Friday, November 28, 2014

Ansel Adams & A. C. Pillsbury - Discovered Insights

First in a Series

Presented by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster and Charlotte Kieltyka

The photo below, taken at the home of Arthur C. Pillsbury in Oakland, California around 1918-20, is from my Aunt Grace's album. She predeceased my father, Dr. Arthur F. Pillsbury, by several years, dying August 12, 1979. Aunt Grace, like others at the Studio of the Three Arrows, usually did not bother to take her own photos. It was easier to print those she wanted out of the thousands stored there for use in a system which was both numeric and descriptive. 
Exactly like these, which held nitrate film and were purchased by Rick Norsigian along with the glass negatives he found at a garage sale in Fresno, California in 2000.  Leroy Radonovich told me Pillsbury was the only photographer of that era in Yosemite, Leroy's area specialization, who had a collection numbering more than a few hundred images.  As you see, the numbers here are 8033, Seagull; 8072, Yosemite from Meadow; 8013, Valley View Yos; 8104, Gates of the Valley; 8087, Tuolumne Canyon from Glacier Point; 8067, Overhanging Rock & Half Dome Schap; 8052, Yosemite from Camp Ahwanee (sp); 8057, Yosemite Fall from river; 8066, Three Brothers morning; Monterey Point V.D. neg; 8108, Happy Illes.  The spelling is atrocious, which points to Pillsbury as the writer.  
Family photos in the archive were supposed to have the identifying number stamped on the back, when printed.

The archive in Yosemite included family photos of the kids growing up there and photos from the workshops which Pillsbury was putting on from the time his son, my father, Arthur F. Pillsbury, was around 12 - 14. This photo would have been at the Oakland lab facility, in the smaller collection as well as in Grace's album. There is no number on the reverse but Grace signed her name. In this shot Arthur F. is around 16.

Ansel Adams appears in the photo below. He also appears in photos from photographic workshops given by Arthur C. Pillsbury from the period.

These pages place Ansel Adams through family photos, photos available through the Harry Pidgeon Collection located in Fresno, California, and images from the estate of Mildred Clemens during the shadowy period from 1916 - 1927 which is only lightly touched on in the Adams Autobiography, "Ansel Adams, an Autobiography," written by Ansel Adams and Mary Street Alinder, published by Little, Brown and Company, 1985, hard cover edition, paperback edition, 1996. Pillsbury is barely mentioned in the Adams autobiography, receiving not even a place in the book's index.

Did Adams know Arthur C. Pillsbury? Why yes, very well, according to this letter written by Ansel Adams in 1978.

   For the rest of the story go HERE.

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