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Monday, August 20, 2018

TERRA FIRMA Exhibit at the Manhattan Beach Art Center featuring Robert Glenn Ketchum

When at UCLA, Ketchum studied with two very non-traditional photography practitioners, Edmund Teske and Robert Heinecken. Ketchum was especially influenced by Heinecken's use of many different materials in presenting his photographic imagery, some of which involved cloth and fabric. Working with UCLA, in 1985, Ketchum became the first American artist to enter their China exchange program. This began a 30-year collaboration with a nationally prestigious Chinese embroidery guild, to translate his photographs of the natural world into embroideries and loom weavings, of which two of the most recent are displayed here.

Graceful Branch Movement_ 2010
Graceful Branch Movement, 2010

One of the largest 2-sided embroidery panels ever created, featuring the untraditional use of two stitches that were never previously combined. The detailed leaves are done in the most laborious "Suzhou fine style," and all the other background work is done in the "random" stitch. There more than 40 dye colors used, and the work took several embroiderers 3-years.
YK Delta from 1500_ 2003
YK Delta from 1500, 2003

To create this loom weaving, the Chinese built the largest and most complex loom ever assembled, having 3,000 lines of warp thread and using four shuttles. There are more than 30 dye colors used in the thread, and some of the thread is actually gold. More subtle touches of dye were hand-painted onto the background matrix. Threads of varying thickness were used in combination, something not done before, and peacock feathers wrapped with thread provide the visual texture for the dry brushy area. These 4-panels took a dozen weavers 6-years to complete.

During the travel associated with his China exchange, Ketchum also had the opportunity to see fine silk printed, manufactured, and crafted as clothing. He began designing men's dress shirts in the early '90's, using fabric purchased in China, but in 2008, he decided to design his own fabric prints. With the intention to only derive designs using photographs from the natural world, Ketchum created, Viz.u.lee.Organik, whose recent prints are displayed here as luxurious scarves.

Launch_ 2009
Launch, 2009

Blur_ 2013
Blur, 2013

Oriental_ 2013
Oriental, 2013

Reversal_ 2017
Reversal, 2017

In 2006, the Amon Carter Museum (TX) honored Ketchum with a 45-year retrospective, documented by the complete catalog, Regarding The Land: Robert Glenn Ketchum and the Legacy of Eliot Porter. Ketchum used this moment of career acknowledgment to take his work in a new direction and explore the ever-expanding new technologies in photography. Working with digital darkroom tools like Adobe, Ketchum began to "re-imagine" his vast library of images in new ways. The Chinese embroidery guild he worked with found these new creations greatly broadened the scope of their long collaboration. Ketchum also found he could work at a new scale as expressed in the "EVOLUTION" series, whose 24-panels can be printed 6ft. tall. Most recently, combining many new advances in photographic application, the "MANDALAC GARDENS" series suggest the photographic print as a metal sculptural form.

Choose Joy_ 2007
Choose Joy, 2007

Navigating the Dark Wood of Error_ 2009
Navigating the Dark Wood of Error, 2009

Confused By Butterflies_ 2010
Confused By Butterflies, 2010

It_s Getting Better All The Time_ 2013
It's Getting Better All The Time, 2013

These next images are from MANDALAC GARDENS. These images are dye-sublimated into aluminum sheet, whose external shape is then router cut.

Redwood Dawn, 2015

Adirondack Northstar_ 2015

Adirondack Northstar, 2015

Pondering Caprivi_ 2015
Pondering Caprivi, 2015

Agavita Lepidotra, 2015

I hope you have enjoyed the tour, and I will close with a little news:

It has been quite awhile since I have done a mailing because I am hard at work on new things as you see. Nonetheless, I was part of an excellent 2017 group show at Lumiere Gallery in Atlanta, entitled "Design By Nature," and this year from January-June, images from MANDALAC GARDENS were included in the Hannah S. Barsam Invitational, "California Nature" at the Fresno Art Museum.

In 2006 I was one of the Founding Fellows of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). We have been quite successful since then, growing to over 100 members in more than 10 countries. Our many projects are some of the most cutting-edge science and documentation being done. Please explore the iLCP webpages, and learn about all of us. The pictures and subjects are quite amazing. MOST OF ALL, please feel free to donate generously and support our work.

I am still VERY involved with the NO PEBBLE MINE campaign to protect southwest Alaska and the fisheries of Bristol Bay. Obama cancelled all oil and gases leases in the waters of the bay, and at the end of his administration, it appeared EPA would cancel the development permit for the mine. Working with Joel Reynolds, Senior Attorney and West Coast Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), we have for some years now run an "advertising" campaign in major newspapers directed at the mining investors. The tactic is VERY successful.

Mitsubishi was the first investor to leave, then Anglo American, and finally, Rio Tinto. We responded like this in every case. Then, Trump took office and re-opened the Bristol Bay to oil/gas exploration once again, although no one bid. He also breathed new life into the Pebble mine by gutting EPA leadership. That brought the mining group a new potential investor, so we responded, and now they have withdrawn as well.

If you are interested in a large collection a great images, and a background about the area and the subject, you should follow this blog.

Lastly, as alum of UCLA, I have given my work generously over the years, to help develop the incredible ORIGINAL art collection of the Reagan Medical Complex on the campus in Westwood. Now UCLA also has many satellite medical centers throughout the greater LA area. There is one here in Manhattan Beach that serves me. Problem is, the art stays in Westwood, and UCLA Medical Group Manhattan Beach looked uninviting with blank white walls. So, I changed that. If these are your doctors, and this is your clinic, I hope you will enjoy this:

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