Saturday, September 22, 2018

Center for Creative Photography

A Visit to the Center for Creative Photography

My trip to CO, NM, and AZ resulted in the crossing off of some "bucket list" items.   I have long wanted to visit the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) in Tucson, AZ.  Founded in 1975, the Center for Creative Photography houses the archives and images of many of the premier photographers of our time.  Starting with Ansel Adams, it has become one of the world's finest photography museums and research centers.  From the CCP's materials:
"Beginning with the archives of five living master photographers—Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and Frederick Sommer—the collection has grown to include 270 archival collections. Among these are some of the most recognizable names in 20th century North American photography: W. Eugene Smith, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Edward Weston, and Garry Winogrand. Altogether there are over eight million archival objects in the Center's collection including negatives, work prints, contact sheets, albums, scrapbooks, correspondence, writings, audiovisual materials and memorabilia. In addition to whole archival collections the Center also actively acquired individual photographs by modern and contemporary photographers. There are currently more than 90,000 works by over 2,200 photographers. A library of books, journals, and exhibition and auction catalogs including many rare publications plus an extensive oral history collection complements the archival and fine print collections. The combined art, archival, and research collections at the Center provide an unparalleled resource for research, exhibitions, loans, and traveling exhibitions."   Please pinch me.  So many amazing photographers have their work at the Center for Creative Photography!    Wow.  In contrast to museums where photography is but a minor part, the CCP's ONLY mission is photography.

We were in Tucson for several days, and we visited the CCP after a visit to the San Xavier del Bac Mission, itself a photographic subject of Ansel Adams and others.  The CCP is located on the campus of the University of Arizona, and once we found a parking spot in a UA parking garage, we trekked across campus to the museum.  Tucson was about 105F that day, and yes, it was a dry heat. I get that.  Once inside the CCP, we saw that it was free, and there were several exhibits.  The first one --  Longer Ways to Go: Photography of the American Road, is excellent.  Much of the exhibit  contains photos  of  places along Route 66 by Kozo Miyoshi, a Japanese photographer and former artist in residence at the Center for Creative Photography. Taken in the 1990s, the large photographs are documentary in nature, exploring the sometimes drab and yet surviving places of the old highway.   Photographs by others that encompass the theme of the American Road are arranged by thematic aspects -- such as view from the car window, and our love affair with the automobile and the scenes from the highway.  Many favorite photographers are represented here, such as Gary Winogrand (and all this time I thought he was only a NYC photographer!), Ansel Adams, Ed Ruscha, Lee Friedlander, Robert Frank, and many others.  In addition, the show also has small Google Streetview images to show the spots as they look now.  In some cases, little change, in others... ugh.  I found  Miyoshi's work to be excellent, and he's now someone I am looking to see more of.  I ended up buying a copy of Miyoshi's monograph "Far East and Southwest" at the CCP gift shop.

After seeing that exhibit, we went to the next one, The Heritage Gallery.  Again, so many favorite photographers and some new and interesting ones, too (at least to me). From the Center for Creative Photography materials: "Inspired by the Center’s legacy, the Heritage Gallery features iconic treasures from the collection alongside more recent acquisitions. The story of the Center is told through pairings and groupings of images that explore the relationships between contemporary practice and the photographic foundations that inspired them. The gallery will be rotated twice a year, offering visitors a chance to make new discoveries, sparking inquiry and dialogue." This show  featured work by Ansel Adams, David Maisel, Patrick Nagatani, Lynn Stern, Giorgia Valli, Edward Weston and Garry Winogrand.    It was such a wonderful exhibit, with lots to images to mull over and think about. 

In between the exhibits was a large flat file case with pull-out drawers, with selections inside from the CCP archives!  Wonderful stuff. Open up a drawer or two and see examples from the archives of Ansel Adams!

Overall, this was a most impressive visit, and if I lived anywhere near Tucson, I would be there often.

An Ansel Adams drawer...

A page from Weston's Day Books!

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