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-04-15-030

Marcia Ball performs at Liberty Lunch in February 1990.
Credit Lisa Davis, via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-03-07-030

An unidentified woman and a young girl march in protest of the Texas Education Agency.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-08-16-013

Kathleen Hanna, frontwoman of the seminal feminist punk band Bikini Kill, performs at Cavity in 1992.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-04-14-003

The Alamo Hotel, built in 1925 on Sixth Street, is demolished in 1984. Its lounge was a haunt for Austin musicians like Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-01-55-084

Stevie Ray Vaughan plays a 1988 benefit concert.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-02-38-012

Queen Elizabeth II with Texas Gov. Ann Richards during a visit to Austin in May 1991. Davis photographed Richards during her first 100 days as governor.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-05-07-012

Former President George W. Bush and pianist Van Cliburn in an undated photo.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-08-26-004

A 1990 portrait of Brent Grulke, one of the founding fathers of SXSW. Grulke served as creative director of the festival from 1993 until his death at 51.
Credit Lisa Davis, via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-03-17-008

Counterprotesters at a Ku Klux Klan demonstration in front of the Texas Capitol in 1994.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-04-31-023

Eddie Wilson operated the original location (pictured here) and a location in Central Austin for nearly 40 years. Two years ago, he closed the Threadgill's on Riverside Drive, citing rising rents. In April, amid the coronavirus pandemic, he announced he was closing the North Lamar location, too.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-05-38-001

An undated photo of blues legend and Leona native Albert Collins (left) playing guitar at Antone's with GOP strategist Lee Atwater. Atwater worked on both President Ronald Reagan's re-election campaign and on George H.W. Bush's successful 1988 bid for the White House.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-06-39-003

An undated photo of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, a longtime Austinite and activist who founded American Atheists.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-07-04-001

A Goodyear blimp flies above the state Capitol in September 1984.
Credit Lisa Davis, via the Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-01-54-035

Two demonstrators kiss in front of a line of police at an ACT Up rally in 1992. The organization, which stands for AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, was formed in the late '80s in response to the AIDS crisis, inspiring demonstrations and marches nationwide.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-04-12-002

Lloyd Bentsen celebrates with his wife, Beryl Ann Longino, on election night in 1988. Bentsen easily won election to a fourth term to the U.S. Senate.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-02-40-029

Willie Nelson performs at SXSW in 1992.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-09-04-044

A woman burns a Confederate flag outside the state Capitol during a counterdemonstration against a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1994.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-04-31-045

Alejandro Escovedo plays a show at La Zona Rosa during SXSW.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-05-04-001

Texas crooner Lyle Lovett performs during the 15th anniversary of Austin City Limits in 1990.
Credit Lisa Davis via Austin History Center, AR-2010-022-03-04-163