Charles Loring Elliott, Portrait of Matthew Vassar, 1861

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The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center presents "Sawdust Mountain," an exhibition of large-scale color photographs by Eirik Johnson, September 7 - December 9, 2012.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—This fall the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College presents an exhibition of photographs that document the Pacific Northwest’s tenuous relationship between industries reliant upon natural resources and the communities they support. Photographer Eirik Johnson, a Seattle native, describes his photographs as "a melancholy love letter of sorts, my own personal ramblings."

Sawdust Mountain, curated by Elizabeth A. Brown, formerly chief curator at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, will be on view at the Art Center from Friday, September 7, through Sunday, December 9, 2012. Photographer Johnson will be in attendance during the exhibition opening on September 7 and will give a lecture entitled “Wanderings Along the Makeshift Landscape,” at 5:30pm in Taylor Hall (room 102), with a reception and book signing with the artist to follow in the Art Center.

Despite his personal, artistic approach, Johnson’s pictures document a specific time and place, a particular set of conditions endemic to the fraught relationship we have with the environment today, and the way communities are affected by these historic economic complexities.

Sawdust Mountain is the product of Johnson's three year project photographing areas of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. His large-scale color photographs represent the landscape, faces, and the industry of the Pacific Northwest areas, in particular logging and fishing and the communities and people they support.

In her foreward to Johnson’s book Sawdust Mountain (Aperture, 2009), curator Brown noted that the subject of the exhibition is “a natural environment indelibly altered and marked by humankind. The ashen associations of the title signal the dry reality of a once-romantic subject . . . valiant lumberjacks have been supplanted by ecological critiques of clear-cutting [while] idyllic images of fishing - man pitting skill and strength against powerful, plentiful salmon - have been replaced with fears about the very survival of the species. 

With his photographs, Johnson has uncovered a landscape imbued with an uncertain future, no longer the region of boomtowns built upon riches of massive old-growth forests.

“Altering pictorial beauty with surprising juxtapositions, Johnson found a vast array of subjects and moods under the Northwest’s overcast skies...he has established a new relationship with the land, the place of his origins, and has suggested ways for any viewer to begin to take in its complexities and its joys,” wrote Brown in Sawdust Mountain.

All the works in the exhibition are archival pigment prints by Johnson from the book Sawdust Mountain(Aperture, 2009).

 The exhibition is co-organized by Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, and Aperture Gallery, New York.

Exhibition Events
Artist lecture and opening reception

Friday, September 7
Lecture by Eirik Johnson
“Wanderings Along the Makeshift Landscape”
Taylor Hall, Room 102 at 5:30pm
Opening reception and book signing by the artist
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center Atrium at 6:30pm

About the Artist

Eirik Johnson is an artist based in Seattle, WA. His work has been exhibited in such institutions as the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and Aperture Foundation in New York. He has received awards including a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship in 2009, the Santa Fe Prize in 2005, and a William J. Fulbright Grant to Peru in 2000. His work is in the collections of institutions that include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Seattle Art Museum, and the George Eastman House. In addition to Sawdust Mountain, Johnson’s other books include Borderlands (Twin Palms Press, 2005) and Snow Star (Cavallo Point Press, 2009). His editorial work has appeared in numerous magazines including Dwell, Metropolis, New York Times T Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal.

About the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center was founded in 1864 as the Vassar College Art Gallery. The current 36,400-square-foot facility, designed by Cesar Pelli and named in honor of the new building's primary donor, opened in 1993. The Art Center's collections chart the history of art from antiquity to the present and comprise over 18,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, and glass and ceramic wares. Notable holdings include the Warburg Collection of Old Master prints, an important group of Hudson River School paintings given by Matthew Vassar at the college's inception, and a wide range of works by major European and American 20th- century painters. Vassar was the first U.S. college founded with a permanent art collection and gallery, and at any given time, the Permanent Collection Galleries of the Art Center feature approximately 350 works from Vassar's extensive collections.

Admission to the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center is free. The Art Center is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 10:00am–5:00pm; Thursday, 10:00am–9:00pm; and Sunday, 1:00–5:00pm. Located at the entrance to the historic Vassar College campus, the Art Center can be reached within minutes from other Mid-Hudson cultural attractions, such as Dia:Beacon, the Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt national historic sites and homes, and the Vanderbilt mansion. The Art Center is wheelchair accessible. For additional information, the public may call (845) 437-5632 or visit fllac.vassar.edu.

Directions to the Vassar campus, located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie (NY), are available at www.vassar.edu/directions.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, July 9, 2012

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