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Thursday 12-6pm
Friday 12-8pm
Saturday 12-6pm
Sunday 12-4pm
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The Photographs of Clare J. Crary:
People

July 3 - August 14, 2011

This is the inaugural exhibition of photographs by the Crary Art Gallery's namesake. With a keen perception of the formal and technical aspects of photography, and a clear eye to the humanity before him as he traveled the globe, Clare Crary shows us intimate portraits of our fellow world citizens. This is the first in a series of annual shows that will highlight just some of the many intriguing photographs in the permanent collection of the Crary Art Gallery. Other exhibitions of Mr. Crary's photos in future years will focus on Architecture and Travel.

A captain of industry, art collector and philanthropist, Clare's love of photography was sustained through a long career as an amateur photographer. Over the course of six decades he showed his prints in juried exhibitions on six continents.

In Old Damascus, 1939, photograph by Clare J. Crary
Transcript of Mark Bueger's talk on C. J. Crary:

“Photography has come a long way since the discovery of the camera obscura. It is now being recognized by many museums and galleries as one of the fine arts. However, photography is an art only when practiced by an artist. True, it is dependent upon the camera, film, and paper. But these are the tools of the photographer, just as brushes and oils are the tools of the painter. But just as every painter is not an artist, so must the photographer possess more than his tools, - the creative urge, the seeing eye, and the desire to express himself within the limits of his medium”.

Thus wrote Gene Walker Crary more than half a century ago in the foreword to a book of her husband Clare J. Crary’s photographs. The book with 42 prints had been published by his three sons as a birthday gift.

Clare J. “C.J.” Crary [1879-1975], a Sheffield native, was not only a captain of industry, art collector and philanthropist but also an accomplished amateur photographer. Over the course of six decades he showed his prints in juried exhibitions on six continents.

He first developed an interest in photography as a boy and continued to be active until his final years.

C.J. studied with Clarence White, one of the great photography educators of the early 20th century and a cofounder of the photo-secession movement which promoted manipulation of the image by the artist/photographer to achieve his or her subjective vision. The movement helped to raise standards and awareness of art photography. This, and his time with Adolf Fassbender, another proponent of manipulated pictorial images, led C.J. to experiment heavily in his dark room, creating almost impressionist and dreamlike images. These results are all the more remarkable in the absence of any digital equipment. C.J. continued to educate himself through an extensive library of books and journals on the latest technology and techniques. He also would attend print clinics at conventions.

His Sunset won third prize at the Fourth American Photographic Salon held in Pittsburgh in 1908.

That same year, a review of On the road to Market in the American Journal of Photography called it: “although not new in motive, exceedingly well composed and altogether charming. The perspective of the road, the placing of the figures, the beautiful clouds and atmospheric effect generally all do their respective shares in making a picture of exceptional appeal”.

Two years later Burning Oil Refinery earned an Honorable Mention at the Detroit Camera Club Exhibition. Winter on the Farm, exhibited in 1920 at the Seventh Pittsburgh Salon, was reviewed in leading photography publications of the time: “[Crary] shows an unusual grasp of composition and pattern. He succeeds in transforming a bleak lonely landscape into a picture of decorative beauty.”

The Pittsburgh Salon of Photography made C.J. an Associate Member in 1930, placing him on their roll of honor in 1930 because of “distinctive merit and consistent excellence of contributions”.

In 1932, Spadaro of Capri was included in The American Annual of Photography: “a conventionally composed portrait, by far more interesting than the usual picture of the bearded old man type. Here we have a noble character, and the beret emphasizes the lines of the head and avoids too great masses of white hair”.

The Woman’s Club in Warren showed 100 of C.J.’s prints, covering his entire career until that point in 1948.

Willougby’s, the legendary New York City camera shop on West 32nd Street, dedicated a show to 14 prints from France and Italy in 1951. This included Portofino Boatman and Via del Purgatorio-Florence.

A more extensive collection of prints from this trip was shown in Warren at the Public Library in 1952.

Over the next decades, C.J.’s prints could be seen at photography salons the world over: Vermont, Louisville, St. Louis, London, Paris, NYC, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Rochester, Cincinnati, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Bordeaux, Ottawa, Victoria, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, and Japan.

Even at an advanced age, C.J. continued to exhibit. Tank Welder was selected for the Fourth International Exhibition of Photography in Adelaide, Australia and Sunday Afternoon Guggenheim was shown at the 41st Boston International Exhibition of Photography in 1973.

Following his death a Memorial Exhibit was created at the Crary Art Gallery in 1977, featuring 34 of his prints.

C.J. was greatly instrumental in helping establish photography as a fine art when he was the Vice Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Photographic Society of America in 1933. Peers on both sides of the Atlantic recognized his achievements during his lifetime by electing him as an Associate of the Photographic Society of America and a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain. He served on many juries at Salons all over the country.

He was also a collector, who donated a 1910 oil print of a Breton landscape by French photographer Robert Demachy to the Still Photograph Archive at George Eastman House in Rochester.

His own photograph The Builders, taken near the Gowanus canal in Brooklyn, is now part of the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum.

C.J.ʼs widow, Genevieve [Gene] Walker Crary, donated his collection of prints, negatives, and all his equipment to the Crary Art Gallery when the gallery was founded in his honor. Only a very small portion of his photographs have been displayed outside the gallery since the 1970s. His granddaughter Rachel Crary, helped organize an exhibit of some of his travel pictures at the Oasis Gallery for Contemporary Art, in Marquette Michigan in August 2010.

This is the inaugural exhibition of photographs by the Crary Art Gallery's namesake. With a keen perception of the formal and technical aspects of photography, and a clear eye to the humanity before him as he traveled the globe, Clare Crary shows us intimate portraits of our fellow world citizens. This is the first of a series of shows that will hint at the wonderful collection of photos which are in the permanent collection of the Crary Art Gallery. Other exhibitions of Mr. Crary's photos in future years will focus on travel and architecture.

It is our hope this exhibition will not only (re)introduce an important part of the extensive body of work by this local artist, but also initiate a campaign to categorize and preserve his work for future generations.