Saturday, January 21, 2012

Peter Ralston - premier photographer of the Wyeths' Maine

Peter Ralston - who co-founded the Island Institute with Philip Conkling - is the house photographer.  His pictures grace every issue of the annual Island Journal.  He grew up in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania - the winter home of the Wyeths.  A life long friend of Andrew and his wife Betsy,  he is a peer and close friend of their son James -  himself a distinguished artist.  He spent a lot of time at Jamie and wife Phyllis's Kent House, on Monhegan Island.  It is so named because it was built by the great illustrator, landscape painter, expedition sailor, and rebel Rockwell Kent.  Among Ralston's projects was his commission to make photographic reproductions of Andrew's paintings.  If you click on Ralston's name, above, you'll find yourself at his website. 
We have a print from the original negative of the top photo - Clearing - which is his signature image.  I had the impression from faint recollection that Ralston didn't like it very much (that the sky is overexposed - actually that's just the image I found.) But Peter's comment corrects that error.  HERE is the image on his site.  As I observed there is great power in the image of  the sheep huddled under tow in that skiff.  The brightening sky and the sun through the mist convey mystery, hope and vulnerability.  The sheep were on their way to Allen Island.  Owned by Andrew and Betsy, the stone cross on the island's south eastern bluff was erected by the state of Maine to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of Maine: Capt. George Weymouth's prolonged anchorage in 1605 from which he explored the St. George River and Georges Islands, and the Penobscot Bay and River. Known as George's Harbor, it is the Wyeths (and my) favorite spot. 

Misty Blue - Etta James