by Robert Borden
In 2009, photographer Christopher Zebo sold his belongings on Craigslist, turned his car into what he calls a "bed on wheels" and said goodbye to Boston. He traveled the country for four months, capturing his trip in a series of photos.
He finally ran out of gas in College Station. By then, he had fallen in love with Texas; funny how often that happens. Not only did he fall in love with Texas, he fell in love more explicitly with College Station and Bryan, where he has remained ever since.
To show how strongly he feels about Texas, Zebo will open an exhibit of 35 photos, For the Love of Texas, in the Riddle Gallery, 207 N. Bryan Ave., near the intersection with William J. Bryan Parkway in Downtown Bryan. The exhibit opens during First Friday this week with free food and cocktails.
The photographs range from landscapes to lifestyle and conceptual pieces, including one six-foot print. Many of the frames have been custom built for the photos they contain.
"I fell head over heels for the Lone Star State, and the exhibit is not only my way of sharing my love of Texas but also a way of saying 'thank you' to the people of Bryan-College Station for warmly welcoming me here over six years ago," Zebo said.
"I didn't have a professional camera on the first tour of the country, nor did I have the skill set I have now," Zebo said.
"This show about Texas is a kind of practice run for the entire country. I've traveled thousands of miles around the state for the past year, building For the Love of Texas. In fact, over 90 percent of the show is comprised of photos taken in just the past year.
"I feel very confident now about what I can do on a larger scale, and I also have a clearer vision for how I want to do it."
When he set out from Boston in 2009, he was on a mission, one that included but was distinctly apart from taking photographs.
"I left Boston in search of good people, because Boston left a sour taste in my mouth. It's a cold city geographically and socially. It dampened my soul over the years, being stuck there after graduate school. I started to believe that the entire country was growing cold as a result of being trapped there.
"So, when I sold all of my belongings and started my trip around the U.S., I left in search of good people. I wanted to make sure there was still good in the country. And within a couple of weeks, I arrived in the heartland. The people were beautiful. It was like the middle of the country wrapped its arms around me and hugged the cold out of me," Zebo said.
That warmth continued when he arrived in College Station. "The people here are similar, and even better. I believe the university has had a lot to do with that, instilling strong values in the Aggies —which bleeds maroon into the local people, too.
"I've tried to explain what it is I love so much about this place to friends who live elsewhere, but it's nearly impossible to explain. I guess I really understand what they mean when they say there's a 'spirit can ne'er be told.'"
For the Love of Texas will be on display through April and admission is free.