During the past five years, photographer Clyde Butcher has journeyed from his studio deep in the confines of the Florida swamps to crisscross the country from sea to shining sea. Perhaps best known for his panoramic views of the Everglades, Butcher who looks a bit like Grizzly Adams or Santa in faded jeans and suspenders, has been following in the footsteps of trail blazers and his recent work is the subject of a coffee table book titled America the Beautiful.
"Clyde has visited over 30 states capturing America's incredible geographic places with a grandeur and drama that brings to mind explorers like Lewis and Clark," says Barry Fellman director of the Center for Visual Communication where Butcher's work will be exhibited this Saturday in "Across America. The artist will also be giving a lecture and signing copies of his new book.
Not unlike Timothy O' Sullivan or Carleton Watkins, who swapped their studio for the uncharted wilderness and paved the way for the great rush to discover the West, Butcher has also focused his lens on our nation's purple mountains, fruited plains and amber waves of grain. The award-winning landscape photographer has also been compared to a contemporary Ansel Adams or Edward Weston.
"Clyde has followed in the tradition of those photographers who brought back images to the populace in the East back in the 1800s using the same equipment they did. His bulky camera's are custom made and often need two or three tripods to support them," Fellman adds.
O'Sullivan and other pioneer shutterbugs of the era explored and photographed California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho as a member of two different expeditions.
Their images were sent back to the railroad barons and the U.S Department of the Interior and shot on giant glass plates that often shattered when making the journey back to civilization on mule trains.
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"Those guys were unbelievable and went through hell," says Fellman. "They took these pictures using glass plates that often cracked. Clyde uses the same type of camera, but he flies than drives to the locations he is photographing and often spends several weeks there to immerse himself in the nature and spirit of the place. His photos have an emotional essence rather than the pure visceral of relying on the eye alone."
Fellman says Butcher has shot 1,500 negatives as part of his project to date. Some of Butcher's photos on exhibit at the Center for Visual Communication are mammoth in size and often span from five to nine feet in scale mentions Fellman. They include sprawling vistas of the Grand Tetons, the Snake River and Oxbow Bend he says.
Opening Events with the Artist March 12, 2011 6;30 p.m.- Lecture and Slide Presentation; $10 Donation (Limited Seating) 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm - Reception and Book Signing (No Charge) Reservations Required - RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 305-571-1415 Center for Visual Communication (541 NW 27th Street, Miami).