The Kimball hits the slopes with new exhibitions
While the Town Lift runs just a few hundred yards from the Kimball Art Center, the organization’s executive director, Pam Crowe-Weisberg, couldn’t recall an exhibition there focusing on skiing, at least not in the recent past.
"I don’t remember, since I’ve been in Park City, which is five years, seeing anything," she said. "And you know, we’re a ski town, why not."
So, this week the Kimball will open two new exhibitions of ski and snowboard photography.
One, "Adam Clark: Out of Bounds," features the work of Salt Lake City-based photographer Adam Clark, a frequent contributor to Powder magazine, while the other showcases the work of the late Ray Atkeson, who earned his fame shooting skiers in the Wasatch Mountains from the 1930s through the 1950s.
"It’s the juxtaposition of the old, traditional, beautiful ski images with the young, hip, ski photographer that’s working now," said Crowe-Weisberg.
The Kimball will present the Atkeson exhibit, "Ray Atkeson’s Ski & Snow Country," in conjunction with the Alf Engen Ski Museum.
"I’ve been talking with Pam Crowe-Weisberg over the past few years and we’ve been saying we need to get together and do something," said Connie Nelson, the executive director of the Alf Engen Ski Museum Foundation.
The Atkeson photos presented a perfect opportunity.
"They’re just so Park City," she said.
The pictures in the exhibit feature, primarily, scenes from the Wasatch Mountains, Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Idaho. All are taken by Atkeson, who hailed from Oregon but traveled extensively across the West. The crisp, idyllic, black-and-white pictures capture the mountains, skiers and the mood of the West in perfect light with sharp shadows and smooth, untracked snow.
"I think the thing that Ray Atkeson did is capture the light through the snow," said Nelson.
The pictures, she noted, show almost perfectly the way the sun shines through powder while capturing the feelings of the mountains.
"They’re absolutely incredible," added Crowe-Weisberg.
The exhibition will feature more than 40 of Atkeson’s photos. According to Nelson, David Davenport, the owner of The Alta Store, knew of the images and brought them to the attention of Nelson through Alan Engen.
Nelson contacted Rich Schafer, Atkeson’s stepson and the owner of the images, and with the help of some University of Utah students and some grant money, had the pictures framed and organized them into an exhibit.
"We went from there," she said.
"Ray Atkeson’s Ski & Snow Country" will run at the Kimball from today through March 5 and afterward, will be on display at the Alf Engen Ski Museum at the Utah Olympic Park. As part of the exhibit, Schafer will visit the Kimball for an art talk about his stepfather’s work on Feb. 22. A variety of posters, note cards and matted prints featuring Atkeson’s images will also be available for sale in the art center.
Meanwhile, "Adam Clark: Out of Bounds" will also run through March 5. Crowe-Weisberg said she felt the exhibit would provide a modern counterpoint to Atkeson’s classic images. Clark, she said, was of a newer generation.
"I feel that he’s an up-and-coming ski photographer," she said.
"I’m really excited about it," said Clark. "This is my first gallery exhibit."
While Clark has placed multiple shots in magazines like Powder, Skiing, Outside and National Geographic Adventure, with other pictures used in ad campaigns by The North Face and Patagonia, he said he has never had a show in a gallery. So he said he was happy when the Kimball offered.
"They contacted me and I thought it was a great opportunity," he said.
Born and raised in Utah, Clark said ski photography came naturally to him. He simply brought his two loves together.
"It was just combining the two passions," he said. "One thing led to another."
He said he published his first show in Powder in the winter of 1998 and scored his first cover three or four years ago. In addition to his work in the Wasatch, he also spends considerable time working in Canada and Alaska.
He said his favorite place to shoot was in the latter state, in its southeastern costal mountains, right near the coast.
"My favorite place to work right now is Haines, Alaska," said Clark. "The gallery has a lot of work from Haines."
Often, Clark said he works with action sports film production company, Teton Gravity Research and its athletes, but he remains based in Utah.
"There’s just such a huge wealth of athletes in Salt Lake City and Park City, and so many great athletes," he said.
The talent, he noted, keeps him in the area. Now he has a chance to showcase his work here. But while he has spent years photographing skiers and snowboarders, he said choosing the photos for the Kimball exhibit was relatively easy.
"I really just picked the photos that inspire me personally," he said, "the ones I’d like to see on my wall."
In that way, Clark’s work is similar to Atkeson’s. While the younger photographer’s pictures are juxtaposed against Atkeson’s older, more classical work, both are the sort of pictures a person would like to have on his or her wall, and both, of course, show skiers, and skiing.
"It’s a perfect time of year for this," said Crowe-Weisberg.
Both "Ray Atkeson’s Ski & Snow Country" and "Adam Clark: Out of Bounds" are on display through March 5 at the Kimball Art Center. For more information about the exhibitions, visit http://www.kimball-art.org or call 649-8882.
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