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Protecting Mother Earth: Photo exhibit pays tribute to nature’s hidden beauty

Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong
Photos by Ekevara Kitpowsong

By Mary Strope

City College’s journalism department is featuring naturalist and former professor Tom Graham’s work in “Protecting Mother Earth: Nature’s Hidden Beauty,” a photography show curated by photojournalists Ekevara Kitpowsong and James Fanucchi. It is open to the public through October 27 at the department’s Front Page Gallery.

Graham’s photos primarily reveal the colors, plays of light and patterns of nature, such as a lone hiker against a golden twilight sky, the texture of jagged peaks and the undulating surface of water at a Point Reyes seashore.

“All the pictures have a graphic and geometric element, and they all go well together,” Kitpowsong said at the exhibit’s opening reception on Sept. 22. “It’s an honor to curate his show after taking his class.”

Graham taught at City College for 28 years. Until last December, he oversaw Etc Magazine, a bi-yearly publication comprised of student articles, photographs and artwork.

“The more I’ve walked and carried my camera with me, the more opportunities I had for imagery,” Graham said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to simply drive and shoot out of the window. You’ve got to get out of the car and into the environment to have things open up to you.”

Photo by Allison Ekevara Kitpowsong

He spends a lot of time on foot. An avid hiker and backpacker, he once walked every street in San Francisco for his San Francisco Chronicle series “The Walking Man.”

Now, he leads hikes twice daily all summer at Camp Mather, a family recreation camp near Yosemite National Park.

Traveling at slower speeds allows him to notice moments a driver would miss in locations like the Sierras, Lake Tahoe, Mt. Whitney and the Point Reyes National Seashore.

“You can tell what kind of creative eye he has in terms of capturing natural beauty,” said journalism department chair Juan Gonzales. “I didn’t realize what a good photographer he was.”

Photo by Allison Ekevara Kitpowsong

A San Francisco native, Graham began his journalism career as a student at City College in 1967, where he wrote for The Guardsman. He later worked as a photographer, journalist and editor throughout Northern California.

He counts nature photographers Ansel Adams, Matthew Brady and Carleton Watkins as influences, as well as 19th century transcendentalists whose spirituality focused on a respect for nature, self-contemplation and self-reliance.

At the reception, Graham read a quote from poet Carlos Castaneda that epitomized his philosophy as a photographer: “You must wait patiently, knowing that you’re waiting, and knowing what you’re waiting for.”

Front Page Gallery is located at the journalism department’s office at 50 Phelan Ave, Bungalow 615 (below George M. Rush Stadium). For more information visit www.FrontPageGallery.com.com, call (415) 239-3446 or email info@frontpagegallery.com.

Photo by Allison Ekevara Kitpowsong

The Guardsman