Ansel Adams’ “virtuoso expression” – Albuquerque Journal

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Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

HERNANDEZ – You can’t see it from the freeway anymore like California photographer Ansel Adams did that day in 1941, when he braked and rushed out of his station wagon to capture one of the images most famous of the modern era.

Some sources estimated the photo was taken on November 1 – Adams could not recall the exact date – but the Ansel Adams gallery lists October 31 on its official website.

A handful of people who were interviewed outside the Hernandez Dollar Store last week said they did not know the location and the photo when it was shown to them by a reporter for the Journal. One person said: “It looks like the casino (in Española). “

“Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941”, taken 80 years ago by Ansel Adams, is considered one of America’s most famous landscape photographs. (Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941. Photograph of Ansel Adams (c) The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust)

But when Dolores Gallegos and her daughter Marylou Garcia got out of their car and saw the photo, Gallegos immediately said, “Moonrise, Ansel Adams. “

Gallegos graciously showed the reporter and a Journal photographer the location depicted in “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico” – the Iglesia Católica San Jose del Chama, better known to locals as the Church of San Jose in this story. small community on US 84/285, just north of Espanola.

Down a private dirt road, past dozens of houses and after a few bends, though protected by houses and trees now blocking its view from the highway over 100 yards away, the church was always immediately recognizable with her white crosses next to her.

A sign on the front is dated November 11, 1965, when the church was remodeled.

“This photo did not have a sloping roof,” said Gallegos, alluding to the flat-topped structure surrounded by open sagebrush when his image was captured 80 years ago. Even the highway where Adams stopped has been reconfigured since 1941.

“It really came before I was born. Tourists come to see it, ”said Gallegos, 72, who has lived in Hernandez all his life.

When asked if the photo made her proud, she replied, “Very good. And she (the church) had a wall made of adobe that we used to play here, because my parents lived there. down here down the road.

72-year-old Dolores Gallegos stands in front of San Jose Church that Ansel Adams’ photograph made famous. Gallegos is a longtime resident of Hernandez. (Eddie Moore / Albuquerque Journal)

Gallegos said she did not immediately understand the significance of the photo. “It wasn’t until later and almost every house here has the photo. Almost all the houses, yes, ”said Gallegos with a laugh.

Not just a picture

“Moonrise” isn’t just an image, according to Aimee Pflieger, assistant vice president and photography specialist at Sotheby’s Auction House, New York.

“This is not only a very important photograph for an American photographer, but it is arguably the best-known American landscape that has ever been taken,” said Pflieger.

Adams had photographed north of Spain with his son and a friend the day he took the famous image.

“I don’t think they had a very successful day – and they were speeding down the road, he looked to the side and saw this amazing landscape with the sun going down and the light hitting the crosses in front of this church,” Pflieger said.

After he stopped and said “give me this lens and give me the flash and give me this and give me that and he set up the tripod and realized he didn’t have his light meter, “Pflieger said.

Adams described the day, in his own words in Ansel’s Anecdotes on his gallery website: www.anseladams.com:

“I had photographed in the Chama Valley… I took some passable negatives that day and had several maddening attempts.”

He accepted defeat but said: “There is no point in whining about this.”

South “I glanced to my left and saw an extraordinary situation – an inevitable photo! “

Without the light meter “the situation was desperate: the low sun was dragging the edge of the clouds to the west, and the shadow would soon tarnish the white crosses”.

He didn’t know how much light was reflected from the crosses and considered “bracketing,” a technique using several different protective exposures.

“Suddenly I realized that I knew the luminance of the moon… realizing on releasing the shutter that I had an unusual photo…”

Adams show coming up in January

The New Mexico Art Museum in Santa Fe is planning an exhibit next year that will include two prints of “Moonrise, Hernandez”.

“Ansel Adams: Pure Photography” is scheduled to run from January 29 to May 22. In addition to “Moonrise, Hernandez,” the show will feature Adams’ portrait of his friend Georgia O’Keeffe and some of his early works from the 1930s. San Francisco.

“I’ve never done an Ansel Adams exhibit,” said Kate Ware, the museum’s curator of photography. It’s not related to ‘Moonrise’ anniversary, “It’s about showing off our holdings,” Ware said. “There are some startling images that a lot of people will not have seen.”

Adams gave up on her plan to become a concert pianist, Ware said, and she compared her work as “the negative like the score and the impression like the performance.”

She called the “Moonrise” photo a “virtuoso expression of her mature style”.

But Dolores Gallegos recalls how the photo resonates beyond academic interest with its meaning:

“The tourists who pass by and they ask for it, but they can’t find it… like you have done now. Sometimes they can’t find it, so they stop by my house.

The Iglesia Católica San Jose del Chama acquired a sloping roof during a renovation in 1965. The church had a flat roof when Ansel Adams photographed it. (Eddie Moore / Albuquerque Journal)


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