Inherited Nature: Father And Son Exhibit At The Capitol Arts Gallery

April 25th, 2013 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

Inherited Nature: Photography by Philip Hyde & David Leland Hyde

(Following is a variation of the press release for the show.)

Graffiti, Street Art, Wall, San Francisco, California, copyright 2010 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Graffiti, Street Art, Wall, San Francisco, California, copyright 2010 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. One of the images on display in “Inherited Nature.”

(See the photograph large, “Graffiti, Street Art, Wall, San Francisco, California.”)

Plumas Arts will exhibit the historically significant photographs by Philip Hyde that helped to make many of our national parks at the Capitol Art Gallery at 525 Main Street in Quincy, California from May 3 through June 1. An opening reception Friday, May 3, 5-7 pm launches the show.  A special presentation by David Leland Hyde, Philip Hyde’s son, will also be held at the Capitol Arts Gallery on Tuesday, May 14, at 6 pm.

During his 60-year full-time large format film photography career Philip Hyde lived with his wife Ardis in Plumas County for 56 years. His photographs that are part of permanent collections and were shown in venues such as the Smithsonian, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, George Eastman House and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, now come home for a rare showing in Plumas County. The Plumas Arts show will be the first local exhibition of its kind since Hyde’s passing in 2006.

Why “Inherited Nature”?

The exhibition, titled “Inherited Nature” will also be unique because it introduces the digital photography of David Leland Hyde, who walked many wilderness miles with his parents and now works to preserve and perpetuate his father’s archives. David Leland Hyde not only inherited his father’s collection, but also his father’s love of nature, art and activism that helped shape his own photography and view of the world. Part of the show naming process included consideration of the double meaning of “nature,” as well as a third double meaning of the phrase which refers to all of us inheriting nature and passing it down as well. One title kicked around was “Nature Passed Down.” The inherited aspect of nature and landscape does not apply only to David Leland Hyde. As far as his photography is concerned, he photographs the landscape because he grew up on the land. However, having lived in cities as well as Plumas County where he was born, David also enjoys architectural, portrait and street photography.

Philip Hyde first made images of the Sierra Nevada at age 16 in 1937 on a Boy Scout backpack in Yosemite National Park with a camera he borrowed from his sister. By 1942 he was making photographs of artistic merit in black and white, and much more rare at the time, in color. In 1945, as he was about to be honorably discharged from the Army Air Corp of World War II, Hyde wrote to Ansel Adams asking for recommendations for photography schools. Adams happened at the time to be finalizing plans for a new photography department at the California School of Fine Art, now the San Francisco Art Institute. The new photography school was the first ever to teach creative photography as a profession. Adams hired Minor White as lead instructor and he brought on teachers who were luminaries and definers of the medium such as Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange and Imogen Cunningham.

Living The Understatement Style

Referred to as a quiet and humble giantby prominent landscape photographer QT Luong, Hyde chose to live in the wilderness of Plumas County, sacrificing the greater monetary success of living close to the marketplace of the Bay Area for values more important to him. He set an example of living a simple, close to nature, low-impact lifestyle that becomes more relevant as a model all the time. QT Luong wrote of Philip Hyde:

Living a simple life out of the spotlight, he always felt that his own art was secondary to nature’s beauty and fragility… As an artist, this belief was reflected in his direct style, which appears deceptively descriptive, favoring truthfulness and understatement rather than dramatization.

Philip Hyde spent over one quarter of each year of his career on the back roads, trails, rails, rivers, lakes and ocean coasts of North America making the photographs that influenced a generation of photographers. Today some find it easy to take his compositions for granted, but this mainly happens because they have been emulated countless times. Much of landscape photography today applies principles and techniques developed by Philip Hyde.

Philip Hyde’s Influence On Landscape Photographers

Philip Hyde’s wide sweeping impact started with his role as the primary illustrator of the Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series, the series that popularized the large coffee table photography book. The series also contained popular titles by Ansel Adams and color photographer Eliot Porter. Eliot Porter, along with Philip Hyde is credited with introducing color to landscape photography. Well known photographer William Neill said, I have little doubt that every published nature photographer of my generation has been inspired by Philip’s efforts.” To read William Neill’s tribute to Philip Hyde in full, originally published in Outdoor Photographer magazine, see the guest blog post, “Celebrating Wilderness By William Neill.”

Just as Philip Hyde inspired photographers, his wife Ardis inspired him and traveled as his companion throughout his life and after most would have retired. With Ardis, he built his home near Indian Creek surrounded by woods. Over a two-year period, Philip designed, drew the plans and constructed not only the home with Ardis’ help, but also gathered local river rock for a large fireplace.

Ardis And Philip Hyde At Home

The Hydes first came to Plumas County in 1948 through a chance meeting on a train with Ardis’ friend from college then living at Lake Almanor, who helped Philip Hyde land a summer job in Greenville at the Cheney Mill. Having a young college kid from the city endlessly amused the other workers at the sawmill. One time young Philip even fell into the stinky millpond, which drew great laughter and a ticket home for the day to photograph. Ardis taught kindergarten and first grade for 12 years to help supplement Philip’s photography efforts beginning in 1950 when the Hydes settled in Plumas County.

While living in Plumas County for 56 years, Philip Hyde also actively contributed to the community. He was a founding artist member of Plumas Arts and contributed funds to provide lighting in the gallery. He was also one of the founders of the Plumas County Museum. He hired the architect Zach Stewart, whose famous architectural firm had hired both Hyde and Adams as photographers. Stewart charged the Plumas County Museum much less than usual for his architectural services and as a result the Plumas County Museum had money left over for a small investment fund that has helped it perpetuate for the many years since.

A portion of all proceeds from the exhibition will go directly to the Feather River Land Trust and Plumas Arts, continuing Philip Hyde’s tradition of contribution to the community.

Gallery Hours for the exhibition are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11am to 5:30pm and Saturdays form 11am to 3pm.  Arrangements may also be made for viewings outside these times by calling Plumas Arts at 530-283-3402.



  1. pj says:

    I think there’s a lot of truth in what William Neill says about your father’s influence.

    When I first started making photos in the mid-70’s, one of the first books I picked up was a Sierra Club field book about nature photography. It had a selection of photos in the front by various photographers. It was my introduction to a guy named Ansel Adams, and it also had a photo of Devil’s Postpile by a guy named Philip Hyde. That one stuck in my mind more than any of the others. Those are the only two names I remember from the book.

    Adams of course became a household name… your dad wasn’t as well known, but I’d see his name attached to photographs quite often over the next several years, and I admired them greatly.

    I’ve really enjoyed your efforts here to bring his work to a new, wider audience, and I think it’s really cool that you’re having a father/son exhibit there in Plumas County. Hope it goes well.

  2. Hi PJ, Thanks for bringing out and expanding on the statement by William Neill. For the benefit of other readers who may not have read it yet, at the end of that paragraph of the blog post above, I just added a link to William Neill’s full tribute to my father from 2006 when Dad passed on.

    It might be interesting to note that my father was probably nearly as widely published or perhaps even more widely published than Ansel Adams. The difference was that Dad didn’t focus on publicizing his own name or holding down a Board of Director’s position in the Sierra Club and probably most relevant to becoming a household name, Dad did not have a staff of people promoting him, nor did he show in as many major museums. As you know, Ansel did a great deal to further the cause of photography and was a high profile public figure. He was a thought leader in the arts in general and in photography in particular. He was quite gregarious and much of the time the center of a large crowd of people. My father mainly stayed in the wilderness, either photographing or working to defend wilderness and support conservation efforts with his photographs. Ansel Adams had Bill Turnage, Albert Bender and others who were the world’s best marketers and influencers helping to establish his work and name nationwide. That was not Dad’s way.

    Putting up a father and son exhibition at this stage may only be possible in Plumas County. It is not a direction I will pursue much more in the short or medium term, except perhaps on occasion. I am more interested in writing than photography. I would rather establish myself as a photography critic and historian than as a photographer. Nonetheless, I appreciate you supporting the idea of my developing my photography. I imagine it will happen gradually over time, secondary to other, more pressing endeavors.

  3. Good to see your work together with your dad’s. Very cool.

  4. Hi Derrick, Thanks for your support. I remember you were one of the voices saying it would be great to see more of my work going back to 2010 when I started Landscape Photography Blogger.

  5. This should be a great exhibit David. Both for the collection of your father’s work and the continued exposure of your own. Again, it is unfortunate the there are three thousand miles between my home and these exhibits.
    Best of luck.

    As I have mentioned before, Navajo Wildlands was my first introduction into photography and environmental activism. I am very grateful for your father’s work and his influence on my path and very glad that your are continuing his passion.

  6. Hi Steve, I appreciate the good wishes. Maybe we need to plan an exhibition up in your neck of the woods. I would love to do a show in New England. Let me know if you know of an appropriate quality nature loving venue that would be interested and I can start working on it for next year if you like.

  7. Greg Russell says:

    I think it’s great to see your work side by side with your Father’s, David. I also really like the sentiment here of ‘inherited nature,’ on many levels.

    Well done, and congratulations!

  8. Congratulations, that has to be exciting to have your images exhibited along side your fathers. And, I’m sure it would bring a smile to his face, also.

    I’ve heard you mention before how your parents lived the simple life and a smile comes to my face each time. There is a desire inside me wishing more people would choose to live the simple life.

  9. Greg,
    I appreciate that. We experimented with “Nature Passed Down,” “Nature Inherited” and several other permutations of it before landing on “Inherited Nature.” We intended to incorporate the concept that nature is passed on to the next generation besides the idea that I inherited my father’s love of the outdoors.

    You are a wise man. I am grateful for your comment.

  10. I can’t think of a place immediately, David. But I will see if there is someplace that would be a good venue for you and your Dad’s work and message.

  11. Hi again Steve. Thanks for checking back. Please keep in mind that Dad has already shown in the Smithsonian and the Museum of Modern Art. We want to have his shows at natural sciences and art museums, nature centers, environmental organizations or other venues that will enhance his image and not cause him to be perceived as a has been playing to a smaller audience. I will do a show at a smaller venue depending on the circumstances, but generally we want to keep forwarding his reputation or street credibility as they call it now. Dad’s work goes far beyond merely being historically significant. He was the model for low impact living way before it was cool, sustainability they call it now. He was about as cutting edge as it gets, a true pioneer, and ought to be honored as such. Thanks for mulling it over. Let me know what you run into. Something may fall across your path.

  12. clark robertson says:

    David, i received your latest invite this afternoon–it’s a shame i do not live closer to you so that i could experience these images and converse with you.
    i have felt kindred to your father’s vision, but looking at your personal portfolio it is clear that you are a great imagemaker from your own vision.
    The Westons have had the public reputation for great images but you have promoted your father’s and your own work and “mission”, both of which synergize into a more important witness and testimony of the current world.
    The more images you present here,the more i experience joy. And i thank you for this.

  13. Hi Clark. I would enjoy visiting with you as well. I am thankful for your uplifting comment. I needed it right now as a number of behind the scenes delays have increased the stress on this show.

  14. Sharon says:

    I hope you do a New England exhibit, David. I would be there! Congratulations on this exhibit. I am so glad your father had a son so interested in continuing his work. His influence will be felt long after we are gone.

  15. Hi Sharon, It is very kind of you to express your support of what I’m doing. I find that those who take the time to read this blog begin to understand all that is happening behind the scenes and more importantly, they begin to understand more about my father and mother’s intriguing life together. Hopefully I will get to New England to photograph some day too, maybe before doing a show. I wish I had photographed the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts and Upstate New York when I lived there, or New York City, Niagara Falls, Finger Lakes, Ithica, the Adirondacks, Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Virginia, the list goes on, when I visited those places.

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