Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Orville Cox

Note from Cass:

In the Ansel Adams photo of Georgia O'Keeffe -- Orville Cox was the wrangler at Ghost Range and the guide on a several week trip taken by O'Keefe, Adams and others.  One interesting point of the photo is that it was taken with a 35 mm camera.



more info about the photo:


"Adams and O'Keeffe On The Road" was on exhibition from September 29 to January 12, 2003 at Fitchburg Art Museum, Merriam Parkway, Fitchburg, Massachusetts.




FITCHBURG - In September, 1937, David Hunter McAlpin organized a month-long camping trip throughout the Southwest with his friends Georgia O'Keeffe and photographer Ansel Adams. The result of this camping trip, a unique and rare set of photographic proofs made by Adams and later given to his friend McAlpin, have recently been discovered. They will be on exhibition this fall at Fitchburg Art Museum. Most have never been seen before.


The group included McAlpin's cousins, Godfrey and Helen Rockefeller, and Ghost Ranch head wrangler Orville Cox, who would be an interpreter and guide. Adams brought three cameras, two view cameras and a 35mm Contax. O'Keeffe filled a station wagon with painting supplies. The group was delayed for two weeks in Abiquiu, at the Ghost Ranch while O'Keeffe finished some work. Then they hit the road.


"Everyone knows the classic Adams photos of highly shadowed desert landscapes. O'Keeffe's fascination with the light, landforms, and artifacts of the Southwest is also noted," says Curator of the Exhibition Stephen Jareckie. "These proofs show that landscape - stark, isolated, magnificent - just as these two artists saw it. For us to see these pictures, the majority of which have never been exhibited before, is to glimpse a place that was crucial and inspirational to two major American artists."


"What's important about these photographs is both documentary and artistic. These are real Adams pictures. Though they're casual, and were clearly done on the spot, they still retain Adams's customary pictorial structure," says Jareckie. "But these aren't just landscape pictures. There are also numerous snapshots of the camping group, which include revealing portraits of Georgia O'Keeffe that have not been published."


One O'Keeffe photograph shows her with black headcovering, smiling enthusiastically at Adams. She is wearing the plain wardrobe of her later years, but her expression is youthful and delighted. Another photograph shows her sitting in front of an oxbow of the Goosenecks, a remarkably deep and convoluted gorge in Utah on the San Juan River. She wears loafers, long pants, a black short-sleeved shirt and a broad-brimmed hat. Her back is to the viewer, and there's a sketch pad open on her knee. There are group shots of the travelling party, looking rested and relaxed, and a photograph of O'Keeffe and Orville Cox. Though Adams doesn't appear in any of the pictures (he was wielding the camera), occasionally his shadow can be seen.


Among Adams' subjects are views of Pedernal Mountain, O'Keeffe's favorite peak in northeast New Mexico, Silverton, Colorado, and the Canyon de Chelly with its ancient ruins. The group also visited Pueblo settlements, Monument Valley, and the Grand Canyon.

"These are the proofs that Adams gave to David McAlpin after the trip," explains Jareckie. "These pictures have a freshness and clarity and all the pictorial impact you'd expect from Adams. Something like this is very special. I've never put together an exhibition of Adams' proofs before and I found that, though they are proofs, these pictures really sing, and would stand up in any Adams exhibition." A number of signed, finished prints (from private collectors) will be shown for comparison with proofs in the installation. The 75 or so proof prints in the exhibition are lent by the estate of Sarah Sage McAlpin.


After the death of Sarah Sage McAlpin in 2001 her heirs discovered a box containing nearly 300 small-format prints of photographs by Ansel Adams taken on this trip. Some of the images were probably as close as Adams came to taking "snapshots," but those displayed here are carefully prepared "proofs." In a number of cases Adams went on to make larger-format photographs of the same or slightly-altered views. The Ansel Adams Foundation has contact-sheets and negatives for many, if not all of these images, but in most cases these smaller images appear to be the only prints of these photos ever made by Adams himself. This exhibit marks the first time they have been on view for the public. Some of the proofs have Godfrey Rockefeller's initials on the back. It's assumed that after McAlpin received the gift, he showed it to his cousin, and asked him to mark which photos he liked.


David Hunter McAlpin was a friend and benefactor to artists, including photographers Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter. He supported photography at numerous museums and institutions, including the Museum of Modern art. He also funded the first chair in the History of Photography at his alma mater, Princeton University.


"Adams and O'Keeffe On The Road" is on exhibition from September 29 to January 12, 2003.

Fitchburg Art Museum, Merriam Parkway, Fitchburg, Massachusetts. www.fitchburgartmuseum.org




Heide Fernandez-Llamazares

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