The exhibition, which opened Friday, Sept. 16, contains photographs from the Bank of America Collection on loan to the Briscoe, and is part of the citywide Fotoseptiembre USA SAFoto festival this month.
You don't take a photograph, you make it. – Ansel Adams
Sharon Garcia, head of communications and marketing at the Briscoe, said she is pleased that the museum is able to present the work of an American icon. As an artist, activist, and environmentalist, Adams' work helped secure photography as an art form. “We consider exhibitions such as this one vital in preserving the art, history, and culture of the American West,” Garcia added.
Photography was not the only way vehicle Adams utilized to preserve the environment. As a major proponent of the national parks, he played a key role in the growth of the U.S. conservation movement.
Adams developed the Zone System with fellow photographer Fred Archer as a way to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print, Garcia explained. This method worked on everything from leaves to landscapes.
"The technique is simple but very effective,” she said. “It balances extreme differences between light and shadow in an image, and produces the type of stunning photographs you see in this exhibition.”
When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence. – Ansel Adams
Jennifer Cantu, community engagement market manager for Bank of America, said the company enjoys bringing art to the community. The bank supports more than 2,000 visual and performing arts organizations worldwide and lets museums and nonprofit galleries borrow complete exhibitions from its art collection at no cost.
“We brought the Jamie Wyeth exhibit and the The Art Books of Henri Matisse to the San Antonio Museum of Art,” she said. “The program, Art in Our Communities, is a cultural philanthropy. It’s a way we can give the public the opportunity to see unique works of art.”
Segments of the documentary Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film also are part of the Briscoe exhibition. The clips give visitors a unique glimpse into Adams' life and passions and convey the importance of nature conservation. Like Adams’ photographs, the film portrays an appreciation for the beauty and fragility of the earth, the bond between man and nature, and the obligation we owe to the future of global wildlife.
Garcia said the the diversity of the featured photography and art is a major reason Fotoseptiembre is so popular. “Presenting a show by Ansel Adams, one of America’s foremost photographers and chroniclers of the West, is a perfect fit for the Briscoe,” she said. Fotoseptiembre was founded in 1995 by Michael Mehl, and has grown in size, scope, and significance every year.
Ansel Adams was born in 1902 and died in 1984, but as long as his photography is exhibited, his passion lives on. Visit the Briscoe to see his exhibition and prepare to be inspired.
Editor's note: Information provided by Sharon Garcia was updated from a previous version for accuracy. A previous version of this article also stated that Fotoseptiembre was founded by John Mehl when it was founded by Michael Mehl.
Top image: Clearing Storm, Sonoma County Hills. Photo by Ansel Adams, courtesy of the Briscoe Western Art Museum.