Thursday, August 18, 2011
Hand-colouring a photograph is nothing new. This process dates back to the early days of photography, and it reached its height between the turn of the last century to about nineteen forty. Those five decades have been referred to as the "golden years of hand-colouring." When color film and printing papers were developed, the use of oils and other pigmented processes became history. However, there are always a few of us out here who manage to keep these old classic processes alive.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Before moving from Virginia to Wyoming's Wind River country in 1997, and his final move to Colorado in 2008, Jack Jeffers spent almost forty years documenting the vanishing people and landscapes of the Appalachians. His is a poetic and classic view of rural America, and he portrays the land in a traditional and representational genre. Each of Jeffers museum-quality images is a projection of his artistry and vision of the world.
In 1972, Jeffers elected to represent himself and market his work through art shows and multi-media galleries. Plus, many of his sales were made through direct contacts with corporate art buyers and private collectors. That is how it has been all these years. Hundreds of his silver images have been acquired by museums and private collectors over the decades.
As Jack reflects back over the years, there is one accomplishment that stands out above the rest; a goal became a cause, and he has the satisfaction of knowing that by pitting his art against other media, he raised the level of public acceptance of fine art photography. In a feature published by the Richmond-Times Dispatch in 1972, it was stated that Jack was the first fine art photographer to take a best in show at a juried all-media art show. This was a major breakthrough for photography, and it opened the doors for other fine art photographers who had been denied the right to be juried into multi-media art shows.
After moving west in 1997, Jeffers broadened his artistic skills, combining transparent oils with some of his silver images. The finished works of art are both a photograph and a painting. The western landscape, with its varied textures and hues, is naturally suited for this mixed-media technique. Jack worked in subtle, layered tones that are quite different from the options available in color photography. The images are Jack's from conception, to the camera and darkroom, and finally to the brush. Because the oil pigments he used will also endure indefinitely, his mixed media works, like his silver sulfide originals, will remain for the enjoyment of future generations.
The spring of 2005 represented a major turning point in Jack's life. He printed his last silver-sulfide image. It was a change that had been in the making for a number of years, but became a reality when he used the final sheet of his favorite printing paper. Classic papers such as those were no longer being made, and those that he used had been preserved in a freezer for nearly twenty-five years.
Over the decades, Jack carefully put aside close to a thousand of his rare vintage and more recent images, and in the spring of 2011, the bulk of his collection of Appalachian images was donated to Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. By keeping the core of the collection intact, future generations of art lovers will be able to enjoy the full scope of Jeffers accomplishments.
Prior to leaving Virginia, Jack had donated a sizable collection of Appalachian images to Radford University and the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond. In fact, an exhibition of Jack's work is scheduled for Feburary 2012 at the Historical Society Museum.
Jack has had numerous articles published over the years with short essays and photographs illustrating his years as an active artist who documented the last of the mountain people. Feature stories have appeared in such papers as the Denver Post, the Washington Post, and the Atlanta Constitution. Two new CD books have recently been completed: "MY WYOMING OUTBACK and FROM THE BLUE RIDGE TO THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY AND BEYOND. One last book remains, and that will be a photographic documentary about the western range of Colorado.
Far from being a sad moment for Jack, he has headed off in another direction using the latest in digital technology. At age 79, Jeffers has no regrets about hanging up his heavy film camera pack and taking off on a new and exciting adventure. He now thinks Pixels rather than Silver Particles. But his view of the world around him has not changed. He is still inspired by the gentle, the noble and dignified, and the beautiful unfolding of life as he sees it.