Posts Tagged ‘Mendocino’

The New Golden Decade by Steidl – Book Review

September 25th, 2017

Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts 1945-55

By William Heick, Ira H. Latour and C. Cameron Macauley, edited by Ken Ball and Victoria Whyte Ball

Book Review

The New Cover of The Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts 1945-55.

Cutting Edge of World Art Then, Publishing Today

A completely new, redesigned, re-edited and revised version of the Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts 1945-55, published by renowned photography book publisher Steidl based in Gottingen, Germany, has been selling steadily in the United States for close to a year. The new Golden Decade has already sparked glowing reviews by many major newspapers and magazines, instigated book signings at some of America’s most prominent bookstore venues and catalyzed a handful of exhibitions at major museums, galleries and art centers.

This year, Steidl, the book, or the photographers have been featured in USA Today, the New Yorker and many other prominent publications. Mainstay European newspaper, The Guardian, hailed the Golden Decade as the book about “the school that turned photography into art.” Beyond the Curtain, touted as Southern California’s premier art and society magazine, extolled the Golden Decade photography exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum as “not for the eye to miss” and “a special glimpse into California’s progressive cultural history.” The Beyond the Curtain review revealed the influential ties between Golden Decade photography and the world art scene, as well as the East Coast art establishment. The article in Beyond the Curtain showed how the West Coast, specifically the California School of Fine Arts, renamed the San Francisco Art Institute, between its painters and photographers, at the time became the world’s cutting edge expression of modernism.

Only five of the 35 photographers with portfolios in the book are still living, while none of the original authors William Heick, Ira H. Latour and C. Cameron Macauley are still with us. As a result, the book editors, Ken Ball and Victoria Whyte Ball are all but worn out by an extended season of bookstore events that launched at the end of last October with a book signing at The Strand in New York City and continues throughout California and other major art markets. For more about the development of the new Golden Decade at Steidl and a list of all 35 photographers see the Landscape Photography Blogger article, “The Golden Decade Book to be Published by Gerhard Steidl.

The New Golden Decade Book Versus the Old Book

Steidl’s new design for the Golden Decade is less folksy and not as loaded with memorabilia, but more artful, chic, streamlined and clean, though the book still weighs in at 416 pages. The book is far from sleek, but the design on each page is sleek, spacious and crisp. The book overall is less busy and more pleasing to the eye than the earlier self-published version. A section in the beginning now tells how the book came to be, followed by the feature essay in which Ira H. Latour, in easy-reading prose tells the story of the founding of the photography department by Ansel Adams and California School of Fine Arts director Douglas MacAgy. For more on how the Golden Decade began see the blog post, “The Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts.

From obtaining funding through the Columbia Foundation, to securing facilities, the radio announcement, the first classes, launching the full-time program, abstract expressionism and much more, Latour’s essay informs, but does not overwhelm. Ansel Adams modeled the school on a rigorous piano conservatory approach to hands-on practice and set up the curriculum based on his famous Zone System. Early on a few students complained that the advertising promised courses by Ansel Adams just as he had become scarce at the school while working on his Guggenheim project photographing the national parks. The complaining faded when Ansel Adams hired Minor White, who in turn brought in prominent photographers to teach including Dorothea Lange, Imogen Cunningham, Lisette Model, Eliot Finkels, Frederick W. Quandt, Jr., Clyde Childress from the Art Center School, Robert McAllister, Homer Page, Rose Mandel and others. Beaumont and Nancy Newhall even gave a few lectures. The most anticipated student outings were to visit Edward Weston and Brett Weston at Wildcat Hill in Carmel, as well as photography field trips with Edward Weston out to Pt. Lobos State Reserve.

Minor White taught his, at the time somewhat confusing, but later much lauded Space Analysis. Benjamin Chinn, Philip Hyde, C. Cameron Macauley and others who wrote or talked about Space Analysis each had different understandings of it, but in June of 1952, the American Annual of Photography published an article by Minor White that defined Space Analysis as simply “The Use of Space in Defining Pictures.” C. Cameron Macauley’s essay in the Golden Decade also has provides readers with an understandable summary. Space Analysis brought the photographer’s awareness to vacant space, filled space and the relationships between objects and space, with more emphasis on the space than the objects. Students applied Space Analysis both before exposure while looking at the ground glass and after the production of a finished print.

Besides teaching portrait and landscape photography with large format cameras, White encouraged the study of motion by studying rush hour and doing street photography using “mini cameras,” that is, medium format and 35 mm. He also promoted the photographic interpretation of other arts including sculpture, plays, various other forms of performance and festivals. Students photographed the lively Fillmore District, the coast along Highway 1, industrial and architectural subjects with real world assignments by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Stanford University, the City of Mendocino, the Gold Country, ghost towns and many other locations and clients all over Northern California.

Essays By Star CSFA Students

The essays by William Heick, C. Cameron Macauley, Ira H. Latour and others illuminate all aspects of student endeavor, both the day and night classes, student social gatherings, the striking philosophical differences between Minor White and Edward Weston and between Minor White and Ansel Adams. The latter at times brought on heated classroom discussions. Latour’s essay in particular offers an insightful, incisive dissecting not only of technical, creative and academic aspects of the photography program, but of the philosophy and character of both instructors and key innovative students.

Separate essays, all rearranged for better flow in this new Steidl version of the Golden Decade, also cover student print exchanges, a student print-based fundraising event, the world-famous 1954 “Perceptions” show at the San Francisco Museum of Art and the founding of Aperture magazine with several students including Philip Hyde, Benjamin Chinn and William Heick, being featured in early issues. Another essay described the students hanging out and later mounting a show at Vesuvio’s Bistro in the bustle of San Francisco’s North Beach District, which soon after became the home neighborhood of the Beat Generation poets. “Vesuvio’s is usually crowded with painters, photographers, craftsmen and sighseers,” wrote C. Cameron Macauley.

An essay by Pat Harris, “A Woman’s Perspective” explained that though most of the men had just come out of Word War II and were going to art school backed by the G.I. Bill, the primarily non-veteran women enrolled in the classes had to scrape and pay for school on their own. People kept saying to Pat Harris that science was not for women at each school she attended previously, but Ansel accepted her into the photography program and with mentoring from Imogen Cunningham she thrived.

Similarities, Differences and Influences in Student Photographs

Students at the school came from diverse backgrounds and circumstances, but the similarities that ran through many of the photographs do not end at the often-evident influence of Adams, Weston and White, but begin with it and go beyond it. Emerging from World War II, the country, the world and San Francisco in particular, had tremendous creative energy and productivity, while at the same time civilization carried the weight of what it had seen and endured, moving past it with transcendence and new purpose. Aspects of all of this are evident in the photographs, as well as meanings beneath the surface in most of the images. Edward Weston said, “To photograph a rock, make it look like a rock, but be more than a rock.”

The student portfolios exhibit a quiet intensity with clean lines, a new take on the modernist aesthetic, with room around subjects, objects well-placed in space, whether through space analysis or by emulating the quiet balance conveyed by Edward Weston. Many of the students’ photographs exhibit a strong design element. All are carefully conceived. For more about the contemporary exhibitions of the photographs starting in 2010 see the blog post, “Over 500 People Attend Golden Decade Opening.

Ansel Adams spoke of photographs representing a spiritual experience. The Golden Decade nature photographs exemplify either subtle or more obvious post-war transcendence. The landscape photographs contain some kind of spiritual quality, either through the use of light, or the arrangement of the subjects. Symbolism, ironic juxtaposition and the careful handling of negative and positive space around objects is as important as the objects and people themselves. The influence of Minor White also shows in the patterns and psychological emphasis, sometimes on humor, sometimes on tragedy, but always giving added meaning to the images. Metaphysics often shows or is alluded to in the street and people photographs as well. Pirkle Jones, William Heick, Gerald Ratto, David Johnson and many of the others expressed their greatest artistry in their photographs of people.

The first photograph in the student portfolios, “Nun and Child” by Ruth-Marion Baruch, like many others in the book, was clearly best expressed in black and white rather than in color. The nun’s habit with it’s black and stark white oversized collar contrasted with various grays and off-whites of the surrounding children all framed in a dark doorway. Baruch’s “Benicia” also juxtaposed innocence, optimism and the liveliness of youth in the foreground with the disappointment, unfairness and misfortune of life in the background. The images of Philip Hyde, Stan Zrnich and the other landscape photographers tended to speak of timelessness and at the same time remind us that we are here by either grace or accident and that this moment, this vivid now is fleeting. ‘Gather ye photographs while ye may.’ The Golden Decade shines on forever and glows golden for only one bright decade. It continues on and ended just yesterday: a book worth learning from and keeping safe for studying over and over; a time in history worth struggling to grasp and hold onto whether you are a historian, collector, photographer or artist in another medium.

Actor, Photographer, Apple Farmer And 1960s Activist Nicholas King’s Memorial

July 25th, 2012

Not His Talented Acting Or Photography, But His Saving Of A Group Of Randomly Shaped Spires Made Of Rebar And His Cultivation Of Apple Trees Will Make History

Redwoods, Rocks, Pacific Ocean, Mendocino Coast Near Elk And Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

This Blog Post Is In Honor Of My Uncle Nicholas King And Will Partially Introduce My Family, Mainly On My Mother Ardis King Hyde’s Side…

Robert Nicholas King, who passed on April 3, 2012 at age 79, helped protect the Watts Towers. To read more see the Los Angeles Times Article on how Nicholas King helped save the Watts Towers of Los Angeles and allowed the unusual sculpture to become world-renowned.

Eureka Hill Road, Redwoods, Garcia River Canyon, Near “The Land,” Point Arena, California, 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Nicholas King was my mother’s middle brother out of three, all younger than her. His first name was Robert, but when he started working in Hollywood and off Broadway, because there was another actor named Robert King, he dropped his first name and went by his middle name Nicholas or Nick for the rest of his life.

When he died of complications from dementia, Nicholas King had lived in a nursing home in

Point Arena Movie Theater With Marquee Showing Nicholas King Memorial, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Santa Rosa for three years. After he passed away his sons, Silas and Julian, my youngest cousins, and their older sister Sarah and brother Sam, just a few years younger than me, planned a memorial for their father appropriately enough in the movie theater in their hometown, Point Arena, California on the Mendocino Coast. For more biographical information, see the

Film Projector, Lobby, Point Arena Movie Theater, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Wikipedia entry on Nicholas King.

Nicholas King came to Point Arena in a round about way, having left Hollywood for the 1960s hippie scene in San Francisco and in turn having dropped out of the hippie scene in San Francisco to move to “The Land,” a community land cooperative near Point Arena rich in Redwood forests and fertile bottom land along the Garcia River. Nick was glad to get away, to drop out, as they said in the

Sarah King Bjorg, Nicholas King (Photo) And Sam Rodia King, Lobby of Point Arena Theater, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

1960s. His departure from Hollywood occurred not long after he had tried out for a lead role in a film and landed the part. However, due to life complications, he was not able to accept the role. The actor who did take the part became a star largely on the acclaim he received from playing that character. I don’t think my Uncle Nick ever completely recovered from that missed opportunity. He had great confidence, poise and will his entire life, but his smooth surface was also ruffled deep underneath

Ben King (Van King’s Son), Kate Todd (Nick’s First Wife), Van King (Nick’s Brother), Johanna King Hoite (Van’s Daughter) And Vigo Hoite (Johanna’s Oldest Son) At Nick King’s Memorial, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

by a subtle self-punishment that came up in unusual ways. In some respects he was one of the most optimistic people I have ever known, yet he also could get down on himself and circumstances and on some occasions felt that people were out to get him.

The Land was a paradise both won and lost, with an idyllic plan of sharing land between 10 families who were close friends, but whose relationships went on the rocks at times, finally culminating in a deep support and

Potluck Spread, Silas King (Back Turned), Julian King (Nick’s Youngest Sons), Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

love of each other and their film and TV actor representative turned sustainable logger, apple farmer and apple nursery and tree cultivator, as he faded into the confusion that took over his brain in his final years. When it was all over for Uncle Nick, nearly the entire Point Arena community and many from all over the Mendocino Coast down to San Francisco and even Los Angeles and beyond to his niece, Gwenn King, as far away as Wisconsin, all packed the Point Arena Movie Theater to celebrate and mourn the life of a

Nick’s Three Sons, Julian, Sam And Silas, Motion Blur, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

local innovator, artist, lover, horticulturist, gardener, farmer and family man, who charmed his way through life and into the hearts of those he turned his good looks and joyful, wise and impish smile upon.

Point Arena is the second farthest west point of land in California; the farthest west point lying not far north at Cape Mendocino. To reach Point Arena, you either drive up a curvy Highway One along the Sonoma Coast through

Charla & Clint King (Nick’s Brother) With Silas King, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Gualala from Jenner and Santa Rosa, over the mountain from Booneville and Ukiah or down the Pacific Ocean Mendocino Coast from the town of Mendocino. To read more about my trip up the Sonoma Coast to Point Arena, see the blog post, “Northern California Beaches: Misty Sonoma Coast.”

As a young actor in Hollywood, Uncle Nick not only was a regular on TV shows and had small roles in several films, but he also loved to watch films. Over the years I

Nicholas King’s Home At The Land, Giant California Coast Redwoods, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

remember watching movies with him at the Point Arena Theater and other theaters, but also on VHS or DVD at his house on The Land or at Rough Rock with my parents. How fitting that my cousins planned his memorial in the Point Arena theater, where all 230 seats were taken and many mourners were standing, on both the main floor and the mezzanine. The service consisted of a slide show of still photographs of Nicholas King with his first wife, Kate, his second wife Jewls and

Old Barn, Nick’s House, Redwoods, The Land, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

his children, friends and other family. After the slide show, many of Nick’s friends stood up to talk about him. Afterward people munched on the potluck feast laid out on the tables, while a music DJ played Nick’s favorite songs, relatives gathered outside to catch up with each other’s lives and inside there was even a little dancing. I had not seen my cousin Johanna and her husband Simo for nearly two decades as they had lived and raised three children in Europe. Nick’s brother

Johanna King Hoite, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Van King, Johanna’s father, was there with his wife Linh, neither of whom have I seen much for the last 10 years. Van’s other daughter, his eldest, architect Caitlin King Lempres Brostrom had published a book this last year called, “The Houses of William Wurster: Frames for Living.” Just as Julian King, Nick’s youngest son, began to lead the cleanup inside the theater, the Point Arena based poet, teacher, classroom entertainer, author, visual artist, sculptor and wild dancer Blake More appeared on the scene in her hippie trippy poetry painted, moon, star and seashell festooned biodiesel mercedes. She wore her funkadelic outfit just for Nick.

There were many other highlights, including a few stories from Nicholas’ good friend Julius Palocz. One of Julius’ stories illustrated Nick’s indomitable, undefeatable character. Apparently Nick and Julius and another friend or two had planned to put a new gutter on Nick’s house. It was a wooden gutter and quite heavy. They had three ladders, none of

Simo Hoite (Johanna’s-Husband), Gwenn King Tanvas (Clint’s-Daughter), Sam King, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

which reached high enough.

They climbed up on the ladders, lifted up the gutter and of course inevitably, the gutter fell and broke. Nick told those present not to worry. He said they would do this, fix that, nip that a bit, cut off that, bring in this and it would be better and stronger than ever. And it was. At one point one man, who had started an entire apple orchard from Nick’s apple trees, asked the crowd who had obtained an apple tree from Nick. About 85 percent of the crowd,

Nick’s Tool Shed, Garcia River Nursery, The Land, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

probably over 200 people, had trees from Nicholas King at the Garcia River Nursery. I had planned to talk, but they wrapped up the sharing portion before I stood up.

I had thought about what I would say if I had the opportunity. I reminisced about my uncle and all the good times we had with him as a group of cousins, as well as those I had with him alone. I had eight cousins in the first round and four more in the

Apple Trees, Garcia River Nursery, The Land, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

second marriage round. When the older cousins were coming of age, I remember the oldest sneaking off with Uncle Nick to hang out. They invited me into that group I believe once or twice, but mainly it was limited to those older than me. Uncle Nick was always the hippest uncle, the one that related the most to us kids, though we of course loved and enjoyed Van and Clint, the other two uncles and my mother, who my cousins called, “Antie Ardis.”

Nick’s Beehives, The Land, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

I remember visiting The Land as a boy, swimming in the Garcia River at the swimming hole, running half naked through the fields and riding with Uncle Nick on his bulldozer. I remember watching him mill Redwood logs with his portable mill, splitting Redwood rounds for firewood, smelling the muddy earth smell of the heavy chunks of freshly split Redwood. We fished for Steelhead in the Garcia River too. I remember helping him work in his apple tree nursery. He used to give me a mild, easy-going lecture on grafting fruit trees, or varieties of apple stock, or apple blossoms, or other diverse farming or gardening subjects. In later years I would visit in my van. I brought food and wine and we drank and told stories at night. Uncle Nick and I took long walks on The Land in the mornings, walking along the Garcia River. We sat in the sauna by the Garcia River in the afternoons like old Indians.

One time Uncle Nick came to visit me at my place in Pecos, New Mexico. We went out walking, as we always did, as a thunderstorm threatened. We decided to hike up onto a nearby mesa where there

Dancing In The Projector Light, In Background: Sam King, Julian King and Hugh Todd (Kate’s Second Husband), copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

was an ancient Native American Pueblo burial ground. The burial ground was hard to find. Many times I had been up on that mesa and never seen it. To track it down we had to wander around through the pinion and juniper forests, looking for just the right opening in the trees. Suddenly the sky opened up and we were drenched in a torrential downpour, trying to take shelter among the trees as lightening and sheets of rain deluged upon us. As we sought shelter among the trees, we suddenly could make out the

Local Poet, Blake More, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

low rock walls and shapes of stones that marked the burial ground. That particular hike to the burial ground, neither of us ever forgot. Somehow between the rain, the drenched red earth, huddling under the trees being surrounded by flashes of lightening and the mysterious sacred ground before us, we bonded like I never have with any other human being before or since, except perhaps my father and mother and a girlfriend here or there.

One Christmas just before my mother died, Uncle Nick came to visit us at Rough Rock in the Northeastern Sierra Nevada. While the snows whistled outside, we sat indoors near the fireplace, put together a 1000 piece puzzle and talked. It was a good Christmas. The last time he visited Rough Rock, he and I sat up late one night outside in front of the house watching a large fire burn out the stump of the Hyde family’s favorite oak tree. Our favorite shade oak tree had to be taken out because its roots were clogging the septic tank. Uncle Nick and I talked

Blake More’s Biodiesel Mercedes, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

about roots. We talked about family issues: control and anger, after all we are an American family. Yet American families can share great love too. There has always been love, camaraderie, fun and kindness in the family. In the early days, everyone knew how to keep up a good smile, even when someone in the group was mad at someone else under the surface and everyone knew it. There was always some issue or another, but there was also a bond and a joy in togetherness,

Van King, Ben King, Caitlin King Lempres Brostrom (Van’s Oldest Daughter), Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

especially among us cousins. We sat at a separate table from the adults, which was both the wisest and the dumbest arrangement possible. I remember one Thanksgiving dinner where we cousins had a contest at the kid’s table at my Grandmother’s house, to see who could make the wildest, messiest, mashed-potatoes-squeezed-between-teeth face. Nick’s daughter Sarah won.

Uncle Nick was often our inspiration, sometimes in a

Caitlin King Lempres Brostrom, Author Of “The Houses of William Wurster: Frames For Living,” Point Arena, California, copyright 2012, David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

rebellious way, but more often in a hip, fun way. He had a way of making anything interesting. His photography of people showed a deep sense of understanding. He also made some excellent historical documentary black and white photographs of Point Arena being nearly wiped out by a huge storm in the winter of 1983. A few of his friends and family brought together these images in a self-published book called, “The Great Disaster at Arena Cove.” Nicholas King’s legacy as an environmental activist in groups such as Friends of the Garcia River and Save Our Wild Salmon, as a farmer’s market seller, a community member and artistic thinker, lives on in his children and his nieces and nephews, all the next generation and their children too, in Point Arena and everywhere people knew him.

Many people celebrated his life in the Point Arena Theater that day, May 12, 2012. We took our time to think back and socialize as Nick’s friends and family all together one last time. Yet, after it was over, it felt good to move away from the crowd, to go back to The Land and sleep among the Redwoods, to awake with

Kim King (Ben King’s Wife) Watching Johanna’s, Caitlin’s And Her Own Children, The Next Generation, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

the dew and smell the sun on the apple blossoms, to drink in the cool morning air as it blew gently over the quiet meadows of The Land that was Nick’s home.

More on the Mendocino Coast, Mendocino and Fort Bragg to come in future blog posts…

Do you have an uncle or other relative with whom you have a special connection?

 

 

 

 

Charla, Clint, Simo, Vigo, Sam, Caitlin, Johanna And Others, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Julian King Throwing A Peace Sign, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Fields On The Land Near the Garcia River, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Swimming Hole, Garcia River, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Irises, Nick’s Garden, The Land, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Fog, Mist, Rocky Promontory, Pacific Ocean, Mendocino Coast, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.