Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Robert Adams, Photographer

This morning we trekked to New Haven through a hellacious rain to visit the Yale Art Museum and view the huge photography exhibit of Robert Adams.

Here are some links: Yale Art Gallery

Robert Adams exhibits at Yale

Robert Adams photographs from "Google" search

Adams took many photographs of the "Californication" of Colorado, my home state.  Heartbreaking to see the ugly sprawl and the smog around Denver, Longmont and Colorado Springs.  I've received multiple shocks from various visits to Denver, the first being that downtown shopping had disappeared.  Yup!  The stores were gone, moved out to the burbs.  When I was a kid, Denver was where you went for serious shopping, downtown Denver.  Well, at least they didn't tear down the Daniels &  Fisher Tower.

The second shock was East Denver, which looked positively awful with  houses in need of TLC and unmowed lawns.  Used to be so lovely.  And then there was Aurora, where my Dad once had an auto parts store.  Totally unrecognizable.  The smog hung so heavy over Denver that the Rockies disappeared.  The worst was driving north out of Denver and seeing the like ugly-on-an-ape housing developments, miles from anywhere, cheap houses all cheek by jowl in a barren landscape.   Horrible.

The exhibit had a photo of (I swear) the house that we lived in (or one like it) on the corner of Jefferson and Holly.  This was the outskirts once  upon a time, but now the trees have matured and for some reason the bank has ATM instructions in Russian.  Go figure.

Denver does have a great art museum now, and we enjoyed that, and also good places to eat.  It's just always a shock to realize that you can't go home again, ever. 

Robert Adams loves trees and surf and nature and old timey stuff like ancient gas stations and grain elevators, and he hates what man has done to the Western landscape, but you can see a profound sympathy for people, especially children, in some of his photographs.  The photos do what a writer should do, show, don't tell.

We recently  viewed the Ansel Adams exhibit at the PEM in Salem, where the West was pristine and nature hadn't been trashed.  Such a difference in 50 years.  Both photographers had gorgeous photos of seashores.   Adams' were so textured and vibrant you felt like you could stick  your hand into the surf. 

I'm also an admirer of the photos of Stephen Shore, and he and Adams have some things in common, namely photos of homely restaurants and cafes.  They both photograph scenes so ordinary that viewing them brings a shock of recognition.  "I've seen that!"  Hundreds of times.  The difference is that these artists recognized something memorable in the ordinary and captured it on film.

What's the most ordinary thing you've seen lately?

We ate out-of-this-world pizza across the street at Est Est Est.  Significant other went for a veggie pizza and I opted for fresh tomato and pesto.  Great crisp crust.  Yum!  Our first experience with New Haven's reputed pizza.  Est Est Est is a modest storefront, like you've seen a million times.  Maybe we should have snapped a photo of the ordinary that was extraordinary.

A drive home in the rain and a book party tonight.


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