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Adams' Photographs Captured Peak Experience in Yosemite

The 48 vintage black and white silver gelatin photographs displayed are pure Adams in composition and subject, and exhibit the admirable manipulation of tone for which he was best known.

Included are Western vistas of the sort that have gained iconic status, as well as close-ups that focus on the abstract qualities of natural objects such as a tree trunk or fungus. People are generally absent.

Most unusual, and adding a unique dimension to this Adams exhibition, are the portraits and candid-appearing, if formally composed, camp shots of guests and guides. They offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the participants' experience, and indicate what Adams found significant about the 10 days.

Adams doesn't physically appear in any of the photographs. But looming in the background of four images is the mountain that was named posthumously for him, on the first anniversary of his death. Mountains aren't named after living people, but Adams knew the pinnacle pictured had been nominated to become Mount Ansel Adams. It's a fitting substitute presence, in the albums, for someone who was so enamored of the land that he'd become one with it.

The exhibition left me wanting to know more about the personal details of the excursion, which are not revealed, but the show will have special appeal to fans of Adams and those interested in the history of photography, art, the national parks and even Western settlement.

"Yosemite" continues through Sept. 3 in the Works on Paper Gallery. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $10, $7 seniors, $6 students/children. For information, call 412-622-3131 or visit .

The exhibition catalog is $39.95 and includes Adams' images plus a fascinating account compiled by curator Adam Duncan Harris that offers some insight to the excursion plans and experience.


"Ansel Adams: A Legacy," 138 photographs from the collection of Lynn and Tom Meredith, is at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Ligonier Valley, Friday through Nov. 19. (The exhibition was reviewed by the PG on May 31 when it was at Southern Alleghenies Loretto). For information, call 724-238-6015 or visit .

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