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Opening Friday at photo-eye Gallery: Mitch Dobrowner Still Earth | Storms

photo-eye Gallery Opening Friday at photo-eye Gallery: Mitch Dobrowner Still Earth | Storms photo-eye Gallery is pleased to announce Still Earth, an exhibition of black & white landscape photographs by Mitch Dobrowner. The opening and artist reception will take place on November 21st, 2014 from 5-7 pm. In anticipation of Dobrowner’s visit to Santa Fe, photo-eye's Anne Kelly has asked him about the inspiration behind his new images from Canyonlands National Park.

Monument Valley, 2014 — Mitch Dobowner

We are thrilled to announce that an exhibition of photographs by Mitch Dobrowner, Still Earth | Storms, opens this Friday at photo-eye Gallery. This exhibition debuts a selection of new landscapes recently made in Canyonlands National Park and a selection of new storm images. The new works from Canyonlands depict a still, vast and isolated — almost alien — landscape, with the same power as his turbulent storm-scapes. In anticipation of Dobrowner’s visit to Santa Fe, I've asked him about the inspiration behind his new images. We hope to see you at the artist reception, this Friday night from 5-7 pm. —Anne Kelly

Hailstorm, 2014  Mitch Dobowner

Anne Kelly:     On more than one occasion you've mentioned being particularly drawn to the Southwest. What attracted you specifically to Canyonlands, and what aspects of its unique landscape helped inspire your most recent images?

Mitch Dobrowner:     Canyonlands is a very spiritual place for me. In fact the whole American Southwest is. The first time I visited the area was when I was in my early 20s and I thought I was standing on another planet. I was just blown away at what I was looking at. I finally got the chance to returned again in 2005 with my friend (and my oldest son). We spend 2 weeks out there, the first 4 days doing the Shafer Trail. It's still hard to describe the sense of peace and humility I felt.

So now fast forward to this past October (2014). 30 years, 3 kids and what feels like a distant lifetime from when I was 20 — and this was my 5th trip into Canyonlands. This year's trip took over a year to plan as I wanted to get to places that were extremely isolated and hard to get to. The Dolls House, Land of Standing Rocks and Devil Hoof/Kitchen areas were places I only dreamed of getting to before I died. So the whole time it felt as if it was a homecoming to me, a dream come true. It's hard to explain how the area touches me so all I try to do is absorb the experience of being there.

Doll House, 2014 — Mitch Dobowner

AK:     While chasing storms the last few years you've learned to photograph in some fast-paced and unique situations. What challenges did you face when shooting in Canyonlands?

MD:     Shooting landscapes is very different to me then photographing storms. Shooting storms takes a different type of energy. For them it's about tenacity, concentration and focus. In order to capture landscapes I have to get in touch with myself in a different way... I have to drop all the crap of daily life and get to a place where I truly connect with the land. It may sound cliche or weird but for me it's just the truth. It's like... if I'm thinking about anything that disconnects me I find I can't shoot. And if I try I'm just wasting my time.

So most of my trips into the Southwest take me at least 10 days. The first 5 days I'm just detoxing from daily life and clearing my head - and just waiting for a 'signal'. That takes time and all my patience as I'm not always sure I can get there. But once I drop my ego and hear my heart beating again, then I start connecting. The whole experience is hard for me to explain so I just try to show how I feel through the images. It's like walking into a dark room and not being able to see anything, but the longer you stand there the more your eyes adjust and your able to see clearly.

Devils Kitchen, 2014 — Mitch Dobowner

AK:     Please share an experience from this last trip that stands out for you.

MD:     After being out in The Maze and Needles Districts for 10 days,  I took the Devils Kitchen photograph the morning of our last day. I was exhausted, had been on the road for 2 weeks — camping, dirty, hungry for something cold and green to eat... and hadn't had a shower in 10 days. In fact I don't think my hair had ever been so dirty.

The last night my guide (Brian) asked if I wanted to go to a wild location that last morning. He wanted us to leave at 4:30am and a scramble up the side of a 1,000 foot mesa in the dark. As he was talking all I thought about was that I was just happy to still be alive (after being out in these crazy isolated locations for almost 10 days) and that I was homesick. And now Brian wants me to hike in the dark... jump across 500+ drops between rocks in the dark - just for a picture. So I said what the heck and we went.

We scrambled, jumped and after about an hour reached the ledge of the mesa. It was about 5:30am and we just stood there and watched as the sun rose. It was just us and a few mountain lions.