Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Travel "To the End of the Earth" with Steve Gould, photographer

"Five Penquins" by STEVE GOULD, photographer

Hello All,

Step into Gallery 21 in Spanish Village Art Center this week, and be "transported to another world". A world of "blue ice and mystically rugged frozen terrain" not seen or experienced by many. A world surrounded by magnificent snow-capped mountains, fathomless "azul" ocean depths defined by towering islands of ice and home to some of nature's most mystifying and captivating stoic creatures.

Enter the world captured by photographer, Steve Gould on his trek... "To the End of the Earth".

A sense of quiet beauty surrounds you as you step into the gallery of this fierce and frozen world. The soft melodious notes of "Pastorale" by Tingstad and Rumbel, a perfect mixture of woodwinds and guitar, mesmerize as you wander through the exhibit. There is an immediate hush that falls over spectators, interspersed by spontaneous intakes of breath, as they become engrossed in the beauty of this Antarctic landscape and its inhabitants. Hold your breath and squint your eyes, and you're almost there. Ahh, do you feel the temperature change?

As one meanders through the gallery, moving almost as in a dream, it becomes apparent that Steve Gould has done a spectacular job of transporting us to this region which includes the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and Antarctica. Temperatures in these treacherous regions range from the low 40 degrees (in the Falkland Islands) to the high 30's or just below freezing on South Georgia Island. In Antarctica temperatures can drop from freezing to 30 degrees lower in a matter of minutes, and [weather] is often characterized by high winds and fierce snow storms. Fortunately, this did not occur during the expedition.

From December 30, 2009 through January 24, 2010, Steve and his wife, Mary traveled with 94 other "adventurers" and the staff of the Cheeseman's Ecology Safaris, in order to witness and photograph the migratory breeding cycles of some of the world's most amazing and beloved wildlife. Freezing temperatures and harsh circumstances notwithstanding, the expedition visited five of the Falkland Islands for 3 days. With expectations high, the "adventurers" then cruised on to South Georgia Island, staying for 6 exhilarating days with a final (and much anticipated) destination of West Antarctica where they stayed for 7 days.

Of his show, Steve says, "In this exhibition, I share with you some of the amazing sights. I hope they convey many of the emotions I felt during these amazing 26 days".

Steve has more than accomplished what he hoped to do with this fantastic collection of photographs. On South Georgia Island, there is a magnificent array of King penguins standing and mingling with fur seals on beaches and nesting plains. Fur seals lounge, recline and nap in various positions for the spectators' delight. Comical and intriguing Adelie, Gentoo and Chinstrap penuins gather in Antarctica. Humpback whales raise their flukes to the sun in Antarctic Cierva Cove, Antarctica. The "blue icebergs" of Devil's Island hypnotize and hold viewers in thrall with their color and abstract form. The fierce and relentless terrain evokes awe and commands respect.

Of all the wondrous images in the exhibit, the ones of the King penguin are my all time favorites. Steve has more than successfully captured the true magnificence of these stoic and beautiful creatures. Among my favorites are the photographs showing King penguins standing, feeding, nesting and marching across the penguin "highways" that they travel. What is it about the majestic penguin that fascinates and so captivates our imagination and admiration?

There is a quotation on the left wall of the gallery, as you move to the upper level, that describes this fascination perfectly. The quotation goes, "All the world loves a penguin: I think it is because in many respects they are like ourselves... Had we but half their physical courage, none could stand against full of curiosity that they have no room for fear". (Quotation by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, "The Worst Journey in the World") (The Scott Expedition)

"Kings on the March" by STEVE GOULD, photographer

One can truly appreciate Steve's naturalistic approach to photographing his subjects in their environmental surroundings. There seems to be a purity to his capture of the elements and wildlife in actuality, without any projection of ego or contrivance to the image. The viewer sees King penguins, Adelies and others doing what penguins, naturally, do. The titling of his photographs also reflects this clarity as in "Five Kings" and "Kings on the March". [No artifice. Just...Penguins.]

In contrast, "Whiskers", a photograph of a fur seal, is amusing because it looks as if the seal actually knew his picture was being taken, and so posed for the photo. Is there such a thing as "seal serendipity"? Another magnificent shot, "Salisbury Plain, South Georgia Island", depicts a mind boggling 130,000 King penguins and baby chicks, interspersed with a few fur seals, stretching for miles over a panorama which ends in the snowy mountain backdrop of South Georgia Island. Can you imagine trying to find your own baby chick in that number of penguins? What natural instinct, and then some!

The contrast and juxtapositions of the wildlife to its habitat are particularly awe-inspiring in Steve's photographs. In his, "Tortured Rock", which depicts a shear massive "crag" of weatherhewn rock plummeting to a beach at Fortuna Bay, South Georgia Island, King penguins and fur seals wait, perhaps, for the weather to change. The massiveness of the cliff makes a dramatic contrast to the King penguin whose size is not meager. The impressive "Kings" are dwarfed by the wall of rock rising into the air.

Other impressive works, include "Iceberg Window" in the Devil Island, and "Devil Island Iceberg", Devil Island, Antarctica. These two lovely photographs led me to ask Steve, "Why are icebergs blue"? A trip to the exhibition is certainly worth attaining that information from Steve. (Though, he may wish I hadn't prompted you to ask.)

With so many intriguing images to view at "To the End of the Earth", you may find yourself forgetting that question and coming up with a plethora of your own. This show surely boasts "azul waters, blue icebergs and 130,000 reasons" (penguins, that is) to visit Steve Gould at Gallery 21 located in Spanish Village Art Center and beautiful Balboa Park. The show runs from August 4 - August 16, 2010, and is open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily.

"Devil Island Iceberg" by STEVE GOULD, photographer

Steve Gould is a diversified and accomplished photographer and may also be contacted at his website: Steve Gould Photography []. This impressive exhibition had write ups this month in the La Jolla Light, San Diego Magazine and Performances Magazine.

Thank you, Steve, for taking us "To The End of the Earth" where an astounding cycle of nature continues every year! How fortunate for us to have seen this miracle, "looking through an Iceberg Window and the eyes of Steve Gould"!

Written and posted by Cassandra Shepard, Studio 32
text and content copyrighted 2010, all rights reserved

1 comment:

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