ILWACO, Wash. — The Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum presents the special exhibition “Swan’s Land: Photographs by Rich Bergeman.” There will be an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday May 13. The exhibition will be on view through July 13.
In 2015, while an artist in residence at Willapa Bay AiR in Oysterville, photographer Rich Bergeman retraced the travels of Washington pioneer James G. Swan. A native of Ohio and an Oregonian since 1976, Bergeman has been a writer, editor and educator during his journalistic career, and an exhibiting fine art photographer for the past 30 years. Much of that time has been devoted to exploring the fringes of the Pacific Northwest in search of forgotten histories and vanishing places.
Using an infrared digital camera, Bergeman photographed several of the sites frequented by Swan, a celebrated adventurer who lived on Willapa Bay (then known as Shoalwater Bay) in the middle of the 1800s. Using Swan’s 1857 book “The Northwest Coast; Or, Three Years’ residence in Washington Territory” as his guide, Bergeman photographed many of the places described by Swan.
The exhibit features more than 20 black-and-white infrared prints taken “from the top of the Bay to the mouth of the Columbia” as well as other historically significant sites on the Long Beach Peninsula and the Washington shore of the Columbia River.
One reason Bergeman chose to photograph the Swan project with an infrared camera is that the landscape around Willapa Bay is dominated by water and sky, and infrared renders such scenes more dramatically than traditional black-and-white. Another, and more whimsical reason, he said, “is that when on the trail of a ghost, it seems appropriate to use a medium that captures what is, essentially, invisible light.”
In addition to the exhibition “Swan’s Land: Photographs by Rich Bergeman,” the museum will present a special installation, “Beyond the Point: Contemporary Knapping and the Object.”
Making stone tools is among the oldest forms of artistic creation and the craft of flint knapping can become art of the highest level. Contemporary flint knappers are artists who use traditional techniques to go beyond the point to create objects of great craftsmanship and form.
Aaron Webster, a Washington State Park’s Interpreter, is one of these artists. With his series of fish sculptures, viewers can see how Webster’s skill allows the form of the fish to emerge from the obsidian with a shimmering, undulating surface that is reminiscent of light reflecting off water.
Among the other artists featured in “Beyond the Point” will be Emory Coons, Goode Jones, “Woody” Woodside and the Danish artist Sofus Stenak. All bring new forms to light with this ancient technique.
The Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum thanks the Port of Peninsula for their sponsorship of this exhibition. Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum is located at 115 S.E. Lake St. For more information, call 360-642-3446 or visit www.columbiapacificheriatgemuseum.org
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