Personal reflections on special exhibitions and works in the collection from members of our community.
Al Weber’s Lofty Vistas (on view through January 1, 2012) is a topographical survey enhanced by an abstraction of the land the artist photographs. The aerial photographs of wheat fields and avocado farms, shorelines and California freeways, tell a story of progress and cultivation of a place, a progress that Weber has documented over the past five decades. From the shoreline in Harbor, Monterey California, 1971, a black and white photograph where boats float seemingly indifferent to organization, scattered in the darkness of the water; to the photographs of cultivated farmland in Undulating Wheat Fields, Pullman Washington, 1981 and Salinas Farmland, 1972 in which a tract of land is portioned by long crop rows that stretch across the frame, giving new structure to the now cultivated land―progress is documented. From shore to farmland a change occurs, and in Weber’s black and white photographs is a survey of that change.
As color is introduced, a new documentation begins. Form and structure is lost as the water is again explored in White and Blue Pond, Moss Landing, 1967. The water pushes back against the land. The progress of the farmer is somewhere outside of the frame. As a tractor begins the cultivation process over in Red Tractor, San Joaquin Valley, 1974 the determination of our progress is apparent, and in Weber’s color photographs the emotion of the interplay between land and man is evident.
In an attempt to understand the place we occupy, we attempt to organize it. Without structure, we are adrift in the water; and without such work as in Al Weber’s Lofty Vistas, we understand the place we occupy that much less. If our intent is to continue to progress and grow, we must continue in our attempt to understand where we live.
Image: Al Weber, Harbor, Monterey California, 1971. Gelatin silver print (printed 1999). SBMA, Museum purchase; Salinas Farmland, 1972. Gelatin silver print (printed 1978). SBMA, Museum purchase; Undulating Wheat Fields, Pullman, Washington, 1981. Gelatin silver print (printed 1983). SBMA, Museum purchase; White and Blue Pond, Moss Landing, 1969. Ink jet. Courtesy of the Photographer; Red Tractor, San Joaquin Valley, 1974. Ink jet. Courtesy of the Photographer.