Pirkle Jones: American Photographic History

By on December 18, 2007

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With a photography career spanning six decades, Pirkle Jones has captured, in thousands of black-and-white images, the people, place, politics and promise of California.

The Rasmussen Art Gallery at Pacific Union College welcomes a Pirkle Jones exhibition opening on Saturday, October 2, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. This exhibit features 25 images that suggest the sweep and scope of Jones’ immense body of work.

Examples from the documentary essay “Death of a Valley,” in which Pirkle Jones worked with Dorothea Lange to document the final year of Berryessa Valley, will be included in the Rasmussen exhibit. The artist will also be present to sign copies of his book, California Photographs, which will be available at the gallery.

Jones embraces an array of genres—commercial, documentary and fine art photography. He has worked collaboratively with his wife—writer, photographer and poet Ruth-Marion Baruch—on several projects, as well as working collaboratively with Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams. These two photographers, along with Minor White and Edward Weston, influenced Pirkle’s artistic formation; he developed, however, his own idiosyncratic visual sensibility as a photographer.

After taking up residence in the Bay Area as a student in the first photography class at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute), Jones spent 50 years in the area exploring the rich cultural, physical, architectural, and spiritual terrain of his environment with an unflinching eye and rigorous evaluation.