Photos of the West will be focus of UO museum show

For 125 years, National Geographic magazine has wowed readers with vivid, often iconic, pictures of places and cultures around the world, but it also has devoted significant resources to chronicling the American West.

An exhibit devoted to that topic, "Greatest Photographs of the American West," opened Saturday at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon.

Photographs included in the exhibit, both historic and modern, come from the archives of the National Geographic and "both support and defy romantic notions of the land and its peoples," according to the exhibit's organizers.

The many photographers whose works appear in the exhibit include Sam Abell, Ansel Adams, William Albert Allard, Edward Curtis, David Alan Harvey, William Henry Jackson, Sarah Leen and Joel Sartore.

Abell has contributed photographs to more than 20 articles in the magazine. His work and that of photographer Torbin Ulrik Nissen have appeared at the museum before, in a show three years ago: "Amazonia."

The new exhibit is divided into four parts, each portraying a specific aspect of life in the American West.

"Legends" looks at the landscapes of the vast Western expanse, as well as the Native Americans and cowboys whose lives have been portrayed both realistically and mythically.

"Encounters" chronicles the interactions of the people and wildlife who lived there, peaceably or in conflict.

"Boundaries" explores the juxtaposition of the natural and man-made limits of the topography and climate.

"Visions" probes the past growth and future of the once sparsely inhabited area.

In addition to the show, a book, "National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West: Capturing 125 Years of Majesty, Spirit and Adventure," has been produced by Rich Clarkson as an accompaniment to the exhibit.

Clarkson, formerly director of photography and senior assistant editor of the National Geographic Society, will talk at the museum at 2 p.m. Oct. 6.

Museum hours are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, except for Wednesday, when it remains open until 8 p.m.

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