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Eye of the West by Nancy Wood
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Eye of the West

by Nancy Wood

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Recently added bypaulgolden, grizzly.anderson

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I generally don't buy art & photography books. I never seem to like enough of the pictures to justify the cost of the whole book, and I don't have a coffee table to put it on, so when would I look through it anyway? I sought out Eye of the West after seeing one photo in a bi-weekly newspaper. After leafing through it, I bought it. All of the photos are black and white, which fits well with the stark environment most of the subjects are in.

I don't know nearly enough about Nancy Wood to say anything about her or her career here. About 2/3 of the photographs are from the "Grass Roots People" project, primarily from 1976 and '77 in SW Colorado. Not only does she do a fascinating job of capturing people and places, the photos also illustrate how time is slightly out of joint in those places. In addition to a set of 3 fascinating photos of local judges (one of which got me to pick up the book in the first place), my favorite from that section is from the National Western Stock Show. A man is getting shoe-shine (boot shine really). He appears to be a fairly traditional, older, white rural westerner. He is looking at a fairly fashionable woman coming out of the women's restroom off to one side. Nancy Wood has captured an amazing moment there, with the combination of conflicting emotions on his face, and the complete obliviousness of the other 3 people in the photo.

My other favorite is in the Taos series, from the mid 80's. It is of two men in full regalia at a Taos powwow. You can actually only see the face of one of the men, but the other is obviously talking animatedly. The look on the face of the first man is in such contrast to his apparently formal dress, somewhere between "I can't believe you just said that" horror and busting out laughing.

There are a number of set portraits, but there are also a fair number of people caught in a moment, just going about their lives, and by far those are the ones that made me decide to buy this collection. ( )
  grizzly.anderson | Mar 9, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0826343198, Hardcover)

More than thirty years ago and armed with little more than a camera and a vision, Western writer and photographer Nancy Wood set out in a battered Subaru to capture a vanishing part of the American West. Focusing on the Grass Roots People of Colorado, the Utes, Taos Pueblo, and homesteaders of Pie Town, New Mexico, Wood devoted nearly twenty years to cataloguing the lives of the rural inhabitants. The result is in an intimate portrait achieved through Wood's long associations with each subject.

Eye of the West covers Wood's photographic career and pays tribute to the ideas and techniques she acquired from her mentor Roy Stryker, director of the Farm Security Administration Historical Section. These multiyear perspectives are a rare glimpse into a forgotten past and a unique part of the history of the American West.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:54 -0400)

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