By Lennie Bennett
Times Art Critic
Clyde Butcher's large, lyrical photographic landscapes of Florida's wilderness areas are coming to the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art beginning Sunday, and Butcher himself will be there, too, for a 2 p.m. lecture and book signing.
For more than 25 years, Butcher has turned his lens on the natural world, especially the Everglades, and has become famous in the process. His success story, rooted in sorrow, has been told often. Butcher (born in 1942) began in architecture and moved to commercial photography. He moved from California to Florida and continued as a photographer working mostly in color. He and his wife were devastated by the death of their son in 1986, the victim of a drunken driver. He waded into the depths of the Everglades and found an elusive peace there and began creating large-format black and white photographs.
He is said to dislike comparisons to Ansel Adams — and there are important stylistic differences between the two — but the response their work generates in viewers is the same. Adams worked with mostly vertical topography of the great national parks in the western United States. Butcher's metier is the mostly horizontal planes of Florida. But Butcher instills the same grandeur into his swamps, beaches and pastures that Adams does with much more conducive subjects like towering rock faces and plunging valleys.
The exhibition, "Clyde Butcher's Photographs: Preserving Eden," features 36 photographs with information panels about the Everglades. A documentary about the photographer will be shown in continuous loop.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8293.