On February 23, 2017, Bill Wittliff and Virgil Musick reunited for the first time in 20 years. 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 at the DeGolyer Library. Brought together nearly 30 years ago by Musick’s admiration for Wittliff’s talent creating fine press books, the three spent the evening reminiscing about the years the press was in operation. Before the panel discussion began, the special guests browsed among the cases of Wittliff’s materials that comprise the exhibit, Bill Wittliff, Texas Man of Letters: Selections from the Virgil Musick Collection. On display are awarding winning books from Wittliff’s time at the SMU Press and Encino Press as well as broadsides, exhibit catalogs, and photographs.
Wittliff recounted that publishing houses in the Southwest were significantly fewer in number in the early 1960s than those found on the East Coast, and fine presses were even scarcer. Nonetheless, the Wittliffs jumped in. Although his degree was in journalism, Wittliff had a knack for selecting typeface, paper, and colors, which when combined resulted in a distinctive Encino Press style, something noticed by Musick. Wittliff thanked Musick not only for collecting the works of the Encino Press, but also for being a “paying customer,” not always a given in the early years. The Wittliffs agreed that despite working out of a carport for a time, a warehouse fire that destroyed a significant part of their inventory, printing mishaps, and more, the years of the Encino Press were wonderful times. Musick shared the sentiment, clearly enjoying the opportunity to trade stories and recollections with the Witliffs. He related an anecdote about one of the last Encino Press publications that he tracked down years after its publication and joked that his wife never did know how much he paid for it.
The exhibit runs through June 1, 2017, in the Hillcrest Foundation Exhibit Hall.