Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Floral giants

St. Luke's presents worldwide debut of Imogen Cunningham prints

Floral giants

Imogen Cunningham's "Calla, about 1925" will be on display in the lobby of St Luke's Wood River Medical Center.

Imogen Cunningham's photographic eye captured the intensity of its subjects. That intensity was mirrored within the woman herself, driving her to believe that her best photograph would be made tomorrow.

Cunningham was born in 1883. Her craft was self-taught, originating with a camera she purchased through mail order. Best known on the West Coast, she was a member of Edward Weston and Ansel Adam's Group f/64. She died in 1976.

"Imogen was a real pioneer and was doing important photography. She was doing nudes in the early 1900s, and large, bold floral images in the 1920s," said Katie Pratt, director of the Imogen Cunningham Trust. "She was always thinking, experimenting, and photographing her whole life. Her body of work is enormous and her subject matter is very broad."

Pratt is also the manager of St Luke's Wood River Medical Center's Hospital Art Program and through her connections is bringing a worldwide debut exhibition of Cunningham's work to the hospital's Lobby Gallery.

"This show is different in that it's the first time the world has ever seen oversized prints of her images. Photos of her work have never been printed larger than 18 inches by 22 inches. Now we are printing them 44 inches by 60 inches."

The Hospital Art Program has been running since the new hospital was built in 2000. The program's purpose "is to provide an opportunity for local artists to show their work, to increase the community's awareness of this talent, and to enhance the visual atmosphere of the hospital for patients, staff and visitors alike," stated Pratt.

The founders of the program wanted to adorn the hospital walls with original art as opposed to posters from a catalog. Through generous donations and long-term loans from the local community the hospital has amassed an impressive collection.

"We started out with about 100 pieces of art, and over the past five years we've received maybe five or 10 pieces a year," Pratt said. Recent gifts include Pam Almquist's giraffe sculpture "Because I Said So," a donation from the artist, and a Kelly Cooper oil painting, "Studio Window £1," a gift of Geri Herbert.

Two rotating art exhibits have also been established in two permanent galleries within the building, changing every six months.

"In the main Lobby Gallery we usually have a one-person show or we ask a local gallery to do an exhibit. In our upstairs Local Artist Gallery I organize a group show of around 24 local artists."

The Imogen Cunningham exhibit consists of large prints of some of her well-known floral images. The exhibition will open on Tuesday, June 7, running through November. The prints will be available for purchase.

For more information about the program, or to make a donation, contact Pratt at (831) 588-0304.

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