Exhibition, June 25 – July 29, 2023
ONE HUNDRED (AND TWO) YEARS PHOTOGRAPHING THE HIGH SIERRA
The Ansel Adams Gallery | Yosemite National Park, CA
Banner Peak, Thousand Island Lake by Ansel Adams, Modern Replica
Sunset from the Summit of Mt. Hoffman | size 30 x 40″
One hundred years is a mere blink of the eye for a mountain. For those of us walking around their base and up their slopes, and perhaps finding artistic allure in their topographic magnitude, it is another story. But amongst the adaptations of intrepidness and technological advancements since 1923, there is at least one constant throughout time: a search for “a certain unity and magic” in the High Sierra.
There is a timeless quality in such places that yield a feeling of immutability while also making a contrasting pronouncement about the ever-evolving bustling world over the proverbial horizon. In 1923, Ansel Adams and Harold Saville traveled into what is now known as The Ansel Adams Wilderness, accompanied by Ansel’s trusty mule, packed down with his 6 ½ x 8 ½ Korona view camera, six boxes of Wratten Panchromatic glass plates, matching film holders, and in all likelihood some fairly tough and awful hardtack. They came across a ‘glowing’ scene of Banner Peak with an evening cloud and Thousand Island Lake in the foreground. The image would become one of Ansel’s most honored early photographs, and it was included in his first major portfolio project, The Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras [sic] in 1927.
Two years prior, in 1921, Ansel traveled alone in the backcountry of Yosemite – his mule Mistletoe was of course by his side. On that journey, he would make an image known as “Lodgepole Pines, Lyell Fork of the Merced River” and it would be the one image he repeatedly printed from the early 1920’s (it was also included in the Parmelian portfolio) all the way up to his last massive artistic undertaking, The Museum Set, in the early 1980s. Both this image, and “Banner Peak, Thousand Island Lake” reflect an Eden, a pristine landscape that while rugged and wild does not seem to be any less solemn or perfect. It is a theme that runs throughout Ansel’s body of work, and it started one hundred (and two) years ago in the High Sierra.
Today, thanks in part to photographs like these that inspired the conservation movement, contemporary photographers can make a similar journey into remote lands, sharing their experiences through their imagery, and this time carrying along (if they so desire) cameras that do not require a mule! But regardless of the companionship, these destinations will no doubt infuse a likeminded euphoria of excitement and wonder, of peace and contemplation, distance and connection; or as Ansel wrote “a certain unity and magic.”
As some of Ansel Adams’ earliest well-known negatives begin to celebrate their centennial of creation, we hope you will join us in recognizing their significance, as well as the work they inspired. To commemorate this occasion, we are hosting an exhibition to honor photographers, both past and present. ‘Intrepid: One Hundred (and Two) Years Photographing the High Sierra’ will open at The Ansel Adams Gallery on June 25th and runs through July 29th, 2023. Original works by Ansel Adams will be on display, as well as photographs by Keith S. Walklet, Charles Cramer and William Neill.