Seeing the Essence: Photographs by William E. Davis on view Jan. 24 – April 16, 2017
The Arkansas Arts Center will celebrate the life and work of Arkansas photographer William E. Davis with Seeing the Essence: Photographs by William E. Davis, opening January 24.
The exhibition showcases the artist’s generous bequest of more than 700 of his original photographic prints to the Arkansas Arts Center. The exhibition features 25 large black and white photographic prints by Davis, revealing his gift for choosing distinctive subjects and looking at them as no one else would. This acquisition is a major addition to the Arts Center’s already strong collection of work by Arkansas photographers.
William E. Davis (1918 – 2016) was a native of Little Rock who passed away on February 13, 2016, after a distinguished and varied career in photography. He and his late wife, Jodi Simon Davis, lived in a Victorian house near the Arkansas Arts Center. The house is now being restored to its former glory. After his serving as a fighter pilot in World War II, Davis apprenticed with a Little Rock photographer and attended the Southwest Photo-Arts Institute in Dallas. Davis became a commercial photographer, and worked as personal photographer to Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller for many years. He also taught photography at the University of Arkansas Graduate Center.
Beginning in 1983, Davis worked with the portrait photographer Greer Lyle to arrange photography workshops in Arkansas. This led Davis to start doing fine art photography to reflect his own unique vision. He was inspired by the clean, precise aesthetic of such West Coast photographers as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.
Davis traveled widely in New Mexico, California, Washington State, and other western states. But his home state figures most importantly in the Arkansan’s work. He photographed landscapes, barns, houses, fences, cotton gins, and farm machinery from a unique, often very close up, perspective. Some of his images are such tightly cropped and strongly magnified views of such tiny details that the viewer is hard pressed to figure out what the photographer was actually looking at. An unsuspected world of beauty may lurk in a few inches of peeling enamel, a broken window, or a battered section of corrugated metal. No matter the subject, Davis’s distinctive, often humorous, point of view shines through.
Seeing the Essence: Photographs by William E. Davis is organized by the Arkansas Arts Center with support from Dr. Charles and Jennie Cole, June and Edmond W. Freeman and the William E. Davis Estate.
A series of lectures and events exploring photography will accompany Seeing the Essence: Photographs by William E. Davis and Ansel Adams: Early Works, both on display through April 16, 2017.
Art After Hours: Tom Fischer
Thursday, February 2, 5:30 p.m.
Tom Fischer, Professor of Photography at Savannah College of Art and Design, will discuss Ansel Adam’s role in the development of American modernism.Lower Lobby Lecture Hall. Free for members, $10 non-members.
Art After Hours
Thursday, February 9, 5:30 p.m.
Photography students from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock will give a gallery talk, examining the work of Ansel Adams.Townsend Wolfe Galleries. Free for members, $10 non-members.
Art After Hours: Joli Livaudais
Thursday, February 16, 5:30 p.m.
Joli Livaudais, Professor of Photography at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock will discuss the work of Ansel Adams. Lower Lobby Lecture Hall. Free for members, $10 non-members.
Art After Hours: Karen Haas
Thursday, February 16, 5:30 p.m.
Karen Haas, Lane Curator of Photographs at the Museum of Fine Art Boston will discuss the work of Ansel Adams. Lower Lobby Lecture Hall. Free for members, $10 non-members.
Location: Arkansas Arts Center – 9th and Commerce, Little Rock, AR 72202
Cost: Free Admission
Gallery Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Closed Monday & Major Holidays
Arkansas Arts Center programs are supported in part by: the City of Little Rock; the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau; the City of North Little Rock and the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and the National Endowment for the Arts.