Thursday, October 18, 2012

Exhibits in France

Jim has two exhibits in France between now and the end of the year.  We are featuring the first exhibit in this post, with the second to follow shortly. 

This past spring, Jim spent two months shooting France’s Brittany coast as part of a grant he received from the French government. Jim’s work titled “Man and Nature on the French West Coast” will be on exhibit October 19th to November 11th in Saint-Brieuc. He will be present at the exhibit October 22nd - 28th. His photographs will be part of a group exhibit of primarily French photojournalists who photographed themes from around the world; Jim was the only photographer to shoot in France. 
The exhibits are expected to draw over 200,000 visitors.

The following are some of Jim’s images that will be in the exhibit.
Large waves crash against the Cote Sauvage at Presqu’ile de Quiberlon near the village of Quiberon. The Spring of 2012 was particularly windy and rainy.
The dramatic cliffs at Pointe de Pen-Hir near Brest attract extreme outdoor recreationists.
Huge boulders have defied the forces of nature through the ages.
Tidal Pools.
The walled city of St. Malo has a long and important history because of its strategic location
 on the Bretagne coast.
The thick and historically rich walls at St. Malo provide a moment of affection rather than war.
Avocets are a most delicate looking bird with a bill that is 9 cm long.This bird has built it’s nest in a salt marsh.
A couple runs for shelter in the rain at Ménéham, a restored village on the north Finistère coast
between Roscoff and Brest.

 Jim wrote the statement below for the French audience that will be viewing the exhibit.  We thought you would be interested in his personal motivation and thoughts that went into creating this project.

 Man and Nature on the French West Coast

I live in the center of North America and yet everyday there is a strong reminder of a connection to France -- the French were the first Europeans to set foot on what is now my property and the first to paddle their birch bark canoes on my lake. Not only were these first explorers French, but most of them came from Bretagne. We call them the“Voyageurs”. This important part of our American history is not well known in France.

The Voyageurs arrived in the mid 1600's to explore the Great Lakes and the northern portions of the continent. Their mission was to trap the beaver for their pelts to send them back to Europe for hats. Montreal was the voyageur's North American home base but they married into the local Ojibwe Indian culture and stayed. Many of my neighbors still have the French names of that ancestry. Names like La Tourell are on the mailbox next to mine that I see everyday. The mayor of the nearest village had the name Bibeau, as his ancestors were both Ojibwe and voyageur. I personally tracked his family back to St. Malo from where many of the voyageurs originated. Barry Bissonett built the log cabin where I write this, and his wife, Milli, has been a gallery employee of mine for 15 years.

Some years back I discovered an old broken clay pipe at a campsite. No doubt its stem was broken by a voyageur and then tossed into the campfire where it remained for hundreds of years until I found it. Today it remains one of my most prized possessions and hangs framed on my wall.

Thus I felt a need to come to the “motherland” of the voyageur to connect the dots. The most intimate connection I can make is to create meaningful photographs. This is my language.

Besides the powerful historical connection I feel with Bretagne, I also have a peculiar spiritual and emotional connection here. Perhaps it is the weather or the rugged coastline and pine trees that evoke strong feelings and familiarity deep inside of me. There is a physical similarity to my own home that stirs me. Alas, the weather that I worked in here during the two months of wind and rain tested my love of wild weather conditions.  I traveled the world for National Geographic, yet have spent more time in Bretagne than any place I worked for the magazine. That clearly speaks of my attraction. I nearly purchased a home on the isle of Brehat. During my first visit there I turned a corner on my bike and viewed the scene before me. Wiping the tears from my face, I felt a connection that speaks for itself and had never happened in my extensive travels before.

There is, perhaps, a more logical explanation for my intense interest. I studied art history at the University of Minnesota. My main interest was French impressionism and post-impressionistic painters. Before I photographed, I painted. The aesthetic language that I tried to share in painting stays with me today. I can see that influence in images here like the boiling waves and sunset and the last print of a stormy Pointe du Raz at midnight.

One week before I starting shooting this project, I happened to attend a new and impressive touring exhibition of Paul Gauguin’s paintings at a prominent art museum in Seattle on America’s west coast. As I tagged along with a polite group of patrons listening to an art historian tell background stories of the works, I was startled to hear a story concerning a small grouping of paintings done in Bretagne. My ears perked up as she recounted the fact that Gauguin was commissioned with a grant from the French government to paint images of the Bretagne coast. She added, “This was before the camera was invented.” It took everything I had to resist raising my hand to say that I was just now on my way to Bretagne to do just that: Photograph in the footprints of Gauguin's paintings with a grant from the French people. I was indeed very proud and hope you enjoy the work from my travels in your beautiful Bretagne.


  1. Unfortunately it's to far from Holland to drive up there for a day (or 2).

  2. i just had to say that the pictures look great.

  3. I can see that you just came close to the place where I live. I've just seen the date of your expo in St Brieuc and I'm very sad to have missing it. Will you do another one there ?
    Great pictures, as usually.
    Many blessing,

  4. dear Jim,
    I met you in Pen Hir, I was climbing the cliff and I 'd like to know how I can get the picture. I let you my email in your camping car but maybe you lost it. You can join me at:
    Thank you


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