ELEVATED | Ace Photographers and Collaborative Art
by Leslie Vreeland
Jul 05, 2013 | 486 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Does the moniker make the man? When your name is Ace, it almost seems inevitable that you’ll be very accomplished (which he is), and that you’ll live a life of adventure (he’s done that, too). Next Tuesday, photographer Ace Kvale returns to this region, where he lived for years, for a presentation at the Wilkinson Library. He makes his home today in Boulder, Utah, but in truth he is something of a nomad, whose true calling has always been exploring the world as an adventure photographer.

He’s photographed Himalayan expeditions, he’s the man behind ski photos on hallowed ground – places like Verbier, and La Grave, and Alaska, with some of the best skiers in the world. Next week he’ll offer a presentation, and photos, from a trek to one of his favorite places of all: Zanskar, in the Himalayan mountains of northern India. Trekkers and climbers know this region as possessing some of the most compelling peaks on earth. Zanskar, “in Ladakh, in Kashmir,” is “one of those far-flung places” that appealed to Kvale because of its utter remoteness, “like Dolpo, or Mustang, or Bhutan.” There is but one mountain pass into Zanskar, which is hemmed in by the great Himalaya and the Zanskar ranges, and for eight months out of the year the way is closed due to deep snows. The only solution, if you want to get there in winter, is to take the so-called Chadar Route. Chadar means “white blanket,” for the snow that blankets the Zanskar river; the trek involves edging along the banks of the Zanskar, sleeping in caves, and enduring temperatures that can fall to 30 or 40 degrees below zero every night. It’s one of the wildest treks in the world, and a step back in time, but its days are numbered because of the strategic importance of this region to India, which has begun blasting roads into Zanskar from all sides. Kvale would be willing to guide this trek, if asked, but he’s not expecting many takers. “It’s pretty remote, and can be pretty serious,” he said. “While we were there, a local porter slipped into the water and disappeared – never to be seen again.” Kvale’s other trips of late have been equally serious though in a different way. He’s been photographing humanitarian expeditions, including to South Sudan, where he travelled with a couple of surgeons from the U.S. for Duk County, which won a couple of awards recently at Mountainfilm. Kvale’s vision is big, but his focus has narrowed. “It’s not the places we go, it’s the people that we meet when we get there,” the photographer says. These days, his emphasis is on “giving back to cultures I’ve come to love.” Ace Kvale’s presentation on the Zanskar River Trek is part of the Watershed Expedition Series. It begins at 6:30 p.m.




An ace photographer (lower-case “a”) will visit Ridgway this weekend. Joseph Sohm bought land in this area about a year ago, and one day was walking around town. He noticed the work being done on the Sherbino Theater, strolled in, and introduced himself. Sohm’s photos have appeared in publications including National Geographic, Time, Newsweek, the New York Times and the list goes on. “He told us what he did, and offered to give a presentation to the public,” said Pat Willits, who is on the board of the Sherbino. “When we looked into it, we found out he charges thousands. I told him, ‘There’s no way we can afford you.’”

Sohm replied that he wanted to do this for the community, and on Saturday evening, he’ll give a talk and screen a video production, at 7 p.m. and again at 9 p.m., entitled Visions of America, “a 50-state journey to capture the essence of democracy in daily life.” The film, narrated by Clint Eastwood, is of Sohm’s work over the last three decades. His award-winning book of the same title, with a foreword by the author Paul Theroux, will be on sale at the event. A $10 donation is requested. In addition to his presentations Saturday night, Sohm will conduct an all-day photographer’s workshop on Monday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. called Pro Photo Tricks, which will cover the proper uses of lenses, tripods, polarizer, aperture vs. shutter priority and much more. The fee is $135 ($85 for students), and all ages are welcome. To reserve a spot, contact Pat Willits at 970/626-3236. If you’d like to see Sohm’s work, go to visionsofamerica.com.




The annual collaborative art show at the Ridgway Library is up again, featuring abstracts from Shannon Marjenhoff, textiles by Phoebe Sophocles, and metal sculpture by David Miss. The trio added a new member to their roster this year: Ridgway resident Dorothy McCord-Smith, a Detroit native whose work hangs in collections at the University of Michigan, the University of Toledo/Toledo Museum of Art, and the Flint Institute of Art. McCord-Smith’s four large, luminous oil paintings at the library are studies of “just one corner” of the landscape of the Colorado Plateau, which came to dominate her work during the years 1990-2009. During those years, pencil studies became pastel paintings; eventually, they found their way into watercolor, gouache and oils. McCord-Smith says her work became increasingly impressionistic “until the leap was made to the geometric abstraction of the large oil paintings.” Meanwhile, David Miss’s metal sculpture, which can be seen around town in Ridgway, has been evolving into something more dynamic. “I started out with static pieces and worked into stuff that moves,” like his weathervane outside Lupita’s Bazaar, on Sherman St., or objects that look like they could – such as the big propeller next to 520 Burgers, also on Sherman. “That’s important to me. I like to see the piece move instead of just sitting there, watching it,” he said. The show is up at the Ridgway Library until July 11.

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