Call of the Wild

The Crary Art Gallery and the Friends of Allegheny Wilderness will host some of the nation’s foremost wilderness photographers starting Saturday, Aug. 30, as part of the Wilderness at 50: Photographic Reflections of the Legacy of Tionesta Visionary Howard Zahniser.

Gallery talks will start at 2 p.m. and a catered reception will run from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Bill Meadows, former president of the Wilderness Society; Mathias Zahniser, son of the Wilderness Act; author Howard Zahniser; and Clyde Thompson, Allegheny National Forest Supervisor will speak at the gallery from 2 to 4 p.m.

A screening of “Green Fire,” a documentary about legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold will run on Saturday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m.

Special hours at the Crary Art Gallery for the Wilderness at 50 show from Aug. 30 to Sept. 28 are Thursday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.; Friday noon to 8 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. The Crary Art Gallery will also be open on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 1.

Raised in Tionesta, Zahniser was the primary author of the Wilderness Act of 1964 which established the National Wilderness Preservation System that set aside large tracts of federal land in perpetuity where nature is the primary influence. Over 109 million acres are now preserved over 758 areas in 44 states.

“The Pennsylvania watercolor show was certainly a big deal,” said Thomas Paquette, Crary board vice president, “as was the Gerald Mead Collection we showed last year, but both shows came to us prepackaged to some extent. Wilderness at 50 is without a doubt the most ambitious and high-profile undertaking by the Crary so far. We were happily surprised that we were able to attract some of the best professional nature photographers in America to participate, generously at their own expense. It is kind of humbling,” Crary Board of Directors Vice President Thomas Paquette said. “I hope lots of people who have never been to the gallery decide now is the time to check it out, because it is an amazing opportunity for Warrenites to see photos by some of the top nature photographers of our time. It is not an exaggeration to say that if Ansel Adams were alive, he would probably be in this show too.”

Planning for the show began more than two years ago as Paquette and Friends of Allegheny Wilderness Executive Director Kirk Johnson previously collaborated on a show depicting portions of the Allegheny National Forest at the Crary Art Gallery called “Picturing Wilderness” in 2007.

“Friends of Allegheny Wilderness and the Crary are excited to have a good representation of the wide variety of ecosystems that are encompassed by America’s National Wilderness Preservation System. From the wetlands and swamps of Florida wilderness areas, to the expansive waterways of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness, to mountainous Alaskan wilderness areas millions of acres in size, the diversity of these protected lands will be striking to each gallery visitor,” Friends of Allegheny Wilderness Executive Director Kirk Johnson said. “We are especially pleased to have good representation from our home Northeastern deciduous forest ecoregion with photos from the Green Mountain, Monongahela, and White Mountain National Forests represented – in addition of course to our own Allegheny National Forest.”

The Crary Art Gallery and the FAW also held a photography contest profiling two designated wilderness are here in the Allegheny National Forest – Hickory Creek and the Allegheny Islands Wilderness Areas.

“Right alongside the pros, we have some excellent photos by local photographers who won the contest we ran. And visitors will see how great our home-grown talent is, too!” Paquette said.

Photographers were invited to explore and photograph these two very popular areas, and submit their best photos for possible inclusion in the exhibition.

Winners of the contest were Piper VanOrd for her photos “Sunrise Reflection” and “First Frost”; Judy Cole Blank for her photo “Autumn Aura” and Mark Hulings for his photo “Beginning of Time.”