Saturday, March 8, 2008

Dorothea Lange -- Steep Ravine photos

I went to a film and discussion about Dorothea Lange at the library a few weeks ago. Then last week, I went to see the related exhibit of the Steep Ravine photos.

These were taken in the late 1950s to the early 1960s during vacations with her children, grandchildren, and friends in the Steep Ravine cabins on Mount Tamalpais. The exhibit contains many large black-and-white photos, mostly portraits, some of which have never been publicly displayed before. Lange had planned to make a book of the photos, but was unable to complete the project before she died in 1965.

To Lange, Steep Ravine represented freedom. The library's exhibit shows the contrast between her relaxed time at Steep Ravine, and her usual life, with a photo by Ron Partridge taken of Lange in her home office, where she is sitting on a table, talking on the phone, in charge, everything surrounding her impeccably organized.

The primitive cabins perched on the side of the mountain, directly above the ocean, look much the same today as they did in Lange's day. They are now operated by the State Park system, and anyone can reserve them, though they are popular and reservations are hard to snag. Maybe some day ...

The exhibit runs through March 16 on the 6th floor of the Main Library. It closes early -- 6 PM (5 PM on Sunday) -- even when the library itself is open later.

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