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Friday, November 19, 2021

Weekly Post, "The Daze of My Life: Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography"

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography


Biographies are studies of someone's life based on cumulative research. Good ones may reveal something, but probably barely scratch the surface of what actually went on. The internet is allowing me to do something VERY different. 
~Robert Glenn Ketchum




Friday, November 19, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #279
Daze, #279: 
Hall Island is part of the Franz Josef archipelago. Most of the island is covered by an ice dome, but the southern tip, Cape Tegetthoff, is ice-free, so it was a chance for all the guest to go ashore and explore what appeared to be a stark, rocky terrain. To everyone’s surprise, however, once we landed and crossed over the gravel stone beach, the tundra was quite verdant. Clusters of wildflowers were blooming everywhere, and where the meltwater was flowing, extravagant, lush mosses of red and green, covered all the rocks. The Arctic breeze of the afternoon was quite chill, but most of us were tired of being stuck on the ship, so we lingered into the day, until the light started to fade. I covered several miles in my circular walk around, and in combination with the breeze, I was toast by the end of the day. It was good to get back to the warmth of the ship, and a drink in the bar.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________
Friday, November 12, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #278
Daze, #278: 
When we arrived at the North Pole, there is no land mass, so all of us disembarked onto the ice and walked around taking pictures. Eventually we were hustled back on board by our Soviet crew, as one of them discovered a polar bear sneaking up on our group from behind an ice ridge. With still some days left in our trip, expedition leaders consulted with captain of our vessel, and it was decided that we would explore some of the high Arctic islands. One of those was an archipelago called Franz Joseph Land, that consisted of 192 islands, covering 6,230-square-miles. 85% of the islands are glaciated, as you can see here, and except for a very few military outposts, they have been a nature sanctuary since 1994, and in 2012, they became the Russian Arctic National Park.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, November 5, 2021
The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #277
Daze, #277: 
In the spring of 1998, I was asked by my alma mater, UCLA to serve as a guest lecturer for a UCLA alumni travel expedition to the North Pole. The group of over 100 alums would meet in the very northern Russian city of Murmansk, where we would board the huge nuclear ice-breaker, Sovetskiy Soyuz, and head north. Of course, I was very excited to be invited as this would broaden my view of the Arctic and climate change, which began on my previous trip across the Northwest Passage with Bill Simon and his friends. I would soon learn, however, how VERY different this trip to the North Pole would be. In navigating the Northwest Passage, we did encounter some ice blockages, but we were able to navigate through them, and we were always surrounded by islands and land. On this trip to the north pole there was little land in site, and the surface of the ocean was frozen solid. Our passage was created by literally ramming our way through the ice covered surface of the ocean.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, October 29, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #276
Daze, #276: 
In post #243, I recounted that on a trip to Italy, I was introduced to the work of Vittorio Sella, a pioneering mountaineer, and photographer, of the late 1800’s. Sella dragged massive cameras up into many of the great mountain ranges of the world, and his photographs are not only remarkable in, and of themselves, but helped mapmakers to create some of the first good maps of those ranges. I thought the work important enough to publish, and so I brought the project to Aperture where CEO, Michael Hoffman, accepted it. Thus, in early 1998, Aperture released SUMMIT: Vittorio Sella/Mountaineer and Photographer - the years 1879-1909. Aperture did a spectacular job on the book’s design, and the cover shot of K2 remains one of the most impressive images of a commanding summit ever made.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #275
Daze, #275: 
As Aperture believed there was no “sales” market for David Hanson’s, Waste Land: Meditations on a Ravaged Landscape, Advocacy Arts Foundation (Aarf!) bought all 5,000 copies, using donors money. We then worked with a consortium of groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), to mail out, and hand out, those copies. Some of the groups purchased their copies at cost, and we gave books to others. In particular. Aarf! wanted to do a hand-out on capitol hill, coordinated by several groups that wished to see a reform of mining regulations. With an entourage of Aarf! board members, David, and I, joined the hand-out in DC with the specific intention of meeting with the Senators and Representatives from our home states, California in my case, Montana in David’s. We were both successful, and the picture above shows our meeting with Senator Barbara Boxer, in the office of then Vice-President, Al Gore. David is to the left, my assistant at the time, Cory Walsh, sits between us, and Barbara is talking to us about several mining reform bills that have been proposed.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, October 15, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #274
Daze, #274: 
My career to this point has been blessed by well funded commissions, collectors, and generous donors, all of whom supported the conservation advocacy of my work. There were many photographers I knew, however, whose efforts were equally important, and they could not find an audience. In the early 90’s, I created Advocacy Arts Foundation (Aarf!) to help some of those photographers get published and exhibited. I was especially appreciative of David T. Hanson’s vision, someone I befriended when I lectured at the Rhode Island School of Design where he taught. David worked with a view camera, taking aerials of mining and toxic sights, and his images were at one time completely descriptive, but also marvelously abstract. You could tell what you were looking at, but simultaneously the picture had a strange, unsettling, lyrical, beauty. I encouraged David to assemble his portfolio as a book with differing chapters/subjects, and to let me take it to Aperture. The CEO of Aperture, my friend, Michael Hoffman, looked at the collected images, and thought we were crazy, because he did not feel there would be any market for such a confrontational assemblage of photographs. Nonetheless, because Aarf! was willing to fund the publishing costs, Aperture had nothing to loose, and so he agreed. In 1997, Waste Land: Meditations on a Ravaged Landscape, was released, and Aarf! took all 5,000 copies to distribute.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, October 8, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #273
Daze, #273: 
After four days in our mountain “chalet” in the Caucasus mountains, we retreated to the valley floor, but by the time we arrived it was late in the day, and there were no accommodations immediately available. To our surprise, however, our host, the president, had arranged to open, and staff, a nearby spa resort (above), and he sent an entourage of cars and cabinet members we had come to know, to greet us, and take us there. The resort was closed because it was out of season, but the staff that had been arranged, came in the day before, got everything up and running, and prepared a ton of food. Besides our group, there were numerous others that had come out to dine with us. First things first, however. After several rounds of vodka shooters, we all entered a gigantic sauna/steam room. Just outside was also an Olympic-sized pool, filled with ice cold water. It was then explained to us that it was a tradition to endure the sauna as long as you could, then go out and dive in the pool, swimming the length. Then, back into the sauna. This was to be done seven times. Having completed this ritual, the feast began, and there is no Russian banquet without a ridiculous amount of alcohol, after which we retired to an outdoor patio, where musicians, and girls, showed up, to play some regional dance music, and to teach us those dances. Party on Garth! A bit hungover, the next morning we rose early to be driven four hours to the airport for a flight back to Moscow. On the plane, my traveling companion, Margaret Williams, was assigned a seat that only had 1/2 of the seat belt. Speaking fluent Russian, she told the flight attendant, who responded in perfect English, “Well, you had better hang on!” Ah, the luxuries of Aeroflot! After an overnight in Moscow, our troupe returned to the United States,..NOT by Aeroflot!

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, October 1, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #272
Daze, #272: 
The rangers who are hosting us, have regular “rounds” they perform, when we are not around. Their daily tasks involve patrolling various parts of the range for poachers, and they have a support system of several more remote cabins, similar to the one in which we are all staying. With the intent of having us see more of this terrain, on one of the days they decide to take us to one of the other cabins. We are told that we would not stay there overnight, so it would be a long, and arduous day, that would get started very early, and return late.When the rangers travel to this cabin on horseback, the ride is so rugged, it takes all day, so to do what we are going to do without horses, we will take a shortcut, which they promise will be difficult but doable. The forest was dense, and a very tricky navigation, everybody was drenched in sweat, so when we got to this point, and we were told we would walk some distance IN the river, people were actually glad to jump in.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, September 24, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #271
Daze, #271: 
This is our evening gathering, under the eave of our mountain “chalet.” While dinner is being prepared, there is a lot of drinking of warm beer, and various other imbibements that were slipped into the horse saddlebags. During the course of the day, the other photographer in our group, and I, would wander in the nearby forests and summit meadows, the rangers would browse for food, and the rest generally sit right here drinking, and trying to stay out of the blazing sun. It is helpful to us all that there are few insects.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, September 17, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #270
Daze, #270: 
In the Caucasus Mountains, this is the kitchen of our hideaway “chalet.” Hot water in the kettle, dinner in the pot (right). As I noted in previous posts, with no refrigeration, and daily temperatures in the 90’s, there is no “fresh” food to be had, so the evening meal is always a potato soup with some variations from the forest, collected by the rangers. It is a daily task for them to wander in the woods collecting a variety of herbs and mushrooms, and for the few days we stayed with them, they managed to change the flavor every night.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, September 10, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #269
Daze, #269: 
The landscape surrounding our cabin hosts two distinctly different environments. The open meadows, as you saw in the last post, and the deep, old growth forest. Undisturbed for hundreds of years, these forests are home to some gigantic trees, many of which are now decorated by layers of lichen and moss. In the understory there are wildflowers, but these are very different from the ones in the open meadows. Those grow close to the ground. Here, in the shade of the canopy, the flowers stretch to the light, and many of the species are over my head, becoming a forest of their own. This is truly untouched wilderness, and wandering anywhere beneath the trees is rugged, and takes a lot of work.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, September 3, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #268
Daze, #268: 
The meadows around our cabin in the Caucasus, were vast, and spread in all directions for miles. There were concentrations of wildflowers sprawling across them, and varied fields of similar flowers would appear depending on waterflow, and sun exposure. This particular array is dense, and the view is looking into the southern part of the range. Pertaining to our mission here, we had come to ask the newly established government, not to invade this zapovednik for logging or mining resources, and in our four days of talks in Maycop, prior to coming here, the president and his new cabinet agreed they would not.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, August 27, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #267
Daze, #267: 
Home, sweet home, for the next four days. The cabin is small, and there are a lot of us, so we are packed sleeping bag to sleeping bag, but it is manageable. The heat, however, is unrelenting until the cool of evening, so most of our time is spent under the shed roof, at the bench and table where we eat (and drink-hey, it’s Russia). In this shot, our merry crew has gathered for evening cocktails, and the fire pit has been ignited in the “kitchen" (foreground, right). Every evening meal was some variation of potato soup, as there was no cold storage of anything.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, August 20, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #266
Daze, #266: 
When Margaret Williams, and I, departed the Bryansky Les Zapovednik, we returned to Moscow by train for a brief stay, and regrouped for our next location, the Caucasus Mountains. To get into the Caucasus zapovednik, we would again be assigned guides, which were being provided for us through connections with the local government in a region known as the Republic of Adygea. Adygea was a 3hr. plane flight from Moscow to its capital city, Maykop, which has a population of around 140,000 people. The republic had been recently created by the breakup of the former Soviet Union, and we were the first “foreign dignitaries” to visit, so we were met at the airport by the new President. We spent three days in Maykop, being shown about, and getting our paperwork in order, and then we traveled by car some 8hrs. to reach a tiny village at the foot of the Caucasus Range, where our ranger guides lived. As with Igor, these guides were game wardens, and the only people allowed into the reserve without special permission, and, like Igor, they were fully armed with “shoot-to-kill” orders if they encountered poachers. We overnighted in the tiny village, and early the next morning, departed on horseback to enter the range. After several hours of riding, much of it uphill, we came out of the forest onto a lesser summit covered by a vast meadow of wildflowers, and incredible views in every direction (above). Several hundred yards below us, at the edge of the meadow was a small wood cabin that would become home to us for the next several days. What a setting.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, August 13, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #265
Daze, #265: 
This is our Russian guide, and game warden of the Bryansky Les Zapovednik, Igor Shpilenok. Igor was a great person to hang with during our visit, and a great photographer in his own right. He does a lot of great work with animals, and his book, Kamchatka, Wilderness at the Edge, features stunning landscapes. I was very happy to be one of those that voted Igor into membership of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), of which I was a Founding Fellow. As you will read, if you click the link I have provided, he and Laura, now work as a team, traveling all around Russia and Siberia. Google his work, it is well worth a look.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, August 6, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #264
Daze, #264: 
On one of our final days with Igor in the Bryansky Les Zapovednik, he took Margaret Williams, myself, and his partner, Laura Williams, through a labyrinth of channels in the reserve to reach the sizable open waters of the Desna River. The bigger river generated cooler air around us, and there were no insects to deal with at all. The trip took several hours, and we finally went ashore at a small historic town, on top of a hill, that had a beautiful church. We ate some food, and lingered for awhile by the water’s edge. Some people were fishing, and this gentleman (above) was working his field. As Margaret spoke fluent Russian, she engaged him about what he was doing, and he was curious to know what we were doing as well, because we had so many cameras.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, July 30, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #263
Daze, #263: 
Because of the heat, and the plaque of insects, the best place to be on any given day in the Bryansky Les Nature Reserve, was in a moving boat, out on the rivers. The motion provided a cooling breeze, and motoring about left the insects behind. We went out to explore by water nearly every day, and spent most of the day afloat. Sometimes we would stay until dark, so it was nice to be led by Igor, our game warden host, because he never got lost in the confusion of channels.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, July 23, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #262
Daze, #262: 
The Bryansky Les Nature Reserve hosted vast stands of dense forest, surrounded by a great deal of loamy soil, and swampland. For the Soviet Partisan fighters that were attacking the Nazi supply chain which supported the German front laying siege to Moscow, this was the perfect hideout, as navigating around in it was extremely difficult for armored cars and tanks, many of which bogged down, and had to be abandoned. The partisans also built “hides” that were so cleverly camouflaged, they were difficult to find.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, July 16, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #261
Daze, #261: 
Margaret Williams of the Worldwide Fund for Nature, and I, hit the perfect season to visit the Bryansky Les Nature Reserve, which was among the zapovedniks I had come to Russia to photograph. The vast forest was a patchwork of tree groves, swamps, and broad meadows, that were at full bloom. As hot as it was, it was still beautiful, but to approach this as a camera subject required great care, because if you just walked through it, clouds of mosquitoes would rise from the grasses, and swarm you. These meadows also played an interesting part in Russian history. In World War II, the German front was attacking Moscow, and local partisans from several Soviet countries, hid in this forest reserve, and constantly interrupted the supply line supporting the Nazi frontline. The partisans were being supplied with food and ammunition by the European, and American forces, and those supplies would be flown in at night by plane. The planes would drop supplies in these meadows, which the partisans marked by lighting candles around their perimeter. Of course, the Germans wanted to disrupt this support, so to confuse them, the partisans would light dozens of meadows at the same time, and the drops would only be made at one specific one.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, July 9, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #260
Daze, #260: 
In the last post, did I say stifling heat? You had better believe it! Most days are in the 90’s with 100% humidity, so when I go out with Igor to walk around and shoot, we start before dawn, so we can arrive at our destination before the sun comes up. In that way we have about an hour to shoot before fleeing the rising heat, and the horrendous torrent of mosquitoes. Before dawn there is ground fog everywhere, which disappears as the sun rises, but the rising sun, and accompanying rising temperature, causes everything to steam, so there is always a haze in the meadow patches between the clusters of trees. It is a surreal environment in which to work, made even more uncomfortable by the need to wear a long-sleeved nylon shell to keep from being bitten. Igor’s house has no running water, but it does have a big pond adjacent to it, so when we return to his house, we immediately strip down and dive in the pond to bathe.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, July 2, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #259
Daze, #259: 
The village we have come to is where our guide, game warden, (and good photographer), Igor Shpilenok, lives with his partner, Laura Williams, an American. It is an ANCIENT village, and has NO CONTACT with the outside world. There are no roads in, nor out. There are no stores. No one has TV, nor a radio, and most of the residents, except for Igor and Laura, are in their 80’s, and 90’s. Amazingly, they are ALL self-sustaining! They raise sheep, goats, pigs, geese, chickens, and they all have large vegetable gardens. Walking through the village on any day, you would see everybody out working hard at some task in their garden, or herding around their various animals, even in the stifling heat.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
@RbtGlennKetchum @RobertGKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd

Follow Robert Glenn Ketchum's Photographic Activism Online:
TWITTER:  twitter.com/RobertGKetchum
PINTEREST:  pinterest.com/LittleBearProd
SOCIAL MEDIA by #LittleBearProd:  LittleBearProd
Wach Gallery:  Wach Gallery
____________________________________________________

Friday, June 25, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #258
Daze, #258: 
The game warden for the Bryansky Les Forest Nature Reserve met Margaret and me at a small platform where the train deposited us. There were no buildings, just a platform with a shed roof, and nothing else around. It was 6a.m. hot, humid, and foggy. The warden had a land cruiser-type vehicle with oversized wheels, and we soon learned that where we were going had no roads; we would just drive through the forest, and the swamps, off-road. During World War II, the Soviet partisans hid in this forest, and attacked vulnerable Nazi forces that were hindered by the difficult terrain in which their heavy artillery often bogged down. Our drive in made it clear how easy it would be to get bogged down. Margaret and I were ASTOUNDED at some of the things we drove over, and through. Eventually, however, the dense forest, and the bogs, gave way to a broad, open patch of treeless, dry land, dotted with several dozen wooden houses, all surrounded by vegetable gardens. We had arrived.

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Friday, June 18, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #257
Daze, #257: 
Once we had connected with our Russian counterparts, each of the photographers were given 3-4 reserves to visit, and 1 or 2 Russian biologists were assigned to accompany them. Margaret Williams, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), stayed with me, and the first reserve we were to visit was called the Bryansky Les Forest Nature Reserve, located adjacent the Nerussa River, near the border with Ukraine. Covering 47-square-miles, it is an integral part of the Nerussa-Desna Woodland UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve hosting one of the last remaining unbroken broadleaf forests in the southern part of the country. The forest supports abundant wildlife, and the rivers are rich with fish. The land is very flat with loamy, sandy soil, and many bogs. It is also hot in the summer, and very humid. We would take a train from Moscow to get there, and then we would be met by a warden, that would take us to the village in which he lived, and host us at his house. All aboard!

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Friday, June 11, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #256
Daze, #256: 
The other unusual project that I became part of in 1997 took me to Russia. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, Russia was broken into many new states. Under the domain of the Soviet empire, numerous biological reserves had been created all across the country, that recognized the spectacular diversity of Siberia. The Soviets protected these with a special status, and only officials, and resident biologist and researchers, were allowed into them. They were called “zapovedniks,” and they were patrolled by armed wardens that were instructed to shoot anybody not officially recognized, as they were likely poachers. Spread across the entire country, there were over 100 zapovedniks, and they were completely wild. When the Soviet Union broke up, the states gained control of the reserves in their state, and in the science community, there was worldwide concern that the states, especially the poorer ones, might exploit the reserves for timber, mining, and other industrial uses, that would damage or destroy these biologically valuable protected areas. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) recognized the potential of this threat, so it coordinated a group of American researchers and photographers to join with Russian scientists, to visit the reserves, photograph them, speak with the new heads of state about protecting them, and create an internet community between the biologists in the reserves, so they could exchange ideas, and remain informed about any negative developments. Margaret Williams of the WWF in the US, was about my age, and had lived in Moscow for several years, so she spoke fluent Russian, and she became the coordinator for our group. The first step was to fly to Moscow, to meet the Russian biologists, and to plan which photographers would go to which reserves. The above was my “residence” for the four days I spent in Moscow.

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Friday, June 4, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #255
Daze, #255: 
The NRDC campaign to protect the Pacific grey whale nursery of San Ignacio Lagoon using a host of personalities such as Pierce Brosnan, Glenn Close, and Bobby Kennedy, Jr. to stoke the press, did as it was expected to do, going viral in the press worldwide. Stories about Mitsubishi's threat to industrialize parts of the lagoon for salt extraction appeared in newspapers and magazines everywhere for many months. However, that did not seem to stop Mitsubishi, although it did make the general public much more aware. Then, the NRDC lead attorney in the west coast office, my friend, Joel Reynolds, dreamed up an ingenious idea. He convinced NRDC to buy a full page in the New York Times, and the Washington Post, that would call Mitsubishi out, and make clear how their proposed development would unnecessarily impact this unique whale habitat. The ad ran, but we were both surprised to find it did not have the impact we expected. Then, one day over lunch, I suggested that Mitsubishi was too nebulous an entity for the public to grasp, most just knew it as a car company, so I thought NRDC should run another add listing ALL the subsidiaries Mitsubishi owned, and ask the public NOT to purchase or invest in any of their holdings, some of which included well known entities such as Dai Nippon, Kirin, and Nikon. Within a month of running that ad, Mitsubishi withdrew their plans to develop the lagoon, and the president of Mexico nominated San Ignacio Lagoon to be placed into the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, which it was. Mission accomplished!

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Friday, May 28, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #254
Daze, #254: 
Although the collective habitat of San Ignacio Lagoon is interesting, the stars of the show are the Pacific gray whales and their curious offspring. San Ignacio whales for some reason, behave in a most unique way. Not only are they curious about people in boats floating around in their water, but they approach the boats, and interact. Many times they will approach from behind and push a boat, and sometimes they will breach very close to one, just to make everyone squeal, but VERY frequently they will come alongside, and rub against the side of the boat, allowing themselves to be petted, and touched. It does not get more intimate than this. These two women are KISSING this whale. WHAT!?

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Friday, May 21, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #253
Daze, #253: 
In the last post, I detailed the richness of the San Ignacio Lagoon salt-water habitat, and here with the tide out, you can actually see it. I am in one of the now-exposed mangrove channels, and the shore is covered by hundreds of shells. Most of the ones here are clams, abalone, and scallops. These shells litter all the low tide beaches, and as the sand / silt slowly cover them over, they leach lime, and it “cements” them into the bottom as the layers build. When the tide is out, and you are clambering around on the exposed edges of the rocky shore, you can see layer upon layer of these shells that have created the edge of the shore. It is, quite literally, looking at layers of time.

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Friday, May 14, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #252
Daze, #252: 
About 1/2 hour beyond Scammon's Lagoon, our flight carries us over San Ignacio Lagoon, where we will be camped, and whale watching, for the next ten days. In this picture the water, top-right, is the Pacific Ocean, and you can see waves breaking on the sandy berm that separates the Pacific from the lagoon to the left of the bar. The lagoon is one of only three such places that the Pacific gray whales give birth, and nurse their juveniles, before taking them out into the more dangerous waters of the open Pacific. The lagoon is an interesting complex of mangrove channels, islands of sea grass, and expanses of open water, surrounded by a very dry, scrub desert. As you will see in the next post, the lagoon is also rich in shellfish with vast beds of scallops, abalone, mussels, and large clams. It is also an important feeding habitat for four of the seven species of sea turtles, leatherbacks, hawksbills, green turtles, and olive ridleys, all of which are endangered. We will land on a dirt airstrip about 1/2-hour away, and buses and trucks will take our large party into the tent camp, which is located on a rocky peninsula that juts into the lagoon.

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Friday, May 7, 2021
The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #251
Daze, #251: 
On the way to San Ignacio Lagoon with NRDC and their star-studded guest list (see previous post), we fly over the salt extraction operation at Scammons Lagoon, which, when constructed by Mitsubishi disrupted the grey whales using it as a birthing nursery, causing a decline in their visitation numbers. Now Mitsubishi wants to do the same in San Ignacio Lagoon, and NRDC is determined NOT to let it happen. The whales of San Ignacio Lagoon apparently display a most unusual “affection” behavior, and choose to interact with visitors, often allowing themselves to be “petted”. What?

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Friday, April 30, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #250
Daze, #250: 
1997 is to be a year of several epic projects outside the U.S. in places I have never visited. It starts with an invitation from my friend Joel Reynolds, at that time lead attorney for the West Coast offices of NRDC, to join NRDC and a host of famous friends in Baja. There, a place known as San Ignacio Lagoon, is one of three birthing nurseries for gray whales on the Baja coast. One of the three, Scammons Lagoon, has been disrupted by a salt extraction plant built by Mitsubishi, and whale use declined significantly. Now Mitsubishi wants to develop a similar facility in San Ignacio, and NRDC is determined to prevent it from happening. Their first move is to create a press storm, and that is the purpose of the trip, which I have been invited to join. Major media from both North and South America has been brought in to film while Pierce Brosnan, and his son, Glenn Close, and her two daughters, Bobby Kennedy, and his family, and Jean-Michel Cousteau interact with what are reported to be VERY “friendly” whales. In this picture, left to right, John Adams, co-founder of NRDC, and his wife Patricia; Bobby Kennedy, middle-back, standing behind Glenn Close, and Pierce Brosnan, second from the right. We had a whale of a time!

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Friday, April 23, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #249
Daze, #249: 
Following my visit to Afognak Island, shortly after the logging ceased, the American Land Conservancy (ALC) on whose board I sit, stepped in. In a VERY complex deal brokered by Harriet Burgess, and her team, using carbon sequestration grants, carbon offset purchases, and Exxon Valdez oil spill funds made available through the state, they start the reforestation of the island. Working with the state fisheries program, they repopulate the streams with salmon, and other species, and they partner with the American Elk Foundation to reintroduce deer and elk. Afognak is now in recovery. Salmon runs are returning to the rivers, trees are maturing, and deer and elk populate the island. All in all, it is an amazing accomplishment for ALC, and one in which I am glad to have aided. Also in 1996, I found Advocacy Arts Foundation, a 501(c)3, non-profit group to help raise funds for other artists producing advocacy-directed work, but who are having trouble getting their projects financed. Near the end of the year, I also work on a calendar with the company, Pomegranate Calendars. Entitled, The Arc of Alaska: The Last of the Great American Rainforests, it is the first (and only) holiday calendar to feature explicit text and pictures of forests that are being threatened with industrial logging.

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Friday, April 16, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #248
Daze, #248: 
To justify their abusive clearcut, the loggers held that since this was Native corporation land, they were not constrained by the rules of practice established by the 1990 Tongass Timber Reform Act. Most notably ignored was the legal mandate that streams and rivers that hosted salmon runs were to have buffering trees left standing, therefore the cut would not come to the river’s edge. Needless to say, as you can see here, that rule was ignored completely. As a result, every salmon run on Afognak ceased to exist. The shortsightedness of the corporation board then played out in a VERY unexpected way. With no deer to hunt, and no fish to catch, the subsistence lifestyle of the village collapsed, and the entire village had to go on welfare in order to provide themselves with food made extremely expensive because it all had to be shipped in by ferry. The American Land Conservancy stepped in at this point with the intent to buy back the island, reforest it, return fish populations to the rivers, and reestablish ungulates that could be hunted for meat.

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Friday, April 9, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #247
Daze, #247: 
A Native village, and a Native corporation in Alaska are two very different things, and sometimes they can be quite at odds with each other. A Native village is an entire community, and very often they are living subsistence lifestyles, hunting, fishing, and gathering for their food resources. A Native corporation owns the village lands, and those elected to serve as the corporate board supposedly manage the lands for the economic benefit of the village. Sometimes the board and the village don’t agree on what provides the most economic benefit, and that became the history of Afognak Island. Not acknowledging the value of Afognak for subsistence use, the Native corporation “sold” the island so that the old growth timber could be logged for the dollar value. The loggers hammered the island, and the bears, deer, and salmon disappeared, which ended all subsistence value.

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Friday, April 2, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #246
Daze, #246: 
If you have been following this blog, you will recall that in 1993 I was invited to join the board of councillors for the American Land Conservancy (ALC). One of the first projects I helped them accomplish was the purchase of Limekiln Creek (CA). In 1996, they asked me to join in on another project, this one in Alaska. Off the western shore of the mainland, and opposite Katmai National Park and Preserve, sits a cluster of Islands, of which two of the largest are Kodiak, and Afognak. Kodiak is the largest, and although there are a number of citizens on the island of different races, Kodiak is predominantly a Native owned island. Afognak was entirely Native owned, and has no villages. It is, essentially, an island wilderness. Both islands are part of a substantial commercial fishing industry, which includes salmon that return to spawn in the many rivers that flow off the islands to the sea. Originally Afognak was lushly forested and hosted many of these rivers (above).

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Friday, March 26, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #245
Daze, #245: 
1996 also brought me one of my most cherished acknowledgements. In 1990, American Photo magazine included several of my images in a portfolio of photographers that the article dubbed as “Earth Angels: Concerned Photographers and the Environment.” Then, in 1994, that same magazine included me in a special feature, “The 100 Most Important People in Photography,” which not only listed photographers, but dealers, and curators, as well. It was the inclusion in the 1996 issue of Audubon magazine, however, that meant the most to me. This special issue was entitled, “The Century of Conservation,” and it included a list of 100 people they believed, “helped shape the conservation movement of the 20th Century.” There were only three photographers in that list of 100 names, Roger Tory Peterson, Ansel Adams, and myself. It was a great way to start off the year.

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Friday, March 19, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #244
Daze, #244: 
After going on press in Milan, Italy, at the end of 1995, in early 1996 Aperture released, Northwest Passage, my journal, and pictures, of my trip across the Arctic, as a guest aboard Bill Simon’s spectacular boat, “Itasca,” attempting to be the first crossing by a private yacht in a single season, which we accomplished. This publication was the first comprehensive look at a broad perspective of the Arctic landscape ever to be in print. It was also made more encompassing because I had access throughout the trip to a helicopter, and this book contained some of my first, and most important, aerial work. Aperture, and I, also created a national traveling exhibit of this work entitled, “Arctic.” In the book, my friend, Barry Lopez, had allowed me/Aperture to use brief quotes from his amazing book, Arctic Dreams, and I also used them in the exhibit. The exhibit differed from the book content, however, which is why we did not call the exhibit Northwest Passage. The pictures in the exhibit were from the publication, but instead of using my journal entries as text for the show, along with quotes from Barry, I put up text covering the latest science about climate change, and in 1994 that was controversial. Several museums refused to take the exhibit because I would not let them remove these texts, telling me that such “politics” had no place in art. Really? WTF! But Robert Mapplethorpe is okay?

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Friday, March 12, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #243
Daze, #243: 
Near the end of 1995, Steve Baron, press master for Aperture, and I, travel to Milan, Italy, to oversee the printing of my next Aperture book, Northwest Passage. Printing is a sleep depriving process, as you get called to press about every six hours until the printing run is complete, and that usually takes 3-4 days. To recover, Steve, and I, treated ourselves with a few additional days to enjoy Milan, and from a friend in the states, I had learned of a very unusual estate collection of photographs that I suggested to Steve we should view. He agreed, so I called the family of historic mountaineering photographer, Vittorio Sella, and ask if we might visit, and view their archives of his work. They invite us, so the next day we find ourselves in a beautiful, large home next to a river, being shown Sella’s prints by the familie's VERY attractive, young daughter. Sella photographed with a huge wet-plate view camera in the late 1800’s, dragging it into some of the most extreme mountain locations in the world. All of this was done at a time, when there was no such thing as mountaineering gear. I mean, they did not even have ice-axes, the used poles, and he, and his teams, climbed in the Himalayas, and the St. Elias Range in North America. Insane! The prints were masterpieces, and the family filed them in a tricked-out display room with chronological drawer storage, and slant display tables for viewing. Steve and I were blown away, and asked them if they would allow Aperture to publish the work, if we could talk CEO, Michael Hoffman, into it. They knew of Aperture’s publishing prestige, and were flattered, so they said they would love to have that happen. Now it would be up to Steve, and I, to convince Michael to do it, which we did.

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Friday, March 5, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #242
Daze, #242: 
The final accomplishment of 1995, was the publishing of the book, LOTUSLAND: A Photographic Odyssey. Nearly 2yrs. before, I had been invited to photograph the home, and eccentric gardens, of an equally eccentric woman, Ganna Walska. Located in Santa Barbara, Lotusland was a sprawling estate of many acres, which Ganna had woven into a very unusual mix of plantings. She had gardens dedicated to cacti, aloes, cycad trees, palms, cymbidiums, and bromeliads, often blending them together in surprising ways, such as putting white, hoary cacti around the base of redwood trees. She also had some massive epiphytes in baskets hanging from the oaks and eucalyptus. There was a Japanese garden, as well, with a sizable pond full of Koi. My favorite, however, and perhaps the oddest part of the landscaping, was the swimming pool which featured a waterfall tower composed of giant clam shells like those in the book’s cover picture, above. I was one of three photographers featured in the book, but the majority of their pictures were close-ups of various plants, and the preponderance of my images took a step back, incorporating a broader perspective of the various gardens.

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Friday, February 26, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #241
Daze, #241: 
There are some other events in 1995 worth mentioning. I attended the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara in the early ‘70s to learn to work with a view camera, and to print color. Having acquired those skills, I left Brooks after the first year, passing on their M.S. degree, and preferred to pursue an M.F.A. at the newly opened California Institute of the Arts. By 1995, my photographic accomplishments were becoming well known, and Brooks invited me back to deliver a graduation address, after which they awarded me an honorary M.S. I was also given the Chevron-Times-Mirror Magazines Conservation Award, and besides the award, they wanted photo-ops of me with the representatives from my state, so they flew me to D.C., and we walked the halls of Congress. Above, we all stand with the lovely Barbara Boxer, and below I am rubbing shoulders with Henry Waxman. As you can see, I also took the opportunity to gift them copies of my recent Aperture book, The Legacy of Wildness. Lastly, my friend, Robert Redford, was producing a movie starring Michael Douglas, and Annette Bening, called The American President. Douglas played a president who lost his wife, and he began having an affair with Bening, who played a lobbyist for a big conservation group. Redford decided that her office set should be decorated with my imagery, which can be seen throughout the film. I am also one of the few non-union photographers to ever get a screen credit, but the union insisted I had to be the last name listed on the credit scroll.

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Friday, February 19, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #240
Daze, #240: 
As you have seen in the last few posts, of the many photographs that I exhibited in the hallway leading to Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt’s office, the Alaska ones drew the most praise and attention, and well they should have. My 24yrs. of working in Alaska produced many of my best images, because Alaska is one of the most remarkable landscapes that I ever encountered. In the last post, I spoke of Camp Denali, a place I visited many times, and often with my kids. The bus ride from the park entrance to Camp Denali takes 7hrs., and I always choose to do it coming in, because the drive just keeps getting better and better. However, I found that on the way out, it often made me sad to be leaving, and so I adopted another tactic when the weather permitted. Camp Denali is quite close to Kantishna, a small community that has an airfield, and pilots there offer flight-seeing of Denali. They will also fly you out to the park entrance. On my last trip to the park, my son, and daughter were with me, and we were there at peak fall. On the day of departure the weather was perfect, so we opted to fly out. With no wind at all, the pilot was able to offer us an astounding tour of Denali summit and the surrounding glaciers, but I think the most beautiful part of the journey, was flying above the lower part of the park, aglow with an unmatched display of color. This is the Toklat River Valley. Yeow!

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
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Friday, February 12, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #239
Daze, #239: 
In the last post, I noted that after the Advocacy Arts Foundation Board meeting in Anchorage, our group of board members, and their families, split into two groups. The more adventurous spent 10-days floating a portion of the Noatak River in the far north, the rest spent those same days in the rustic comfort of Camp Denali. Camp Denali is my favorite destination in all of Alaska, and I have visited many times, often with my children. The log cabins you are assigned, are built on a high ridge that looks down on Wonder Lake, and offers a full view of the mountain on days when it is visible. Those days are less than 45-per-year, so viewing it clearly IS a big deal. Guests at Camp Denali wait in anticipation of a clear day, and with the summit not in site, there is a lot of speculation about how big it might be. Therefore, consider this, those, “foothills” you see in this image that have no snow on their lower slopes, are the Alaska Range with summits that are generally 10,000-12,000ft. In, and of themselves, they are significant, but they are dwarfed by Denali. Note also, coming into Wonder Lake from the left, are two people in a canoe. A most excellent day to go out and paddle about,..or to just sit on your cabin’s porch and watch.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
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Friday, February 5, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #238
Daze, #238: 
Another group of prints that I hung in Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt’s office hallway, were created during a river float and camping trip down the Noatak River. In 1996 I created the non-profit Advocacy Arts Foundation to help other pro-active photographers get their work published and exhibited, and during at least one board meeting during the year, the board would travel to a significant destination that was a unique habitat. Over the years we visited Galapagos, Costa Rica, several notable North American national parks, and Alaska. After our board meeting in Alaska, the attendees split into two groups, those that were less adventurous went to stay in Camp Denali, those that were more adventurous flew to the Native village of Kotzebue, from where we expected to stage a multi-raft river float down a portion of the Noatak River. The Noatak headwaters are in Gates of Arctic National Park and Preserve. Along its way to the sea, the river skirts the north perimeter of Kobuk Valley National Park, and eventually flows into the Chukchi Sea at Kotzebue. Part of the river is a national preserve, and I was hoping to see it made a national park. Although that has not yet happened, we had a spectacular late-fall float, at peak color, which will be in a future blog story. To get to the put-in, we had multiple air flights into the tiny village of Ambler, where we overnighted, then the next day we flew from Ambler to where the Noatak leaves the Gates of Arctic. It was 10-day camp and float, with lots of spectacular hiking. In the picture above, our group has summited to have a look at the “big picture” of a vast, beautiful, meandering river. For scale, look carefully at the image. Coming in from the left is a back channel that does not connect to the river before it. There is a patch of greenery at the edge of that back channel, next to which you can barely distinguish four yellow tents that mark our campsite. Talk about insignificant in the grand scale of things, we were!

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021
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Friday, January 29, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #237
Daze, #237: 
This is a portion of Icy Bay, and I put prints from this camping and kayaking trip up in the Department of Interior hallway leading to Bruce Babbitt’s office, because Icy Bay was not part of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and I thought it should be. It lies at the foot of St. Elias’s west face, and is one of the most glacial active areas of retreat in all of North America. My wife at the time, Amy Holm, and I, joined a small group of willing adventurers in the late summer, and we were flown to the shore of Icy Bay from the town of Yakutat. From there, we assembled our kayaks and spent the next 10-days exploring the bay. It was one of my most memorable camping experiences in Alaska, in part because of the dynamic beauty of it all, and also in part, because it delivered one of my few near-death experiences. If you would like to learn the full story, and see the AMAZING pictures, click on this link. Icy Bay has still not been added to the park, sadly. I would be very interested to see it today, and compare how much retreat of the ice has occurred since I made my pictures. A considerable amount I am sure.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021 
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Friday, January 22, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #236
Daze, #236: 
In 1995, I was still serving as Curator of Photography for the National Park Foundation (NPF), and working with them, and the Alaska Conservation Foundation (ACF), on whose board I now sat, I received an offer to perform as a guest curator to the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI). The Secretary of the Interior also sits on the board of the NPF, and at the time, that was Bruce Babbitt. During one of the NPF board meetings held in their offices, which were decorated with prints of mine from various projects related to the interior lands and parks, Babbitt commented to then Director of NPF, John Bryant, that he wished he had some images like mine to hang on the large, and barren, hallway walls in his DOI office. John always supported my work, and so he jumped at the chance to do me a favor, suggesting to Babbitt that the NPF could make a “loan” of select works for his offices, and Babbitt was thrilled. It was also agreed that designing and changing the installation periodically, would fall to me, so Babbitt decided to give me an official title as Guest Curator, to make my entry, exit, and presence, as trouble-free as possible, dragging framed prints in and out of the DOI building. I put up work from numerous projects. The exhibit of images from the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area encouraged greater appreciation of the park, which was upgraded to national park status in 2000. My work in Saguaro National Monument resulted in it being upgraded to national park status in 1994, so I installed some of those pictures as well. The most commented upon, however, were my photographs of Alaska. The one above features Mount St. Elias in the distance, and within the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park but the foreground is Icy Bay, which I hoped to see added to the park, stopping the destructive industrial logging, that was creeping ever closer, but as yet, Icy Bay has not been included, I am sad to say.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021 
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Friday, January 15, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #235
Daze, #235: 
Having a helicopter aboard to shoot from on daily flightsees, was a godsend for my work, and provided many astounding images for the resulting Aperture book, and traveling exhibit, but near the end of our trip, one more unusual opportunity to work from the air occurred. The last village we stopped in before leaving Canada for Greenland, was Pond Inlet on Baffin Island. We had come through the Northwest Passage in record time, and had time to kill before heading home. By coincidence, while ashore in Pond Inlet, a mail/cargo plane landed, and Bill Simon got a brilliant new idea. He wanted the two pilots to fly us to the North Pole. They explained that was not possible because of the distance, but they did say they were doing a run to several towns and villages, including Eureka Base, one of the northernmost outposts in the Arctic, and they would take us along if we wanted to do that. It would be a two-day trip, and we would overnight at Eureka. We would also have some time to flightsee. Everybody wanted to do it, so we were off the next morning. Of course, I dragged my Pentax 645 camera along hoping to take pictures through whatever plane windows were available, but I was disappointed to discover that the plexiglass portals of this old cargo plane were badly scratched and hazy. In the early part of our flight, I was depressed by this, and the sling chairs we all sat in were very uncomfortable, so I got up to walk around and stretch. At the back of the plane, where the entry door was located, I discovered that the door featured a 20” circular, window of clear, unblemished glass. I had to stand to shoot, but the view was astonishing, and the clarity of the glass was as though it was not there at all. The 2-days of photographing through this window were tiring because I was standing for hours at a time, but because we were much higher in the air than when I was in the helicopter, the perspective of the landscape was more encompassing and vast. This was an unexpected blessing upon the work I was doing, and the results were phenomenal. If you would like to know more about this adventure, click here.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021 
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Friday, January 8, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #234
Daze, #234: 
Part of Bill Simon’s strategy in getting through the Northwest Passage in a single season, was to aerially survey the ocean in front of our line of navigation, so that we could avoid being blocked, or trapped in the ice, always using available open leads to keep moving forward. To accomplish that, Bill hired a helicopter, and pilot, out of Yellowknife, Canada, who met us at the native village of Coppermine/Kugluktuk. By Canadian law, we also had a registered ice-pilot aboard to advise Captain Jouning, but regardless of the expertise, from deck level, you could only see so far in front of the boat, thus, for the most part, we would have no idea what lay ahead. Once the helicopter joined our jolly crew, it changed everything, especially for me. “Itasca” generally did about 50-miles a day, so once the copter was aboard, there would be a morning flight to survey those miles, find open leads, and the location of things to avoid would be radioed back to our boat, but after that, such scouting was no longer needed for the rest of the day. So, I convinced Bill that since he was paying for each and every day, I should go up with the pilot, flightsee, and take pictures, and Bill agreed. I had only once previously used a helicopter from which to shoot, at Sundance, during my Artist-In-Residence there, and it was VERY productive. In the tiny Arctic Cat helicopter we had aboard, my vantage was even better because, I could not only open a window, but I could shoot through the all-plexiglass bubble that surrounded the two front seats. We flew above the amazing Arctic landscape everyday, and the more the pilot, and I, worked together, the more that he would sense what I was shooting, and he would position the copter to afford me the best shot.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021 
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Friday, January 1, 2021

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #233
Daze, #233:  
Bill Simon’s yacht, “Itasca,” was actually an elegantly converted super-tanker tug boat. He chose to build around that framework because the tug had a very shallow draft, and a lot of duplicate systems, such as the engines, so if one went down, there would be another to take its place. He also chose his staff wisely, and two of the deck crew with us on our voyage, were actually craftsmen that had helped to convert the tug boat. As a consequence, after the destructive pounding from the 20-30ft swell in Nome, once we pulled into the safety of the harbor at Teller, those two crewmen did not go back to bed, but instead went down into the workshop below deck, and began making repairs, replacing windows, and re-hanging doors. By the time Bill and his other guests arrived the next morning, most of the work was done, and you could hardly tell there had been so much damage. It would turn out that swell would be the only occurrence we would encounter of a stormy sea, the rest of the trip was often glassy, waveless motoring. We did encounter a passing cold front one evening, but it was only the sky that was stirred up, not the ocean. From Teller, we cruised north, around Wales, and Point Hope, through the Chukchi Sea, and on to Barrow (Utqiagvik), where we entered the Beaufort Sea. The crystal clear Arctic air, and the glassy, flat sea did offer us another most unusual phenomenon, however, mirages. A mirage occurs when light waves bounce off the atmosphere, and return to the surface of the planet. If that surface is reflective glassy water, they bounce again, and go back up into the atmosphere. When conditions are just right, there may be A LOT of bouncing. After Barrow we passed by the oil facilities at Prudhoe Bay. Many days, and many miles later, one morning this appeared on our horizon (above). The strange cloud line is NOT really there. It is part of the mirage. The rest of the mirage are some of the processing towers we saw back at Prudhoe Bay, only now they are hanging upside-down, between the non-existent cloud, and the surface of the Beaufort Sea. What?

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2021 
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Friday, December 25, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #232
Daze, #232:  
Now an invited guest that would join Bill Simon’s expedition, attempting to be the first private yacht to cross through the Northwest Passage in a single season, I planned on bringing both my Pentax 6x7, and my 645 cameras. Bill asked if I ever shot movie film before, and I had not, but said that I was sure I could, so he bought me a very nice small movie cam, as well. When the day of departure arrived, I flew from Anchorage to Nome loaded down with warm clothes, lots of cameras, and a ridiculous amount of film. I was told the trip might take two months, and I wanted to be sure that I would not run out of film. Nome is a very small seaside town with an equally small harbor, and a freight ship occupied the single pier mooring, so Bill’s yacht, “Itasca,” was anchored in deep water offshore. When I reported to the harbormaster, he radioed “Itasca,” and they sent a Zodiac in for me. After loading my various bags, I was told to put on my rain gear, and they tarped my luggage, explaining that there was a 20ft. swell running, and things might get wet. Outside the harbor, there were no breaking waves, but it was a HUGE swell, and a wild ride. “Itasca” was swinging and rolling wildly, so offloading was extremely tricky, and once aboard, I was glad that I had already applied my motion sickness meds. It was hard to get around onboard, and I did a lot of bouncing off the walls, but I got out my movie cam, and started filming right away. As the day wore on, the swell got even bigger, and although one more guest came aboard, by the time Bill and the others arrived, the captain deemed it unsafe to go in for them, so it was determined they would overnight in Nome, and drive to the protected port of Teller in the morning, where we would pick them up. That night, the swell continued to rage and grow, and the bed in my room paralleled the surge, so I could not lie in it without being thrown onto the floor. However, in the lounge on the upper deck, where the huge TV was located, there was a sofa that was better positioned, so I went there. This deck is about 30ft. off the water, nonetheless, around 1a.m., a gigantic wave struck the boat, breaking out the windows in the lounge, and on other levels, blowing drawers onto the floor, and tearing doors off their hinges. It was quite a dramatic beginning to the trip. Deciding not to risk anymore exposure at anchor, our captain pulled it up, and headed for Teller in the dark, where we finally found quiet water in the well protected harbor.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, December 18, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #231
Daze, #231:  
Of the many things that occurred in my life in 1994, perhaps the most significant began with an unexpected phone call. I was in my studio when the phone rang, and a voice identified himself as Bill Simon, a member of The Explorers Club in New York. He stated that he was going to attempt to be the first private yacht to cross the Northwest Passage in a single season, and wondered if I would like to join the expedition as their photographer? As a member of the club myself, I had similar offers for other trips, but all of them expected me to share the expenses of the journey. Surprisingly, when I asked Bill what it was going to cost me, he replied that I would be his guest, and he would cover any expenses I incurred getting to and from the starting and finishing points, as well. That gave me pause, so I responded by saying, “Excuse me, who is this again?” To which he replied, “Forgive me, this is William E. Simon, former Secretary of the Treasury, and you will be on my yacht with several of my friends, and other members of the club.” After a moment of stunned silence, of course, I said I would love to participate in the voyage. Bill then said there was one caveat, he wanted to be sure if he and his friends were stuck on a boat with me for a month or two, that I would be tolerable company, and he wanted to meet me face-to-face, and talk with me over a meal. I assured him that I understood, and would be happy to do that, so he said he was flying into San Francisco in a week, and he wanted to meet me there for a lunch, to which I also agreed. I was given an address in Palo Alto, so on the appointed day, I flew into SF, and drove south. I found myself on a street running through the Stanford campus, and the address took me to The Hoover Institution, a political think-tank, generally considered conservative. My hair was quite long, and I was dressed casually, suddenly feeling like I needed a coat and tie. When I entered the foyer, the receptionist looked up, and without missing a beat, said, “Oh, you must be Mr. Ketchum.” She then directed me up stairs, to an office where she said Mr. Simon and Mr. Shultz were waiting to have lunch with me. When I entered the office, Bill rose immediately to introduce himself, and shake my hand. Then, he introduced me to his “friend," former Secretary of State, and the Treasury, George Shultz. I was relieved to see they were both dressed casually as well, and we sat down to a paper-bag lunch of sandwiches and cookies, while they talked with me. After about half an hour, Bill stood up and said that he enjoyed our conversation, so I WOULD join his band of adventurers to cross the Arctic, Then, he apologized, explaining that he, and Secretary Shultz, had to leave for a trip to a two-week “event” at the Bohemian Grove, but I was welcome to stay and finish my lunch, so I did. Bill proved to be an interesting person to be around, and I would like to thank fellow guest, John Bockstoce, for this picture that captures Bill's enthusiastic personality.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, December 11, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #230
Daze, #230:  
As I would come to learn, Lotusland, was created by an eccentric European opera singer named Ganna Walska. Famous for sparing no expense on her wardrobes, she also spared no expense on creating her unusual garden. Married six times, it took four wealthy husbands to help pay for it all. The estate that hosts the garden is a 37-acre expanse in the foothills of Montecito, and although the gardens blend, one into the other, there are clearly areas of specific plantings and themes: orchids, bromeliads, cacti, cycads, epiphytes, aloes or every description that surround a swimming pool, adorned by waterfalls created from stacked giant clam shells, and a Japanese garden with a huge koi pond. Beneath towering palm trees, in the dappled light of day, one of my favorites niches was the “blue” garden (above). Mixing succulents, palms, and perennial flowers together, but all in shades of blue, the air literally glows blue in the filtered light. It becomes a truly saturated blue in the overcast of a rainy day. To embellish it further, blue stones mark the path through it, and broken blue slag glass from melted coke bottles decorate the sides of the path. I did not garden much, myself, at the time, but was inspired by Lotusland to do so, and my two home gardens incorporate not only an unusual mixing of plants, but I, too, have blue slag glass chunks, and a large number of epiphytes in hanging baskets. In fact, many of my epiphytes were grown from cuttings given me during this Lotusland project. Ganna’s craziness is being channeled in my backyard.

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Friday, December 4, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #229
Daze, #229:  
Also in 1994, I received an interesting phone call from a “garden” in Santa Barbara. It seems an eccentric women named Ganna Walska, created a spectacular garden in the foothills of Montecito, and it was about to open to the public after numerous years of restoration. To celebrate the opening, and attract a public audience, the staff decided to create a book, and invited three photographers to participate, of which I was one. I spent many years in Santa Barbara, and even attended the Brooks Institute of Photography, so I was amazed that I had never heard of Lotusland, thus I was very happy to be one of those selected, and eager to see the estate. I knew the location, and had driven by it many times, but like so many of the large properties in the area, you cannot really see what is inside the walls, and behind the screen of trees. On my first visit, as I drove through the gates, and up the driveway to the original house, now serving as office spaces for the staff, I was astounded. The gardens on either side of the driveway were unlike any I had ever seen, mixing some very surprising plantings together (cacti beneath Redwood trees), and the house was painted a saturated pink, fronted by one of the largest, and most striking, cactus gardens you could imagine. This looked like it was going to be a VERY fun project on which to work.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, November 27, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #228
Daze, #228:  
Laurance Rockefeller was my first big sale, when he discovered, and purchased, my portfolio, “Winters: 1970-1980”, after attending my exhibit in New York at Nikon House. David Rockefeller probably knew me through those images, and so he attended one of my exhibits at Aperture, some years later, buying a print from my Northwest Passage adventure related to my newly published Aperture book of the same name. I joined the Board of Trustees of the Alaska Conservation Foundation (ALC) in 1994, and soon thereafter, David joined the board as well. We became friends over the next 9yrs. of service to the board because we both loved Alaska, and adventuring there. We operated by the same M.O. - we used the 3-day board meetings as our excuse for visiting the state, but we usually stayed 2-3 additional weeks, to wander around somewhere other than Anchorage. When David finally left the ALC board at the end of his term, ALC hosted a lovely party for him at one of New York’s fancier hotels,..it may have been the Waldorf Astoria. The absolute location details are a little sketchy because it was quite a night, and quite a party. I clearly drank too much, but was sober enough for this photo-op with David, when ALC gave him one of my most popular prints from my Tongass work as a going-away gift. (I am not sure why my face looks like I am storing nuts in my cheeks, maybe it is just the strobe light,..Hahaha!). After this ceremony, the luster of being David’s friend rubbed off on me, and I was accosted by two gorgeous 40-somethings, decked out to the nines in elegant clothes, who insisted I should spend the rest of the evening misbehaving with both of them,..so I did. Thank you, David!

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Friday, November 20, 2020


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #227
Daze, #227:  
Having worked to protect the Tongass rainforest from industrial logging for nearly 10yrs., my efforts attracted the attention of the Alaska Conservation Foundation (ACF), at the time the largest environmental NGO in the state, and they invited me onto their board. ACF was very sensitive to their image as an “Alaskan” NGO, so the board had few “outsiders,” and most were distinguished residents, among whom I found two good friends, David Rockefeller, a fellow outsider, and Celia Hunter, one of the most admired and respected conservationist living in the state. For those of you who have followed my blogs, you will recall that I first met Celia, while floating the Tatshenshini River on a trip organized by The Nature Conservancy to prevent the building of a mine in the river corridor. If you have not seen that blog, click here. Of the numerous things Celia had done in her life, one was to found Camp Denali, a unique, rustic lodge style accommodation inside Denali National Park, and one that both my children and I would visit many times.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, November 13, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #226
Daze, #226:  
The exhibit I assembled, “The Tongass: Alaska’s Magnificent Rainforest” was due to Premier on Earth Day at the National Museum of Natural History. It was a large show, so they had it installed in a huge hall on the 2nd floor, but the museum itself is vast, and after installation, the exhibit still seemed “small.” Conferring with SITES, I asked if we could add items for this show, that would not be part of the traveling show, but would make the premier venue unique and news-notable, to which they agreed. From the basement of the museum, we retrieved several taxidermy eagles, and an entire orca, all of which we hung from the ceiling. We then borrowed some live Sitka spruce and other indigenous plants from the National Arboretum. Lastly, my friends at Patagonia loaned us a “camp scene” with a tent, sleeping bags, and a stove. Of course, we had to have a kayak, as well. The venue looked amazing with all of these things in place, and knew it would create substantive attendance, especially among school children. Then, two days before the opening, SITES received a lengthy letter from Senator Murkowski’s office, telling us to re-write several of the text panels, and remove some of the pictures. SITES was intimidated, as their funding was threatened, but I knew exactly what to do, and I contacted writers working at the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, none of whom believed it was appropriate to bully the arts, by threatening to defund SITES. All three papers rolled out critical stories the next day, calling out this bad Senatorial behavior. On Earth Day, the exhibit opened untouched, and with all the pictures included. The 800 people that attended enjoyed a spectacular array of food and drink in The Great Hall, where a huge African Elephant stood in the center on a pedestal, around which the cocktails were served. SITES went on to tour the exhibit to 19 locations over the next 6yrs., and project a viewing audience of over 10-million people. Several months after the premier at the museum, I was offered a one-man show, with lecture, at the National Academy of Sciences, one of DC’s most prestigious venues, and that night I spoke to a “standing-room-only” audience, of politicians, distinguished scientists, and acclaimed biologists.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, November 6, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #225
Daze, #225:  
In 1994, it was clear to me the incoming "Gingrich Congress” hoped to dismantle the Tongass Timber Reform Act signed into law four years earlier. So, I had a plan to put the Tongass back in public view. Working with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), who previously circulated my “SEAFARM: The Story of Aquaculture” exhibit, and built the “American Photographers and the National Parks” exhibit, I assembled an exhibit about the Tongass rainforest. Given that my Aperture book, The Tongass: Alaska’s Vanishing Rainforest, had assisted the passing of the legislation, I knew if the exhibit was entirely based on my work, the two pro-logging Alaskan Senators, Ted Stevens, and Frank Murkowski, would prohibit SITES from working with me. Therefore, I adopted a stealth plan. I entitled the exhibit, “The Tongass:  Alaska’s Magnificent Rainforest,” and I brought in the work of a half dozen other photographers that included both outsiders, like myself, and Art Wolfe, as well as several that lived in the state. I also wanted to show “the whole picture” of Southeast, so that it would give me the excuse to include pictures of the clearcuts, thus some images were of commercial fishing, and the cruise ships, and there was a good deal of wildlife, as well. It was a large exhibit with a lot of images, and working through SITES, we got the premier of it booked to open at the National Museum of Natural History on Earth Day.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, October 30, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #224
Daze, #224:  
In the progression of this blog, we have just finished the many events of 1993, and now I am going to backtrack a little. My drafting of this blog is drawn from the timeline of my career summary, which was created for the press and awards ceremonies. It IS a career summary of my many books and projects, and NOT an academic resume about me as an artist. As a consequence, only a few of my most important shows are included in it, and therefore I missed something of significance that occurred in 1987. Min Shirota was the son of a very wealthy Japanese family that lived in Tokyo. However, they sent Min to college at UC Berkley, and while there he developed a love of photography, and the photography scene in California. When he finished his education, he returned to Tokyo, where he opened a portrait studio, with an exhibit gallery on a second floor. He then began bringing in large one-man shows of California photographers, and publishing full catalogs (above) to go with them. I was one of those chosen, and Gallery Min made me VERY visible in Tokyo. While visiting for the exhibit, I also made a point of introducing myself to Pentax Japan, whose American subsidiary had been loaning me my Pentax 6x7 camera, and an array of lenses. Apparently, no one had ever come to Tokyo to do that before, and the President of the company, was quite impressed. He had risen through the ranks of Pentax by working in their European market, so he spoke modest German, and Italian, and then he spent numerous years in the states, so he had excellent English. Now in Japan, he enjoyed using his English to talk with me, and frequently took me to dinners or lunches. Min was impressed by his attention to me, and Pentax was as well, so much so that in 1988, they decided to sponsor me, dedicating their entire worldwide, promotional calendar to my work (200,000 copies). They also put up two huge exhibits of my images at the Pentax Forum Galleries in Tokyo and Osaka. As I previously noted in this blog, in 1989, I participated in the Basel Art Faire, where I met Hartmut Swarzkopf a lawyer from Heildeberg, who ran HS Kunst Gallery to satisfy his love of art. Harmut invited me to exhibit there, and my visibility from that show increased my presence in Europe. In 1991, I exhibited in Dusseldorf at Gallerie Dietmar Lohrl. Then, in 1992, The America House in Heidleberg hosted an exhibit. Again, I previously noted, in 1992, I was given a retrospective at the Musue Nacional de Belas Artes, in Rio de Janeiro. That show proved VERY popular, so the Brazilian Government toured it further, to the Museu da Nacional Philatelic in Brasilia, and the Museu da Imagem e do Som in Sao Paulo. At the end of 1992, Pentax installed a second large exhibit of my work for the Christmas holidays at the Pentax Forum Galleries in Tokyo and Osaka. Thank you for letting me backtrack a bit, it better defines the growth of my international exposure.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, October 30, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #224
Daze, #224:  
In the progression of this blog, we have just finished the many events of 1993, and now I am going to backtrack a little. My drafting of this blog is drawn from the timeline of my career summary, which was created for the press and awards ceremonies. It IS a career summary of my many books and projects, and NOT an academic resume about me as an artist. As a consequence, only a few of my most important shows are included in it, and therefore I missed something of significance that occurred in 1987. Min Shirota was the son of a very wealthy Japanese family that lived in Tokyo. However, they sent Min to college at UC Berkley, and while there he developed a love of photography, and the photography scene in California. When he finished his education, he returned to Tokyo, where he opened a portrait studio, with an exhibit gallery on a second floor. He then began bringing in large one-man shows of California photographers, and publishing full catalogs (above) to go with them. I was one of those chosen, and Gallery Min made me VERY visible in Tokyo. While visiting for the exhibit, I also made a point of introducing myself to Pentax Japan, whose American subsidiary had been loaning me my Pentax 6x7 camera, and an array of lenses. Apparently, no one had ever come to Tokyo to do that before, and the President of the company, was quite impressed. He had risen through the ranks of Pentax by working in their European market, so he spoke modest German, and Italian, and then he spent numerous years in the states, so he had excellent English. Now in Japan, he enjoyed using his English to talk with me, and frequently took me to dinners or lunches. Min was impressed by his attention to me, and Pentax was as well, so much so that in 1988, they decided to sponsor me, dedicating their entire worldwide, promotional calendar to my work (200,000 copies). They also put up two huge exhibits of my images at the Pentax Forum Galleries in Tokyo and Osaka. As I previously noted in this blog, in 1989, I participated in the Basel Art Faire, where I met Hartmut Swarzkopf a lawyer from Heildeberg, who ran HS Kunst Gallery to satisfy his love of art. Harmut invited me to exhibit there, and my visibility from that show increased my presence in Europe. In 1991, I exhibited in Dusseldorf at Gallerie Dietmar Lohrl. Then, in 1992, The America House in Heidleberg hosted an exhibit. Again, I previously noted, in 1992, I was given a retrospective at the Musue Nacional de Belas Artes, in Rio de Janeiro. That show proved VERY popular, so the Brazilian Government toured it further, to the Museu da Nacional Philatelic in Brasilia, and the Museu da Imagem e do Som in Sao Paulo. At the end of 1992, Pentax installed a second large exhibit of my work for the Christmas holidays at the Pentax Forum Galleries in Tokyo and Osaka. Thank you for letting me backtrack a bit, it better defines the growth of my international exposure.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, October 23, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #223
Daze, #223:  
When I first began camping at Limekiln Creek in Big Sur, the property was reportedly owned by Elizabeth Taylor’s son, who allowed people to be there. Unfortunately, a few years later, it was sold to a local rancher, who closed it to the public. After that, you had to sneak in and camp up into one of the forks, so as not to be discovered. Three friends and I did so one weekend, and made the mistake of coming down to the beach to see the sunset. Standing on the bridge above us, the rancher fired his shotgun to get our attention, and threw us off the property. We drove our car to the US Forest Service campground at Kirk Creek, where we parked, and then we walked back to Limekiln in the dark, sneaking back to our camp to recover our gear, and spend the night. When we returned to our car the next morning, the rancher had recognized it, and flattened all four tires. Then in 1984, he decided to log the west fork. That is when Harriet Burgess, and the American Land Conservancy took an interest in preventing that from happening. In my meeting with Harriet, she asked if I wanted to photograph the canyons so she could show the Packard Foundation pictures, as she hoped they would provide the conservancy a funding grant to purchase the property. I told Harriet that I already had many pictures of Limekiln, which got her really excited, so she had me print five of them, and immediately took them to the foundation. The foundation granted the conservancy the needed funds, so we bought the entirety of the canyon complex. It was reopened for camping and managed for some years by the Esalen Institute, then in 1995, it was transferred to the California state park system, where it remains today. This proved to be a very positive way for me to introduce myself the board of the conservancy, upon which I continued to serve through 2007.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, October 16, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #222
Daze, #222:  
I discovered Limekiln Creek in Big Sur in 1967, while driving back to Los Angeles from the Monterey Pop Festival. I camped there for one night, but then returned many times in the ensuing years. In 1887, the Rockland Lime and Lumber Company built four limekilns well up into the west fork of the creek to extract lime from a limestone scree deposit nearby. To stoke the fires of the limekilns, the surrounding redwoods were logged. The operation ended in 1890, when the lime deposit petered out, and most of the trees were gone. The company abandoned the kilns, which are still there to this day. A second growth of redwoods has now been reestablished. The canyon complex consists of 711-acres, and two streams, all flowing from headwaters to the ocean. The west fork and east fork of Limekiln Creek, join with Hare Canyon Creek, and all are paralleled by trails, that often incorporate some unusual connections such as fallen trees to bridge the streams. The east fork is the shortest in length, but ends at a dramatic 100ft. falls with a big pool (above) where quite a bit of naked swimming took place in the 60’s. In my numerous camping trips to Limekiln, I was also learning to photograph, and the canyon offered some very difficult lighting to master, and a chaotic thrash of trees and streams that challenged composition. Much of my work today reflects the lessons that I learned from photographing there. It was now surprising to me that my new colleague, Harriet Burgess, had not only invited me on to the prestigious board of the American Land Conservancy, but she asked if I knew about Limekiln, and would I like to help protect it from being logged again. Of course, I was more than interested.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, October 9, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #221
Daze, #221:  
Also in 1993, I was visited at my LA home/studio by a remarkable woman named Harriet Burgess. For awhile, Harriet served as the senior vice-president of the Trust for Public Land. It was there she honed the skills of negotiating the protection of habitats by using “conservation easements,- the practice of buying out a landowner, and ultimately transferring the purchased land to the public, as protected property. On Earth Day in 1990, Harriet left the Trust, and created her own group, which she called the American Land Conservancy. She then began selecting some extraordinary individuals to be on her board. They included, David Brower , founder of the Sierra Club; Martin Litton, a board member of the Sierra Club, a lifelong conservationist, and a person often referred to as the “grandfather of the Colorado River,” which he ran many times; Bruce Babbitt, who served as head of the League of Conservation Voters, and in 1993, became Secretary of the Interior for Bill Clinton’s administration; Stewart Udall, who served as Congressman from Arizona, and Secretary of the Interior, under presidents, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson; Pete McCloskey, who served as a Congressman from California, and was a co-author of the Endangered Species Act; and lastly, Galen Rowell, a famous mountaineer, and widely published photographer. She had come to visit me, to ask me to join this board as well. At first I was speechless, but of course I said, yes! Then I asked about how I might contribute. Harriet responded by saying that she hoped I would take some pictures for various projects on which they were working. These included protecting Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles, AND the hopeful purchase of Limekiln Creek in Big Sur from the jackass rancher that had owned it for many years and was considering logging the Redwoods in the canyon. What? Limekiln Creek? Before the year ended, I was also given the UCLA Alumni Award for Excellence in Professional Achievement. It was a most interesting 365 days!

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, October 2, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #220
Daze, #220:  
The fourth book in 1993, of which I was part, involved numerous photographers, and their images covered the entire US, and Alaska. CLEARCUT: The Tragedy of Industrial Forestry, was conceived by the founder of North Face, Doug Tompkins, and several of his colleagues. Working with the volunteer, pro-conservation, flying alliance, Lighthawk, the creators hired photographers from across the country, to fly above, and photograph, specific forests that had been industrially logged. Because of the work that I had done in the Tongass, they asked me to shoot there, which I was glad to do, and happy to be invited to participate. I met a great pilot in Ketchikan, and we flew for several hours over Prince of Wales, and Baranof Islands. It was a great shoot, and, unfortunately for the Tongass, there were more than enough sites to depict. Ultimately the editors chose some vicious cuts from Baranof. The book was published by Earth Island Press in an oversized design with hundreds of pages - a mega-publication to say the least. The collaborators that created it, then mailed it to a very specific audience, politicians and forestry administrators, and everyone who was anyone in the media, all at their expense. I don’t think the book was ever offered for sale. Needless to say, it created a firestorm when the copies were received, and it became a VERY controversial project of which I was proud to have been a part.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, September 25, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #219
Daze, #219:  
Presidio Gateways would be my third book published in 1993. This project was given to me by Jim Harvey, at the time, CEO of Transamerica. He wanted to create it to be a gift that would be handed out at the transfer of that property from the Department of Defense to the Department of the Interior, incorporating the grounds into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), and he wanted it to honor the HISTORY of the Presidio. Jim gave me control of the project, so to expand the contemporary photographic scope of the pictures, I brought in peer photographers, Linda Butler, Mary Swisher, Lyle Gomes, and Brenda Tharp. Linda, Mary, and Lyle worked in B&W, Brenda, and I, contributed color. Linda concentrated her work on historical artifacts, the rest of us shot the Presidio property, and architecture. In addition, from the military archive, I culled an astounding assortment of historical pictures, and a spectacular array of vintage, hand-colored, picture postcards. I assembled a big edit of these images, and since Aperture had done four of my books, and another about the immigrant entry point on the East Coast, Ellis Island, I took the project to Michael Hoffman, the Director of Aperture Foundation, pointing out that the Presidio served as the West Coast entry point, and would be complimentary to the Ellis Island publication. Aperture not only wanted to print the proposed book, but envisioned it a money-maker, and agreed to pay for it to be printed, as well. Unfortunately for us all, Jim Harvey paid all the photographers by donating the money to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area Association, a non-profit. It was there, one of their jackass administrators decided to “get involved.” He vociferously objected to my having been given control of the project, and so he “stepped in.” Although we all got paid, he refused to work with Aperture, and insisted the book be printed by the “hometown publisher,” Chronicle Books, even though they were financially shaky, and had nowhere near the skilled design teams that worked for Aperture. He also chose to eliminate almost all of the historic, hand-colored pictures, saying they made the book look “dated.” He cut the picture selection by 1/3 as well. When finally published, the book was decent enough to serve the give-away event, but the childish design left it without much of a national market, AND with the give-away date approaching, and the book still on-press, Chronicle informed the GGNRA association that they would need a $20,000 grant to finish the publication. When a know-it-all, actually knows NOTHING, good things are ruined. I was very sad about the outcome.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, September 18, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #218
Daze, #218:  
In late 1992, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Cornell University organized a 20-year retrospective of my work, that was displayed at the museum for several months. Following the exhibit there, it was to travel to Palm Beach, FL where it would be displayed at The Society of the Four Arts. As a consequence, Aperture decided to publish a monograph to accompany that exhibit. The Legacy of Wildness: The Photographs of Robert Glenn Ketchum, spanned numerous bodies of my work, and is the only time images from my series, “Stoned Immaculate,” ever appeared in print. As usual, Michael Hoffman, the President of Aperture, and I, had some back-and-forth about the book, this time over the title. He wanted it to be “The Legacy of Wilderness” NOT “Wildness,” which he thought was referencing my behavior. So, I had to point out there were NO pictures of wilderness in the edit, and that “Wildness,” was a reference to Eliot Porter’s book, In Wildness Is The Preservation Of The World.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, September 11, 
2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #217
Daze, #217:  
As a result of British Columbia’s Premier, Mike Harcourt’s withdrawing the permit for the Geddes mine from the Tatshenshini River corridor, influenced by his friend, American Senator, Al Gore, then nominating it for UNESCO World Biosphere statusthe largest, contiguous, designated-by-law wilderness on the planet, was created. There was celebration to be had by all of those involved, and they turned to me to help with that. As I was the first to break the story in a 1991 issue of LIFE magazine, I was asked to print one of the images from the story, which was then gifted to both Gore, and Harcourt. Above is, “Where the River is Wide, and the Log Islands Look Like Sticks,” one of my most dramatic images from that shoot. It was a great morning to awake in camp on one in one of the most beautiful river corridors in the world.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, September 4, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #216
Daze, #216:  
In 1993, my previous story about the Geddes mine development on the Tatshenshini River, and the subsequent national magazine coverage, set off a firestorm of public, and political, interest. Senator Al Gore took up the cause to protect the river in the US, and then he leaned on his friend, Mike Harcourt, Premier to the Canadian province of British Columbia, to cancel the mine’s permit. As a consequence, a large, and significant group of writers, and photographers, got together to produce a Westcliffe book, Tatshenshini River Wild, which had a unusual life. While it was still “on-press,” Premier Harcourt canceled the mine’s permit, so those involved in the publication, added a page to the book with his letter announcing the decision. The book became a eulogy, rather than a battle weapon. Harcourt went on to propose the river corridor be placed in a UNESCO World Biosphere status, which it was. That act linked Canada’s Kluane Provincial Park, with two massive American National Parks, Glacier Bay, and Wrangell-St.Elias, and created the largest, contiguous, designated-by-law, wilderness area on the planet.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, August 28, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #215
Daze, #215:  The Rancho San Carlos property grazed cattle before the development began, and cows were everywhere during the time of my commission. As I noted in a post two weeks ago, the Rancho is a high fire danger zone, because it is hot and dry in the summer, and much of the terrain hosts chaparral and chamise (whose common name is greasewood - which does not sound good). Further the closest fire station is 1/2-hour away (at least). After properties began to be built upon, and homeowners moved in, it was a community decision to get rid of the cattle. What they discovered was, that without the cattle grazing, the flammable vegetation came back with a vengeance, and made conditions far more dangerous, so they brought the cattle back. Graze on!

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, August 21, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #214
Daze, #214:  
On the road in to the San Carlos Rancho complex, you pass through an expansive grove of huge, old oaks that are quite impressive. A lot of them are bedraped with Usnea, more commonly know as “Old Man's Beard.” It is a unique plant because it is a lichen that forms from the symbiosis of a fungus, and an algae. Usnea is VERY sensitive to air pollution, and is a bioindicator of a region where the air is very clean. The acid from it is also a medicinal herb, and is especially effective for sore throats and pneumonia. Importantly for me as a photographer, as the late evening light begins to turn the canyons dark, but still sets the draping Usnea aglow, it is beautiful to behold, and a great way to end the day before heading back to the Rancho for another killer dinner, with nice people, and A LOT of great wine.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, August 14, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #213
Daze, #213:  
In the last post, I was listing the diversity of the Rancho San Carlos habitats, and I said some of them are Big Sur-like. This is in bushwhacking in Robinson Canyon, and could easily be Big Sur. There are no redwoods here, but there are in other drainages on the property. When the development was finally realized and approved, of the 20,000 acres that made up the Oppenheimer ranch, 2,000-acres permitted private ranchettes, and the remaning 18,000-acres became the Santa Lucia Preserve, publicly accessible, but not developable. I am sure this is a great place to live and recreate, the only drawback, is as it ever was, you are a LONG way from commercial support areas, and you have a VERY high fire danger to deal with. It was a privilege for me to watch all of this unfold, so thank you Tom and Alayna Gray for inviting me to participate.

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Friday, August 7, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #212
Daze, #212:  
The wild property of Rancho San Carlos is stunningly beautiful, native California. Many of the rolling hillsides host groves of oak trees, under which a profusion of wildflowers bloom. There are numerous streams, and in some of those canyons, there are big sycamores, and choking undergrowth, plush with poison oak (last post), and so dense, not even the cattle will forge into them. Others canyons are reminiscent of Big Sur, and they are appointed with stately redwoods and lush fern gardens. An amazingly diverse habitat, on the south-facing slopes that take the serious heat of summer, there are cactus gardens, and yucca clusters, that also put on incredible blooming displays when the days warm up. I visit many times (who wouldn’t), learn all the nuances of the properties varied habitats, revel in the luxury of the rancho accommodations, and the graciousness of my hosts, Tom and Alayna Gray. Gee! Let’s see how this works - eat, drink, socialize, and drive around all day looking for pictures that capture the essence of it. This a pretty good job I have - LOL!

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Friday, July 31, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #211
Daze, #211:  
Tom and Alayna Gray are not only the resident developers of Ranch San Carlos, they are also great hosts. The property is a lengthy drive from the available facilities of the Carmel Valley, so instead of having me stay in a hotel, and eat at restaurants there, part of my commission is to be their guest at the sprawling rancho complex, a beautiful Spanish-style home in the middle of the property. The home is fully staffed with housekeepers and a chef, and because there are many bedrooms, people considering buying into the development also stay there when they visit, all of us sitting at fabulous meals together, and drinking A LOT of great wine. Tom and Alayna spare no expense in making potential buyers enjoy their stay, so they want to build in this emerging community. Alayna will often take guests on horseback rides, and Tom drives them around in a jeep, as many of the roads are still dirt. I am allowed the use of a 4-wheel drive as well, but the most fun is to travel by golf cart, which has also been furnished for me. Cattle are grazed all over the acreage, and there are quite a lot of wild animals, including large populations of turkeys, and mountain lions.

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Friday, July 24, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #210
Daze, #210:  
It is also in 1992 that I receive another commission to work on a spectacular piece of property, and am introduced to two very fun people. Above the Carmel Valley, past the Quail Lodge and golf course, gates open to a road that rises rather steeply into rolling chaparral-covered hills, and then surprisingly levels off on a plateau studded with grand oaks, and carved redwood canyons. This 20,000 acre parcel was originally owned by the Oppenheimer family, who built themselves a beautiful rancho and a large stable complex, where they kept polo ponies. (They would often play polo with the Hearst family at San Simeon.) My commission is part of the new future of this property, as it has been purchased by a large real estate company in San Francisco, and they want to develop it as Ranch San Carlos. Their initial vision is to carve it into numerous “ranchettes,” build a golf course, and the course and stable would become common property for all the homeowners. This plan will morph constantly, because Monterey county and Carmel have great opposition to the development, but the principle relators managing the development, Tom and Alayna Gray, are smart, and diligent, reconfiguring the plan to suit each new obstacle.

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Friday, July 17, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #209
Daze, #209:  
In 1992, The Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University organizes of 20yr. retrospective of my work, which also travels to the Society of Four Arts in Palm Beach (FL). In Los Angeles, the Huntington Museum, Library, and Botanical Gardens, organizes a slightly smaller retrospective as well, and I become the first “living” artist to be exhibited there. Additionally, they acquire 150 of my prints for the permanent collection. Merry Foresta, a photography curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum includes several of my prints in the traveling exhibit, “Between Home and Heaven: Contemporary American Landscape Photography,” which travels widely to national museums, accompanied by a complete catalogue (above). Further, 1992 marks the year the UNCED “Earth Summit” conference is held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and I am invited by the American Ambassador to Brazil, to have a retrospective exhibit at the prestigious National Museum of Fine Arts (Yes, the one that suffered the terrible fire several years ago.) It is the first photography exhibit ever installed there. In conjunction with the UNCED conference, Domberg Editions, one of the premier fine art publishers in Europe, produces a portfolio a numerous artists that is given to all the heads-of-state that attend the conference. I am the only photographer included in the portfolio, and they choose one of my Tongass prints (post 157). Lastly, my work on the Tatshenshini River, first published in LIFE magazine (post 205), floods into the national media, and I have additional images published in Time, Newsweek, Audubon magazines, and many others.

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Friday, July 10, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #208
Daze, #208:  
On the bayside of the Presidio property, exists one of the public’s most loved places to picnic and stroll, Chrissy Field. West of Chrissy Field, following the shoreline will lead you beneath the southern “toe” of the Golden Bridge to another historic structure, Fort Point. Finished in 1861, Fort Point was constructed to prevent southern gunships from entering the San Francisco Bay during the Civil War. None ever came, however. The fort is an amazing piece of architecture, well worth visiting, and if there is a swell running, some great surfing can be seen, as the point forms a well shaped wave that wraps into the bay. Most spectacularly the POV of the Golden Gate Bridge (above) really allows you to grasp the monumentality of that structure. What a view!

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Friday, July 3, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #207
Daze, #207:  
The Presidio of San Francisco has been a military post for more than 150yrs. The expansive grounds were originally sand dunes, west of the city, upon which the military encamped with tents. It was cold and windy because it was exposed to the onshore flow from the coast, so the military planted those trees you saw in the last post, as a windbreak. When you are in the Presidio forest, you will note that the trees were planted in rows on a perfect grid, and as you walk through them, they all line up. The Presidio also hosts one of the most distinguished cemeteries outside of Arlington (VA). A reading of the headstones is a scroll through family names that helped to build the city and our state. Being a military post over so many decades, the Presidio has five different periods of historic architecture preserved in complete groupings at different post and home/barrack sites. In the transfer from the Department of Defense to the Department of the Interior, those historic buildings will house new companies and foundations of various kinds, and they may be remodeled inside, but it is a mandate of the new leases that the architecture must be preserved. To the western shore of the reserve, there is also the iconic Baker’s Beach, bordering the Pacific.

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Friday, June 26, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #206
Daze, #206:  
When I was serving as Curator of Photography for the National Park Foundation, and creating the book and traveling exhibit, American Photographers and the National Parks (posts #116-117), one of the NPF board members was Jim Harvey, CEO of Transamerica. Ultimately, Transamerica underwrote the cost of the book and exhibit, which were a HUGE success, and Jim and I became good friends, as he appreciated my management of such a large, complex project. Transamerica’s home office is in San Francisco, and Jim was also very involved with projects within the city. In 1991, remembering my successful NPF project management, Jim reached out to me once again to organize, and create pictures for a proposed book about the Presidio of San Francisco. The Presidio is a military base with a considerable history, and in the near future the property and all the structures therein, are going to be transferred from the Department of Defense to the Department of the Interior, and will be incorporated into Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the creation of which, Jim has been very involved. There is to be a ceremony at the time of transfer that will be hosted by Transamerica, and Senator Al Gore will speak. Jim would like me to create this book to commemorate the historical, and present day, Presidio, which Senator Gore would then gift to the audience at the ceremony.

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Friday, June 19, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #205
Daze, #205:  
In 1990, and posts #196-199, I tell of being invited to float the Tatshenshini River in hopes of getting images published in the American press, that might dissuade the building of an open-pit mine adjacent the river, which could potentially damage the vast watershed. The trip was a wonderful wilderness experience, and the pictures amounted to a very successful shoot. The complete story of my adventures on the TaT can be found here. Back in my studio, and realizing there were a lot of great images, I gave some thought to where they might be published, and would be seen by the largest possible audience. LIFE magazine immediately came to mind, as it, and National Geographic, were two of the most widely read magazines in the world. Moreover, I had recently been published in LIFE’s special edition, “The World’s Best Photographs: 1980-1990,” and through that, had become friendly with an editor there, so I sent the TaT pictures to her, and struck gold. She loved the pictures, and thought the story important, so in 1991, the first images to appear in the American press regarding the mine and the river, appeared as a 4-page spread in LIFE, entitled “Lost Horizons,” with the image from post #198 opening as a double-page layout.

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Friday, June 12, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #204
Daze, #204:  
In 1991, after my photo-op, meet-and-greet, with President Bush and his wife, Barbara (last post), acknowledging the impact my Aperture book, The Tongass: Alaska’s Vanishing Rain Forest had on the passage of the Tongass Timber Reform Act, I board a plane for Sweden where I am being awarded the United Nations Global 500 Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award. This award is also because of the Aperture book. The presentation is done in the Nobel Hall of Stockholm, and the certificate and pin are bestowed upon me by the King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustav. After the award ceremony, the awardees and invited guests sit down to an elaborate, and elegant, dinner featuring gold flatware, spectacular china plates, scrumptous food, and a bit of bubbly libation. As it turns out, another photographer is also being awarded for his incredible photography, particularly his work with wolves in Northern Minnesota. We have not met previously, but I know of Jim Brandenburg's images through the pages of National Geographic magazine, and find him to be a very funny guy to hang out with. In the picture above, we have just left the banquet, and we are displaying the certificate and pin we have each been awarded. (You might also note my/our inebriated red eyes). A good time is had by all, and then there is the late evening light, and the beautiful Swedish women of Stockholm, to enjoy for the rest of the night.

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Friday, June 5, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #203
Daze, #203:  
From 1985 to 1990, my work in the Tongass rainforest draws a lot of attention to the US Forest Service’s timber “management” policies, and NOT in a flattering way. After two years in the field, Aperture published, The Tongass: Alaska’s Vanishing Rain Forest, which, with the help of the Natural Resources Defense Council is handed out to Congress. In the ensuing years, I work with the office of Senator William Proxmire to help further the passage of a piece of legislation known as the Tongass Timber Reform Act, including putting up an exhibit in the Senate Rotunda as a backdrop to a reception he hosts for legislators, that might want to talk with me about the bill. Ultimately, the bill passes, and is signed into law by then President George H.W. Bush. It is the most significant timber reform legislation in American history, and my work, and my Aperture book, are widely acknowledged as being influential. As a result, I am given the United Nations Global 500 Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award, and I am invited to have an audience with the President and his wife in the White House. In 1991, my third Aperture book is published, Overlooked in America: The Success and Failure of Federal Land Management (OIA), and I bring a copy of it with me to give the President when we meet. The meeting is brief, really just a photo-op, and politely, not political. I express my appreciation for him signing the bill into law, and he talks effusively about the effort I put in to make the book. I then offer my present, and hand him OIA. In a quick glance he reads the title, holds it up for the photo-op and quickly puts it on a table behind him and his wife, Barbara. However, she very graciously picks it up, opens it, and leafs through the pictures telling me how beautiful they are, and asking where they were made. In the picture above, the book is still behind my back. Note also, although I have on my politically correct dark suit, I sport a diamond stud ear ring, a very long ponytail, and my “sidewalls" are shaved on either side to the crown of my head, which hosts a lengthy “curly-top.” I am sure the President and his wife had quite a conversation about our meet-and-greet, once I departed - LOL!

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Friday, May 29, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #202
Daze, #202:  
In 1990, after 4-years of lobbying and exhibiting to promote the Tongass Timber Reform Act, it is finally passed and signed into to law by President George H.W. Bush. My Aperture book, The Tongass Alaska’s Vanishing Rain Forest, is widely credited with helping this get done, so in 1991, I am given the United Nations Global 500 Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award, and invited to the White House for an audience with the President. Aperture also publishes my third book, Overlooked in America: The Success and Failure of Federal Land Management. The images in this book were all created in the Cuyahoga National Recreation Area, where I previously completed a commission from the Akron Art Museum, and the National Park Service. The print work is toured by the museum extensively, but they do not want the expense of publishing a book. I am an “information collector” about various subjects that interest me, and I clip and file articles and news stories that I find related to those subjects. One of those has always been the management of public lands by the government, for which I have collected articles for more than 15-years. With funding several supportive donors, I re-purpose the Cuyahoga Valley imagery as “generic” American landscapes, and I draft paragraphic “bytes” about various land management issues and locations - some good, some bad - that span our 50 states. Interestingly, my accumulated clippings reveal how the span of time has shown progress in some cases, and serious decline in others. It is VERY revealing. I am also honored to have Charles Callison, one of the foremost authors on this subject matter, write a caustic essay for the book as well. Michael Hoffman, CEO of Aperture, says he is glad the pictures in the book are spectacular, because he thinks the short bytes, and Callison’s essay, are VERY dark. With the help of several non-profit environmental groups, this publication is handed out the the Congress, and I gift one to the President and his wife, Barbara, when we meet in the White House.

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Friday, May 22, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #201
Daze, #201:  
My collaboration with Zhang Meifang and the guild of embroiderers which she directs is an exchange of my learning what they can do, and me presenting them with new ideas and subjects they have never tried. Not surprisingly, Zhang proceeds cautiously, but with each success, we all become more adventurous. As I have expressed my desire to work at larger scale, she finally agrees to do a 24”x 30” image that I present to her of sumac leaves. With this subject, however, I want explore more than just a larger embroidery, I want to explore the exaggeration of photographic depth. I have chosen this image because the foreground is sharply in-focus, and the background is slightly out-of-focus. The foreground is also in sun, and the background in shade. I want to further capitalize on the illusion of depth by asking for some stitching to be built up in complicated layers, and to leave other parts of the background matrix with no stitching at all. It is my idea to do this on a black matrix background, and leave the darkest parts of the image without embroidery, then loosely render the visible background trees, and detail precisely the foreground sumac and grasses. At first Zhang resists because they have never used a black matrix, and she says the embroiderers will not be able to see the outlines of the traced photograph, but a white pencil solves that problem. Then Zhang seizes the moment, and fully grasps, my in-and-out of focus concept. Enthusiastically she designs very complex stitching variations and layers for the foreground, including one called dazi, where several different colors are threaded into a single needle to blend them together in the stitch. She also consults the Suzhou Institute of Silk Textile technology to explore “rare earth dyeing techniques” to use lanthanum oxide to make the red colors more vivid than traditional red silk thread. Finished in 1990, “Sumac along the Chattahoochee” took 18-months to complete, and all thought it was a GREAT success. The first public exhibit of the image is in New York, where it is purchased by Rhett Turner (media mogul, Ted Turner’s son) and it remains in his collection to this day. To see other images of this, and read further detail click here, and see posts #35-40.

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Friday, May 15, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #200
Daze, #200:  
In between my numerous commissions in the late 1980’s (many previous posts), and my float of the Tatshenshini River (last 4 posts), I continue to fly to China twice a year to further the collaboration I have begun with one of the premier embroidery institutes in Suzhou. Our first two textiles, posts #163, a small 16”x 20”, black & white image, and #164, a 20”x 24”, full-color, stitch showcase, are deemed a success by all, and so we push forward. The guild director with whom I work, Zhang Meifang, is choosing subjects to teach me more about what the embroiderers can accomplish, and I am choosing subjects to challenge how they work through different ideas. “Wild Meadow,” above, was the first panel of a 3-panel photograph, that I created while working on my Cuyahoga River Valley project. I wanted to grow the scale in our embroideries, and suggested we do each of the panels at 30”x 40”, to which Zhang simply laughed. However, she understood the textural reasons I made the photograph, and saw it as a chance to show off more of their stitch techniques. This (the above) was done rather quickly (many months) as a sketch, but it is a shimmeringly vibrant 11”x 14” embroidery, incorporating dozens of complicated stitch styles, and when I last saw it, it was on the wall in the home of Clifford Heinz, who had purchased it as an addition to his significant art collection.

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Friday, May 8, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #199
Daze, #199:  
My third favorite place on a float of the Tatshenshini River is the massive expanse of the river where it conjoins with the Alsek. Not only is the scale of the river amazing, there are dozens of significant surrounding mountains, down from which over 20 visible glaciers stream, virtually in any direction you look. A night and morning at this camp is incomparable,..almost. Fittingly, my final “favorite” part of the Tatshenshini river float, is the 2-day spectacle that concludes the trip. The river enters Alsek Lake on the backside of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The lake is huge, and surrounded by some of the tallest summits in Canada and North America. Glaciers stream down from all of them, entering the lake at many points, where they calve massive icebergs, that drift about to the whim of wind and currents. They also crack, and creak, occasionally splashing as well in a startling rollover. To sit on the shore on a warm sunny day, while hearing them, and viewing their dance, is as fine a way to spend time as I have ever known. The picture above is one of the last images I ever made on the river. It is the last night of my last float trip, and in a day filled with some serious difficulties, we are finally ashore, camp has been set up, and we are about to have dinner. It is almost 1a.m. - a brutally long day. The reward is this spectacle. You are looking at 15,325ft. Mount Fairweather in alpenglow. The glacier streaming down from it is the Alsek, 7-miles across at the waterline. A big day, a big world, a big show! Over and out! If you are curious why the day was SO long, you can read about my adventures on the “TaT” here.

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Friday, May 1, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #198:
Daze, #198:  Having floated the Tatshenshini River several times, I have come to appreciate particular sections of the river for various reasons. The only whitewater you encounter is a series of shallow rapids on the first day. This not the Colorado, and these are only Class 3 rapids, but they are rated as a 4 because of the stunningly cold water. They are always exciting, as the flow through them is very fast, and for the most part you just get splashed sober, but on one trip, our overladen cargo raft got sideways, and the rocks tore a portion of the bottom out, relieving us of two cases of beer. Very sad, indeed! The next point on the river is the beach upon which I am standing in this picture. The view across the river, is quite dramatic as you can see. Importantly, this place was the purpose of my first float trip. The proposed open-pit mine to be built by Geddes, would have been on the side of that mountain, and the tailings ponds would have engulfed a significant wetland and beaver habitat, beneath the downslope to the right. Since our group hoped to take this float trip to create a national magazine story that might prevent the mine from being built, getting this exact picture was essential. As we floated toward this beach, it rained hard ALL day, and clouds obscured much of the landscape around us offering few views, so everyone was a little depressed. When we hit this beach, it was still raining, so we all just went to work establishing camp, and setting up for an evening meal. Suddenly, the rain broke off, the clouds lifted, blue “holes” let the late evening light shine through, and I made this image. It would be used as a double-page spread in LIFE magazine, the first to break the story of the proposed mine development in the North American press. The full story of my numerous adventures on this river can be found here.
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Friday, April 24, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #197:
Daze, #197:  The Tatshenshini is an extremely large river system that originates in Canada and flows to the Pacific, passing through Kluane Provincial Park in Canada, and between the American national parks of Wrangell-St. Elias, and Glacier Bay. There are few rapids to negotiate, but the river is very cold, and flows fast through a bewildering maze of braids and channels. River floats require experienced guides who can read the the many channels correctly and keep their rafts in the deepest water. A loaded raft could weigh 800lbs., and were it to mistakenly slip into a side channel that becomes shallow, the raft could ground, creating some difficult rescue circumstances. About halfway to the Pacific, the “Tat” is joined by another huge river system, the Alsek. At this confluence, the volume of the river nearly doubles, and in places, it is several miles wide. There are numerous accessible shores on which to haul out and camp, and small freshwater side streams pour in everywhere. In traversing this river, you pass by an endless array of summits, massive icefields, and innumerable glaciers that descend into the valley. Quite near the outlet into the Pacific, the river flows through Lake Alsek, part of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The lake is surrounded by some of the tallest mountains in the park, including 15,325ft. Mount Fairweather, and numerous large glaciers descend from these summits into the lake, where they calve sizable icebergs, that must be negotiated carefully. The visual drama of this final leg of the passage is often the highlight of any float, especially if the weather is clear and the surrounding peaks can be seen. The full story of my numerous adventures on this river can be found here.
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photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, April 17, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #196:
Daze, #196:  Fortunately for me, 1990 also brings another project that returns me to Alaska, and rescues me from the wilderness of teepees, t-shirts, sacred crystals, and miniature golf courses, to be found in gateway communities (last 3 posts). I am contacted by Carolyn Muegge-Vaughn, Director of the Nature Conservancy-Alaska, who invites me to photograph a huge river on a 10-day float trip with some Alaskan “celebrities.” The Tatshenshini River flows from Canada to the Pacific, passing between two American national parks, Wrangell-St. Elias, and Glacier Bay, before pouring into the Gulf of Alaska. Carolyn is organizing this trip because the Canadian government has issued a permit to construct a large open-pit mine adjacent the river, and she believes it threatens both American parks and the very productive fishery of the Gulf, were there to be an “accident” with the toxic tailings accumulated, which might flow into the river. To add to the Alaskan “appeal” of any story that our trip might produce, we will be joined by Ginny Wood (left), and Celia Hunter (right), two widely known, and greatly respected Alaskan Pioneer Women, now in their 70’s. Both were military pilots during the war. Both are ardent and outspoken conservationists, and together, they founded a famous wilderness lodge, Camp Denali, in Denali National Park. It is a blessing for me to meet these two, as we will remain good friends throughout the rest of their lives, I will visit Camp Denali many times, and eventually I will spend 9-years on the Board Of Trustees of the Alaskan Conservation Foundation with Celia. Believe me, these two kick ass! The full story of my numerous adventures on this river can be found here.
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Friday, April 10, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #195:
Daze, #195:  As you see from the last two posts, my project with the Rincon Institute of Tucson, AZ, regarding “gateway” communities, takes me to some unusual places. A gateway community is one that forms outside the entrance to a national park. It seems reasonable to have such places to provide lodging, food service, and perhaps even host stores whose goods somehow relate to the park, and might further enhance your park experience, but that is often NOT what happens. Those previous posts were of Gatlinburg, TN, which sits adjacent Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and as those pictures reveal, there are few businesses there that have anything to do with the park. Instead it is more like a bizarre circus of tawdry, and COMPLETELY unrelated commercial enterprises, that do little to nothing to enhance your visit or knowledge of the park. Above, is another such location. This is Tusayan, AZ, which sits just outside the southern entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. Tusayan is (fortunately) very small, having slightly more than 500 residents, and only 144 acres of land, but that has not stopped the community from “thinking big.” In fact, many residents don’t want to be seen as support services to the park, instead they hope to be a tourist destination unto themselves. With that in mind, the community has gone out of its way to attract tourism, in particular, by using “catchy” architecture. Teepees are everywhere, including a campground where you stay in one, and, yes, they appear on the inevitable miniature golf course as well. There are also a number of geodesic dome structures. The one in this image is an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant, of which there are many. Curio stores and trading posts abound as well, many selling “Native American” craft objects, that strangely have “Made in China” stamped on them. One such store, which also sells “rare” minerals, and crystals, is located in a small complex of “cosmic” pyramids. Perhaps the upside of all of this is, after seeing the “spectacle” of this community, I could not wait to leave and get into the park, where there is definitely a VERY different kind of spectacle.
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Friday, April 3, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #194:  Daze, #194:  These are two storefronts in Gatlinburg, TN, where I have come to work on a project proposed to me by Luther Propst of the Rincon Institute in AZ. He wants to study the impact of “gateway” communities, on the national parks around whose entrances they have formed. Gatlinburg is within a few miles of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but there is little evidence in the city of anything having to do with the park. The city is, instead, a circus of retail shops selling kitchy art-junk, game arcades, miniature golf courses (last post), candy shops, and restaurants. The window above is an “art & jewelry” store, and it is currently exhibiting someones blown glass bead sculptures, about 1/2 of which are size variations on sailing ships that might be galleons. Next door to that is a “Jesus" t-shirt shop, featuring hundreds of t-shirts with wild drawings and slogans such as, “Jesus Rocks World Tour: Coming Soon,” No Fast Lane in Hell, Just the Ultimate Dead End,” and “It’s Not Who You Are, It's Who You Know. I am so inspired by all of this, I immediately buy a triple-scoop ice cream cone, dipped in chocolate and praleen-crush, and shortly thereafter, win two stuffed panda bears in an exotic animals shooting gallery.
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photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, March 27, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #193:  Daze, #193:  Following the success of the campaign to protect Saguaro National Monument from intrusive development, Luther Propst, the person with whom I worked at the Rincon Institute asks me to contribute to another project. He wants to study “gateway” communities, small cities that grow up just outside the entrance to national parks. Unfortunately many of the most prominent ones contribute little to enhance or enrich the park experience, but rather they are circus-like - every store is hawking something (none of it park related), and what is not retail, or food, has become game arcades, bumper cars, and a lot of miniature golf courses. One of the largest, and most sensory overwhelming of these towns, is Gatlinburg, TN, immediately outside of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. You literally emerge from the trees of the park into a world of concrete, shooting galleries, roller coasters, candy shops, and at the time I visited in 1990-91, there were 18 miniature golf courses. Above is one such extravaganza themed around pirates, and traveling the 7-seas. Another of my favorites is based on an “Africa” theme, complete with gorillas, giraffes, lions, zebras, and warlike “natives."
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Friday, March 20, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #192:  Daze, #192:  The start of the new decade continues to build on my successful exhibits, and my two Aperture books, The Hudson River and the Highlands and The Tongass: Alaska’s Vanishing Rainforest, especially the Tongass, which has become an increasingly hot political topic since the book published in early 1987. In the ensuing years, Senator William Proxmire’s gift of the Golden Fleece Award to Congress for their “management” of the Tongass costing tax dollars, my exhibit of Tongass prints in the Senate Rotunda, and at the National Academy of Science, where I also lectured to a standing-room-only audience of scientists and politicians, has certainly helped to grow the cause and stir the pot. So much so, The Tongass Timber Reform Act is passed by the Congress, and in 1990, President George H.W. Bush signs it in to law. Soon thereafter, I am invited to be the Centennial Speaker at the Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory. Then, LIFE magazine publishes a Collectors Edition, entitled, The World’s Best Photographs: 1980-1990,” and it includes an image of mine from The Hudson River and the Highlands. My work with the Rincon Institute of Tucson, AZ culminates with our media and direct-mail poster campaign to protect Saguaro National Monument from a proposed development that would disrupt habitat, succeeding, and with that accomplished, Luther Propst, their Director, has a new project idea, and he asks me to be involved. He wants to analyze “gateway” communities, being those that surround the entrances to national parks.
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Friday, March 13, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #191: Daze, #191:  Having the Peter Wach Gallery invite me to the Basel Art Faire in 1989, the first year a collective of American photography dealers participates, is a huge moment for my work in Europe. Basel in the summer is idyllic, as you can see from these pictures I have posted (above, businessmen playing “giant” chess on their lunch break, and the open-air market in the central plaza; and last post, twilight above the river and cathedral, and students and tourists sun-bathing at the river’s edge). These images are made, however, working around the commitment to be present at Peter’s booth display. His booth has a small wall section with some of my prints framed, but he has also imported an entire 30”x 40” Cibachrome box of my prints, for which he has also arranged a desk, where he wants me to stand and scroll through the prints for the audience. It is an exhausting, and repetitive, task for me, but HUGELY popular with the exhibit visitors, many who come back everyday of the faire, and bring their friends. Our success makes some of the other dealers crabby, but they are just jealous because we receive so much attention. In the ensuing year at Basel, Peter invites me back again, and again we use the scroll-show-and-lecture display to popular appeal. Because of my inclusion at Basel, I meet Dr. Hartmut Schwarzkopf who operates H.S. Galerie in Heidelberg, Germany, and who offers to represent me there, which he still does so to this day. I also make friends with Harry Lunn, who brings my work to his prestigious gallery in Washington, DC, briefly, before it closes. However, his two top assistants, open their own galleries after his departure, so Robert Mann Gallery takes me to New York, and Marie Martin continues representing me in DC. Less important, but no less fun, after Basel 1990, I train to Italy, where my friend, John Ravize, and I chase World Cup Soccer games for the next month. Talk about a party, AND I get to see Maradona’s last world cup, as well as one of the greatest finals ever in Torino, England vs. Germany! It went into overtime, and was won by Germany in the shoot-out. OMG what a night!
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Friday, March 6, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #190: Daze, #190:  I traveled to England and France in the summer of my Junior-Senior year at UCLA, and was briefly in Z├╝rich at the beginning of my aquaculture project with Elisabeth Mann Borgese, but aside from those moments, I have never been anywhere else in Europe, so I am excited to be invited to exhibit within Peter Wach’s booth at the Basel Art Faire. Until 1989, the faire has been one of the most significant, global art events in any country, but they have not included many photography galleries among the exhibitors. Thanks to the efforts of my representative in Ohio, Peter Wach, and his gallerist colleague, Kaspar Fleischmann, in 1989, Art Basel, is attended by most of the major photography galleries in North America. Peter also invites me to be part of his booth. Most of the galleries have choosen to display the very finest of their vintage printwork, much of which is black & white. There are impressive prints from Paul StrandSteichenStieglitzEdward WestonImogen Cunningham, and Ansel Adams, but very little color. Peter has planned otherwise, which is his reason for inviting me. The booth wall space at Basel is EXTREMELY expensive, so I am given a small display of several prints, but Peter has also shipped a 30”x 40” Cibachrome print box FULL of my loose prints to the faire, along with his framed materials, and he has arranged for a display desk, around which he wants me to stand, and scroll through that collection, while engaging viewers, and talking about Cibachrome printing. It takes A LOT of work, and repetition on my part, but the idea is a smash success, attracting large, standing audiences to hear me, and bringing good print sales,..as well as pissing many of the other dealers.
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photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, February 28, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #189: Daze, #189:  My busy decade of book publishings and commissions is finally drawing to a close. Although The Tongass: Alaska’s Vanishing Rain Forest has been released, I am still traveling to the Tongass to do further work, and enjoy numerous kayak and river float adventures, as I have clearly been “bitten” by the “Alaska-bug.” (I have also been bitten by A LOT of bugs in Alaska - LOL!) My work in the Kettle Moraine of Wisconsin continues, I am still shooting in the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area of Georgia, and more recently, in the Sonoran desert of Arizona, but my commission to photograph the Cuyahoga Valley has come to completion, and I spend a good deal of time working with my Cibachrome Master Printer, Michael Wilder, to prepare an exhibit for the Akron Art Museum. That large exhibit premiers at the museum in 1989, to a very excited audience, and in the course of the display, the museum sells over 100 prints, closing out several of my editions in just a matter of months. Thank you Akron/Ohio, I had never seen sales like that before. Also in this year, the Sierra Club gives me their Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography, and the city of Los Angeles honors me with a Certificate of Commendation for my “numerous contributions to the art of photography.” The icing on the cake for this decade, provides me more surprising exposure to an international audience. For many years, the Basel Art Faire in Basel, Switzerland, has been THE art event in the world. The faire, however, has not previously shown much photography. Then, in 1989, my friend and lifelong representative of my work, Peter Wach, and a gallerist from Switzerland, Kaspar Fleischmann, convince the collective photography dealers association, AIPAD, that they should attend and display. Although almost everyone exhibiting chooses their very best vintage work, mostly black & white, but Peter thought some contemporary work should be shown as well, especially color, and so he invited me to be part of his booth display. He also wants me to attend, because he has an idea about marketing me.
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Friday, February 21, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #188: Daze, #188:  The real estate developers proposing to build on the border of the northern section of Saguaro National Monument in Tucson, AZ, and the Rincon Institute have been in mitigation discussions for sometime before my arrival, and, in fact, the developers understand the impact their proposal will have on the Saguaro habitat, so they are open to altering their plans, BUT they own the land in question, and want to be compensated for it, if they are to give it up. The Rincon Institute has gone to Congress for funding help, and the Congress has agreed to help the conservation easement purchase with a considerable amount of money, but the funds are being held up by a committee trying to embarrass President Bill Clinton, so the project I am being handed is, how do we get the Congressional committee to release these pledged funds? Knowing now that there is NOTHING like critical, broad, public visibility to rattle politicians, I conceive of a national campaign of magazine stories, and a direct-mail poster campaign, with Congressional hand-out of the poster, which would feature images of the landscape in question. The Rincon Institute loves my idea, and gives me the go-ahead, but, first things, first. I have to photograph the section of the desert that is proposed for development. Just another day/daze in my life.
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Friday, February 14, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #187: Daze, #187:  As in my other commissions, this newest one offered to me by The Rincon Institute of Tucson, AZ involves a landscape I know little about, so as with the others, I begin to study the subject I am being asked to photograph. The Sonoran Desert covers an extensive area, flowing through parts of California, Arizona, Mexico, Baja, and Baja California Sur. It is a hot, dry environment, and hosts a sizable variety of unique, endemic plants, and animals, notably the saguaro and organ pipe cactus. Small sections of it are protected in two parts near the city of Tucson, and in the El Pinacate bioshpere reserve in northern Mexico, but aside from those locations, this desert represents a vast acreage of wild, and relatively undisturbed land. In the northern section of Saguaro National Monument, however, change is threatening the integrity of the park habitat, and that is why I have been brought in. A resort developer on the southern edge of the monument is proposing a large real estate development that will border the monument, interrupting, and in some cases, overwhelming, stream and riparian corridors that are part of the adjacent monument’s connected ecosystem. The Rincon Institute wants to start a campaign, whatever that might be, to prevent, or scale back that development, and they would like me to advise them as to what we might do, beyond just taking pictures. Gulp!
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Friday, February 7, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #186: Daze, #186: The 80’s are not over yet, and here comes another commission. So far, this decade has bestowed upon me three major publications. First, my huge curatorial project for the National Park Foundation, traveling as an exhibit, and published by Viking Press, as American Photographers and the National Parks. That was followed by two Aperture books, The Hudson River and the Highlands and The Tongass: Alaska’s Vanishing Rain Forest, as well as five commissions, the Hudson River Valley (posts #134 & #137-150), the Tongass Rainforest (posts #151-160), the Cuyahoga Valley (posts #173-176), the Chattahoochee National Forest (posts #165-167), and the Kettle Moraine/tallgrass prairie ecosystem in Wisconsin (posts #182-184). I have also been made the first visual Artist-In-Residence at Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute (posts #178-180), and I have begun extensive traveling in China, while collaborating with a textile guild through the UCLA-China Exchange Program (posts #161-164 & #168-171). The Tongass exhibit in the Senate Rotunda of the Capitol was not a bad exhibit venue, either. Phew! But it ain’t over, ’till it’s over, so there is one more commission to go. Because of my national visibility and my conservation agenda, I am approached by Luther Propst of the Rincon Institute of Tucson, AZ, who wants me to photograph a section of the Sonoran Desert that he believes should be included as part of Saguaro National Monument, but it is threatened by a massive real estate development on its southern border, and he would like to change that. I am already spending a lot of miles in the air moving between my many projects, so why not,..and this one is a VERY different landscape.
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Friday, January 31, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #185: Daze, #185: The latter part of the '80’s was not only busy with projects for me, it marked the “internationalization” of my work. Having had no previous exposure in either Europe or Asia, I scored both. In post #172, I recall being in the huge Photokina exhibit and book, Modern Color Photography: 1936-1986, which marked my first exposure to the European market. Then, out of the blue, I received a letter inviting me into this show (above). A beautiful new museum, the National Taiwan Museum of Art, had just been built in Korea, and of the inaugural exhibits planned, one was the expansive, “Chinese Influence on the American West Coast Contemporary Art.” The curator had seen my portfolio, “WINTERS: 1970-1980,” and recognized my vision, connecting that body of my work to the sensibilities of Asian aesthetics, so they felt my photographs fit within the parameters of this exhibit being curated. It was fortunate for me because being the youngest in the show, I was included with some very significant American artists as my company: Wynn Bullock (one of my most admired B & W photographers), Morris Graves, Adrian Saxe, Mark Tobey, Richard White, Mary Hicks, and Guy Williams. These artists spanned all artistic disciplines of the time, from photography, painting, and print-making, to sculpture and ceramics. Great company! Good Fortune! AND, a complete catalogue (as seen above). From my perspective, the curator also made a PERFECT choice of which of my prints to include. Thank you!
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Friday, January 24, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #184: Daze, #184: While working on my Artist-In-Residence for the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, co-funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Wisconsin Arts Board, I resided in a lovely old farmhouse in the Kettle Moraine, that the UW had turned into a biological field station to study the re-establishment of a tall grass prairie in an oak savanna. Professor Marlin Johnson and his students worked on that project, and a large community garden they established, and I wandered the property trying to translate the landscape that endowed the farm. The Kettle Moraine is unique to eastern Wisconsin and southwestern Michigan because that is where the line of moraine residue stretches after the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet which covered these states, and, in fact, all of the Great Lakes. Any glacial mass, and especially one this large, picks up an immense amount of rock, boulders, and silt/topsoil as it creeps across the landscape. Because this was a HUGE ice sheet, with numerous glacial fingers, it collected an incredible amount of debris that was then deposited when the melt back occurred. The Kettle Moraine was formed of these deposits. Within the soil/rock residue were buried volumes of ice, which melted more slowly because they were covered by the dirt. As they did melt, the covering soil collapsed forming potholes and lakes. Potholes generally range from 3-200ft. wide, but lakes were created also, some of them quite large. Now this area has rebounded, vegetation has moved in, and the potholes and lakes are often connected through systems of streams that flow through them. All that water nurtures a now-vibrant surface habitat of lush native plants, and large established trees, many of which are ancient, impressive oaks. As this landscape is part of the Atlantic Americas Flyway, million of birds travel through this domain every year. On their long flight, they need food and resting places, and the farms fields, ponds, and lakes, of the Kettle Moraine are a favored place to stop. At the height of the migration, birds are EVERYWHERE, and the squawking and cooing can be heard for miles. (If you would like to see the entire body of work from this project, use this link.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, January 17, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #183: Daze, #183: My National Endowment for the Arts/Wisconsin Arts Board funded Artist-In-Residence, at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha was a most unique opportunity. I was expected to experience the efforts at a biological field station in the Kettle Moraine, where under the guidance of Professor Marlin Johnson, students were trying to re-establish a tall grass prairie habitat in an oak savanna, and manage by means of what would have occurred naturally in the original process of that environment, such as prairie fires. The field station was located on an historic farm bequeathed to the university, and Marlin resided on-site, in the original home. That is also where I would stay, when I would come to work. The property also had numerous outbuildings, including a large hothouse, an equally large barn, and a towering grain silo. Marlin was a master of many trades, and maintained it all. He was also a great guy to hang out with, so I always looked forward to my visits. Students who assisted him came and went on a daily basis, and all had specific chores they were expected to do. Most seem to love what they were doing, and the surrounding in which they found themselves “going to school.” I was NOT expected to document their efforts. I was left free to interpret the landscape their work was affecting. And, what a landscape that is. The Kettle Moraine is a unique geological formation, primarily to the state of Wisconsin, but also trailing off to the north for some distance into Michigan. The moraine is the deposit of the Laurentide Ice Sheet which once covered all of the Great Lakes, and most of the states in that region of the country. When the glacier retreated, the moraine debris was left, creating the terrain I was commissioned to make visible. Lucky me! (If you would like to see the entire body of work from this project, use this link.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, January 10, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #182: Daze, #182: The last half of the 80’s proves to be one of the busiest, and beneficial 5yrs. of my career. My Aperture book, The Hudson River and the Highlands is published. I receive a commission to photograph the Tongass rainforest. I receive a commission to photograph the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area. My second Aperture book, The Tongass: Alaska’s Vanishing Rain Forest, is published. I help in distributing the book to the entire Congress, making many new supportive, political friends. I meet Robert Redford, who offers me the first visual Artist-In-Residence at Sundance Institute. I am asked to work with Senator William Proxmire to create a D.C. event intended to further the passage Tongass Timber Reform Act, that results in an elegant cocktail reception, and exhibit of my work in the Senate Rotunda, which ultimately brings about the passage of the legislation, heralded as the most significant timber reform in American history. Then, I am invited by the University of Wisconsin to serve a second Artist-In-Residence at a biological field station in the Kettle Moraine, co-funded by them and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (above). All of this work makes for some significant traveling, but it is one of my most productive periods as a photographer, and I am blessed to be able to visit so many beautiful places on a rotating basis, AND get paid to do it! Thank you one and all.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, January 3, 2020

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #181: Daze, #181: Although I continue to travel to the Tongass, and other places in Alaska in general, with the publishing of the Aperture book, The Tongass: Alaska’s Vanishing Rain Forest, I find myself returning to Washington, D.C. at regular intervals to follow up on the book distribution to Congress, and to meet with the office of Senator William Proxmire, who is planning a strategy to push forward the history-making Tongass Timber Reform Act. With each year that passes, the bill gains more supporters, and he believes he can deliver the final blow that will make passage inevitable. On a yearly basis, he hosts a well publicized ceremony of giving the Congress his Golden Fleece Award for their poor performance over attention to one issue or another. He now plans to give it to them for their management of the Tongass, and he sees me as an essential part of that award moment. What his office has planned is that prior to the award ceremony, he will host a meet-and-greet, food and cocktail event in the Senate Rotunda, where Senators and Representatives will be invited to meet me, and I will have a selection of my prints displayed. This is no small thing to make happen. Because they have all been given my book, they know who I am, but there are always many other things for them to do, so who knows who will show up. The print display is beautiful, the food includes fresh wild salmon and crab from the ocean surrounding the Tongass, and also local Alaskan beer, brewed from Tongass waters. The event is a smash, although protested furiously and boycotted by Alaskan Senators Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski (pawns of the timber industry - as is Senator Lisa Murkowski to this day), and everyone else is there. In particular, a group of “renegade Republicans” led by Ralph Regula from Ohio, someone that is supporting my Cuyahoga Valley Commission for the Akron Art Museum and the National Park Service. There are 28 of them and they engage me in some SERIOUS dialogue about wasted tax dollars, and the biological importance of this rainforest. When all is said and done, Ralph thanks me fore a GREAT afternoon event, and tells me that he and his cohorts WILL vote for the reform bill. A few days later, Senator Proxmire hands out the Golden Fleece Award with much press attention. One year later, the Tongass Timber Reform Act passes as the most historic timber reform bill in American history, and the victory is accomplished by “a lot” of Republicans that “crossed over,” and voted for it. Who might they have been? In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the bill into law and invited me to The White House for a photo-op, and his personal acknowledgement of the importance of my book, and the work I had done.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2020 
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Friday, December 27, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #180: Daze, #180: My Artist-In-Residence at the newly formed Sundance Institute proved to be a 4-season experience, and not just a winter one for which the Sundance Resort (skiing) was noted. When Robert Redford bought the ski resort, he immediately began making changes, planning to broaden its seasonal popularity. Among those changes were opening the mountain lifts in the summer to tourism and mountain biking, building very beautiful lodge suites at the base of Mt. Timpanogos, and adding several new buildings to the resort complex. Notable among those was a large, banquet like room where concerts could be hosted, and during my residency, the premiere American dancer Twyla Tharp was also enjoying her Artist-In-Residence, teaching young dancers. One of the other new buildings was a small theater the sat about 300 people, and where Robert would “screen” films on the weekends, often created by emerging Hollywood filmmakers. These evenings were always fun, and interesting to attend, because after the film, the directors and filmmakers would engage in a conversation with Redford on the stage. These screenings increasingly grew in their popularity, and as the three years of my residency unfolded, more and more of the weekend showings would find stars of significance sitting in the audience, having flown up from Los Angeles, just to attend. Eventually, these events became so popular, Redford decided to name them The Sundance Film Festival, and within a few more years, attendance had risen to such a degree, he had to move the screenings to nearby Park City, where more lodging and accommodations were available to accommodate what had now become an overwhelming number of participants and viewers.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, December 20, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #179: Daze, #179: After Robert Redford bought the Sundance ski resort and founded the Sundance Institute, he set up a series of Artist-In-Residences for screenplay writers, filmmakers, and dance in which Twyla Tharp was the first dancer. He then decided he should have a visual artist/photographer as part of the program, as well, so he called me (to which I responded rather rudely on the first pass - see last post.) Nonetheless, we did finally meet, talk about what he expected, and excitedly, I said, “YES!” He actually did not expect anything, other than for me to come and do whatever inspired me to create. He told me that he was offering me the opportunity, because of the significant effort I had put into the Tongass rainforest campaign, and he hoped I would find being an Artist-In-Residence at Sundance, a chance to indulge myself in whatever I found of interest, with no overriding purpose. He also acknowledged that he knew I was working on other projects, so my residency could be spread over several years, and I could come and go, when I had the chance. While there, Sundance would cover my travel in and out, my accommodations while on site, and all meals. Finding such an offer irresistible, my first visit was in the winter of 1987, not long after he made me the offer. As the limited resort rentals were already booked for that season, he invited me to stay in his guest house, located on the property of his ranch and home. I arrived with my assistant at the time John Voss, and some unusual accompanying equipment - I brought two large light tables. I have never had the opportunity to tell Robert this, but during my one month stay that winter, I not only took in some great skiing, and made many great pictures, I also assembled and edited what would be my next Aperture book, Overlooked In America: The Success and Failure of Federal Land Management. It was a most productive residency. The winter was spectacular. The face above is part of a sub-summit of Mt. Timpanogos, called Elk Point. Dramatic in the winter, it sits directly in front of Redford’s driveway (from where I took this picture). BUT, I had no idea what a Sundance fall looked like, and as it turned out, fall is likely the best season of all. Look at this landscape!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, December 13, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #178: Daze, #178: With Aperture’s book, The Tongass: Alaska’s Vanishing Rain Forest, now out, and the Congressional handout and walk-around completed, I found myself back at home and working in my studio, when one day the telephone rang. When I asked who was calling, the voice at the other end said, “Robert Redford.” Thinking I was being pranked by some friend, I said, “Sorry, I am really busy and don’t have time for this,” and then I hung up. A few minutes passed and the phone rang again, and this time, the same voice said, “Before you hang up on me again, we have a mutual friend in Eelco Wolf. That got my attention. Eelco was a representative for the Polaroid Corporation at the time, a well known collector, and someone unusual for one of friends to throw out, off the top of their head. I gasped, and said, “Oh my god! Is this REALLY Robert Redford, and did I just hang up on you?” To which he laughed, and replied, “You did, but don’t worry about it, I appreciate that you are hard at work. In fact, that is why I am calling.” Redford was a board Member and spokesperson for the Natural Resources Defense Council, and as such, he knew all about my Tongass supporting book, which they had helped me to hand out to the Congress. He thought I might be “overworked” from that effort, and wanted to offer a respite, but he wanted to do so in person, and asked if he could come to my home/studio. Soon thereafter, he was at my front door, and we spent several hours together, getting to know each other, and discussing my work, and his idea that would involve me. He had recently bought the Sundance ski resort area, and created the Sundance Institute, which offered Artist-In-Residence support to screenplay writers, filmmakers, and Twyla Tharp, in dance. He had not yet given a residency to a visual artist or photographer, and he thought I should be the first one. He felt it would be a chance for me to step back from my more seriously dedicated “political” photography, and just enjoy being a visual artist. As you might imagine, I said, “YES!”
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, December 6, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #177: Daze, #177: In 1987, Aperture publishes, The Tongass: Alaska’s Vanishing Rain Forest. This is a HUGE moment for my wife, and co-author, Carey, and me. First, it caps two years of work in the field, and another 6-months of in-depth research, interviews, and endless writing-editing-re-writing. It also greatly advances my maturity in book publishing. Michael Hoffman, the CEO of Aperture, really wanted to do a picture book about the Inside Passage, and feared possible reprisal from politicians, corporations, and donors, for the extreme criticism our text leveled at the US Forest Service, and Congress’s management of the Tongass. Similarly, he was VERY concerned about the inclusion of the clearcut pictures, and the purloined maps that revealed road planning that the USFS denied they were doing. He also did not want the title of the book to be “The Tongass,” because he felt no one knew what that was. We remained adamant, as did our project funders, the Lila Acheson Funds, and the McIntosh Foundation, and I openly argued with him that the reason we WOULD call it “The Tongass” was because he was right - no one knew what “the Tongass" was, and WE were going to bring that knowledge into the public consciousness. Eventually, he relented. As importantly, I had expressed my disapproval of what I thought was mediocre color printing on my first Aperture book, The Hudson River and the Highlands, and I wanted to go “on press” to supervise the color printing on this one. I got my wish, and was allowed to do so. This introduced me to Steve Baron, Aperture’s press master, with whom I struck up a life-long friendship, and with whom I stood side-by-side while printing my next six books. With the assistance of the McIntosh Foundation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, I also went to Washington, DC, to participate in handing out the book to the entire Congress, where I learned to walk the halls of the House and Senate, and promote the issues of the book to key legislators. One of those was Senator William Proxmire from Wisconsin. Proxmire had power, and powerful friends, AND he was a PROPONENT of protecting the Tongass, something he would push forward in a big way in the coming years. I would be involved with that push, and you will read about that later in this blog, so stay tuned!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, November 29, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #176: Daze, #176: One other element within the Cuyahoga River Valley to be absorbed, and with which I had to contend, and felt should be acknowledged, was the issue of historic pollution. Because it was national news, most people knew that the river near its headwater in Cleveland was so industrially filthy, that it caught fire and burned for several days, but the toxic invasion was more insidious than that. As I mentioned in the last post, I was surprised to find gas and oil wells in the middle of producing farm fields, but it was only after some research, I discovered that was not the only invasion of the fields. For decades, industries in the surrounding areas, especially Cleveland, had used the farm fields as a dump for discarded metals, toxic liquids, rubber tires, and numerous other unsavory and inappropriate items, not really suited to the food and water chain. Many farmers were paid to allow this dumping, which involved digging up their farms, burying the materials, and then restoring the surface soil, so the farming could continue. At the time, everyone seemed to accept that as an okay idea, but eventually, as those materials began to break down, they leached into the soil and water. When I arrived to work on my commission, one of the most scenic attractions in the park, Brandywine Falls ( brandywine falls ), was so acidic that below the overview deck that hosted weddings, and viewers of spectacular fall colors, there were signs next the river telling people to stay out of the water, as it might burn their skin. Many of the field locations actually became designated Superfund sites, and were targeted for clean up, such as the one above. This is a picture of the site whose leachate was responsible for the acidic water at Brandywine Falls. I made it clear to both the National Park Service and the Akron Art Museum, that I was going to photograph these situations, as well as the beauty of the park, and much like my work in the Hudson River Valley, previously published by Aperture as, The Hudson River and the Highlands, at least some of those images must be included in any exhibit or publication that might result.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, November 22, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #175: Daze, #175: As diverse as the geology of the Cuyahoga River Valley is, so has been its use. A term we hear often in reference to parks and other locations is “mixed use,” and that is especially true of this valley. The most apparent presence are small farms and private homes, but strikingly, some of the farm fields have gas wells smack in the middle of them. Areas of the park have also be quarried for the sandstones which had various uses, including the construction of buildings. There are also small townships within the valley, that host stores and popular restaurants. The National Recreation Area as a whole, is actually many components stitched together under federal oversight and financing. At the Cleveland end, a substantial part of the CVNRA is a large Cleveland Metropark, and similarly, at the Akron end, it was another park area referred to as Sand Run. Some of the properties in the park had been abandoned over time, but historical structures, such as the barn above, were restored for the public to enjoy. Other properties still had people living in, and on, them, and a number of small farms were still operating. It was a very complex system to weave into a cohesive whole, and it was made more difficult because those still engaged in living in the valley, were unsure as to whether the government would eventually evict them or not. My project was supposed to help smooth that process out. Yeow!
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, November 15, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #174: Daze, #174: Having been selected in the competitive commission of the National Park Service and the Akron Art Museum to photograph the Cuyahoga River Valley, I had a good deal to learn about the history and biological importance of the area. I knew, as did most everyone, that the river was so polluted near its head in Cleveland, that it actually caught fire and burned for several days, but beyond that I was not aware of much else. Once the project began, however, I made a considerable effort to be more informed. The area of concentration afforded by my commission was the extension of the valley from Cleveland to Akron, and what I discovered about that was, historically, that section of the river had been a barge canal and towpath, used to ferry freight from the Great Lakes through to the Ohio River, for shipment downstream. That towpath was being restored by the NPS as part of the new development plan. Biologically the park was very diverse thanks to some unique bedrock structures and sediment deposits. There are over 100 waterfalls in the park, some obvious and very popular, such as Brandywine, the tallest waterfall in Northeastern Ohio, and others pour over abrupt ledges in narrow ravines, feeding into the Cuyahoga. The image above is The Ledges, a dramatic and very beautiful outcropping of bedrock, that offers expansive views of the forested valley below. It is a wonderful place to climb and explore, and there are also Talus caves among the boulders below the outcrop. Other geologic elements that comprise the areas unique features, include traces of the Defiance moraine, Berea Sandstone, Bedford Shale, Marcellus Shale, Utica Shale, Devonian Huron Shale, and Sharon Conglomerate. The interaction of these various deposits created many of the gorges and waterfalls, and fostered the diversity of forest and understory growth.
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Friday, November 8, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #173: Daze, #173: As if 1985-86, are not busy enough for me (see previous post), in 1986 I am considered in a competitive commission from the Akron Art Museum and the National Park Service, to photograph the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, which I win. At the time, most of us only knew of the Cuyahoga River because it was SO polluted, it actually caught fire, and burned for several days. In 1974, some years after that incident, a group of powerful Ohio politicians put together an historic restoration plan combining the waterway with city parks at either end (Cleveland-Akron), and in between, a number of small farms, private homes, and commercial businesses. The river was once used as the freight barge connection to get products from the Great Lakes into the Ohio River for shipment downstream, and when Cleveland began its renewal process, after the fire incident, cleaning up the polluted lakefront and river, and rebuilding downtown, the idea to carry that into the river valley, and through to Akron, was born. The plan was not greeted happily, however, as many people, especially those that lived in the valley, saw it as a federal takeover that would seize their homes, and push their commercial businesses out. With the process evolving over 12yrs., positive changes were made, but property owners still did not embrace what they saw as ultimately removing them. The commission I received from the museum and the Park Service hoped my results would help change that public view by revealing what a unique habitat the valley corridor was.
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Friday, November 1, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #172: Daze, #172: 1985 and 1986 are HUGE for me as a young, emerging photographer. My Hudson River commission from the Lila Acheson Wallace Fund, is published as an Aperture book, The Hudson River and the Highlands. I receive a second commission from them, which is co-supported by the McIntosh Foundation, to photograph the Tongass rainforest of Alaska. I meet John Adams and Michael McIntosh, who have just recently founded the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and with whom I am still collaborating to this day. I receive yet another commission to photograph the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area from Tom Cousins, not only one of Atlanta’s most significant developers and collectors, he is also on the board of the High Museum. I am accepted into the UCLA-China Exchange Program and invited to visit Suzhou, China, where I hope to begin translating my photographs into unique embroideries by collaborating with that country’s most significant guild of embroiderers. Finally, and surprisingly, because I have no European presence as yet, I am included in this massive exhibit and publication (above) arranged around the massive, bi-annual European photography fair, Photokina. Some of THE most important color photographer’s in history are among these pages, as well as several of my images. Thank you VERY much for discovering my work! (I am also about to receive a third commission, this one from the Akron Art Museum (OH) and the National Park Service, to photograph the Cuyahoga National Recreation Area, but more about that in the next post.)
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Friday, October 25, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #171: Daze, #171: When I state Carey’s and my downclimb of the Mt. Huangshan's stone staircases is steep and plunging (last post), I am NOT KIDDING! LOOK at this! She and I start before dawn, spend most of the day doing this, and arrive to meet our guide/handler at our guest house for dinner, as we had promised him. On the way, a MOST AMAZING day is had. Besides startling virtually all the Chinese we pass who are going up, when we stop for a rest at the midway guest house "for Chinese only," there is clearly a buzz about us being there. They are even more surprised when we walk inside to buy a coke, but no one stops us. Then, back to plunging. As the day draws down, Carey and I reach the end of the steepest stairs, and things begin to level out a bit. At one such terrace between further stairs, we stop at some benches to snack, drink, and re-lace our shoes for the final tiers of descent. On that same terrace are four “tea-girls.” These girls are part of an ethnic minority that grows the tea on the terraces which can be seen in the valley below. Rising well before dawn, they carry baskets of fresh tea leaves on their heads, and climb up the stairs to strategic points, where they can intercept the upward-bound tourists during the day, and sell their tea leaves. They are on this terrace now, because they are all headed home, having sold all of their goods. When they see our Patagonia fleece jackets, all my cameras, our fancy boots, and daypacks, they are agog. We can hear them chattering, and know they are talking about us, so Carey says “Hello!” in Chinese, and asks if any of them speak English. None speak much, but the exchange, makes them braver, so they walk over to us “to have a closer look.” One girl touches both the daypacks, and the fleece jackets, and all of them, politely, want to touch Carey’s silky, blonde hair. After some amusing minutes pass, our shoes are re-laced, we don our packs, and we walk to the top of the next flight of steps. Two girls literally run down the flight in front of us, so, wanting to show them we can, and have, been doing that as well, we take off, with the two other girls behind us. Everyone is running, but hitting every stone step. At the next terrace, the first two girls are nearly out of sight, but the other two linger. When we approach the next descent, each of the girls comes up on either side of us, and as we all start down in unison, they begin to whistle a simple tune, in perfect rhythm to our run. As we pick up the tune, broad smiles spread across their faces, and as we continue the melody, they wave, and then just leave us in the dust. It is a remarkable exchange, that makes a very long, but spectacular, day, even more so. Soon, our guest house appears, as does our guide/handler, but instead of being angry with us, he is just happy to see we have arrived, and we retire to the restaurant for dinner. For those that would like to follow this entire story, click here: posts #68-#118.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, October 18, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #170: Daze, #170: After several very enjoyable days in a guest house on the summit of Mount Huangshan, Carey and I, have explored a myriad of trails, scenic view terraces, sunrises, and sunsets. We have also had some great dinners. We are always joined by our guide for this meal, which he uses to advise us about what we might do the next day. On our last night, he explains that in the morning, the bearers will collect our bags, and we will descend to the valley floor, staying in the same guest house we used, before coming here. Then, on the following morning, we would board a bus that would take us to Shanghai. He turned in after the meal, so Carey and I took a last walk under the stars, and hatched a VERY different plan. We have studied the various trail maps of the mountain, and believe we know where the stone staircase down to the valley floor begins, so that night we pack our bags, leaving them with a note for our guide, saying we will meet him for dinner at the guest house on the valley floor. Before dawn, while the others are seeking their view platform of choice, she and I go AWOL, and head for the staircase. We have NO IDEA what we are getting into, but after several hours of plunging down one STEEP stone staircase after another, there is certainly no going back. Our gear, looks like no one else’s on the mountain. We sport Patagonia fleece, state-of-the-art, climber’s daypacks filled with snacks, a very fancy Nikon camera system many lenses dangling from my hip-belt in foam padded-pockets, and most significantly, really great hiking boots. There is NO ONE on the stairs going down, but by midday, we start passing HUNDREDS of Chinese walking up, most in what foreigners refer to "Chinese slippers” - cheap, thin cloth shoes with plastic soles. Only some of those we pass carry a daypack, and ALL are dressed similarly - the men wear slacks with (mostly) long-sleeved, white collared shirts, and the women sport, dresses, slacks, or in some cases, jeans. When greeted in passing by Carey and I, most stand speechless, as though they have never seen anything like us. It makes for a VERY long and amusing day. It is also one of the most spectacular hikes of our lives. Going down!
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Friday, October 11, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #169: Daze, #169: Carey, I, and our English speaking Chinese guide/handler, overnight in a guest house on the valley floor beneath the Huangshan Reserve, and then take an incredible funicular ride to the summit the next morning. Unlike the dreary, foggy, rainy day before, on this morning the sun is shining brightly, and the sculptured peaks and trees we view on the way up in the funicular, are simply fantastical. At the top, bearers collect our luggage, and take it to the guest house, where we will stay. Our guide gets us established, and then informs us, that we are on our own to wander the numerous trails, all of which lead to various scenic view platforms, and pavilions, and all connected by the amazing stone pathways that include 60,000 stairs carved into these mountains over several centuries. He says he will meet us for dinner, but he will stay in a “Chinese” guest house, and not in ours, because ours is only meant for foreign visitors. Sunrises and sunsets are major daily events, and also cultural spectacles. EVERYONE on the mountain attends one or another of the view platforms at dawn and dusk, to huzzah loudly at whatever the day offers. All hotels provide pre-dawn wake up with a light breakfast, and indeed, it is the sunrise I find most dramatic. We are in southern China, and the vast agricultural valleys, and tea terraces below, are VERY hot and humid during the day. At our elevation, that turns into a fog about the peaks at night, and often when you arrive at a view pavilion before dawn, it is CROWDED with people, all socked in by a drippy, cold fog. As the sun rises, the fog burns off slowly, revealing various peaks and ridgelines, here and there. This might go on for an hour or more, and with each revelation, those who see it, all exclaim their excitement loudly. There is considerable braying! Humorously, one might be at a station that is still in the fog, and from elsewhere on the mountain, where a clearing is occurring, you can hear the wild shouts from another pavilion. Carey and I soak all of this in for several very nice days of weather, taking lots of pictures, and visiting as many points of interest as we can. Our guide joins us for our dinner meals to discuss our day, and offer advice for the next, AND the food is quite good, so she and I are having a great time. Still, we would have liked to have experienced the incredible stone staircase up and down, and not just those here at the summit. For those that would like to follow this entire story, click here: posts #68-#118.
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Friday, October 4, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #168: Daze, #168: With projects starting up in the Tongass rainforest of Alaska, and the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area, near Atlanta. I am doing a good bit of air travel in the U.S. I am also doing a very long flight to Shanghai/Suzhou, China, two or three times a year, to work with a premier embroidery guild as part of a collaboration facilitated by the UCLA-China Exchange Program. In the early stages of developing this cooperation, my partner - 1st wife, Carey,- frequently accompanies me. Besides the work I pursue at the embroidery institute, our host, Zhang Meifang, who has risen to be the Director, wants us to experience the many things that the country takes pride in, and that makes up part of their national character. She knows we are adventurers, and committed to various environmental issues, and so she plans a VERY unique trip for us to experience a reserve of mountains the Chinese refer to as sacred. Mount Huangshan now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and although VERY popular as a Chinese tourists destination, the Chinese government currently feels that it is not quite ready for foreign tourism, so it is still unusual to find foreign tourists there. Zhang is not only Director of the embroidery guild with whom I am collaborating, she is also a congressional delegate to the National People’s Congress, so she has far-reaching power, which she uses to create our trip. We are excited for a chance to do this, but we have no idea what it entails. It starts with a train ride from Suzhou, that drops us at 4a.m. at a tiny rail station, where a car is waiting. It is a rainy, foggy day, and we drive for two hours through farmlands and rural villages, finally turning into to a steep-sided valley, and ascending a horribly maintained road, that parallels a spectacular river. We have entered a venerated tea-growing area, and many of the surrounding slopes are terraced for growing. We also pass many girls on the drive, who are offering fresh tea leaves at their roadside stands, or from baskets balanced on their heads. We eventually arrive at a small cluster of old-school Chinese guest houses, where we will spend the night. At the guest house, we are met by a man that will be our personal guide, so he gets us settled in and fed, while he explains our program. We may walk around on the lower trails at the mountain’s foot today, then spend the night at the guest house, to rise early and take a funicular to other guests houses at the summit. We will then stay there for several more days to hike around. When we ask if it is possible for us to walk up instead of ride, he tells us that the trails on Huangshan consists of 60,000 or more stairs carved into the rock, and they cannot be completed in one day. Such a hike would require a stay at a midway guest house, deemed, as yet, unsuitable for foreigners. We are disappointed, but tell him we understand. We dine with him that night, and in the early morning, join him for a spectacular ride to the summit.
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Friday, September 27, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #167: Daze, #167: The woodlands of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area (CNRA), adjacent the city of Atlanta are more diverse than the forests of the Hudson River, where I have just completed and published other work. This far south, things are more hot, and humid, a greater part of the year, and this has created a fantastical jungle of growth, where species entwine themselves with each other, and make passage through the forest difficult. While this variety may not be all that obvious in the green of summer, when fall arrives, and each species does “its thing,” the color show goes off like fireworks, displaying just about every shade and tone every seen. It makes for a potent visual mix, and I fully indulge myself. How about the "suspended animation” above,..YEOW! You should see this printed at 48”x “66!
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Friday, September 20, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #166: Daze, #166: The Chattahoochee National Recreation Area (CNRA) includes both a national forest, and the Chattahoochee River, which flows through the middle of Atlanta. Tom Cousins, one of Atlanta’s great patrons and developers (see last post), has created the huge complex, Wildwood Office Parks, adjacent the river, and he has commissioned me to photograph the CNRA. Although it is only the mid-80’s, Cousins’ Wildwood development is considered “environmentally sensitive,” because of sight planning that made many structures less visible in the landscape, and as I would learn, Cousins also provided 1,700 acres of land now incorporated into the CNRA. I knew he offered me this commission because he was especially fond of some of my images in the series, “Order From Chaos,” so I face the challenge of working in the forest without hesitation, but I know I also need to address the river. Much of the year, Atlanta is VERY hot and Humid, and as you can see in the previous post, the cold river water and the hot, moist air, often create morning fogs along the river’s edge, so I begin to study the visuals of that. The forest also has a stunning fall and spring display, and I look forward to those seasons, as I know there will be a lot of opportunity to shoot.
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Friday, September 13, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #165: Daze, #165: 1985 proves to be quite a year for me. Aperture publishes The Hudson River and the Highlands, I am invited to visit Suzhou, China, through the UCLA-China Exchange Program, and The Wallace Funds and the McIntosh Foundation offer me a commission to photograph the Tongass rainforest of Alaska. As if I am not busy enough, I am also offered another multi-year commission that brings me to Atlanta. Having seen my “Order From Chaos” work, it has attracted the attention of one of Atlanta’s great art patrons and most significant developers, Thomas Cousins. Cousins has built a HUGE corporate property adjacent the Chattahoochee River, and he wants me to make images of the river and the surrounding national forest, which is all part of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. He intends to use those pictures to adorn the walls of the many large office buildings that are part of his Wildwood Office Parks development. Cousins, it turns out, is a major figure in the city, and one of its most significant developers. Wildwood is actually just a small part of an empire. He also developed the CNN Center, the Omni Coliseum, and the Peachtree Tower, remaking the skyline of the city. To further Atlanta’s rejuvenation and growth, he purchased the St.Louis Hawks basketball team, bringing them to Atlanta, where he also owned the ice hockey team, the Atlanta Flames, and the soccer club, the Atlanta Apollos. A great sport enthusiast of many disciplines, Cousins redesigned Bobby Jones’ East Lake Golf Club that had fallen into disrepair, and it is now considered one of the leading golf courses in America, and is part of the PGA Tour. Oh yes, and he served as Chairman of the Board at the High Museum for a time. Clearly, this is someone I would like to provide with a successful result from the commission being offered me.
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Friday, September 6, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #164: Daze, #164: One of Zhang’s reasons to choose to work with “Snowfall,” (last post) was that it would be “simple” to embroider, and not take much time (about 6-months). There was no need to dye an extensive palette of color, or to offer up more than a few stitch styles, although they had more than 40, created by design through many generations, that they could use. Because “Snowfall” proves to be a success, everyone is eager to move forward with something else, and I want to understand the range of what we can do, so I ask if we could attempt a piece in color that would incorporate as many stitch styles as suited the textures of the foliage,..and I had a very specific image in mind. I had just recently created it working on my commission in the Hudson River Valley and it is a fall scene around a lake with a wide variety of very different trees and fall colors in the view. The print is quite dramatic because of the brilliant red leaves set against the wet, black tree trunk, and the pastel colors of the background, and I feel certain the Chinese will understand what I am proposing. There are several gasps, and then ensuing hours of discussion, when I reveal the print to them, but in the end I read this correctly, and Zhang agrees with the embroidery team, that they will do this image as a 20”x 24”, 1-sided, wall hanging, and she will use the subject matter to show off both their dye and stitching skills. 1-1/2yrs. later, I am invited back to Suzhou for the unveiling of “Red Maple with Black Trunk.” It is a spectacle of color with shades that run from luminous reds, to subtle variations of pastel, and there are stitches upon stitches, making the surface of the piece dimensionally textural. We are beginning what appears to be a very successful collaboration. When I bring this piece home and frame it out, I have it for less than 6-months, and it is acquired by the Cargill collection, where it currently resides.
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Friday, August 30, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #163: Daze, #163: As a participant in the UCLA-China Exchange Program, I hope to be invited to collaborate with embroiderers from Suzhou, widely considered to be the best in the world. To achieve that, UCLA introduces me to Dr. He Shan-an, Director of the Nanjing Botanical Garden, who offers to be my sponsor, introducing me and my ideas to the administrators of the Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute (SERI), and serving our a translator. As fate would have it, Dr. He not only likes my ideas and my imagery, he is a lifelong friend of Zhang Meifang, who is about to ascend as the institute’s director. Dr. He succeeds in getting me invited, and is there in Suzhou to facilitate introductions when I arrive in 1986. I am the first non-Chinese to ever ask to work with these embroiderers, and I am also one of the first non-Chinese visitors to Suzhou, since China and the US decided to open their doors to each other. The national institute wherein I might work, was created by Mao, to make embroidered political tapestries, and it is still very much that place. The first order of business is a banquet where I sit with Zhang and the current Director, having a huge meal with about 30 other embroiderers and administrators. During that meal, I learn (through surreptitious translation) the current director tells Zhang not to even think about working with me, to which Zhang replies that she will make her own decision about me, when she takes charge, which she does a few days later. On this first visit, I spend two weeks, having long discussions about many different photographs, and my ideas to translate them. As the end of my visit approaches, SERI has not agreed to collaborate, and UCLA previously advised me that I may not succeed in getting them to create anything during my initial introduction. When the car arrives to take me to the train, however, Zhang and He await inside. and on the way to the train, Zhang tells me she will agree to do an embroidery. Surprisingly, she has chosen “Snowfall” from my black & white portfolio, “WINTERS: 1970-1980,” and she offers to make a complicated 2-sided, 16”x 20” embroidery out of it. I am very excited to have actually reached an agreement, and 6-months later when I return, this (above) is what I am presented. It is diaphanous, transparent in the whites, and exactly the same on both sides. Special “looping” stitches representing falling snow, and the highly detailed stitching in the dead tree, set against the background of the “cross” stitched forest, creates a perfect 3-dimensional illusion. Everyone agrees the results of our experiment are beautiful, AND the image has retained VERY photographic qualities, although it is entirely rendered in thread.
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Friday, August 23, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #162: Daze, #162: When UCLA agreed to allow me into their UCLA-China Exchange Program, it set some interesting political wheels in motion. I would need a letter of invitation to collaborate from the Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute (SERI), and I had no contacts there. Additionally it would turn out that the appropriate contacts were also high-level politicians, by protocol, only approachable through someone of equal status. Fortunately, UCLA has a very connected population of both Chinese students and teachers, and they went to work for me, trying to find me the appropriate sponsor. Interestingly, the person they find, is a visiting professor doing research at UCLA, and his name is Dr. He Shan-an. He is the Director of the Nanjing Botanical Garden, among the most prestigious in China. He travels widely abroad communicating his expertise in blueberry research, AND he speaks English. When we meet he LOVES my photographic images, and my idea to try and embroider a photographic image, AND (what are the chances of this?), he has known Zhang Meifang all his life (last post). She is slated to be the new director at SERI, and it would have to be she that would invite me. In this image He and I are discussing images from one of my books, and Zhang is taking furious notes. I speak no Chinese. Zhang speaks no English. As it would turn out, poor Dr. He has to do ALL the translating, and it takes a lot of work. He will join us for every meeting we ever have over 35yrs. of working together. He remains a great friend to this day, and nothing I have done in China could have been possible without him. (NB: SERI is housed in a famous Suzhou garden known as the Mountain Villa of Secluded Beauty, and it features meandering pathways, tea pavilions, and fish ponds. It was also built in the Qing Dynasty, so it is primarily constructed of stone, and has no central heating. The meeting above is being held during a very cold week in the winter, and the conference room we are in is freezing. We are all wearing layer-upon-layer of clothing, and drinking copious amounts of hot tea to little avail - LOL!)
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Friday, August 16, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #161: Daze, #161: 1985 proves to be a remarkably important year in my career. Aperture Foundation publishes my first book, The Hudson River and The Highlands. Through the work on that commission I meet Barney McHenry and Michael McIntosh, and they have now offered me a new commission to explore the Tongass rainforest of Alaska, and the impact industrial logging is having on that rare habitat. Then, the wildest of wild cards drops! Having always been inspired by Edmund Teske and Robert Heinecken, my VERY non-traditional photography instructors at UCLA, even though I am making a reputation for myself with “straight” photography, I continue to explore photographic imagery in other ways, as well. Heinecken, in particular, used a lot of “alternative” presentations of the photographic image, often employing crafted objects, imagery on canvas, and much hand colored and painted details. Besides my interest in color, I love textural detail, and I find myself exploring ways to dimensionalize that as a form of photography - a photo-realisitic tapestry, so to speak. Working through that idea, I do some loom-weaving in Mexico, work with a rug maker in Germany, and print on canvas using a newly introduced Japanese scanning computer printer. I also discover some very detailed embroidery created in Suzhou, China. As fate would have it, Nixon and Chinese Premier, Deng XiaoPing, have just made friends, so China is slowly opening up to the west. My alma mater, UCLA is one of the first three American universities to enter an exchange program with China, and I take a wild chance at participating in it, by asking if I might go to Suzhou to attempt a textile collaboration. There are no other artists in the program, and UCLA likes the possibilities of this unusual proposal, so they accept. After two years of letter-writing, and aligning a sponsor, I am notified that the Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute (SERI) awaits my arrival. Above is Zhang Meifang. She is my same age. At the time of my arrival, she is ascending as the Director of SERI, and she finds my ideas interesting enough to make a first embroidery, in order to see what the results will be.
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Friday, August 9, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #160: Daze, #160: Of the numerous islands in the Tongass rainforest affected by industrial clearcut logging, one of the largest, Prince of Wales, is also one of the most extensively logged, AND it has several communities connected by actual road. While most of the other clearcuts I visit must be approached from the air, I can drive a car from Ketchikan onto a ferry, departing it at a terminal on Prince of Wales, where a road leads to the Native village of Klawock, and the town of Craig. From that developed road, hundreds of miles of logging roads run off in every direction. Unlike a remote cut, where the only ground access might be through a logging camp likely hostile to a photographer doing a book about the STANDING rainforest, out here on Prince of Wales there is far too much public accessibility to control it, so although I need to be discreet when my cameras are out, no one seems to care whether I am driving about. There are others out here hunting and fishing, so the loggers have stopped paying attention for the most part, and I am grateful because it is on Prince of Wales, I make some of my most significant ground-based images of clearcuts.
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Friday, August 2, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #159: Daze, #159: Although there are some factions that just want me to do a nice picture-book about southeast Alaska, and the Inside Passage, that is distinctly NOT what Barney McHenry and Michael McIntosh want me to deliver. They saw in my Aperture book, The Hudson River and The Highlands, how my images reflected both the good AND the bad parts of the river's history and development, and they hoped my view of the Tongass would similarly show the beauty of the little-known rainforest, the communities living within it, and the impact that the federal timber management program was having on all of it. Consequently, I spend a great deal of time chasing clearcuts, as well as camping and kayaking. Industrial logging occurs on many of the islands, and some sites are more approachable than others, but all of it is revealed from the air. Within just a few hours of landing in Alaska, I was once again airborne, but this time in my first private plane flight,..with a camera. The experience was eye-opening (no pun intended) because the low-and-slow aerial view offers such a COMPLETELY different perspective on the landscape. Now, as I travel for the project, I fly more often, and when it comes to viewing some of the logging sites, especially in interior areas of an island, the plane is the only way I would ever see some locations. There are no car roads to get to this lake and valley, only logging roads that lead to a camp at the water’s edge, where the logs are collected and shipped out.
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Friday, July 26, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #158: Daze, #158: Another unique part of the Tongass lies at its northern border, the Yakutat Forelands. The true old growth trees blanketing the 1,000+ islands of the Alexander Archipelago and forming the Inside Passage, terminate at the northernmost point of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. After that, the coastal shoreline looks directly into the weather-generating, Gulf of Alaska. For a brief stretch, the mountains of Glacier Bay descend nearly to the beach, then a forested plane begins to broaden the distance between the two. This plane is crossed by big rivers, and extends north for hundreds of miles. It is also home to the village of Yakutat. At the foot of two of the tallest coastal summits in the world, Mt. St. Elias to the north, and Mt. Fairweather to the south, the Yakutat Forelands is a rich forest habitat that is also being logged as part of the Tongass timber program. These are not the “old growth” trees of the Inside Passage, however. These trees are much smaller and more recent. THESE trees have established themselves since the recent retreat of glacial ice that covered this terrain. The above is an evening view from Tanis Mesa in the foothills of the forelands, the Alsek River (foreground), and many, many miles away, in Glacier Bay, the north side of Mt. Fairweather. As with many other locations I discover in this project, the Yakutat Forelands attract me to visit repeatedly, for adventures beyond the scope of my commission project, so I have written about those journeys in a separate blog, to be found here.
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Friday, July 19, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #157: Daze, #157:  If the coastal mountains and their vast icefields are the dramatic marker of the Tongass rainforest landscape (last post), the deep old growth forest is its beating heart. The 1,000+ mountainous, and densely tree-covered islands of the Alexander Archipelago are the realm of the Tongass, the largest, and most northern, temperate rainforest in the world. In most places, trees, some hundreds of years old, some thousands, blanket the terrain and come right to the edge of the shore. Only a few feet inside the canopy of the forest, life can be as primal a world as most of us will ever view. Trees of unimaginable size, surrounded by choking vegetation, blackwater swamps, and dinosaur-sized patches of skunk cabbage support wolves, deer, fish, eagles, and the largest brown bear population in North America. Yet, if you explore the actual landscape more deeply by following a river inland, the surreality of the forest asserts itself - huge young trees grow from fallen ancient ones, moss connects branches everywhere into a visible, unified network, and the air is so still, you cannot tell the water from the land, until a ripple occurs. Magritte would have loved this,..and out there somewhere, a bear is watching!

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Friday, July 12, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #156: Daze, #156:  I will spend the next four summers exploring the Tongass rainforest. Within the first two years, I concentrate just on the rainforest and the logging, in particular, and chose not spend much time in areas already protected as parks or wilderness. In the latter two years, I return to do adventure travel trips I want to pursue, beyond the parameters of my original commission. Exploring the breadth of the habitat aboard the boats of The Boat Company introduces me to the many unique components that comprise the collective ecosystem of this forest. Certainly the most dramatic of these are the coastal mountains, some of which are the tallest in the world, ranging up to 18,000ft. This loft of rock directly faces the fury of storms born in the Gulf of Alaska, and as a consequence accumulates a staggering amount of rainfall and snow. Some places see as much as 350-inches of rain, and others get 50+ FEET of snow, building tremendous icecaps and glacial fields. In our current climate, there has been a considerable retreat of this ice, opening up numerous dynamic fjord systems to be explored by kayak camping. Misty Fjords National MonumentTracy Arm - Fords Terror WildernessGlacier Bay National Park and Preserve, and Icy Bay are all places I spend extended time, NOT related to my project. If you are interested in following some of those adventures in depth, several have already been published, or are being published, as blogs. Tracy Arm is one of the most inspiring locations in my life, and I visit over a dozen times in various boats, the best of which is an extended kayak camping journey. That story can be found here. I am also currently posting the stories of my first trips into the Tongass to do this work, and that can be found here.

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Friday, July 5, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #155: Daze, #155:  In the last post, I describe getting ashore to explore the Tongass, and leave the post by stating that for whatever difficulties we encounter when we disembark our tender boats, being in the forest is “SO worth it!” Well, what do you think? Does this stunning fantasy of green appeal to you? I know immediately this commission will be one of THE great adventures of my life, rain or not. Our daily activities aboard our mothership, include naturalist-guided exploration hikes, fishing, and kayaking. Oh! I forgot eating. And eat, we do. The food is gourmet, and often features salmon, trout, or crab, all fresh, out of the waters around us, and sometimes caught by the guests. Our luxurious yacht not only gives us unique access, and enviable meals, but it lets us sleep in comfort, keeping the bugs, and frequent rain, at bay. As being in a rainforest is still new to me, having respite from the nearly daily rain, is a great comfort. Because we are all enjoying such a revealing natural experience together, it also bonds the guests and crew, allowing the daily information about the value of a standing forest, as opposed to a completely clearcut one, to be well received, and embedded, in our consciousness. As I am aboard to write a book about all of this, I spent a good deal of extra time in the staff dining area, talking to the naturalists about the complexities of this interwoven, old growth habitat we are exploring. This will be reflected in my book, and it will also inform my many other adventures to come, as I proceed with my commission. Thank you many, many times over to Michael and Winsome McIntosh, and their unique enterprise, The Boat Company.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, June 28, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #154: Daze, #154:  After my attendance at the blow-out wedding party of complete strangers, all of us staying at the only hotel in Wrangell, I awake truly hammered, collect my gear, and head to the dock, where I am to board The Boat Company’s “Observer,” a small cruise ship that will offer me, and a few other guests, an intimate 12-day naturalist-guided tour of the Tongass rainforest. Upon my arrival at the dock, the captain notes I appear a bit “under the weather,” to which I explain about the wedding party I was invited to join. He replies, “I hear it was legendary.” Apparently word travels fast in Alaska - LOL! I am shown to my cabin, which is small but quite comfy, introduced to the other guests, and then we are off. What I learn from this initial voyage and adventure into the myriad islands of the Tongass, informs my next 4yrs. of adventuring there. The Tongass forest blankets more than 1,000 islands, offshore of the tallest coastal mountain range and fjord complex in North America. It is sustained, and so labeled, as the largest temperate rainforest in the world, because it is inundated by more than 300-inches of rain per year (325” on average in Ketchikan)! It has a few small cities, a number of very small towns, and only of few hundred miles of road, in an area of over 6-million acres. Most everyone gets around by float plane, or some form of boat. Being small, the “Observer” can go many places larger boats cannot, so this cruise offers all of us intimate views of a remarkable place. The picture above provides an informing perspective of the general landscape we explore. It is an inlet, bordered by dense forest, and at the moment, the kelp-covered tidal flat is partially exposed. On any given day, “Observer” might anchor in the nearby deepwater, and guests and guides will go ashore in smaller tender boats to explore the forest. With a +/- tide of 18-feet twice a day, the approach to the shore is always interesting. The tenders take us in as far as they can, and then, wearing our knee-high rubber boots, we must disembark and wade the rest of the way, sometimes in water still deep enough to top our boots. It can also be very slippery, but once ashore, SO worth it!

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Friday, June 21, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #153: Daze, #153:  The patron who has offered me the commission to photograph the Tongass rainforest, is Barney McHenry, general counsel to the Lila Acheson Wallace Funds. They previously funded my Hudson River commission which has been such a great success, they make me this second offer. I have never been to Alaska, and am surprised to even know it has a rainforest, but Barney has been there before, and so he arranges for me to have my first encounter through a guided adventure, introducing me to The Boat Company, and its owners Michael and Winsome McIntosh. The Boat Company is very unique at this time. The single boat they operate, the “Observer," is a beautifully converted mine-sweeper, now turned into a luxury yacht. It only sleeps 12, if I remember correctly. Because the McIntosh family are fervent supporters of protecting the Tongass, instead of logging it, the crew of guide-naturalists, are evangelical in their dialogues with us about why this forest should NOT be industrially clearcut. I am told to meet the boat in Wrangell for a 12-day tour of the surrounding forest-covered islands. I am also told Wrangell is a “timber town,” and it is probably best not to tell the locals why I am there. Wrangell is small, and only has one hotel and one restaurant. When I arrive on a plane from Juneau, I have no reservation, but there is one room available. All the rest have been committed to a wedding party, that will occur in the coming evening. Unfortunately, the restaurant will be closed because it is serving the party, so I am told to get something from a local store. Before I can do that, however, a knock at my door brings new friends - the bride and groom, already slightly inebriated. They are “sorry” to ruin my visit, and tell me to join the wedding festivities so I will be fed properly. I suggests I do not have appropriate clothing, to which they reply, “Hey, this is Alaska, who f*@#ing cares.” Sounds fun to me! I arrive with some 30 others, all of whom have been drinking, and plan to drink more.., A LOT more! The food is great, the crowd friendly, and the liquor is flowing. After a raucous ceremony, the band emerges. They are from Anaheim, CA, and they feature a tall, blonde, female singer who is barely wearing anything. From their first note, they ROCK! As the party climaxes (no pun intended.), they break into a great, but little-known song by The Icicle Works, “Whisper to a Scream,” and the place, quite literally, goes nuts. The very attractive bride, and her new husband, sweep the beer bottles of the main dining table, and climb up onto it to dance, as best they are still able, Mid-song, the bride lifts her formal white wedding dress to display her garter (with gun) and a glittery bustier, to cheers from everyone. I LOVE Alaska! Although, when I report to the “Observer” dock in the morning, I am seriously damaged, and I have only been “in country” for 2-days. OMG!

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, June 14, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #152: Daze, #152:  Apparently, my new commission from the Lila Acheson Wallace Funds, to photograph in the Tongass rainforest of Alaska, will be accomplished by boating and camping, as there are few towns, fewer people, and a very limited number of roads. With my friend and fellow artist, Philip Slagter, helping as my assistant, we are about to spend the entire summer, camping, boating, kayaking, and canoeing throughout some 1,000 mountains islands in southeast Alaska, that sit just offshore of one of the world’s tallest coastal mountain ranges, split by deep fjords with tree-covered towering walls, and capped by some of the largest glaciers in North American. The fishing should be terrific, as it is considered a significant salmon fishery (along with other available species), but it is the population of especially large Grizzly bear, and unheard of amounts of rain (365” per year on average in Ketchikan that intimidate Philip and I the most, as we learn more about where we are headed. In planning, I realize we are going to be in extreme conditions a lot of the time, and we need to be mobile, so I decide to leave my large cameras at home, and go with all 35mm gear. Realizing I will work in smaller format, and I still hope to acquire richly detailed images, so I decide I will shoot Kodachrome transparency film, supposedly the best product on the market. As fate would have it, however, a new film reputed to be quite good, is introduced before we depart. It is called Fujichrome Velvia, and I decide to take rolls of that along, as well, to compare side-by-side with what I shoot on Kodachrome.

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Friday, June 7, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #151: Daze, #151:  With The Hudson River and the Highlands now published (previous post), and a commercial success upon release, Carey and I give up our lovely home near Cold Spring, NY, and prepare to drive our van back to Los Angeles, where I expect to publish another 9-images in my series, “Order from Chaos.” Before departing, however, Barney McHenry, my liaison to the Lila Acheson Wallace Funds, invites us to dine with him one more time, and so we do. During that meal, he asks what I might be planning next, and I respond that I am going to LA, to publish a folio of new prints, and then I hope to travel to Alaska,..at which point he begins to laugh. When I query him as to why he is laughing, he says I must be prescient, because he has invited me to dinner to offer me ANOTHER commission, in ALASKA!. He wants me to go there and photograph a place I have never even heard of, the Tongass rainforest. He tells us it is one of the most important forests in the world, and it is being badly damaged by industrial logging, so I should just “observe and do what you do.” Carey and I have a pleasant drive back to LA. I co-publish my next portfolio of 9-30”x 40” Cibachrome prints, "Order from Chaos: New Work, Too,” with the George Dalsheimer Gallery in La Jolla, and the G. Ray Hawkins Gallery in LA - another great success - and Carey and I start making plans for travel to Alaska. We rent a very nice home in Manhattan Beach, and as she wants to pursue her interests in a writing career, and we know nothing about the rigors of Alaska, she chooses to stay home during the summer, and I will go explore the Tongass with an assistant, our mutual friend, and fellow artist, Philip Slagter. As I study information about the Tongass rainforest, the scale of the task ahead, begins to dawn on me. The Tongass is THE most northern rainforest in the world, and also one of the largest 16million + acres). It is comprised of over 1,000 mountainous islands, which sit offshore of the tallest coastal mountain-fjord carved ranges on the planet. It is a VAST world of water, trees, and ice, with few towns, and fewer people. There are not many roads either. Everyone gets around by boat and ferry. It hosts a significant salmon fishery, among other species as well. Most notably, it is home to the greatest concentration of Bald Eagle and GRIZZLY BEAR known. As Grizzlies go, these are also considered to be some of the largest. WHAT?

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, May 31, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #150: Daze, #150:  I have now finished my commission from the Lila Acheson Wallace Funds to photograph the Hudson River Valley, and I take the collective work into New York to show Barney McHenry, my liaison to the foundation. Barney has seen my images as they have evolved during the two years in residence, and he especially likes my inclusion of the industrial sites. When we meet, he is very excited to see the collected work in total, and he announces that he wants to separate what I have done from the other two artists commissioned, Stephen Shore, and William Clift, publishing my work as a stand alone book. Now, I’m EXCITED! Discussing possible publishers, I tell him I have previous books with Viking (American Photographers and the National Parks), and Harry N. Abrams (SEAFARM: The Story of Aquaculture), so he tells me to take my folio to them. Both show interest in publishing me, but neither wants to use any of the industrial images. They want an "attractive, coffee-table publication." When I report this back to Barney, he does not agree, and says I should go to Aperture. Aperture, of whom I am well aware, publishes esoteric, art photography books, and I do not expect to be well received there, but I go. Talking to the Director of Aperture Foundation, Michael Hoffman, I can tell he does not like the inclusions of industrials either, but surprisingly, a very prominent and respected editor on his design staff, defends their inclusion. I, once again, report back to Barney, and he responds that he is having lunch with Michael that very day, and he will “speak” to him. After that lunch, Barney confirms the book is a “go,” WITH the industrials included. The above is the result. The book is released in late fall, for the Christmas season, and Aperture sells ALL 10,000 copies of the first printing BEFORE Christmas! They also put up a great show in their gallery, which then travels for 2yrs. afterward, to many NY locations. With the exhibit on the Aperture gallery walls, Laurance Rockefeller, hosts an amazing sit-down dinner for 30+, right in the gallery. Needless to say, it is a wonderful night for me. In retrospect, I would have liked to see more industrials included in the book and exhibit, than were, but if you have followed this blog, you have now had a chance to view them. The essay for the book was written by James Thomas Flexner, a distinguished Hudson River historian from the New York Historical Society, and I was allowed a brief Afterword, to thank those who helped me along the way. At the moment of writing it, American politicians were considering “renewal” of the Clean Water Act, and since the ongoing “clean up” of the Hudson had been assisted by that act, I also made some modest references to it. In retrospect, I could have been MUCH more outspoken. This would be the last time I would write for a book, and hold back on my political beliefs.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, May 24, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #149: Daze, #149:  Spring in the Hudson Valley, quickly becomes warm and humid, and morphs into summer. At some point fairly soon, I am going to take all the work I have been doing in the Hudson Valley into New York to show to my contact, Barney McHenry, and others at the Lila Acheson Wallace Funds. I am also getting close to having a sufficient number of “other” images that I am hoping to get published as my second portfolio of large format prints. The icing on that cake, comes this day. In a light rain, I stop to ponder this swampy thicket of trees and bushes, when I realize the light brown leaves in the foreground are Beech, and have been leftover through the winter from last season. To the right of them, the yellow-white blossoms are Dogwood, one of the first trees to flower-out in spring. One of the most well-known Hudson River Painters was Thomas Cole, and one of his last great paintings was entitled, “The Voyage of Life,” wherein he depicted the journey of a human passing from birth to death. The image above is a natural-world metaphor for what he was trying to express. From the roof of my van, with my 4x5, one of the last images I make in the Hudson River Valley is this, “The Voyage of Life/Homage to Thomas Cole.” The image is published in my first Aperture book, The Hudson River and the Highlands, and it also serves as the last image to fulfill my hopes of publishing another portfolio of 9 large format prints in my ongoing series.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, May 17, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #148: Daze, #148:  Having never been through a New England spring, I do not expect it to be as colorful as the fall, but it is, perhaps even moreso. The image above is not a fall shot, but rather the vibrancy of spring. While working on the Lila Acheson Wallace Funds commission in the Hudson Valley, I have made some unexpected, and significant friends. One of those who has purchased prints from me is Laurance Rockefeller, and he and other family members live in an expansive compound of houses and gardens in Pocantico Hills. The historic home Kykuit is there as well, and none of this is open to the public, as yet. Through I series of contacts and persuasive letters, Laurance allows me to photograph the grounds, gardens, golf course, and Kykuit, but asks that I not make images of the private homes or their locations. Happy to be invited, I frequently visit and shoot. Nearby Tarrytown is also historic, and has lovely homes and neighborhoods, so I often pass through it when I visit Kykuit. On this especially rainy day, I decide to drive through the spectacular Tarrytown Cemetery, which is in an explosion of spring bloom. Again, from the roof of my van, with my 4x5 camera, I shoot this, “A Sympathy of Things,” another new image that would eventually be included in my forthcoming portfolio, and also in my first Aperture book, The Hudson River and The Highlands.

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Friday, May 10, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #147: Daze, #147:  When Carey and I move into our leased home in the Hudson River Valley, so that I might work on the commission I have been given by the Lili Acheson Wallace Funds, I expect to see a colorful fall season, and snow in the winter. Having grown up in California, however, I have never seen a New England spring. Once winter snows are washed away by warming rains, the dense forests are just a thrash of twigs and limbs in somber shades of brown and gray. Then things start to bloom out, and OMG! Throughout this project I am using two cameras: I shoot with my 4x5 when conditions allow it, and when the weather is less than hospitable, I use my Pentax 6x7. Prior to moving into the valley, I published a portfolio of 9-30” x 40” prints in an edition of 20, entitled, “Order from Chaos, New Work,” all shot with my 4x5 camera. This body of work was immediately successful, and some of the profits from it, support Carey and I, while in New York. I have several other images I have accumulated since, which were not included in the initial portfolio, and then spring comes to the Hudson. Simultaneously, on the West Coast, two top galleries have taken note of my profitable sales, and the G.Ray Hawkins Gallery in Los Angeles, and the George Dalsheimer Gallery in La Jolla, reach out to me in New York, to see if I have further images. I would like to have another 9, but at the moment I do not. Seeing this Forsythia bloom from the rooftop of my van, however, I feel certain I will have other encounters as spring progresses, so I tell them we COULD publish, if they like what they see, when I next return to LA. This image, “Trying To Stop The World,” would be part of the next portfolio AND it would also be published in my soon-to-be Aperture book, The Hudson River and the Highlands.

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Friday, May 3, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #146: Daze, #146:  It is in this commission that I begin to experiment with images in multiple panels. I never try to create a perfect seamed view, but rather one in which the flow works nonetheless. Coming from the West, perhaps I am more litter-conscious, but something I find remarkable in the Hudson Valley, and actually, practiced statewide, is the dumping of personal trash, industrial rubbish, and other discards, pretty much anywhere you find rural open space. Below the cliffs of the numerous scenic overlooks along the river, I constantly encounter piles brown paper bags, filled with rotting household products. It is not exactly as the Hudson River School had envisioned the valley. As a consequence I could not resist this picture, and the humorous title I assigned it. This is the shoreline edge of a traffic circle, just north of Peekskill that has become such a dump-zone. On this night, it is being graced by a sunset in the style of Hudson River painter, Frederic Church, hence, this diptych is entitled, “Requiem for Frederic Church."

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Friday, April 26, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #145: Daze, #145:  As my visual fascination with industry continues to grow, I discover not only the heavy industrial sites around Troy, but further upriver and a bit closer to the Adirondacks in Glens Falls, I also encounter a subject that would prove prescient of work that I would do in the future. Finch-Pruyn is a paper manufacturer in Glens Falls, but they also own substantial acreage in the Adirondacks, which they log for the purposes of their paper-making. I am introduced to the company by the curator of The Hyde Collection a local museum, so they not only allow me access, they sponsor and exhibit of my work at the museum, and they use one of my most industrial images as a poster for the show. I made numerous images of the plant, as well as the log piles, and although I did not know it at the time, in just a few years I would find myself in the Tongass, trying to stop some of the most destructive clearcut logging on the planet, and mills, log piles, and clearcuts would become a substantive part of my portfolio.

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Friday, April 19, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #144: Daze, #144:  The Indian Point power plant, and the abandoned landing in Beacon (last two posts) are an important expansion of my vision, but they are industrial sites relatively close to where I am living. Traveling more widely up and down the Hudson River Valley, I come to realize, historically there has been a significant amount of industrial development on the river between Albany and Troy to the north. Some of it has closed down, leaving just abandoned buildings, some of it is still operational, and much of it has caused significant pollution to the mid-river. Many of the companies do not seem to mind me photographing their properties, if I explain my project to them, and ask for permission. Their concerns are less about my picture results, than they are about my safety and my willingness to observe strict protocols. This access allows me to consider the visual aspects of industry, a truly different American landscape I am starting to explore more and more.

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Friday, April 12, 2019

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #143: Daze, #143:  My other great epiphany during my work in the Hudson River Valley, occurs one cold and rainy winter morning in the small berg of Beacon. In studying the history of the Hudson, I discover that the mid-Hudson area, where I am living, was a weekend “country” destination for those wishing to get out of Manhattan, and “quaint” towns along the river, like Cold Spring brought them to visit by ferry. Beacon was one of the most popular destinations, and the Beacon Landing actually has historical designation. With that in mind, I think I should see it, and this is the moment I have chosen. The actual landing is now cut off from the town by a complex of railroad tracks, so an elevated crossing has been built over the rails. The landing itself is a disaster, abandoned by the public, and used as a storage and equipment yard by the railroad and the town. While I ponder making an image, I struggle to work around the power pole, when I have the first part of my epiphany - the pole is part of the picture, don’t try to get rid of it, make it prominent. When I see this shot as film, I love it, and take it to show to Barney McHenry, who has commissioned me for this project on behalf of the Lila Acheson Wallace Fund. Along with some of my other residential and industrial images, I want him to see that I have broadened my view and am not just photographing the woodlands and parks. Viewing this image, Barney asks its importance, which I explain. Not long thereafter, the Wallace Funds purchase the landing from the railroad, restore the entire area as a VERY nice park, and give it to the city of Beacon. The second part of my epiphany - a SINGLE image can actually make a HUGE difference. My ethic of purposeful image-making on behalf of the environment is born, and my career is testament to that commitment.

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Friday, April 5, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #142: Daze, #142:  From the curious, to the serious - my interest in photographing the “community” of the Hudson River Valley, rather than just the significant parklands there, produce some interesting new images in my work, such as you saw in the last post. It also produces a few epiphanies. Above is the nuclear power plant sited at Indian Point. It is one of the oldest in the country, AND it is less than 50-miles from New York, one of the countries largest populations. As someone who distrusts the toxic liability of the nuclear industry, Indian Point is symbolic for me. In my many explorations along the shores of the Hudson, I view Indian Point from every angle, and photograph it many times. Then, one very smoggy day during a cold winter inversion, I drive to an overlook on the river, not far from my home, just to see what is happening on the river, and I am greeted with this. Ansel Adams often said he pre-visualized his images, meaning he could anticipate what the finished print would look like. At this point, master printer, Michael Wilder, and I having been pushing the limits of a new color material, Cibachrome, and when I see this view, I know IMMEDIATELY what the print will look like. The weird metallic colors of the smoggy day, and the glossy, color saturated print material will make this appear as I symbolically see it, a vision of hell, BUT part of the complex reality of the Hudson River Valley.

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Friday, March 29, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #141: Daze, #141:  My multi-seasonal commission in the Hudson River Valley, allows me to study my work as the project progresses, and the idea to just “see” the community around me, brings some new and interesting images on to my light table. I am one of three photographers that have been commissioned by the Lila Acheson Wallace Fund, the other two are William Clift, and Stephen Shore. My new way of looking at “the landscape,” is also greatly inspired by Shore’s work in the streets of New York, in which he depicts the “ordinariness” of spaces within that environment. Here in the valley, and especially in the small hamlets and villages of the Adirondack mountain headwaters of the river, “ordinary" to the neighborhood takes on new meaning. There are fantasy summer camps, great family lodges around private lakes, and quaint villages providing infrastructure for quite an array of services. This is a “trading post” that offers “decor” items for “camp home & cottage,” AND if you would like to have some of that decor to be stuffed animals, they offer taxidermy as well.

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Friday, March 22, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #140: Daze, #140:  Typical to my established work, and especially because the height of fall color is upon us, most of my first images of the Hudson River Valley are of the landscape. My effort to access estates and homes with views, is for the purpose of seeing the view, However, the longer I am in the valley, and the more I learn to appreciate its history, the more I take notice of the houses and architecture. It is clear the valley is not a wilderness, although there are many large, and VERY wild parks all along the river, but they exist interwoven with hamlets, small towns, great estates, and a lot of rural residential. Typically these are also “old” properties, many dating back into the late 1700’s. Much of what is here, is hidden by the trees of the forest, but winter proves revealing when the leaves are gone. I am actually surprised on some familiar drives to find houses I had not seen in my previous passing. Initially, obvious properties, like the spectacular Boscobel, seemed worthy subjects, but I soon realize those are pictures everyone has already seen. Besides, my project is about “the valley,” collectively, and how such structures are part of a greater whole. Nonetheless, these considerations change the direction of my work, and I begin to take note of the “neighborhood."

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Friday, March 15, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #139: Daze, #139:  Carey and I are ensconced in an historical home near the middle of the Hudson River Valley, and within walking distance to the edge of the water and the Audubon Center of the Constitution Island Marsh. Many other historical homes and gardens surround us. Some are public, so I have access. Others are private. Many are large estates built atop ridges with grand views of the river valley, and I would like to have access to them as well. It is a small town, Carey and I are obvious newcomers, and people often see me in the area working - hard to miss a guy with a big camera and tripod standing on top of his van in a storm. When they approach to ask what I am doing, I explain, and encourage them to tell others, or perhaps, introduce me to friends and locations of interest. Most are engaging and helpful, but some of the oldest and most private families do not embrace the “paparazzi from California,” until I put up a small show in Cold Spring of my first few good images. That show brings me a lot of new friends, support, and invitations to see “their” view. Among the homes and gardens I eventually visit, the above is one of my favorite. It is “Manitoga,” the home of American designer, Russel Wright, and along with the commission upon which I am working, I am given additional support from a New York State Council on the Arts, Architecture, Planning & Design Grant to photograph this home and its gardens, extensively.

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Friday, March 8, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #138: Daze, #138:  Carey has made an amazing find in our rental home just outside of Cold Spring. We have a lease on a large, historic house, that sports a huge rear deck, overlooking a multi-acre yard, through which runs Indian Brook. There is a productive vegetable garden, a lot a large trees, and quite an expanse of grass. Many pathways also lead to benches or chair swings. Most importantly, it places me right about the middle of the Hudson River Valley, surrounded by some of the most historic hamlets and private properties. I have never had an opportunity like this commission, and I decide on a working discipline that becomes a cornerstone of my process throughout my entire career. Our move to the Hudson is accomplished in early fall, and as the fall colors progress, so does the inclement weather. It rains hard, and frequently. The discipline I adopt is that, if I plan to go out for the day to shoot, I go regardless of the conditions. I am often wet, cold, and miserable, but my committed effort is always productive, the above image being an example of that. I spent much of this day driving around in a pounding rain that began the night before. Fall is at peak, and the long rain has saturated EVERYTHING, so there is great color, but shooting is difficult because, along with the rain, it is also brutally windy. Late in the day, I am headed back to our house, and I am driving through Harriman State Park. The park is shimmering with color, and the rain and wind abate. My drive passes by Upper Lake Cohasset, and this screams at me to pull over and have a look. The soaking rain has turned the tree trunk a depthless black, a perfect foil to set off the surrounding color show. This becomes one of the first important images in my new body of work.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, March 1, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #137: Daze, #137:  Working in my darkroom in LA over the course of the summer, I finish printing, and publish the 24-print, B&W portfolio, WINTERS: 1970-1980. Also working with master Cibachrome printer, Michael Wilder, I publish the color portfolio, ORDER FROM CHAOS: NEW WORK, containing 9-30”x 40” prints in an edition of 20. My immediate sales are exceptional, especially with the color work, and the timing could not be better because Carey and I are about to move to the Hudson River Valley, where I will begin a commissioned project. We will need the money. In advance of our actual move, we also need to have a location to move to, so Carey heads east by plane to do some groundwork. We both agree that we want to live outside Manhattan, and actually IN the valley, close to the river, so Carey scouts some of the beautiful rural towns along its shoreline. At an historic bend in the river, West Point rises on the bluffs of the western shore, and on the eastern shore lie the picturesque towns of Garrison and Cold Spring. The historic Albany-Post stagecoach road passes through them, and Carey finds a beautifully maintained 1800’s home and farm that we can rent, on Indian Brook Road, near its intersection with Albany-Post, all within walking distance of the Bird and Bottle Inn, one of the historic stagecoach stops, and now a high-end inn with truly fine dining. The home we rent is owned by a college professor, who is taking a 2-year sabbatical to travel. He and his wife love the idea that an “artist” will be working in their home while they are gone. Above is, “The Taconic Parkway, North to Albany,”. It is a drive I make numerous times, but on this day it is truly something else.

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Friday, February 22, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #136: Daze, #136:  After a few days visiting with our friends, the artists, Philip Slagter and Marta Reicio, Carey and I continue our drive back to my home, studio, and darkroom in Los Angeles. After settling in, I process the 4x5 color transparency film I have been shooting in the East, and as I hoped, there are enough images to constitute a portfolio of work, so I reconnect with my friend and master Cibachrome printer, Michael Wilder, and we begin work on what will become the portfolio, ORDER FROM CHAOS: NEW WORK. The home I grew up in, and in which my parents still reside, is a large, rambling home and gardens in the hills above UCLA. When I was in graduate school at CalArts, I converted two unused rooms at the back of the house, intended as servant’s quarters, into a really nice darkroom, and print processing/mounting area. Much of my daily activity in LA bounces between Wilder’s studio/darkroom in Venice, and my darkroom at home, where I am finishing the 20 signed editions of my 24-print, boxed, B&W portfolio, WINTERS: 1970-1980. The pleasure of working at my parent’s home is that at the end of the day, they have swimming pool. They also welcome my friends, and as they are approaching their 80’s, they like the company, so on summer weekends, the pool becomes a sizable gathering. Some of the top photographers in LA have been friends since college, including Anthony Eaton Friedkin, Jeff Dunas, and Ken Marcus, and they are regulars to the weekends poolside. Tony actually makes A LOT of pictures underwater in the swimming pool. Especially to my aging father’s delight, there is no shortage of shockingly beautiful women in the group, because Dunas works for Penthouse, and Marcus works for Playboy. During his many years of business in Hawaii, my father amassed an amazing collection of hats woven from palm leaves. I, and my guests, all wear them on days at the pool when the sun is blistering. This is one of my favorites.., that is a hula girl on top.

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Friday, February 15, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #135: Daze, #135:  Feeling certain that the recent trips in my van with Carey will provide a portfolio’s worth of images, soon to become ORDER FROM CHAOS, and having printed only half of the editions for my B&W portfolio, WINTERS: 1970-1980, I am eager to return to my home, studio, and darkroom in LA, so I can get that work done, before moving back to the Hudson River Valley to work on the commission I have recently been given. Carey and I end our “southern tour” along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and head west. Neither of us has been to New Orleans, so we stop there for a few days, continuing on across Texas, to camp in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and visit nearby Carlsbad Caverns National Park, as well. My friend, the painter, Philip Slagter, who introduced me to Carey when he was living in a farmhouse on a Connecticut estate, is now living in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with his longtime girlfriend, and friend of Carey’s, Marta Reicio, also a very accomplished artist. From where we are camped, Las Cruces is a relatively short drive, so our next stop for a few days is at the large, rambling, dog-filled farmhouse, where Philip and Marta currently live. Their property is rural. There is a bird refuge nearby, so ducks, and other birds are everywhere. Also, not far away, White Sands National Monument, so why not day trip there if the weather is nice? It is, so we do. Day trip, indeed! Clearly we have had too many snacks. Much time is spent running up the slope-side of a dune, to leap blindly off the steep side. That first 15-20ft. of pure air and free-fall is pretty breathtaking, even when you know it is coming.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, February 8, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #134: Daze, #134:  At the request of the National Park Foundation, I go to New York to meet with Barnabus McHenry of the Lila Acheson Wallace Fund, to thank them for providing important seed money for the research I was doing on the project “American Photographers and the National Parks,” and to report of the GREAT success of that traveling exhibition and book. The Director of the NPF also suggested I should show Barnabus some of my original printwork, as he often bought photography for the Wallace Fund to add to the Reader’s Digest collection. I am excited to have the opportunity to sell some prints, particularly because Carey and I are about to go on an extended road trip, and I could use some cash. Barney, as he prefers to be called, is a GREAT GUY! Very smart. VERY funny. He is quite impressed with the exhibit and book project, and he saw first-hand the smashing opening night at the New York Public Library, so he fully understands what I have accomplished. Then he speaks to me about my personal work, and I offer to show him prints. He is also impressed with them. Then asks me what I am going to do next. I respond that I am returning to the West Coast, and hoping to go to Alaska. Then, he offers to buy just one print (the Fund only acquires images based in NY, and I only had one of those) which I find a little disappointing. He offers something else, however. He says the Wallace Fund is helping the state revitalize the Hudson River Valley and grow tourism there, and he wants to commission me to take pictures. He has also extended this commission offer to two other photographers whose work I admire, Stephen Shore, and William Clift. When I tell Carey of the offer, she is very excited at the opportunity and possibilities, so we are headed west to check in with my family, tell them of our success and the new commission, and then to organize ourselves for a return to the east, as I plan to LIVE in the Hudson Valley while I do the work.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, February 1, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #133: Daze, #133:  During the days we spend hiking and driving around in the deep south, Great Smoky Mountains National Park comes into FULL spring. Redbud, dogwood, flowering trees of every description go off and blossom. The endless forests of barren branches, leaf out. Birds are everywhere. It is gloriously warm. Then, one morning in the park, I find another image that will go into my growing ORDER FROM CHAOS portfolio. This is “Window in the Forest,” one of my favorites. In the last post, I mention that Carey and are not returning to the north at the end of our trip, but rather, we will drive across the south and southwest, returning to California. Now, however, I will briefly backtrack this story: prior to leaving New York on this camping trip, I had come into the city at the request of the National Park Foundation to meet with Barnabus McHenry, general counsel to the Lili Acheson Wallace Fund that provided early seed money to my “American Photographers and the National Parks” project and book. With effort being SO successful, the NPF wanted me to report about that success in person to the fund, and John Bryant, Director of the NPF, suggested I should take some of my work with me to show as well, because the Wallace Fund often bought photography for the Reader’s Digest collection, one of the companies they owned.

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Friday, January 25, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #132: Daze, #132:  Carey and I are not going to return to the north after our camping trip, we are headed for California instead. We are not in any hurry to get there, however, and as yet the spring is still exploding in the forests of Georgia and Tennessee. I want to hang out in the South and continue my work on the ORDER FROM CHAOS series, so she and I visit various cities, and other camping areas, but Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is truly spectacular, and even as some weeks go by, there are still not a lot of people coming to camp. We had so much fun down-climbing the Chimney Tops trail, that on one of our returns to the park, we also go back and ascended that trail. If you wonder why the trail is named as it is, this should explain it. On our first descent of the trail (frame left, above) we had no idea what to expect, and were amazed that it often traversed narrow, exposed ledges, and plunged down holes into tunnels, hence the name “chimney.” Not knowing the trail length, and because it was late on a rainy day, we simply completed the climb down quickly to be sure we were out before dark. We both acknowledged it was amazing, and we barely “saw” anything, so on one of our returns, we have a very nice day, and set out to reverse what we did previously by climbing UP the trail. Here, Carey stands (frame right) at the foot of one of the more obvious chimneys, before we start up. We spent a WONDERFUL leisurely climb for lunch, and then back down for dinner in camp.

photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, January 18, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #131: Daze, #131:  With warming weather and spring rain, the forests around us begin to come alive. Trees have leaf and flower buds, the ground cover is greening up, and crocus and lilies have begun pushing through the the decaying fall debris to display tiny flowers on the forest floor. Carey and I reach the southern end of our drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which terminates in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and spring has arrived. The campgrounds are open, but only a few visitors are using them yet, so we find a nice site, get ourselves established, and then set out to explore. We stay for several days, and one morning in a light rain, we decide to hike the Chimney Tops Trail. Not knowing much about it, we discover it is approached by a trail and road that make its ascent a simple, uneventful walk-up, nothing challenging at all. Once on top, we encounter a few others, with whom we exchange pleasantries. Then one asks how we came to the summit, and when we respond that we took the park service road, they suggests we should descend the unofficial trail that gave the Chimney name to the same. Apparently that trail, plunges down through rock cracks, narrow terraces, and “chimneys,” and is considered the only “true” trail by the locals. Having no idea what the trail might be like, Carey and I love a good challenge, and so we are off. Some rain blows through, and it grows late in the day before we complete our descent, but it is, indeed, an amazing trail. In the image above, I am traversing a narrow ledge with a stunningly sheer drop to my backside. We have come from the summit in the distance, where you can now see the hazy image of two people standing.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2019 
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Friday, January 11, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #130: Daze, #130:  As the cold dissipates and the warmth of spring creeps in, many things begin a transformation. Carey and I get in some excellent hikes, and we visit some beautiful cities that lay at the foot of the mountains whose ridgeline creates the Blue Ridge Parkway. Asheville, in particular, provides us with a spectacular evening event. We leave our campground and 3-burner Coleman stove, to have a formal dinner and candlelight tour of the Biltmore House, at 178,926-square-feet, it is the largest privately owned home in America. The gardens at dusk are beautiful, but it is the detailing inside that blows everyone on the tour away. Incredible, grand rooms; elegant furnishings; curious collected artifacts - there is an endless array of things to see and ponder. My favorite, however, manifests during our meal. Well into several courses of food and conversation, I am looking around the huge table at which we are seated, and my eye catches something unusual in the candles displayed. Like many festive candelabras, these tonight feature “decorated” candles. The ones closest to me host tree branches on which doves are perched, and near the top of the candle is a nest with chicks. On the other candelabra there are also branches, but these branches feature a rat that is scouting the dove nest at my end of our table. Back on the road the next morning, I find this from the top of my van, “And Gravity Lets You Down,” which becomes another image in the evolving ORDER FROM CHAOS portfolio. If you wonder about my titles in this series, you need to read this blog for the whole story, but I will tell you this title is a line from The Talking Heads song, “I Get Wild, Wild Gravity,” wherein the lyrics suggest David Byrne is in a hotel room in South Carolina and gravity has let him down. Carey and I can identify with that.
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Friday, January 4, 2019


The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #129: Daze, #129:  As Carey and I continue our slow drive south, camping at locations along the Blue Ridge Parkway in my van, the cold sleet and frosty mornings of winter are giving way to the warmer rains of the coming spring. I have chosen to make this drive hoping to expand the 4x5 camera-based color work that I am doing, with the intention of finding a less obvious subject of color than the brilliant New England fall. My instincts are proving productive, and some unusual, and unexpected, subjects offer themselves up. On one VERY rainy morning, we are pondering our day during a torrential downpour from a parkway turnout. It is raining so hard there is little visibility, BUT after a short time, the squalling ends, the veil lifts, and this appears - trees, grasses, and shrubs of every description, all woven together under a skeletal mantle of kudzu. A world of no notable subject EXCEPT, the framing of the colors and the graphic elements, in some sort of orderly chaos. It is also worth noting, I took classes in formal design, in which we were taught “the rules” of “good” design. One is to never put something in the dead center of the frame that “divides” the picture. Nature has NO design rules. I violate that one as often as possible.
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Friday, December 28, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #128: Daze, #128:  I call Carey In NY to tell her of my decision to return and continue my growing body of work, and I ask if she wants to join me once again. She does, and we make plans to wend our way south along the Blue Ridge Parkway and into the deep south for the spring bloom. We start in early spring, so the weather is nearly as miserable as the fall in New England, just a bit warmer. The Blue Ridge Parkway really does run along a ridge and offers up endless vistas. Surrounding the parkway, and on the slopes below us, are dense, deciduous forests, that at the moment have few leaves. Color exists here, either because of the light, or because of the “haze” created by thousands of branches and twigs. One cool evening after dinner, we drive to an overlook for the sunset (and warmth). Photographically, I find both the light and the “haze” going off in a big way. This is "Things Have A Life Of Their Own,” another image that would become part of the ORDER FROM CHAOS portfolio.
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Friday, December 21, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #127: Daze, #127:  As I pursue my concepts of color and form within the frame of my 4x5, I am expressing photographically what I feel some of my favorite painters have done with their work, specifically Jackson Pollack. These photographs abstract a large environment by composing in a way that puts the emphasis on the whole rectangle of the picture, not some subject being depicted within the picture. One thing I learn as Carey and I hike. elevation allows me to eliminate the skyline because we are looking down off of ledges. So, I begin to take more advantage of the nice roofrack I built on my van, accessed by a ladder up the back door. It proves a perfect platform. This is “Autumnal Warp,” and it will become another of the images included in the portfolio, ORDER FROM CHAOS. Eventually, Carey and I need to head back to NY, because “American Photographers and the National Parks” is opening at the New York Public Library for the Christmas season. The opening is a smash, and afterwards I fly to LA to see my family and process my film. The film looks great, and certain images are beginning to define the ORDER FROM CHAOS body of work. I have some that utilize the stunning palette of fall colors, but I am especially encouraged by the less obvious, less colorful compositions that succeed, so I decide to return to the East Coast and continue my shooting after winter passes and spring begins.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2018 
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Friday, December 14, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #126: Daze, #126:  Carey and I have chosen the perfect time to enjoy ourselves in the late fall of the New England states. It is increasingly colder as the days go by, and there are plenty of bouts of bad weather, but during those we drive backroads listening to good music, and I get out upon occasion to work in the rain. On good days, we hike. Vermont is very kind to me and offers up several images important to my career. Carey and I get along well, considering we are living out of a van as winter approaches. The other bonus is that we are the only ones out here! The campgrounds are empty. The trails are people-less, and the summits are our own little private dining areas. Just before Halloween, we venture out onto Cape Cod. One evening we spend overlooking a beautiful bird marsh in Martha’s Vineyard, then we go on to Cape Cod National Seashore and camp in the campground. We are the only ones there. It is a clear, sunny, pleasantly warm day, and the park has a lengthy bike-path, so Carey and I don our roller skates, and spend the entire day doing some of the most scenic and varied terrain skating of my life. Then, smitten with our skating skills, we decided to partake in celebrating Halloween in nearby Provincetown wearing our skates. That could be a whole other blog!
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Friday, December 7, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #125: Daze, #125:  Carey Peterson, now learning to travel with me and live out of my van, loves music, reading, and she aspires to be a writer. We both enjoy being physically active, and do not mind being out in challenging conditions. Her energy inspires my work, which is off to a good start, immediately (last post). We are consciously late in the fall season and winter is clearly coming, but one of my work goals is to move past the obvious complexity I find in fall color (posts #108, #109 & #124), to a similarly complex POV, using “other” colors. To that end, much of the brilliant foliage is gone by the time our welcoming rainstorm blows through. The summits are bare, as are many trees, and the colors of fall now lie in the trail. We love it and roll everyday with some new hike or drive. It rains regularly now, and after a 2-day soaker, we take a hike up 4,017ft. Mount Abraham. The day clears as we ascend, so although it is cold, there is no wind, and the summit is sunny and as warm as it is going to get. The view is wonderful. The long-maintained, well-worn trail, an amazing construction of roots and rocks. After lunch, on the walk down, we arrive here. The late sunlight is serving as a color foil to some dead branches that appear to be “constructed.” Because they are also very wet, they are reflecting the blue sky above. Strange-beautiful! This is “Altar/Apparition in Blue,” and it becomes one the 18-images published in the ORDER FROM CHAOS portfolio.
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Friday, November 30, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #124: Daze, #124:  My first fall journey through New England, begins with a big party at the home-studio of my friend, Philip Slagter. Through Philip, I have met, and been dating, Carey Peterson (last post). The morning after the party dawns stormy and raining hard, so we all hang about the farmhouse in recovery, and I figure out how to add a second person to my van-living adventure. By midday the weather has not improved, so Carey and I just leave our friends and drive into the storm,..north to Vermont. The weather is REALLY terrible! We drive in torrential rain until it is dark, pulling off the road into the forest, near a small Vermont township. When we awake the next morning, the rain has stopped, and it is bracingly cold, so we take a drive to enjoy the van’s heater, and to see where we are. The nearby town is very small, and it has a lovely old church surrounded by a rock wall as it’s centerpiece. The wall is covered with various layers of growth, all now radiant in their rain-saturated colors. The same sound soaking has turned the rocks of the wall nearly black. The contrast is striking, and this becomes my first 4x5 picture of the trip. In the end, this image is NOT included in what becomes the ORDER FROM CHAOS portfolio, BUT I revisit this image in 2006, 23yrs. later, slicing a top-to-bottom, narrow panel out of it - the column of bright red leaves near center - and creating the first of my new digital work, CHOOSE JOY.
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Friday, November 23, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #123: Daze, #123:  Many good things come from hanging out with friend and fellow artist, Philip Slagter at his home in rural Connecticut. Two images (posts #108 & 109) I make while visiting, jump start my ideas behind what would become the portfolio, ORDER FROM CHAOS. Philip has a really interesting girlfriend, Marta Recio, also an artist, and it is through her I meet Carey Peterson (above). Carey has come to New York from Minnesota, and she works odd jobs in the city to survive, but takes an occasional trip with Marta to Connecticut to hang out at Philip’s home-studio. When I finish my work on the exhibit and book, “American Photographers and the National Parks," and leave DC to go on the road in my van and pursue my personal photography, I start my road trip after the Corcoran Gallery opening, and I head for New England. That takes me through New York and Philip’s home in Connecticut, so I suggest to Carey she could leave her job, stop sleeping on her friend's sofa, and join me on the road. At this point we have been seeing each other for some months, and we are getting along, so she agrees, although she expresses that it seems like a wacky idea. The fall is wet, cold, and beautiful. We enjoy many lovely inns, have great hikes, and summit a respectable number of peaks in the Green Mountains of Vermont. This shot is from an overlook near an inn, and it is not only the last light of day, but it the last ray of warmth as well.
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Friday, November 16, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #122: Daze, #122:  Shooting the image in my last post, encourages my expansion of subject matter from obvious fall colors, to other palettes. I also have large swaths of free time between exhibit receptions for “American Photographers and the National Parks,” (posts #116-117), so I leave my home in Maryland to live out of my van and pursue my color photography, trying to build a portfolio of work around an idea I have. I have always lived on the West Coast, and only recently have begun to visit the East, so what I know of it, is mostly big cities like New York and DC. Camping in the van becomes my doorway to a much more rural experience. Over the course of several seasons, I travel as far north as New Hampshire and the border with Canada, and south, down in to Georgia, Tennessee, and the Carolina’s, often driving the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway. In Vermont, I discover the Green Mountain trail system connects to lovely historic inns, so you can summit something different everyday, stay in a different inn every night, and do it all with a daypack. Really sweet! And, great food! Who could not resist climbing Mount Moosalamoo and being photographed with the summit signage?
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2018 
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Friday, November 9, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #121: Daze, #121:  Once “American Photographers and the National Parks” ( posts #116-117) begins to travel, there is no need for me to be at the National Park Foundation offices in DC on a daily basis anymore. I want to pursue my color work in the eastern woodlands, in particular, and so I give up my rental home in Maryland, and begin to travel and live out of my van. From images I have already created (posts #107-109), I know I have an abundance of color to work with given the New England fall, but I don’t want obvious “fall colors” to be the only subject. A few days before I extract myself from DC, I take a camera walk on a cold, blustery day, well after all of the fall colors have gone. My walk brings me to a high berm at the edge of the forest, where I stop to hear the way the gusting wind rattles through the barren limbs, and I take this picture. Entitled, “Have You Ever Listened To The Forest Breathe?”, it becomes one of the images that will be published in my ORDER FROM CHAOS portfolio. This particular image is also acquired by John Szarkowski for the collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. It is part of the collection of the Amon Carter Museum in Texas, and the Huntington, Library, Gardens, and Galleries in Los Angeles, as well.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2018 
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Friday, November 2, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #120: Daze, #120:  It is fortunate for me that the “American Photographers and the National Parks” exhibit generally runs four months at each location, because it takes that long for me to recover from the stunning Transamerica sponsored opening receptions. They make it clear they intend to spend lavishly on the receptions in cities where they have significant presence, starting with the spring premier at the Oakland Museum. I thought that was one of the finest food/wine museum events that I ever attended. The next stop is in the fall at the Corcoran Gallery in DC. I fail to realize how politically powerful Transamerica is, but the DC reception makes that clear. There is a full service liquor bar, should you not want to drink the champagne. There is a fresh seafood station. There are servers shucking raw oysters over an ice-deck, next to a fountain sporting naked bronze babies. Everyone is dressed to the nines. Transamerica is ecstatic because over 100 members of the Congress are here, and over 50 from the Senate. THEY all love the show, and my night becomes a whirlwind of introductions, card exchanges, and many new ties and possibilities. The winter opening at the New York Public Library is even more over the top (above). To start with, the library has been closed for remodeling and restoration, which includes a new gallery space to display their significant print collection. My show will be the first they exhibit as the library reopens just before the Christmas season. This party sees huge Christmas trees brought in. The place is completely decorated. The food and liquor is as extravagant as ever. This time, a lot of us are wearing a tux. In addition to the above banners hung on all sides of the library, every other lamppost on 5th Avenue has a banner as well. To the right, above, you see lamppost banners strung the length of Michigan Avenue in Chicago, when the show is installed at the Chicago Historical Society.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2018 
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Friday, October 26, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #119: Daze, #119:  As this blog has previously posted, while working with the Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies (LACPS), I generated and directed many projects. Most were exhibits, often accompanied with some kind of publishing. The Paul Outerbridge collection (post #50 & #88) was one such effort, as was the survey of Los Angeles photographers assembled and displayed at the corporate headquarters of Security Pacific Bank (post #86). My last curatorial project with LACPS, before moving to DC as Curator of Photography for the National Park Foundation, was a retrospective of the Harlem photographer, James Van Der Zee (post #110-111). There is one project, however, that I actually gave up to another organization. The printing material Michael Wilder and I use, Cibachrome, requires some VERY toxic chemistry to process, and the wet darkroom in general offers a lot of chemical exposure to users. Not just in the air of the enclosed darkroom, but also in the various liquids used for processing. All good B&W printers use Selenium as a toner and preservative, but liquid selenium is very toxic and can be absorbed through the skin. Most photographers I know, rarely work with gloves on, and yet they constantly put their hands in trays of various chemical solutions. It seems, as a photographer, we should know more about our work environment, so on a trip to New York, I meet with a non-profit group that researches and publishes literature about occupational health hazards. They are VERY interested in my idea, but say it will take a good deal of funding, as no research has previously been done. I take the possible project back to LACPS, and they are interested, but do not feel they can raise the money, especially if I am leaving the group to work in DC. Not wanting to drop the idea and the contacts, while doing interviews with photographers for my National Park exhibit, I offer the darkroom health project to Jim Alinder, who is currently the Director of Friends of Photography (FOP), a group founded by Ansel Adams. Jim agrees with me that the research would be useful, so I hand the project off to the Friends. Several years go by while I work on my National Park exhibit and book, and shortly after the first installation of that exhibit at the Oakland Museum, FOP publishes, OVEREXPOSURE: Health Hazards in Photography. It becomes a definitive guide to protecting yourself when working in a wet darkroom. (Sorry my only copy is so water-stained and damaged.)
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2018 
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Friday, October 19, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #118: Daze, #118:  With the curatorial work completed for “American Photographers and the National Parks,” (last 2 posts), and the first exhibit location, the Oakland Museum, now open to the public, I am tasked with following up on magazine requests, and interviews. The sponsor, Transamerica, also wants me to be present and lecture at specific exhibit locations. In the interim, I return to Los Angeles and my wet darkroom, to complete the laborious task of printing out the signed, limited edition, portfolio of 24-prints, “WINTERS: 1970-1980.” (post #115). As the 20 portfolios near completion, I exhibit select prints in various locations (including New York, posts #113-114), and attract the attention of editors at ZERO, a writer and artist publication, that engages spiritual contemplation and philosophical thinking. They are developing an issue in which photographer, Lewis Baltz, will publish and write about his newest body of work, “Park City.” The entire issue is about a “sense of place,” and they would like to do a pictures-only layout, called “In Situ,” using images from WINTERS, along with those of friends, Laurie Brown and Grant Mudford - fellow Los Angeles area photographers with VERY different work. What you see, above, is the ZERO cover, featuring a Lewis Baltz image, and the back cover, featuring my image, "Avalanche Lake Basin,” from my WINTERS portfolio.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2018 
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Friday, October 12, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #117: Daze, #117:  In doing the curatorial work for “American Photographers and the National Parks,” I take some “unusual” approaches, hoping to make the exhibit as broad-reaching, comprehensive, and interesting as possible. I do a great deal of “road work”, quite literally. I travel in my van to meet with, interview, and select prints from many of my contemporaries, including Ansel Adams, Brett Weston, William Garnett, Roger Minick, Eliot Porter, Paul Caponigro, and William Clift. I visit institutional collections like the Oakland Museum, the Amon Carter Museum, and the Museum of New Mexico, but I also go to valuable, but less visited or researched collections, like the Colorado Historical Society, the Denver Public Library, the National Park Service’s Yosemite Collection, and the Research Library Special Collections of both UCLA, and UC Santa Cruz. In all, to assemble the 35 photographers and 200 prints involved, I work with 9 institutions, 6 private galleries, and 5 unique collections, or personal family trusts. I do one more thing, most institutional curators find astounding - I call for an open submission of portfolios through all the major photography magazines and other publications. In dealing with well known photographers, what I hope to find and include, are images less-known. What I also want to present are less-known photographers, or ones you might not expect in an exhibit with this title. I view more than 5,000 images over the course of one year. The reward of doing this is to be able to incorporate many surprises within an exhibit that most think predictable. As you saw in the last post, a Roger Minick image is not only in the show, but it is one of the large posters for the exhibit, as well. Jerry Uelsmann contributed his highly darkroom manipulated work; Gail Skoff hand-colored all of her photographs; Anne Brigman staged dramatic figures in her landscapes; and Imogen Cunningham photographed her husband nude, frolicking in a park. I found one-of-a-kind, and not-seen-before Edward Weston’s in the UC Library Collections; Carleton Watkins images unique to the Yosemite Collection; and the Library of Congress offered up the remarkable William Henry Jackson chromolithographs (last post, slipcase cover). Our generous sponsor, Transamerica, recognizing the importance of what I have done, also publishes a COMPLETE catalog to document every image in the show (above). The catalog cover features a magnificent (and rarely seen) Carleton Watkins, which is also used as one of the posters for the exhibit.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2018 
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Friday, September 28, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #116: Daze, #116:  The small “teaser” exhibit that I assembled at the White House, when Interior Secretary, Cecil Andrus, hosted the National Park Foundation board for tea (post #98), worked perfectly. Everyone was impressed and recognized the possibilities of the larger exhibit that I was proposing, but ultimately, it was board member, Jim Harvey, CEO of Transamerica, who provided more than $500,000 throughout the life of the project. So it comes to be that on a brilliantly sunny day in May of 1981, “American Photographers and the National Parks,” opens in The Great Hall of the Oakland Museum, where one can view the artwork inside, and while dining on a stunning array of food and wine on the lawn, outside, they can see the corporate offices of the Transamerica-pyramid, gleaming in the heart of downtown SF, on the other side of the bay. Fellow San Franciscans, also on the NPF board with Jim Harvey, are Charles Schwab, and Walter and Evelyn Hass, of Levi Strauss, big SF companies as well. Helping to get the party started behind this exhibit, they have all worked together to bring out San Francisco’s finest, and on quite a fine day. I would learn this is just a warm-up for other locations to which the show will travel. Simultaneous with the opening, Viking Books publishes, American Photographers and the National Parks. For both the book, and the exhibit, our first reviews are EXCELLENT, noting particularly that there are many, not-seen-before vintage prints, such as the William Henry Jackson chromolithograph shown above on the cover of the slipcase. Reviewers also found some of the photographers included, surprising, like Roger Minick, whose image, above left, is also a poster for the exhibit. There are 35 photographers included, and 200 prints. It is a HUGE exhibit, and hugely important! From the Oakland Museum, it travels next to the Corcoran Gallery of Art (DC), then, Christmas season at the New York Public Library (5th & 42nd, NY), the Chicago Historical Society (IL), the Amon Carter Museum (TX), the Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute (PA), the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts (MN), the Denver Art Museum (CO), and lastly, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (CA). In alphabetical order, the photographers included are: Ansel Adams, William Bell, Dave Bohn, Anne Brigman, Harry Callahan, Paul Caponigro, William Clift, Linda Conner, Imogen Cunningham, George Fiske, Lee Friedlander, William Garnett, Laura Gilpin, John K. Hillers, William Henry Jackson, Charles V. Janda, Robert Glenn Ketchum, Joel Meyerowitz, Roger Minick, Richard Misrach, Boone Morrison, David Mussina, Eadweard J. Muybridge, Ted Orland, Timothy O’Sullivan, John Pfahl, Eliot Porter, Gail Skoff, Michael A. Smith, Jerry N. Uelsmann, Carleton E. Watkins, Brett Weston, Edward Weston, Minor White, and Don Worth. I spend a lot of time with this blog providing useful links, but it is now YOUR turn to do some research! Do you know these photographers? Are you aware of this historical relationship between the park system, photographers, and our consciousness of the natural world that helps define us as Americans?
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2018 
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Friday, September 14, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #115: Daze, #115:  Laurance Rockefeller is part of the Rockefeller family that built Rockefeller Center, home to Nikon House where my aquaculture exhibit is about to have an opening reception. He is also good friends with John Bryant, Director of the National Park Foundation, for whom I am currently doing research for the proposed exhibit and book, American Photographers and the National Parks. I am VERY honored that Laurance and his wife Mary have come to see my show, but I assume that is because John has prevailed upon them to do so. Of course, I invite them in, and after pleasantries are passed between all, Laurance and Mary are eager to have me walk them through my SEAFARM exhibit. As I learn in our conversation, Laurance is a very progressive venture capitalist, and he has various investments in aquaculture worldwide, so he came to see my exhibit, because he knows a lot about the subject, and is struck by such an exhibit showing up “at his front door.” The three of us have a marvelous 1/2-hour conversation as we encircle the room, and then they want to leave before the doors open to the public. Bear with me here! When in LA, bedsides working with Michael Wilder to print this show, I am busily printing the 24 images for my soon-to-be-published, B&W portfolio, “WINTERS: 1979-1980". I have finished about 1/2 of the 24-print sets for the proposed edition of 20. Nikon House has a small, intimate gallery on their second floor, that is supposed to host another photographers show during my exhibit. At the last minute, he cancels, and Nikon House asks me if I have a smaller body of work that I might place in that gallery, so I send them the portfolio. Now, as I walk Laurance and Mary toward the exit, Laurance asks if I do other work, so I tell him some is in the second floor gallery, if he would like to see it. They would like, so I escort them upstairs. The two of them become very quiet, leave me, and walk around independently. It is a small space, and dark, so the radiant whiteness of my images is glowing on the walls. Mary keeps making quiet sounds of interest and approval, and occasionally Laurance says something like, “remarkable,” or “I have never seen a photograph like this.” I am hoping this is a good thing, BUT the work in the portfolio is an OBVIOUS break with the traditions of landscape photography represented in the previous generation, such as Ansel Adams, so I am still unsure if the Rockefellers like these prints, or are just shocked. After a time, the two collect themselves, and once again begin their departure. At the top of the stairs, Laurance turns to me and says that these images are some of the most beautiful and exciting photography he and Mary have encountered, and he feels I understand the landscape in a “completely new way.” Then, they are out into the cold winter night, and I return to my other guests. Above is the portfolio box for WINTERS, designed by the Randolph and Claudia Laub Studio in LA. Playing on the notably rectangular shape of a print from a full-frame 35mm negative, AND the abstract and minimalism reflected in most of my images, I copy an Asian design idea. The portfolio box is wrapped in brilliantly white, textured rice paper. The portfolio title has been debossed in silver. The “chop” has also been debossed in “Chinese” red, and has been created from the signature of my initials, RGK. “WINTERS: 1970-1980” sold out many years ago. Most portfolios went to private collections, but I am happy to say that the Amon Carte Museum (TX), the Katzen Museum/American University (DC), the Hudson River Museum (NY), the National Museum of American Art (DC), and the Huntington Library, Collections and Botanical Gardens (LA) all have it in their holdings.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2018 
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Friday, September 7, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #114: Daze, #114:  Because I force Elisabeth and Harry Abrams to pay me more money for the work I have done for SEAFARM, they are angry, and will no longer support my proposed exhibit. Nonetheless, my Master Printer, Michael Wilder  and I forge ahead and build a very attractive body of exhibit work. With a bit of luck, I replace support I thought I would receive from Abrams, with support from Nikon, one of the camera manufacturers that provided me with cameras for this project. Nikon operates an historic camera display space and exhibition gallery in Rockefeller Center, just adjacent the skating rink, and they have offered to exhibit my aquaculture images there. They time the exhibit to benefit from the release of the book, which is late fall, and thus I find myself, in Manhattan during the Christmas holidays, with an exhibit up in an very nice gallery space, and a HUGE audience passing through everyday. I have developed a good relationship with John Bryant, the Director of the National Park Foundation, for whom I am organizing my proposed exhibit and book, American Photographers and the National Parks, and John loves NY, and has many friends there. He volunteers to “help” attract an audience for my exhibit, so he flies to NY for the opening. As the last minute prepping occurs at Nikon House, John and I are admiring the exhibit and the effort Nikon House is putting into the evening, when a gallery employee approaches me to ask if I would mind giving someone a personal tour before the public display opens. As it turns out Laurance and Mary Rockefeller are outside and are hoping I will invite them in before it becomes too crowded.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2018 
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Friday, August 31, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #113:
Daze, #113:  As you might imagine, Harry N. Abrams, one of the premier publishing houses in the world, is not pleased that I hire a lawyer and challenge them over image copyright and usage payments for my pictures created to compliment Elisabeth’s book, SEAFARM. They threaten not to publish Elisabeth, and force her to pressure me, which ends are friendship. Although an agreement of use is finally reached, and I have over 80% of the more than 200 pictures in the book, my name is removed from the cover as principle photographer, and they choose a cover image that I know is intended to insult me. Abrams also declines to do a second publication which they had proposed on my initial visit, AND they withdraw their support for any exhibition. Within all of the images, there are many I think are important, or strange-beautiful, but they do not necessarily get included in the book. I also realize some images have been overlooked because their extreme lighting would make them difficult to reproduce in paper print. Now in a great working relationship with Master Printer, Michael Wilder, I know we can bring more out of some pictures than a publisher ever could. So, not to be denied just because Abrams withdraws their support, I use some of the money I make from usage sales, and I print an exhibit that has no audience, and no place to display. The prints are beautiful, as I had hoped, and Wilder works his magic on the extremes of contrast, like the above image. It is 98˙ and 100% humidity. We are on a raft in the Bay of Bengal that cultures lobster and mussels, and we have arrived here by dugout canoe. Strange-beautiful! As my body of printed images grows, it occurs to me that one of my major equipment sponsors for the project was Nikon, and they operate Nikon House in New York, a very nice small gallery and camera display museum on the corner of Rockefeller Center facing the skating rink. Thousands of people pass through their doors every day. So, I contact Nikon, they are interested, and tell me to go meet the gallery manager in NY. I take some of the prints with me when I go. It is a great meeting, and the manager also realizes that although Abrams may not promote the exhibit, the publishing of SEAFARM will, so he wants to time the show to the book release. As it happens, that will be late fall, so it is arranged that my aquaculture exhibit will be displayed in the main gallery of Nikon House during the Christmas holiday season, also a time when the skating rink draws its largest crowd. I still have no idea what to do after that, but I am happy to get the work up at all, and feel that there will be some kind of response, so I commit financially to the rest of the printing, then frame it all, and build crates.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2018 
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Friday, August 24, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #112:
Daze, #112:  On my visits to New York, I not only do curatorial work for the Van Der Zee exhibit I am assembling on behalf of the Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies, I am also in a steep learning curve working with Harry Abrams and Elisabeth Mann Borgese to produce a book about worldwide aquaculture practices. It is NOT pretty. After I show ALL of the work I have created during my around-the-world trip to their editors, Abrams is blown away, and so elated, they actually discuss a possible spin-off book about pig-farming (I do not joke!), and want to support a traveling print exhibit I propose. They also say they now plan to use MANY more of my images. Of course, I am excited, but I do something REALLY smart without realizing it - when I leave NY for LA after my presentation, I take ALL my work back with me. In LA, I realize I only have a loose letter of commitment from Elisabeth, and was only offered a minimal fee, because no one was sure I would rise to the occasion. Now, however, everybody sees the potential in the work, so I want to be paid more, and I want to share in magazine story sales, etc. I begin working with the attorney, Barry Fisher, who has done some advising to LACPS. When I call Abrams to tell them my plans, they go crazy. They tell me they OWN ALL the work and I will NOT be paid anything further. They finish the conversation by telling me, what I do, doesn’t matter because “they have the film” and will proceed with Elisabeth to complete the book. Before my editor hangs up on me, I correct her concept that Abrams has my work, informing her that ALL of it is sitting with me in LA. Long story, short - Abrams turns on Elisabeth to get the pics. Elisabeth turns on me. Her foundation and I agree to share copyright. I get the first $35,000 from magazine story sales, then 50/50 after. She never sees or speaks to me again. My name is taken off the cover as principle photographer, and the cover shot is chosen to insult me, as it is a poor-quality, Russian image of sturgeon farming, the one thing I did NOT get to photograph. 80% of the pictures are mine and they look great. SEAFARM becomes the most definitive book published regarding aquaculture for 20yrs., selling over 70,000 copies.
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2018 
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Friday, August 17, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #111:
Daze, #111:  To organize a retrospective body of the work of James Van Der Zee, I first must be sure the prints are available, and in good condition, so my new colleague, Robert Dockery (far right), arranges for me to meet James and his wife, the next time I travel to New York. It is a great meeting. James is quite amazing, very conversational, AND he has a large collection of well-kept vintage prints. There are spectacular images of life in Harlem that I have never seen in any publication. There is also a huge collection of small prints, that are exclusively of people in their caskets, apparently a black family tradition. When I see these, I know immediately that this could be a remarkable, and very different exhibit. In LA, I work with Dockery to find funding from major black LA institutions and businesses, and bring in the Bank Of Finance and Pro-Line Corporation as sponsors. Needing a stylish venue, in or near downtown, I approach Josine Ianco-Starrels at the Barnsdall Municipal Art Gallery, because I also want the city to get involved, and she and I/LACPS have worked successfully together before. Josine immediately gets what I am putting together, and signs on, offering me the largest galleries for his “regular” printwork, but then offering to create a small gallery, like a private viewing space, where we would put the casket portraiture. The Oakland Museum of California also learns of the show LACPS is creating, and they would like to exhibit it at their museum, as well. Josine does an amazing job on the installation, including the HUGE mural of Van Der Zee in a stylish brim, in front of which we are all standing. Van Der Zee flies out for the opening, and Josine arranges for the final polish on his plate, a fantastic sit down dinner, served in the long-closed-to-the-public, Hollyhock House, adjacent the gallery. The exhibit brakes attendance records at both institutions. (FYI, I am standing next to Van Dr Zee’s wife.)
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Friday, August 10, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #110:
Daze, #110:  I am now doing a lot of travel between the coasts. I have a book about aquaculture being edited in New York. I am starting a curatorial project for the National Park Foundation in Washington, DC, and in Los Angeles, I have been made Executive Director of the Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies (LACPS). I formerly served them as an exhibit curator, and project director, helping to put them on the map with my discovery of the Paul Outerbridge Collection, and the subsequent exhibit and national tour. The success of that project makes me visible to many people, one of whom is a black Hollywood agent, Robert Dockery. When we are introduced, he asks if I know the work of James Van Der Zee, and I am familiar with a few images, so he is surprised when I say, yes. I quickly follow with the fact that I have never seen many images, but I know he was a chronicler of what was called The Harlem Renaissance. Robert tells me he knows the Van Der Zee family, James is 92 and still living in New York, AND his wife wonders if a collection of his best prints could be assembled and exhibited to honor him. LACPS is working very hard to be representative of photographers from all over the city, and it is one of the reasons we do co-operative exhibits with other institutions in widely scattered locations from the westside to downtown. The idea that we might better connect with black photographers and their community could really be served by such an exhibit of Van Der Zee’s work, so I am very interested.
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Friday, August 3, 2018

The Daze of My Life:  Robert Glenn Ketchum, An Autobiography #109:
Daze, #109:  I knew when I took the picture in the previous post, that I was seeing color in a way I had never seen it before. It is not just the rain-saturation. It is also the way the lines and colored objects/subjects are configured within the rectangle of the frame. It is very abstract. There is no subject IN the picture, the subject IS the picture, simply a rectangle filled with random elements that coalesce on the ground glass when I arrange my camera POV. As I move the camera, shapes, forms, and a myriad of colors swim back-and-forth, until something within my personal vision says a harmony, a balance within the frame, has been reached. Philip and I are only at