Wildling Museum exhibition to focus on two notable photographers
Nine days after the iconic photographer Ansel Adams died in 1984, Alan Ross made “sort of a pilgrimage up to Yosemite. I wanted to ‘just be’ in a place that held so many memories of my mentor and friend of the last 11 years and to contemplate his loss.
“About the time I reached the park, it had started to rain,” Mr. Ross recalled. “By the time I reached the (Yosemite) Valley, it was really beginning to pour. I drove up to Inspiration Point, and, rain or not, I was surprised to find I had the whole magnificent view to myself.
“El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks were fading in and out of the mist, and I couldn’t resist getting my 8×10 camera out and ready, just in case,” he said.
“It felt just like Ansel had set it all up for me. Fortunately, there was no wind, and I was able to record what I knew in my heart would be one of my favorite images. I gave the first print to Ansel’s widow and a woman who so often felt like my ‘other mother,’ Virginia Adams.”
The photograph is titled “Spring Rain,” and a print of it will be on view in the fall exhibition, “Sharing the Light: Ansel Adams and Alan Ross,” from Sept. 25 through March 20 at the Wildling Museum of Art & Nature in Solvang.
“Sharing the Light” highlights the careers of both Mr. Adams and Mr. Ross, who were close friends and colleagues. Mr. Ross was Mr. Adams’ longtime assistant and later developed into an internationally acclaimed photographer in his own right.
Ansel Adams (1902-1984) is among the most notable photographers of the 20th century. He rose to prominence as a landscape photographer of the American West and is best known for his iconic black and white images of Yosemite National Park.,
Mr. Adams, Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham co-founded Group f/64, an association of photographers dedicated to elevating photography to a fine art at a time when photography was strictly considered a form of documentation.
In 1940, Mr. Adams served as a key adviser in the creation of the photography department at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and went on to help organize the department’s first photography exhibition and was instrumental in establishing photography as a fine art medium.
Throughout his career, Mr. Adams used his photography to promote wilderness conservation and worked as an active environmentalist. His advocacy aided the expansion of the U.S. National Park system, and his environmental work was recognized by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 when he awarded Mr. Adams with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The photographer’s works are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, among numerous other public and private collections around the world.
Mr. Ross is a renowned photographer whose unique vision combines traditional photographic methods with today’s technology. He is best known for his tonally exquisite black-and-white photographs of the American West. He worked side-by-side with Ansel Adams as his photographic assistant and was personally selected by Mr. Adams to print his Yosemite Special Edition negatives, a role he has maintained since 1975.
Mr. Ross lives and works in Santa Fe, N. M., where he pursues his own photography, teaches one-on-one workshops in the art of seeing and master printing and writes articles and blogs sharing his vast knowledge of the art and craft of photography.
His works are included in the permanent collections of Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga, Tenn.; Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Conn.; Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Ariz.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Princeton University Art Museum in Princeton, New Jersey; Museum of Fine Arts in Houston; Kalamazoo Institute of Arts in Kalamazoo, Mich.; Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe; and numerous other public and private collections around the world.
“This will be the first time Ansel and I have been exhibited together in a museum,” said Mr. Ross in a news release. “Ansel and his work have been such a huge part of my life for the last 48 years. It is indeed a very wonderful feeling to be sharing the same wall-space in a museum, especially a museum so dedicated to the environment.”
Mr. Ross continues to work as the exclusive printer of the Ansel Adams Yosemite Special Edition negatives, an assignment Mr. Adams personally selected him for in 1975. Mr. Ross produces individual prints by hand from Mr. Adams’ original negatives using traditional darkroom techniques.
The exhibition will also include his personal insights into working alongside the legendary photographer.
“Always intertwined with the work was Ansel’s sense of mirth — terrible jokes and puns, often told for the sixth or seventh time, which never failed to give rise to his own infectious and mountainous laugh, eliciting groans and grins from all within range,” said Mr. Ross.
“I don’t believe I ever saw him gloomy or morose, and the rare instances of anger were matters of principle — personal integrity, the environment and politics. He took himself and his work seriously but had, and never lost, an ability to laugh at himself. What a wonderful man to be around — never a dull moment, never a gloomy day.”