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Centennial Center Gallery Archive

Ford Gilbreath


Closing Reception: Thursday, October 30, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Includes a special viewing of Ford Gilbreath’s stereoscopic photography- not to be missed!

Exhibit dates: September 4 - October 30, 2008
Regular gallery hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m, closed holidays.
Location: Centennial Center Gallery, Kent City Campus, 400 West Gowe Street, Kent, Washington 98032 map 

Water Samples 1997-2008

Using experimental photographic techniques, Ford Gilbreath explores local watersheds, both above and below the waterline. Water Samples 1997-2008 includes photographs of the Duwamish River, Licton Springs and Longfellow Creek, as well as the West Duwamish Greenbelt.

Ford Gilbreath began Water Samples 1997-2008 on a rainy night in 1997. Gilbreath was walking along the Duwamish River near his home, wishing that he could see the raindrops as they hit the surface of the river.  The next day, he bought a 10-gallon aquarium, mounted his camera and four flashes inside, and began wading into the water to take photographs. The resulting black-and-white prints are hand-colored. Painting the prints allows Gilbreath to explore the transparency of light and water, while emphasizing that “weather changes everything.”

In addition to photographing the streams, Ford Gilbreath is also photographing the woods. Consistently experimental in his pursuits, Gilbreath sought a way of working that would allow him to focus on small things, yet remain panoramic. Recognizing that a flatbed scanner is made to focus very closely, he took his scanner into the woods and removed the lid. The resulting imagery shares the same evocative aesthetic as the photographs taken from within the aquarium.

Gilbreath_scan_450 2

about the artist

Ford Gilbreath lives and works in Seattle. His imagery has consistently and creatively addressed the landscape of the Northwest from a perspective that is mindful of its spiritual past, its functional present, and its uncertain future. He pairs this awareness with an abiding interest in technique and technology that embraces such wide-ranging processes as stereography, hand-colored images, and direct scans in the landscape using a laptop
computer and portable flatbed scanner.

– No Strings Foundation

Ford Gilbreath was one of two recipients of the No Strings Foundation’s inaugural grant. This prestigious grant was awarded via a secret nomination process. In 2006, the final selection committee included curators from the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the RayKo Photo Center and Gallery in San Francisco.

Ford Gilbreath's work was featured in the Kent Summer Art Exhibit the past two years. He has been awarded a City of Kent Purchase Award, as well as a Kent Arts Commission Exhibit Award.

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curator’s note

A stereoscope is an optic viewer that focuses two adjacent images into three dimensions. As a child, I looked at stereoscopic images with my red plastic View Master, falling like Alice into a cartoon world. Occasionally, I’d view a disk of archival imagery that was straight from Alice’s era, which made the stereoscope itself seem anachronistic. The stereoscope was developed just a year before the daguerreotype launched photography as we know it, and for a while the two technologies ran on parallel tracks. In time, convenience outweighed dimensionality: unlike stereoscopic photography, the flattened picture requires no cumbersome viewer. And dimensionality itself can be cumbersome: it requires time to focus. But the thrill of observation is endlessly satisfying. Glancing at a flat print, I cannot see the shimmer in a stream, or the delicacy of a shrub’s unfurling shoots. Just as I cannot see these qualities in an outdoor landscape as I speed by.

Seeing, and all of the requisite responsibility that comes with seeing accurately, is its own reward. When viewing art, I seek not just to experience the object, but to see it in a way that will forever alter my vision.

Ford Gilbreath photographs at dusk, when the oblique rays of the sun intensify depth. Looking through his stereoscope, my eyes adjust to this fading light. It takes time for me to look around these three dimensional landscapes. I gaze beyond a tree trunk to catch a starburst glimpse of the setting sun. Viewing these stereographs in my office, I am transfixed. Yet it isn’t until I’m bicycling home at sunset, peering into the underbrush and looking for starbursts, that it dawns on me: I’m now seeing the landscape that Ford sees. A week later, Ford returns. I tell my officemates to come and see something “cool.” Their enthusiasm and excitement confirms my own.

Ford’s stereoscopic photographs are magical and rare, perhaps even more so because they require a special viewing opportunity. So I’ve added a closing reception to our gallery schedule. In addition to talking about his exquisite exhibition, Ford will set up his stereoscopes and stereoscopic photographs for you to view. Please join us on Thursday, October 30 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Centennial Gallery in Kent.

Cheryl dos Remedios, cdosremedios@kentwa.gov

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1. Longfellow Creek, Seattle, September 28, 2007 (R1F6), copyright Ford Gilbreath.
2. Schmitz Park, West Seattle December 4, 2004 (scan 2), copyright Ford Gilbreath.
3. West Duwamish Greenbelt, January 29, 2007 (R1F1-2), copyright Ford Gilbreath.
4. Stereoscope and stereoscopic photograph titled Pigeon Point Park, August 14, 2006 (RF14-15), copyright Ford Gilbreath.
5. Artist-made stereoscopic camera, built and photographed by Ford Gilbreath.


Water Samples 1997 - 2007