Clyde Butcher: America the Beautiful

Clyde Butcher’s exhibition of monumental black and white photographs, America the Beautiful, will be on view at the Jones-Carter Gallery in Lake City, South Carolina from Saturday, September 19, 2015 through Saturday, January 2, 2016. America the Beautiful: The Monumental Landscapes of Clyde Butcher is a collection of 56 large-scale photographs of the American landscape, spanning breathtaking sites across the United States, from the coast of Maine to the Badlands, to the Everglades and to the Great Smoky Mountains.


Clyde Butcher’s work has been compared to that of famed photographer, Ansel Adams, and Butcher has shot several of his photographs in the same location as some of Adams’ most treasured work. Emmy-winning filmmaker Ken Burns says, “Like the work of Ansel Adams, Clyde Butcher’s remarkable photographs give us an access to nature we rarely see or experience. They not only reveal the intimate and majestic beauty of the Everglades—and the need to save this fragile environment—they also remind us of the abiding kinship we mortals share when we work together to preserve these magnificent places. Butcher’s art is a national treasure.”


For more than 50 years, Clyde Butcher has been preserving on film the untouched areas of the United States’ nature landscapes. Butcher’s powerful images explore his personal bond with the environment. The exquisite beauty and depth of his work inspire viewers to create their own relationships with the natural world. Not only are Butcher’s photographs beautiful, but the exceptional size—the largest in the collection measuring five feet by nine feet—allows the viewer to experience the site from an almost first-hand perspective. The large dimensions, combined with a strong sense of fluidity and movement, help his works transcend the generally static nature of the photographic medium.


When asked about his work in landscape photography, Butcher says, “I’ve been pursuing the concept of wilderness preservation through photography since 1961.  I think it’s important for an artist to have a passion – you need to find a source of inspiration. You have to follow a path and develop a sense of character in what you’re doing.  Wilderness, to me, is a spiritual necessity. When my son was killed by a drunk driver it was to the wilderness that I fled in hopes of regaining my serenity and equilibrium. The mysterious spiritual experience of being close to nature helped restore my soul. It was during that time, I discovered the intimate beauty of the environment. My experience reinforced my sense of dedication to use my art form of photography as an inspiration for others to work together to save nature’s places of spiritual sanctuary for future generations.”


Butcher’s unique technique enables him to capture a breathtaking amount of detail in each shot. He shoots with an 8X10 wooden large-format Deardorff view camera from the 1940s, creating an extraordinary depth of field through a synthesis of wide-angle lenses and a small lens opening. His large negatives, filters, and an exposure of time of up to ten minutes allow for clarity and incredible detail within his compositions. His purposeful and original approach accentuates each location’s organic sense of movement and enduring monumentality, clearly distinguishing his scenes as impressive artistic works.


Butcher is known nationally as an avid conservationist who uses his art to help preserve America’s natural environments. His most recent projects include work for Rocky Mountain National Park, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, Wilderness Society, Everglades National Park and many other environmental organizations in the state of Florida, where he lives. He has been honored by innumerable organizations, including the Sierra Club, which has given him the Ansel Adams Conservation Award, and Public Broadcasting in an award-winning half-hour documentary of his work. He was also privileged to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Nature Photography Association and given the honor of being Humanitarian of the Year for 2005 from the International University. Additionally, he received the 2011 Distinguished Artist Award from the Florida House in Washington, D.C.

The Jones-Carter Gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery is closed on Mondays. Admission is FREE. Large groups are encouraged to call ahead. On September 19, the gallery will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Guided field trip tours will be available for students K5 through 12th grade. Please call the gallery at 843-374-1505 for additional information. The exhibition tour management is provided by Photographic Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, California.