Tampa Museum of Art

Tampa, FL




Clyde Butcher: Nature's Sanctuaries


The Tampa Museum of Art is hosting an exhibition of the works of Florida's most renowned photographer, Clyde Butcher, through April 23, 2000. Mr. Butcher uses a large-format camera to create rich and dramatic images in black and white. (left: Clyde Butcher, Hillsborough River Rapids, 1997, Hillsborough River State Park, Florida. Silver-gelatin fiber photograph. Courtesy Big Cypress Gallery © 1999)

This exhibition features works documenting the unspoiled beauty of various North American national parks, nature preserves and endangered environments, including Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve and Loxahatchee River. All the photographs have been included in Mr. Butcher's most recent publication, Clyde Butcher- Nature's Places of Spiritual Sanctuary, a retrospective survey of images highlighting a thirty-year artistic and spiritual relationship with the American landscape.

Clyde Butcher says of his work: "Wilderness, to me, is a spiritual necessity. When my son was killed by a drunk driver, it was to the wilderness that I fled in hopes of regaining my serenity and equilibrium. The mysterious spiritual experience of being close to nature helped restore my soul. It was during that time that I discovered the intimate beauty of the natural environment. My experience reinforced my dedication to use my photographs as an inspiration for others to work together to save nature's places of spiritual sanctuary for future generations."(left: Clyde Butcher, Little Butternut Key #1, 1997. Florida Bay, Everglades National Park, Florida. Silver-gelatin fiber photograph. Courtesy Big Cypress Gallery © 1999)

Clyde Butcher graduated from California Polytechnic University (San Luis Obispo) with an architecture degree. However, his efforts to photograph his architectural models and to thereby, in his words, "create a sense of space" eventually led him to abandon architecture for photography. Visits to Yosemite National Park and his exposure to the work of Ansel Adams attracted him to the landscape, which has been his primary subject as a photographer since 1965.

In his large-scale black and white photographs, Butcher explores his personal and spiritual relationship with the natural environment. His mission as an artist is to educate humankind about nature's splendors and to encourage the preservation of our planers wilderness areas. He creates his images with 8 x 10," 11 x 14" or 12 x 20" view cameras. Large-format cameras allow him to capture the elaborate details and textures that distinguish the landscape. The resulting photographs range in size from 48 x 48 inches to 5 x 9 feet. (right: Clyde Butcher, Seven Cabbage Cut, 1991, Chassahowitzka, Florida. Silver-gelatin fiber photograph. Courtesy Big Cypress Gallery © 1999)

Butcher's recent projects have included creating images to spearhead Florida's "Save Our Rivers" program; serving as an artist-in-residence at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado; and photographing the newly established Disney Wilderness Preserve in Kissimmee, Florida. In 1998 he was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, the highest honor that the state confers on a private citizen. Recently, ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings chose Butcher as "Person of the Week." And he has been recognized with The Sierra Club's Cypress Award and The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Colleague Award for his tireless efforts to raise public awareness of our country's endangered wilderness areas, such as the Everglades.

An award-winning documentary titled Visions of Florida, produced by PBS-affiliate WSFU of Tallahassee, examines Butcher's work, and the video Big Cypress Preserve: Jewel of the Everglades features the artist and his photographs as well. His work is also included in numerous books and publications, such as Visions for the Next Millennium and his biography, Seeing the Light: Wilderness and Salvation: A Photographer's Tale, by Thomas Shroder and John Barry.

Currently, Butcher maintains a gallery and a dark room on thirteen acres in the center of the Everglades, mid-way between Miami and Naples.

Read more about the Tampa Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine.

For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 12/30/10

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