Fascinating Crocker Museum Exhibition
I don't know why I never went to the Crocker during all the time I was in Sacramento. Well, truth is that I went to some events - a wedding, a reception, a holiday party - but never just to an exhibit. Maybe I didn't feel a personal connection to any of the exhibits. A huge billboard outside the museum with the exhbition titles and dates - not enough detail for a personal connection.
Here in Dallas we have gone to quite a few special exhibitions. Matisse: Painter as a Sculpter; shared between the Nasher and the Dallas Museum of Art, Van Gogh at the Dallas Museum of Art, Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth and even BodyWorlds, a somewhat creepy display of plastinated human dead bodies. We even have a trip planned to Houston for the end of April to see the Masterpieces of the French Paintings from the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (they will be on loan to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston during the Mets renovation project).
All of this 'culture-vulturing' as my parents called it, left me wondering about the Crocker, which led me to make a great discovery of their current exhibition - Yosemite 1938. On the Trail with Ansel Adams and Georgia O'Keefe.
In 1938 friends Ansel Adams, Georgia O'Keefe, David McAlpin and the Godfrey Rockefellers set out on a 10 day trip through Yosemite. Here is a description of the trip from the University of Wyoming Art Museum's website:
Adams, O'Keeffe, McAlpin, and the Rockefellers departed for the High Sierra on Sunday, September 11, 1938. With them came a pack-string of fourteen mules, enough animal-power to haul all the camping, kitchen, and photo equipment, with a few extra mounts for those who wished to ride. The ten-day trip through the high country was not particularly arduous, outfitted as they were with plenty of blankets, food, and hired help. Assisting the group were local backcountry experts Al Kay, Alvin Rhode, Robert Barnett, and Lile Pierce, who assumed the duties of guiding, packing, unpacking, setting up camp, and cooking. Five campers with four hired hands is a luxurious ratio when it comes to wilderness treks. Adams had arranged everything with convenience in mind, so the campers could photograph, hike, or relax as the mood struck them.
It was reportedly quite cold on a number of evenings, particularly after the group climbed to 10,000 feet and camped near Tuolumne Pass. Ever positive, Adams recalled that everyone considered it a "prime adventure." Mornings began with hot coffee and a good breakfast. Adams was an early riser, who liked to be up with the sun so he could take advantage of dawn's dramatic light. During the day, the party made small excursions from their base camp or trekked to their next campsite. Gas lamps enhanced the light of the campfire at night and the party scheduled dinner for after sunset, to allow for more photography at dusk.
To have the group in Yosemite, seeing and appreciating the land that he loved, must have been uplifting for Adams. His later reports of the excursion are glowing. In his autobiography, he wrote, "O'Keeffe loved campfires and would stand close to them in her voluminous black cape, her remarkable features and her dark hair gleaming in the flickering light. She never seemed bored or tired and enjoyed every moment of the trip.
After the trip was over, Adams, even then a well-known photographer of the California wilderness, made 3 photograph albums, including personal notes, and sent them to his fellow travellers.
Adams' most famous photographs are of sights in Yosemite. This trip might well have been the beginning of his great awe for the wondrous beauty of this spectacular area.
The exhibition is made possible because the heirs of David McAlpin donated his album to the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson Hole, Wyoming and this album has become the basis for the exhibition at the Crocker.
The exhibition runs until May 6th. You can get more informaiton on the Crocker website.
I am going to check it out when I am next in Sacramento. It sounds fascinating.
The Sacramento Executive