“It is one thing to write about seeing the world in a grain of sand...and another thing to make a convincing picture of the idea. Photography has generally worked best when it has tried to discover the differences between the world and a grain of sand, rather than belabor their similarities.” John Szarkowski, former director of photography, Museum of Modern Art, N.Y.
The C&O Canal sprang from the dreams of George Washington, who wanted to build a transportation link between tidewater Washington, D.C. and the Ohio River. The canal never succeeded commercially, but today it is seen by millions as a place for contemplation and recreation, a unique and precious blend of human and natural history.
The author and photographer Gary Anthes takes the reader on a photographic journey along the 184-mile canal, from the streets of Georgetown to the railway depot at the canal's western terminus. In more than 100 beautiful but often melancholy photographs, he offers stunning views of the natural world, from birds to fish to insects to trees. And he peers into the past at the fading but resolute houses, locks and aqueducts left behind by the men and women who kept the canal boats flowing 100 years ago. Says Anthes, “I can't think of another place where the forces of nature and man are so beautifully and seamlessly joined.” – Introduction by the Editor
Public exhibitions of art usually focus on two things – the artist's works and the artist's life. A film, book, or museum show about Impressionism, for example, is likely to show paintings of Monet's water lilies, Van Gogh's sunflowers, and Degas' dancers. And it will tell us something of the lives of these painters – their passions, problems, and practices.
But what of that third leg of the tripod, the viewers of these works of art? Are they not equally important, indeed co-contributors to the artistic experience? Can a piece of canvas covered with paint be called art if it is never seen?
As a frequent visitor to museums and galleries, I often think about the viewers' role in art. I try to guess what the people around me are thinking and feeling. Why are they there? Why do so many photograph the works they see, and what will they do with those images? Rarely do I get answers, and I depart knowing more about the artists whose work I have seen than about the people who now enjoy their creations.
So while I know little about these people, I offer my photographs as a tribute to them and their contribution to the world of art. – Introduction by the Author
I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything. – Richard P. Feynman
Photographers look for any number of attributes in the images they capture. A scene may strike one as beautiful, sad, happy, scary, funny, or surprising. It may convey a cultural message that resonates, it may be usefully informative, or maybe it is just “interesting” in some ill-defined way.
Photography for me is a hunt for mystery, enigma, the untold story. Indeed, every photograph is a temporal mystery, a snapshot. For a fraction of a second we see the world in sharp focus. But as time retreats and advances from the moment the image is captured, the mystery deepens.
Copies may be seen in the Gary Anthes library.
Twilight (2014) A photographic tribute to the old, worn out, and abandoned remains of human creation, with autobiographical essays by the author.
Broken Threads ( 2015 ) A tribute to the unknown human remains and missing soldiers, sailors, and aviators of American wars.
Spirit of Old Japan – A Photographic Journey to Kyoto, Nara, Kanazawa, and Takayama (2014) Views of ancient Japan's gardens and temples, work activities, and city life.
Rappahannock Rhapsody – One Hundred Views from Rural Virginia (2014) Four seasons of farms and orchards in this county in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Cuba – Time and Place (2013) The streets of Havana, frozen in the 1950s, and the extravagantly and improbably friendly people of Havana and the surrounding countryside.
The Two Faces of Iceland (2015) Views of the funky, friendly, and colorful city of Reykjavik, and of the hauntingly beautiful but bleak beaches, glaciers, waterfalls, and volcanic slopes around the island.