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Who is Bozo Texino?

MoMA screens the true-story adventure of tracking down boxcar graffiti's most notorious artist

by Jacob Resneck
on 07 February 2011

One man's sixteen-year quest to track down the elusive artists of a moniker that's been appearing in railyards across America for 80-odd years is beautifully captured in the 56-minute documentary Who is Bozo Texino? The film debuted in 2005 and since its creator—filmmaker, trainrider and Guggenheim Fellow Bill Daniel—has taken the film on the road to more than 400 venues large and small.

Shot in black-and-white 16mm film with a Bolex camera, Daniel uses the scrawled moniker of Bozo Texino, an expressionless man wearing a large stetson, to explore the themes restlessness and freedom, hardship and entrapment and the many contradictions that exist for those that live on the rails.


This week Daniel brings the film to the MOMA for a rare special screening in Manhattan. He'll be joined by Gary Fogelson who designed and edited the companion book, Mostly True, which elaborates on the mythic Bozo Texino and how its legacy reflects a largely invisible subculture that ride the nation's rails and has existed in parallel to mainstream society since the Civil War.

"I don't want to give too much away about Bozo, the film, or the mystery behind it all because people should come and find that out for themselves," Folgelson recently told Cool Hunting. "I will say that the folks featured in this film (and book) are well known unknowns, and their work is an important piece in the history of American folk art."

View a clip here featuring one of the many interviews of tramps and hobos Daniel encounters along the way. The DVD is also available for purchase direct from Daniel on his website or from Amazon.

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