Alan Govenar


Alan Govenar is a writer, folklorist, photographer, and filmmaker. He is president of Documentary Arts, a non-profit organization he founded in 1985 to present new perspectives on historical issues and diverse cultures. Govenar has a B.A. with distinction in American Folklore from Ohio State University, an M.A. in Folklore and Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Ph.D. in Arts and Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and the author of thirty books, including:
Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound
Stompin’ at the Savoy: The Story of Norma Miller
Extraordinary Ordinary People
Everyday Music
Untold Glory
Stoney Knows How: Life as a Sideshow Tattoo Artist
Deep Ellum: The Other Side of Dallas
Portraits of Community
The Early Years of Rhythm and Blues: The Photography of Benny Joseph, and The Blues Come to Texas: Paul Oliver and Mack McCormick’s Unfinished Book. His book Osceola: Memories of a Sharecropper’s Daughter won First Place in the New York Book Festival (Children’s Non-Fiction), a Boston Globe-Hornbook Honor; and an Orbis Pictus Honor from the National Council of Teachers of English.

Govenar’s film, Stoney Knows How based on his book by the same title about Old School tattoo artist Leonard St. Clair, was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and was selected as an Outstanding Film of the Year by the London Film Festival. Govenar has also produced and directed numerous films in association with NOVA, La Sept/ARTE, and the corporation for public broadcasting for broadcast and educational distribution. His documentaries The Beat HotelMaster Qi and the Monkey King, You Don’t Need Feet to Dance, and Extraordinary Ordinary People are distributed by Les Blank Films and First Run Features.

Govenar is also a playwright, whose musicals include Blind Lemon Blues and Lonesome Blues (with Akin Babatunde) and Texas in Paris. His musicals have been at the York Theatre (New York), Forum Meyrin (Geneva), Maison des Cultures du Monde (Paris), Zuiderpershuis (Antwerp), Leidse Schouwburg (Leiden), Regentes (Den Haag), and Oude Luxor (Rotterdam.)

His artist books and photographs are in collections in the United States and abroad, including The Museum of Modern Art (New York), Victoria and Albert Museum (London, Centre Georges Pompidou, (Paris) Museum of Fine Arts, (Boston) National Portrait Gallery, (Washington, DC) and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.



  • Batman Alley: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Beat Hotel: (VIMEO Non-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Battle Of The Guitars: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Black on White White and Black: (Coming Soon)
  • Bridging Utopia: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Cigarette Blues: ( VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Connecting Cultures – Simon Shaheen: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Deep Ellum Blues: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Dreams of Conquest: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Extraordinary Ordinary People: (VIMEO Non-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Homeric Hymn: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Jaber: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • K2 – Selling Death: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Little Willie Eason: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Master Qi and the Monkey King (VIMEO Non-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • One Man Band – Al Howard: (VIMEO)  (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Osceola Mays – Stories, Songs and Poems: (VIMEO)  (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Paris Taxi Karaoke: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Sei Gesund:(VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Serving Second Chances: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Stoney Knows How: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • Tattoo Uprising:(VIMEO) (AMAZON-US) (AMAZON-UK) (AMAZON-Germany)
  • Texas Style: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • The Beat Hotel: (VIMEO Non-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • The Devil’s Swing: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • The Hard Ride – Black Cowboys at the Circle 6 Ranch: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • The Human Volcano: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • The Poetry of Exactitude: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • The Shipwreck of La Belle: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • World’s Fair Waffle: (VIMEO) (Amazon-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)
  • You Don’t Need Feet to Dance (VIMEO Non-US) (Amazon-UK) (Amazon-Germany)

Subscribe to the Les Blank Films Mailing List