Celebrating Yosemite

Two exhibitions in Merced are focusing on our National Park and the Merced River

The photography exhibit One River, Two Perspectives is running at the Merced College Gallery through March 21. Photo: Steve Newvine

The photography exhibit One River, Two Perspectives is running at the Merced College Gallery through March 21. Photo: Steve Newvine

It’s not every day one gets an opportunity to see a free photography exhibit in the community. But this month is extraordinary. There are two exhibits running in March.

Both are free.

Both celebrate Yosemite and the Merced River. One River- two Perspectives features the work of local photographers Jay Sousa and Roger Wyan.

The pair has worked together in their separate photography businesses for many years. So coming together to jointly present this representation of the Merced River came naturally.

“My contribution to the exhibit features some of my favorite photographs from the Merced River and Yosemite,”

Jay Sousa told me on the KYOS Community Conversations program when I filled in for host Roger Wood.

“The region is beautiful for a photographer.”

The Opening Reception of One River, Two Perspectives brought dozens of local community residents to the Merced College campus on March 1. Photo: Steve Newvine

The Opening Reception of One River, Two Perspectives brought dozens of local community residents to the Merced College campus on March 1. Photo: Steve Newvine

While Roger Wyan agrees that the River and the Park are a natural fit for a nature photographer, his contribution to the Merced College exhibit was inspired by the great impressionist artists of France.

“I visited Paris recently, and was awestruck by the work of these wonderful impressionist artists,” he said.

“That inspired me to show a different perspective of the Merced River.”

Both photographers were pleased to share the exhibit space that generally features the work of just one artist.

Sharing was a challenge of sorts to appropriately showcase both photographers. Roger sums it up with just a few words.

“I think our work plays off one another well.”

Poster showing some of the original art work included in the newest exhibit at the Courthouse Museum.

Poster showing some of the original art work included in the newest exhibit at the Courthouse Museum.

Just as local photographers Jay and Ryan are showcasing their original work, there’s an exhibit of mostly original photographs, art work, and artifacts at the Courthouse Museum in Merced.

The Originals of Yosemite features original photographs and memorabilia all tied to the National Park.

The local photographers who offered originals for this exhibition include UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland and Museum volunteer Donna Lee Hartman.

“We pulled a lot of stuff from our archives,” Donna Lee says.

“And several of our Historical Society Members loaned the cherished items for the exhibit.”

Steve Newvine views a large framed photograph from Yosemite at the Courthouse Museum Exhibit The Originals of Yosemite. Photo: Donna Lee Hartman.

Steve Newvine views a large framed photograph from Yosemite at the Courthouse Museum Exhibit The Originals of Yosemite. Photo: Donna Lee Hartman.

Beyond the photographs, there’s art work from local artists including a covered bridge painting by Vivian Knepel from 1980. Vivian turned 100 in January.

There’s a place setting from the dining room at the Ahwahnee Hotel (now known as The Majestic Yosemite Hotel), a scout outfit on the Museum’s mascot bear cub, and even some of Ansel Adams earlier works from before he became famous.

Most of the items are originals.

All of it well cared for by the Museum volunteers and staff.

entrepreneur Frank Gallison started air service from Merced to Yosemite back in the 1920s. These pieces of memorabilia are on display at the Courthouse Museum

entrepreneur Frank Gallison started air service from Merced to Yosemite back in the 1920s. These pieces of memorabilia are on display at the Courthouse Museum

Without realizing it, both the Merced College Art Gallery and the Merced County Courthouse Museum have turned this month into a salute to our two natural wonders: the Merced River and Yosemite National Park.

A visitor can see them both in one day. Both are free.

This covered bridge painting that is part of the Originals of Yosemite exhibition is from Vivian Knepel. She was well-known for paintings of a variety of scenes from Yosemite.

This covered bridge painting that is part of the Originals of Yosemite exhibition is from Vivian Knepel. She was well-known for paintings of a variety of scenes from Yosemite.

While the One River – Two Perspectives photographer exhibit at Merced College ends on March 21, the Originals of Yosemite will go on until early June.

It’s not every day one can experience so much local history, art work, and memorabilia.

Take advantage of it all. After seeing the photographs, art, and artifacts from these exhibitions, consider making plans to take in Yosemite National Park this year.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

His new book is Stand By Camera One, a look back on his first year working as a television reporter four decades ago. It is available at Lulu.com