Biographies are studies of someone's life based on cumulative research. Good ones may reveal something, but probably barely scratch the surface of what actually went on. The internet is allowing me to do something VERY different.
~Robert Glenn Ketchum
Friday, July 20, 2018
The Daze of My Life: Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #107:
Daze, #107: I am doing very different things with my different cameras. The body of work I am building with my 35mm camera is B&W, and minimalistic. The color work I am doing with a 4x5 view camera, and rather than being pictures ABOUT the landscape, my images turn the landscape into an abstraction of color, line, and detail. I first “saw” the possibility of making these images, when I took one of my early color photographs in Sun Valley. “Cottonwood Thicket” (post #43) uses the intense detail of brush and twigs - thousand of lines amassed in one bush - to create color. Throughout the 70’s, while teaching in Sun Valley, and adventuring in the Rockies with my friends, I developed a body of color work that pursued that visual idea further. The prints sold well, but to my eye, there was a monotony of color, and not the stunning palette I could see in the work of Eliot Porter. By the end of the 70’s I am visiting the East Coast frequently to work on a book for Harry Abrams about aquaculture, and begin the assembly of the exhibition I proposed to the National Park Foundation. That exhibition is going to require a massive amount of research and print gathering from the artists that I am hoping to include, all of which will be done from the offices of the NPF, so it is clear to me that I will be moving to DCfor awhile. During my plane visits, I establish a home to rent in Glen Echo, just outside the city. The, on my next trip east, I combine my moving needs with my project research, and I take a LONG, circuitous drive to Washington, that involves meeting and interviewing photographers, working with them to select prints, and making arrangements for the prints to be delivered to the NPF. First I travel north to Carmel and San Francisco where I connect with Ansel Adams, Jim Alinder, Brett & Cole Weston, William Garnett, and Richard Misrach. Then, I head south to Santa Fe, NM where I spend time with Eliot Porter, William Clift, and Paul Caponigro. I also visit museum collections along the way, in particular the New Mexico Museum of Art, and the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, TX. I do little of my own photography on the drive because I am SO focused on the curatorial process, but once settled in DC, fall has arrived, and to have a look at it, I throw my 4x5 in my van and take a drive along the Potomac Parkway. When I see this, I pull on to the median, and set up my camera, but I am not sure what it is that I am supposed to be taking a picture of. On the view screen of a 4x5, the image is upside-down and backwards, so it is fairly abstract already, but when all of this swims into view as I move the camera about, I realize THIS is the “Eliot Porter” color I have been searching for in my western work, and it IS HERE in these eastern forests, where I am now living.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2018
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