I’m no scholar of Ansel Adams, but I have been studying up for my talk at the Kimball Art Center in Park City tomorrow. I’m giving the monthly Art Talk in the main gallery, which happens to be filled with a smashingly good exhibit on Adams’ early work.
Naturally, I started wondering, did Adams in fact travel on Highway 89? He must have, I concluded pretty quickly, if only to make his “Tetons and the Snake River” for his Department of Interior contract in 1942. Then I looked at the Mural Project images on file in the National Archives, and it turns out that in the 18 months or so Adams spent on that contract, he visited at least 6 out of 7 of the National Park sites on the highway. Strangely, it is Bryce Canyon which isn’t in the files
The Early Works exhibit also has an image of the Manti Temple taken in 1948, when Adams again was traveling the west on a Guggenheim award to photograph the national parks. It is fascinating in the exhibit to see how his style evolved in that critical period as he was trying to find a “look” that evoked the drama and grandeur of his subject matter
I’ll be talking about Adams’ voyages and how Highway 89 has changed since Adams drove it. The parks are amazingly pristine, even if you can’t shoot the Snake River overlook in the same way anymore. Much has changed, but what I found is that nearly 70 years later, Ansel Adams would be on familiar territory if he could drive Highway 89 today.
Hope to see you in Park City tomorrow. The talk is free and starts at 6 pm. I will be signing books afterwards.