My formal introduction to photography began at the University of Oregon with two remarkably gifted professors: Bernie Freemesser and George Beltran. Professor Freemesser was a friend of American photography great, W. Eugene Smith, and photographers Brett and Cole Weston, sons of Edward Weston, another great American photographer.
Professor Freemesser would teach the history of photography and illuminate the work of the first masters using photography as an art medium. Professor Beltran provided the guidance to improve our photography through his skillfully teaching us Minor White's Zone System. Additionally, he provided masterful critiques and reviews of our work.
Freemesser additionally taught us what good artistic photography looked like. When arbitrary possibilities exist, as they do in photography, what are the identifiable elements of a medium that records time and space, a medium that can be both unrecognizable and revealing, horrific or uplifting? Though this may appear evident, it is not. As a student, I witnessed the great photographer, Robert Heineken, dismiss the first class after he began to tear up and shake while talking to us. He was that gripped by the spell photography can put one under. I feel under a spell if asked to talk about photography.
Freemesser and his students established the Photography at Oregon Gallery at the University of Oregon Art Museum in 1966. It was the first photography gallery at a public institution on the West Coast. In 1974, I was honored to have one of my black and white abstracts exhibited in the Museum which later, toured the state.
Much of my work remains both spiritually and artistically inspired by the writings and photographs of the first masters of black and white photography: Paul Strand, Alfred Stieglitz, Ed Weston, Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Minor White, and others. And, of course, the teachings of Bernie Freemesser and George Beltran.
Other influential artists shaping to what amounts to be a wide-reaching aesthetic and intuitive relationship to photography include painters Jasper Johns, Robert Motherwell, Fritz Kline, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Robert Diebenkorn, Willem DeKooning, Ed Ruscha, Clas Oldenberg, Chuck Close, Jim Dine, David Hockney, and artist Brian Gaman, childhood lifelong personal friend, spiritual teacher and brother. In sum, these artists represent what I hope to achieve in the totality of my work and beliefs.