Robert N. Simmons Photograph Collection
An Inventory of the Collection
Robert N. Simmons is an amateur digital photographer active in the Austin, Texas area in the 2010s.
Born in 1940 in Dallas, Texas, he attended high school at Cascia Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma and then college at the University of Texas at Austin, earning his Bachelor's degree in government and economics in 1964. He did post-graduate work at UT in broadcasting and photography, studying under Russell Lee.
Simmons built his career in the broadcasting industry, working for 25 years as air talent, management and broadcast property owner and investor. Later in his career he would buy small radio stations and improve their value for resale. He was involved in the construction of KOOP-KVRX-FM in Austin as well as the creation of Texas Student Television's KVR9. He also owned and operated with his wife at the time an operatic costume rental business. Later he was involved for a time in the oil and gas industry in South Texas. He also does some occasional voice acting.
Simmons has had a lifelong interest in video, audio, and photography. With the advent of digital technology he has pursed this hobby more, posting his work at various sites online under the username "Telebob" and on his own website, www.telebob.org.
As of 2015, Simmons resides in Austin where he has spent most of his adult life. He has also lived for short periods in California, Oregon, New York, Costa Rica, and Mexico.
872 digital photographs and 3 short digital videos by Robert N. Simmons document street art, construction, and people in Austin, Texas from the 1960s and 2007-2014. The bulk of the photographs document graffiti around the city and the changing city skyline because of new construction projects. The vast majority of images are born-digital photographs shot from 2007-2014, though there are a few scans of photographic prints from the 1960s, 1970s and possibly the early 2000s.
375 photographs depict public art, street art, and graffiti. These are subdivided by location and project. The Hope Outdoor Gallery graffiti site at Castle Hill is most heavily documented with 178 photos. There are 25 images of graffiti at the Lamar Boulevard underpass at 5th Street. 106 other photographs document assorted murals and graffiti sites. Not all of the photos in the Assorted Locations folder have locations identified and there may be additional unidentified photos of the Hope Outdoor Gallery in this folder. Two public art projects are also represented: the "Play Me, I'm Yours" pianos located in various places around the city in 2011 and the "Thirst" tree installation over Lady Bird Lake in 2013.
The folder on Buildings and Construction contains 312 photographs. 81 images document general downtown construction, especially condominium buildings. There are an additional 35 images depicting changes to the Rainey Street neighborhood, 42 images of the Waller Creek/Seaholm Redevelopment project, and 38 on "The Bowie" building at 311 Bowie Street. 57 photos document construction in South Austin, especially along South Lamar Boulevard, and 22 images are of various locations on the eastside.
There are 131 photographs of people. Many of these are of musicians, especially Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators. The Assorted People sub-folder includes candid photos of people as well as images of plaques, graves, and memorials. Other scenes of people include a New Year's Eve parade in 2007, Occupy Wall Street protestors at City Hall, and Texas Roller Derby skaters.
The remaining photographs in the collection consist of 22 images of the Hike and Bike Trail and Lady Bird Lake (as well as the new boardwalk and the "belts" public art project); 11 photos of roads and traffic; 11 images of old burned-out cars after the Bastrop fires of 2011; 5 images of other parks and trails; 3 photos of a car show; and 2 photos of Barton Springs. The three short digital video clips depict a train passing through the Waller Creek Redevelopment area, the Occupy Wall Street protestors, and an unidentified construction site.
Image titles were supplied by the photographer, though misspellings were corrected and abbreviations spelled out. Titles supplied by the archivist are indicated by square brackets.
Restrictions on Access
Open to all users.
Restrictions on Use
Restriction 03: These photographs may not be duplicated without the written permission of the photographer.
Robert N. Simmons Photograph Collection (AR.2014.024), Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/2007/001
Donation Date: Multiple donations, 2014.
Finding aid created and encoded by Nicole Davis/November 2015.
Detailed Description of the Collection