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Wild America
Debra Bloomfield and Ansel Adams

Debra Bloomfield   Ansel Adams

Dates: June 10 through August 30
Opening Reception: Reception: June 21, 7-10pm
Location: Etherton Gallery
135 S. Sixth Avenue
Gallery Hours: 11 - 5 Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment
Contact: info@ethertongallery.com, 624-7370

 

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, Etherton Gallery is pleased to announce its summer exhibition Wild America, featuring photographs by Bay Area photographer, Debra Bloomfield from her recent series, Wilderness and a selection of classic images by Ansel Adams (1902-1984). At a time when we struggle to confront global warming, their photographs recall what writer Wallace Stegner called “the wilderness idea,” and its centrality to the American character.

In a 1960 letter used to introduce the Wilderness Act to Congress, Stegner, a close friend of Adams’ wrote:

Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste . . . ”

It is likely that Stegner had Ansel Adams’ images in the back of his mind when he wrote this letter. Best known for his highly descriptive images of Yosemite, photographs such as Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park (1944), made the convincing argument that the power of America resided in its untamed wilderness. Adams was a key figure in wilderness conservation and a board member of the Sierra Club for many years. Although generations apart, Adams paved the way for contemporary landscape photographers like Debra Bloomfield, whose photographs exude a poetic longing for wild places.  The result of research and serendipity, the Wilderness series was launched after Bloomfield visited an Alaskan forest recommended by author Terry Tempest Williams while on a trip to the Pacific Northwest and southeastern Alaska. During her visit Bloomfield became enthralled by a raven’s “primal” call and decided to make this area the site of her next project. The result is a body of work that, paired with sound, conveys the intimate experience of being in the American wilds, without reference to a particular place.

Etherton’s Pop-Up gallery will feature an installation of Tucson artist Heather Green’s ongoing project, Pinpoints of Perception: Portraits of 1000 Native Bees. Green’s stunning miniature portraits of bees combine the structure of formal portraiture with natural science to raise awareness of the bee’s crucial ecological role as pollinators.

Wild America opens with an artist reception with Debra Bloomfield and Heather Green, on Saturday, June 21, 2014, 7-10pm. Bloomfield will sign copies of her new book, Wilderness, which includes a CD of the sounds she encountered while photographing in Alaska, recorded by her son, Jake Bloomfield-Misrach. Representatives from a variety of wilderness conservation organizations will also attend the opening and/or have a table where visitors to the gallery can learn more about their activities.

For more information about Wild America or Debra Bloomfield, please call Daphne Srinivasan, Hannah Glasston or Terry Etherton at 520.624.7370 or email the gallery at info@ethertongallery.com

 

Ansel Adams (1902-1984)
Ansel Adams was an unremitting activist for the cause of wilderness and the environment. Over the years he attended innumerable meetings and wrote thousands of letters in support of his conservation philosophy to newspaper editors, Sierra Club and Wilderness Society colleagues, government bureaucrats, and politicians. However, his great influence came from his photography. His images became the symbols, the veritable icons, of wild America. When people thought about the national parks of the Sierra Club or nature of the environment itself, the often envisioned them in terms of an Ansel Adams photograph. His black-and-white images were not "realistic" documents of nature. Instead, they sought an intensification and purification of the psychological experience of natural beauty. He created a sense of the sublime magnificence of nature that infused the viewer with the emotional equivalent of wilderness, often more powerful than the actual thing.

Adams's vast archive of papers, memorabilia, correspondence, negatives, and many "fine" photographic prints, as well as numerous "work" or proof prints, are at the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson.

©William Turnage

 

Debra Bloomfield (b. 1952)
San Francisco bay area photographer Debra Bloomfield received both her B.A. and M.A. from San Francisco State University. Her large-scale color photographs encompass the breathtaking landscapes of the American continent, and capture the subtle variations of earth tones, the brilliant graduations of the sky, and the muted turbulence of ocean surfaces. In 1992, she was the recipient of the James D. Phelan Art Award in Photography. Bloomfield's monographs include Four Corners (University of New Mexico Press, 2001), Oceanscapes (Robert Koch Gallery, 2002), Still: Oceanscapes by Debra Bloomfield (Chronicle Books, 2008), and Wilderness (University of New Mexico Press, 2014).

Debra Bloomfield's work is included in many public and private collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Bloomfield currently teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute and lives in Berkeley, California.

 

Heather Green (b. 1977)
A native of Tucson, Heather Green has grown up frequenting her family’s beach cabin in La Cholla, a headland near Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. Her projects and installations examine the communal and ecological narratives of this region, exploring and paying homage to peripheral or even vanishing places and species whose delicate survival depends on our awareness of them.  Green is a recipient of the 2011 Arizona Commission on the Arts Artist Project Grant, the 2010 Community Foundation of Southern Arizona/Buffalo Exchange Arts Award, and the Oregon College of Art & Craft Emerging Artist Residency in book arts. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally in exhibitions at Espacio Cultural Contemporáneo in Montevideo, Uruguay, Museo de Culturas Indigenas Sonorense in Hermosillo, México, Center of Book Arts in New York, Mesa Contemporary Arts, the Tucson Museum of Art as well as in galleries both regionally and across the United States. Green earned both her BFA (1995) and her MFA (2008) from the University of Arizona.

 

 

Ansel Adams Debra Bloomfield Heather Green