Arty Girl: Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe at Phoenix Art Museum
Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. Rock formations on the Road to Lee's Ferry, Arizona, 2008. Left inset: William Bell, 1872. Plateau North of the Colorado River near the Paria. (courtesy National Archives) Right inset: William Bell, 1872. Headlands North of the Colorado River. (courtesy National Archives)
When I first heard of this exhibition, I had my doubts. Which was pretty silly of me.
I mean, you can't really go wrong with the Grand Canyon. There's just no denying that it kicks butt.
The concept for "Charting the Canyon" by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe is quite simple. Dig up some old photos and drawings of the canyon from different vantage points, head up there with your tripod, take the same shots and match up the pictures.
Simple in theory, sure. But it took two seasons of fieldwork to make this happen.
Klett, a Regents Professor at ASU and Wolfe, his former student and current Professor and California State University at Chico began collaborating in 1997. They've pulled a collection of early 19th century historic images by J.K. Hillers and artist William Holmes. Other images include works by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, both of whom worked at the Canyon in the early 20th century.
The pieces range from reasonable to ridiculous in size - anywhere from 20 by 20 inches to a 10 foot panoramic print.
My favorite was a matching pair that included an historic drawing and a contemporary photo. The rich landscape is captured beautifully in both images, identical in perspective. Turns out, it's all fake. The fictional drawing was pieced together by the artist from different vantage points of the canyon to make a single picture. The photographer followed suit, searching every viewpoint to see which matched up, shooting it and then digitally morphing the images together.
Like I said...can't go wrong with the GC, baby.
"Charting the Canyon" by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe continues through July 12th at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave in Phoenix, 602-257-1222, www.phxart.org.
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