Thursday, March 5, 2009
The Journeys Begin
I would have never dreamed that my first hike just about two year would lead me on a path to the Grand Theatre galleries this Saturday night. That is where hiking buddy Alice DeLaurier-O’Neil and I have our first photography show opening. Trailhead: The Journeys Begin will open and end just about a year’s worth of planning and work. And what a great journey it has been.
From the first few steps around the summit of Mount Diablo to grueling 10-mile hikes Alice and I have explored a variety of trails from ocean to valley. The blistering heat of trek to the top of Eagle Peak to the chill of walk among the waterfalls of Mount Tamalpais.
On these trails I found a different view through my camera, a personal view far from the pressure of deadlines and assignments. A quiet and peaceful setting apart from fires and crime scenes I cover. It is a breath of fresh air in so many ways as I go on these adventures with Alice and my camera.
Over a year ago Alice brought up the idea of having an art show of our photographs from our hikes. The idea at first seemed impossible. I am a journalist, not an artist and the thought of my photography held to an artistic standard seemed far-fetched.
But somewhere along the trail, somewhere in those thousands of photos a different picture emerged. Trees lit in sunlit splendor took fanciful form in the camera’s lens. The silk threads of web looming in the darkness, the glassy appearance of water falling through a stream took new life in my viewfinder. The artistic sense was emerging and Alice and I gathered our courage and submitted a proposal for a show to be held at the Grand Theatre’s art gallery.
Our proposal was accepted and a show featuring our nature and landscape photography was planned. To our surprise we found we would be paired with a show of Ansel Adams’ work. It is 25 years since Adams death and his work is still considered to be some of the finest nature and landscape photography ever crafted. The pairing is intimidating and I worried about my photos would be compared to the work of one of photography’s true masters.
With our photo show a go nights of editing and processing followed. I went through every hike looking for just the right image to display. The photos for the show would be a variety, some images printed on stretched canvas, others on metallic paper dry mounted on Masonite board for a frameless presentation.
Gallery director William Wilson helped us along the way and then about two weeks our photos were delivered to the Grand’s gallery where Wilson made the final cut for the show. Alice and I will have about 50 pictures on display between the two of us.
I have learned so much form this experience. I understand how a gallery show goes together and the work behind the scenes. The dozens of hours it takes to produce the images to the reasoning how pictures work together in the show.
So with a gallery show on tap the big question now is am I really an artist? It was a strange feeling to sign my name on the art show contract and under title was one word, “artist”. Journalist, artist it is a love of picture taking that matters. I can live with either title, though I feel nervous about how people will like my artistic endeavors.
When I came back from my first trip to the Mount Diablo Donner Falls trail I printed some pictures of two of the waterfalls and hung them on my living room wall. And then a funny thing happened, I didn’t recognize them. I remember taking them, I remembered processing them on my laptop but as they hung on the wall I didn’t recognize them as my work. They were so far different than anything I have done in recent memory that it seemed like it couldn’t have come from me. Then a worse thought crossed my mind, maybe the pictures were a fluke and I would never take anything that looked like that again.
Looking back I guess that is a feeling a true artist has, a feeling that he has created a work that moves him and exceeds his expectations and pushes his abilities. I guess I really have reached the level of artist.
The journey has led from mountaintop to gallery floor. It has been a journey of learning and discovery and has broadened my visions and skills. I am not the same photographer I was at as I stood at my first trailhead, camera in hand. Alice and I have waited for Saturday’s show opening and it will mark the end of a year of work. We planned a hike for Sunday, I ma not sure where, maybe back to Mount Diablo’s waterfalls to see the result of the weeks of rain on the streams on the mountain. Saturday’s show opening isn’t the end for our photo adventures; it is more like a rest stop on the trail. Our journeys have just begun and there is a whole world to see.