Island imagery: Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keeffe in Hawaii

by Jeanne Cooper, Special to SFGate June 21, 2013

AnselAdams_Buddhist Grave Marketings and Rainbow, Paia, Maui, HawaiiIs a rainbow still a rainbow if it’s in black and white? Or put another way, can photographs of people, manmade structures and urban settings really be by Ansel Adams?

The answer is clearly yes, judging by the photographer’s work in “Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: The Hawaii Pictures,” on view July 18 through Jan. 12, 2014, at the Honolulu Museum of Art, and afterwards at the O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. But this first paired exhibition of island imagery by the iconic artists of the West also raises interesting questions about their artistic responses to commercial assignments, as well as to the lush scenery and diverse humanity.

“They’re kind of linked in the popular imagination — they were friends and they both spent time in the Southwest, and the O’Keeffe Museum has done a show on the both of them, but never on the two in dialogue,” curator Theresa Papanikolas explains. “What differentiates this show is that it deals very much with the sense of place. We associate O’Keeffe with New Mexico, Adams with the High Sierra and Yosemite Valley, but what happens when they go to a place that they’re not associated with, that they haven’t been to. How do they get up to speed, and does the work have the same resonance with their audiences?” … read more