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Clyde Butcher and Gus Foster - Wilderness Landscape Photographs

June 18 - August 28, 2005


"Supersized" is an apt adjective to describe the large-format photographs of Clyde Butcher and Gus Foster. Whether focusing on quiet, secluded nooks or nature's vast and diverse expanses, these two masters of oversized imagery look at the world with clarity and respect. Each artist is represented in a one-person retrospective of his work that is on view at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum from June 18 - August 28, 2005. (right: Clyde Butcher, Glacier Creek, Colorado, 1997)

"Clyde Butcher: Wilderness Photography - Focus on Preservation" comprises thirty-seven photographs, many measuring upwards of 5 x 8 feet, from his millennium series. In the 21st century Butcher believes history will be written based on humanity's abiding connection with nature, a philosophy that saturates his striking images of primal paradises. He views these areas of untouched and timeless beauty as spiritual sanctuaries and his photographs as a way for viewers to experience the beauty, power, and wonder of nature.

Using a primitive wooden box camera, Butcher only works in black and white. This technique allows him to focus on nature's elaborate details and textures without the potential distraction of color. It also enables him to produce award-winning images that dramatize the sense of holiness he seeks and finds in the wilderness areas he favors, including the Everglades region of South Florida where he makes his home in the Big Cypress National Preserve.

Large-sized images of a different sort are seen in "The American Landscape Panorama," twenty-six color photographs created by Wausau native Gus Foster using a Globus-Holway panoramic camera. His 360+-degree vistas -- whether taken from a spectacular mountain summit or the edge of a cranberry bog or sunflower field -- capture the effects of time and the varying quality of light as each exposure is completed. The resulting images create a circular, almost three-dimensional experience in two dimensions that capture the larger-than-life scale and spirit of the American landscape. (right: Gus Foster, Cirque of The Towers, Bridger Wilderness, Wyoming, 1990)

At his home in Taos, New Mexico, where he has resided for the past thirty years, Foster raises pack animals that he uses to tote his hefty equipment to the tops of ten-thousand-foot mountains to depict the breathtaking perspectives evident in his internationally recognized body of work. Photographs taken at lesser elevations -- in a wild rice field or at a hot air balloon rally, for example -- are equally as stunning.

Clyde Butcher and Gus Foster share a commanding respect for wilderness landscapes and the art of photography yet each approaches his exploration of the wild through a dynamic and vastly different photographic technique.


(above: Gus Foster, Harvesting Wild Rice, Leech Lake Reservation, Minnesota, 1999)


Events related to the exhibitions

Wausau native Gus Foster discusses the why's and how's of shooting full-circle, 360-degree panoramic photographs on Saturday, June 25, at 1:30 p.m. Foster, who has resided in Taos, New Mexico, for the past thirty years, will have one of his cameras on hand to demonstrate its distinct features.

Computer technology is having an impact on panoramic photography as it is on many aspects of modern life. On Thursday, July 14, at 12:05 pm, Wausau photographer Richard Wunsch demonstrates using Adobe Photoshop to stitch together images to create a panoramic view.

Renowned landscape photographer Clyde Butcher will present two programs in early August. During a limited-enrollment seminar on Saturday, August 6, from 8:30-11:30 a.m., Butcher provides tips and insights for translating what is seen through the camera lens along with information about the technical aspects and equipment of large-format photography. There is fee and registration at 715-845-7010 is required. A gallery walk with Butcher and a book signing follow. Several of Butcher's books will be available for purchase throughout the exhibition.

Butcher returns on Sunday, August 7, at 1:30 p.m. to act as a tour guide, using slides, to some of the undisturbed places in the wild where he has achieved an abiding communion with nature. Foster's and Butcher's personal appearances at the Woodson Art Museum are supported by a Community Arts Grant from the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin. (right: Clyde Butcher, Cayo Costa Island, Florida, 1991)


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