Monday, February 25, 2013

YOSEMITE Opens Friday, March 1st

Gallery 360 invites you to an opening this Friday, March 1st, from 6 to 10 pm, of "Yosemite: Images From the Past." The exhibit features a superb collection of black and white photographs taken a century ago in Yosemite National Park and restored by Tim O'Brien of Conway, Arkansas.

In the 1920's, Ansel Adams made Yosemite his first subject and launched photography into the realm of art.  But shortly before Adams entered in the valley, one large format photographer took the pictures that constitute the exhibit that we will be showing in March.  It is both unfortunate and tantalizingly mysterious that only the initials of the photographer are known to us.

Tim O’Brien is a long time resident of Conway, AR, where he lives with his lovely wife, Cathryn in a 1915 Arts and Crafts American Foursquare home.  A few years ago, he placed a successful bid on an online auction for forty three  6" x 8" glass negatives.  Tim has been interested in historical photography ever since inheriting several T. J. Hileman photos of Glacier National Park from his grandfather, Frank O'Brien, who was a ranger at the park in the early 1920's.  The glass plates he won were of Yosemite.  They had been found in the basement of a southern Californian home that was being readied for sale and little was known of their origin other than the date of 1915 and the initials U.D. written alongside the title on each image's envelope.  Research to determine who U.D. might be so far has proved unsuccessful.

Tim writes the following about the challenge to preserve his find:  "Uncovering images taken close to 100 years ago is akin to discovering a shipwreck's treasure.  You know you have found something extraordinary but it requires time, patience and expertise to restore the objects to their former glory."

Tim enlisted the help of John Blakney of Visual Database Services in converting the glass negative images to digital, at which point both he and Tim worked on cleaning up the images.  Blakney then printed the images on archival paper and Tim had Hillcrest Gallery mat and frame them using archival mat and conservation glass.

An interesting addition to the exhibit is a panorama shot by Howard C. Tibbetts in 1908 showing Galen Clark's cabin in Mariposa Grove, the largest stand of Sequoias in Yosemite, complete with posing loggers and cavalry.  The film negative is 6" x 63".  The image was enlarged and printed for the exhibition into four framed and matted pictures, with each measuring 15" x 34".  Altogether, the picture is a little over 11' long.

In addition to Yosemite, Tim’s negative collection contains images from San Francisco, Paris, and of various Americana subjects.  Sometimes the photographers are known, sometimes they are not but the beauty of the places and the photography is undeniable.  Says Tim: "The more you learn about the images, the more you want to visit the places they were taken and step back to that moment in time.  What in the picture connects you to them?"

Also on display will be several fine wood turnings by Vernon Oberle of Jacksonville, AR.

The gallery is located at 900 South Rodney Parham Rd., just south of where I-630, Mississippi Ave. and Rodney Parham converge.  Hours are 10 to 4:30 M - F, 10 to 2 Sat.  The show runs through March 30th.

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