Six photographers from the San Juan Islands won a personal portfolio review with Jeanne Falk Adams, CEO of The Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park and daughter-in-law of the late environmentalist and photographer.
Twenty-three photographers submitted examples of their work for consideration in the contest sponsored by the San Juan Islands Museum of Art & Sculpture Park. The entries were judged by Art Wolfe, the photographer noted for his nature and wildlife photography, as well as his advocacy of wildlife conservation.
The winners are Robert Demar and John Sinclair, San Juan Island; Peter C. Fisher, Orcas Island; Robert Harrison, Summer Moon Scriver, and George Willis, Lopez Island.
George Willis said, “Words don’t even explain the feelings we share about participating in this. We feel so blessed that we could show off the island’s beauty and wildlife. We were stunned, shocked, and flattered to meet Ansel Adams’ family and also Art Wolfe. It’s an experience we will treasure for the rest of our lives. This opportunity has inspired us to be more serious about the art of photography and it has been so encouraging. Thanks to all our family, friends, and our island communities for encouraging us so much.”
The winners’ work will be displayed at the San Juan Community Theatre during the presentation, “Ansel Adams: Passionate Environmentalist — The Early Years and Traveling the Southwest,” Jan. 30, 7 p.m. The presentation will be led by Dr. Michael Adams, son of Ansel Adams, in conjunction with IMA’s Art as a Voice lecture series.
Barbara Cox of the IMA said she was surprised to learn during the contest that Lopez, Orcas and San Juan islands are home to 50 photographers who consider themselves professional. She was impressed by the entries. “The skill level of the photographers on the islands is amazing.”
Sinclair studied photography in school but bought his first professional camera three years ago. The portfolio review with Adams is particularly timely for him.
Adams is a lecturer, juror, reviewer, and advocate for creative photography, as well as a champion of environmental causes worldwide. “It’s going to crystalize my vision of the direction I’m going to take my photography this year,” he said. In March, he will open a gallery, Concepia, at Churchill Corner. The 725-foot gallery will feature his works as well as those of emerging Northwest photographers. He envisions the gallery as a “community space.”
Dr. Adams’ slide presentation on the artistic and personal life of his famous father will illuminate the photographer’s early years, his environmental activities, his trips to the Southwest and his insights into photography as art and social commentary.
Arguably the most famous American photographer, Adams elevated photography to a high art form while simultaneously making it more accessible to everyone. His clear black and white photos, particularly those of Yosemite, were able to capture the raw emotion of the landscape and are some of the most recognizable photos in the world.
A passionate conservationist, Adams deployed his photographs in the cause of wilderness preservation and was instrumental in having Sequoia and Kings Canyon designated as national parks. In 1980, Adams was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
“Ansel Adams attuned himself more precisely than any photographer before him to a visual understanding of the specific quality of the light that fell on a specific place at a specific moment,” wrote John Szorkowski of the New York Museum of Modern Art. “For Adams, the natural landscape is not a fixed and solid sculpture but an insubstantial image, as transient as the light that continually redefines it. This sensibility to the specificity of light was the motive that forced Adams to develop his legendary photographic technique.”
Dr. Adams is a retired major general of the U.S. Air Force and deputy surgeon general for Air National Guard Affairs.