More events than I can count have been interrupted by the pandemic. For a while it brought most life to a stand still. This include the arts as venues closed due to restrictions on crowd sizes. Ansel Adams was originally coming to the Portland Art Museum in 2020 but it’s original opening date was delayed. As the pandemic situation improved the state was allowed to open. Finally people could be indoors with strangers and the show opened to the public. When it first opened it was for members only and you needed a reservation. As restrictions eased more people where allowed into the museum and it appears they came in droves.
I knew it opened in early May and I had three months before it closed yet still I waited till the last weekend to finally go. On Saturday I made it a point to get up early and get to the museum when they opened at 10am. They are no longer open late on Friday’s which is disappointing as that was easy getting to the museum on a weekday. There $5 after 5pm was a hell of a deal when they would close at 8pm on those Fridays. Being a nice Saturday and the last weekend of the exhibit I expected the place to be busy.
When I arrived you still needed to get a timed ticket but since I am a member I think they let me cut the line. From the front entrance you head up stairs and make an immediate left to start the exhibit. Here I found a huge crowd in the first small exhibit hall. Not wanting to just wait around I moved past this small section into the next area which had fewer people. It was still to early for crowds to have thinned throughout the exhibit. The deeper I got into the exhibit the fewer people there where and it was easier to read more of the descriptions. The artwork is beautiful but I do enjoy the back story.
Since my early twenties I have known about Ansel Adams and his work towards nature conservancy. The photos from the early 20th century are staple and well recognized since their first publication. What I loved most was the size of the collection. Many of his most famous works in one spot was nice. I loved the high contrast of his works from Yellowstone and Yosemite. There is also this sense of what it was like before everyone knew about this gem in our own backyard.
In addition to Adams there were recent works from more contemporary artists. Adams started the movement for “straight” and understood that as an artist it was their responsibility to take the same scene and make it unique. This is what the recent artists brought to the exhibit. Adams was able to capture some of the most icon first pictures of Yellowstone and Yosemite. Being well known parks contemporary artists bring their own spin on the familiar.
I didn’t spend much time at the museum or the exhibit. If I was 30 minutes I would be shocked. The place was just too packed for me to really get comfortable and relax. I kept trying to see the exhibit during the week but it never worked out. Despite all the people and the rush feeling I am glad I made it out before it moved onto the next city.