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If a picture is worth 1000 words, then any picture taken by Ansel Adams must be worth ten times that. An exhibition featuring 120 of his photographs is currently on display at the Phoenix Art Museum. I visited the Museum on Valentine’s Day and saw many of my favorites, including a few new ones.
Adams (1902-1984) was an American photographer known mostly for his wilderness photography. I’ve always been a fan of his work, particularly because I enjoy the art and mysteriousness behind black and white photography. Despite the lack of color, Adams’ photographs always look so much more real to me, so much more dramatic. You can’t help but wonder about the stories behind each photograph, especially as you stare back at images of Death Valley, Yosemite National Park, the Grand Canyon, churches in New Mexico. With his camera, Adams seemed to be able to capture the story of a place while simultaneously prodding you to discover something hidden beneath the surface.
In addition to his photographs, the Ansel Adams exhibition also features video footage, original correspondence, photographic equipment, negatives, his work with the Arizona Highways, and even a few self-portraits. You’ll recognize many of his familiar images from the American Southwest, including probably his most famous photograph, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico. I was also charmed by a photograph of Georgia O’Keefe where she had the most impish grin, especially since there are so few photographs of people in his collection.
The exhibition is on loan from the University of Arizona’s Center for Creative Photography and will be on display at the Phoenix Art Museum until June 6. The price of admission entitles you to the Ansel Adams exhibition as well as the rest of the museum. Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll probably be inspired to stay the whole day.
More information is available at http://phxart.org/.