Escape into photos

Friday, June 18, 2010

They say the summer blockbusters fall during this season to give people refuge from the oppressive heat, something we're familiar with in Southeast Missouri.

For the next nine days I'd like to suggest a free alternative to spending two hours sitting in a dark room watching Hollywood's latest motion picture.

The Crisp Museum has "Ansel Adams: Masterworks" on display until June 27.

I spent my lunch hour there Tuesday and could get lost there for much longer if given the time. I visited the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, glimpsed Death Valley at early dawn and saw a storm clear in the Sonoma County Hills.

The exhibit features 47 framed photographs Adams chose to be in a series representative of his best work. Most of them are easily recognized as Ansel Adams. These images are the sights people want to see when they go camping. They are the way we want to remember nature -- a fleeting cloud formation, the base of a waterfall, a frozen tree.

These images are the ideal of what we hope for when we hold up a camera at Bollinger Mill or Elephant Rocks State Park, and they are hanging in our town for inspiration.

Adams was largely inspired by nature, and his dramatic landscape photographs reflect that. He took daily hikes in the wilderness near his boyhood home in the sand dunes of the Golden Gate, decades before the bridge was built in the 1930s.

Adams also devoted time each year to Yosemite National Park, the location of several photos in the exhibit.

His photos were the most visual of his pleas for wilderness protection. He also wrote letters to politicians and journalists in support of environmental consciousness.

The museum, on Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Benches sit around the room for people to sit and marvel for hours, and admission is free, making even a 30-minute lunchtime visit worth the drive downtown.

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