Ansel Adams’ photos helps summer exhibits shine in Myrtle Beach area

See what made music to Ansel Adams’ eyes in a newly opened special exhibit at Myrtle Beach’s oceanview art museum.

Having “Classic Images: Photography by Ansel Adams” through Sept. 21 has even prompted later hours at the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum on four days per week from mid-June until mid-August.

This is one of various exhibits to shine this summer at major art showplaces such as Brookgreen Gardens and Coastal Carolina University’s Rebecca Randall Bryan Art Gallery, as well as Art & Soul, An Artisan Gallery, in Myrtle Beach, again host for the annual Colored Pencil Members’ Show & Sale, opening Monday.

Standing upstairs in the museum lobby on May 28, before the Adams show opened this week, Patricia Goodwin, the site’s executive director, said an Adams exhibit in 2004 was its most popular to date. This “museum set,” a portfolio first printed in the 1970s by the late photographer as a career chronicle for his daughter, Ann Adams Helms, has Goodwin’s hopes as high as the exhibit banners hoisted on to street lights on South Ocean Boulevard in the museum vicinity.

Liz Miller, the museum curator, walked through the Adams gallery’s 15 sections last week after Logan Woodle, a visusl arts teaching associate at Coastal Carolina University, spent a few days hanging all 72 of the black-and-white works on the walls. She also pointed out a 73rd piece, a portrait of Adams taken in 1965 by Al Weber.

The groupings of photos go by location, such as the American Southwest, national landmarks and national parks. Miller paused by Adams’ “Moonrise,” which she called “iconic,” then soon stopped by two shots showing the same swath of aspen trees, but more than 20 years apart. She showed how the pair of perspectives showed how Adams saw them differently with time and in his approach behind the shutterbug.

By preparing and researching the information for the descriptive wall cards that awaited mounting beside the artworks last week, Miller said she has learned so much.

“Composition was so important to him,” she said, “and for in his framing the picture.”

Shaping the show also takes some customizing, Miller said, because presenting these views of Adams’ landscapes and “cloudscapes” in this museum, “an old beach villa and home,” inspired its own extra homework in packaging the sections.

Arielle Fatuova, the museum’s education coordinator, sat nearby with a laptop computer, devising elements for a scavenger hunt in which visitors are welcome to indulge. She said after scanning the works across the gallery, she wants viewers of all ages to challenge themselves to find the light source in each photo, for example. She also drifted to one of his distinct early works, a “fuzzy wuzzy” look at trees through a soft-focus lens.

Being married with dependents precluded his enlistment to serve in World War II, but he assisted the effort by teaching photography to soldiers. Living part of his life in the Yosemite Valley also let photo opportunies present themselves right outside his door, such as in a wintertime picture, “Half Dome and Merced River,” from 1938.

With only nature before his eyes, he also captured other looks through“Sand Bar, Rio Grande” from 1947, at the end of its 1,000-mile course in Big Bend National Park in Texas, and the 317-foot Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park in California, from 1948.

Quotes from Adams, who died in 1984 at age 82, are strewn through the exhibit, such as comments made to a Time art critic in 1977: “I can look at a fine art photograph and sometimes I can hear music – not in a sentimental sense, but structually.”

Everyone’s welcome to get blinded by the blend of light and dark he framed through film, the legacy left through the lenses held in his hands, in valleys and mountains.