It seems like just days ago that, in a New Year's-oriented post, I advocated a number of objectives for 2014, including to visiting venues new to you and also to seek out art in different forms than that with which you have previously been acquainted.
While it's hard to imagine anyone not, at least, being familiar with the Oklahoma City Museum of Art (OKCMOA) and photography is not exactly an unfamiliar medium in the era of smart phones and tablets, photography as art in the pre-digital era is not necessarily something that all tentative aficionados have explored.
Combine those two objectives and it's a must to schedule a visit to OKCMOA, March 15 – June 1 to see Ansel Adams: An American Perspective. Put it on your 2014 calendar now and you'll be glad you did. The same is true even if this is an area of art you enjoy and even if you have seen Adams' work before.
There is always reason to enjoy an exhibit of Adams' work.
The 20th century American photographer and environmentalist is best known for his moody black and white perspectives on the American West and Yosemite National Park in particular. But all of his work benefits from the "Zone System" as a way to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print. He was co-developer of the system and it's worth reading up on for even the home photographer.
Whatever the pre-digital technology applied, Adams' work defines the field to this day, and for good reason. Haunting and provocative, it's the type of imagery that captivates you and leaves you wondering why. Light and shadow? Yes. Angle and perspective? Absolutely. All of these things and more that, combined, elevate the representational to the soulful? Bingo.
In my experience, that's the magic of his work. It is at once pre-digital representational photography and magic. Through technique and art, Adams gently peals back the layers of the "real" to find its inner core, its greater meaning, its true beauty. No one has done it as well since – at least in a large scope and that I am aware of.
You don't want to miss this exhibit.
Keep up to date on all the terrific action at OKCMOA at www.okcmoa.com.
-Michael W. Sasser is Oklahoma Magazine’s senior editor and an award-winning journalist. For comments or suggestions, reach him at [email protected].