SAINT PETERSBURG, FL.- Pleasure Grounds and Restoring Spaces: Photographs of our National Parks, on view from Saturday, June 1, through Sunday, October 6, is full of the majesty of nature revealed by some of our most gifted photographers. The more than 30 images offer a visual extravaganza, and admission is only $10 for everyone through September 30.
Curatorial Assistant Sabrina Hughes, who organized the exhibition, will present a free Gallery Talk at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 2. Museum exhibitions and educational programs are sponsored in part by The Stuart Society, and the Tampa Bay Times is the Media Sponsor.
At once seemingly untouched and ripe for development, the American landscape has always fueled the imagination of artists. In the face of rapid industrialization, President Theodore Roosevelt (18581919) and naturalist John Muir (18381914) led the urgent call to protect Americas bounty. A dramatic image of Teddy Roosevelt on Glacier Point, Yosemite (1903), presents him as a rugged outdoorsman aligned with American power and promise.
Photography not only inspired conservation, but also popularized new tourist sites. Many photographers like Ansel Adams, who is represented by four of his most stunning and famous photographs, have been very influential in defending our environment.
Pleasure Grounds and Restoring Spaces primarily features images depicting national and state parks and landmarks. The earliest date from the 1860s, including albumen prints by Carleton Watkins, Timothy H. OSullivan, and William H. Jackson and an ambrotype of Niagara Falls by Platt D. Babbitt. These images were created to elicit and satisfy the curiosity of the public and for government and commercial topographical surveys. For the first time, spectacular Western sites were seen by a wide audience largely unable to travel to these destinations.
Iconic vistas by Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter urged viewers to heed the call of conservation. Aaron Siskind and Brett Weston abstracted elements of the landscape, narrowing the focus and offering a modernist perspective. Jerry Uelsmann, who established the photography program at the University of Florida, and John Pfahl impose their own style rather than recreate popular views. Florida meets the West in Uelsmanns richly imaginative Flamingos Visit Yosemite (1985).
Floridian Clyde Butchers two large-scale photographs in the exhibition spotlight the states wild beautya beauty always under pressure from developers. His magnificent Ochopee #2 (1985) is of the greater Everglades, which has inspired some of his best and best-known work.
In addition to Yosemite and the Everglades, there are photographs of Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde National Park, the Grand Tetons, and more. Huntington Witherills Dune Form #4, Death Valley (1986) is one of the most unique images in the exhibition. It is technically accomplished, gorgeous, spare, and ultimately unforgettable. Among the other leading photographers represented are Edward S. Curtis, Margaret Bourke-White, Don Worth, William Clift, Laura Gilpin, and Linda Connor.
The exhibition spans a century and also reveals how key donors have built the Museums important photography collection. They include Carol A. Upham, Dr. Robert L. and Chitranee Drapkin, and more recently, Ludmila and Bruce Dandrew. Their passion for the art form has transformed the Museums entire collection.