Documentary photography of rock art

$1,110 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 15 people in 14 months
Help me document the ancient rock-art of the American West!

The Project:

As I’ve traveled throughout the western U.S. on various photography projects I’ve begun documenting the Ancient Artworks I’ve found.  Ancient American Indian rock art, petroglyphs (made by chipping rock surfaces) and pictographs (made by painting or dying rock surfaces), are found throughout the American west.  These Native American artworks are between 500 & 4000 years old and some are even more ancient.  These are beautiful symbols and stories, permanently preserved in stone by ancient American Indian Shaman-Artists.  Imagine the native artist of 2000 years ago; he spent nearly every waking hour simply surviving; hunting, gathering, seeking water and shelter and yet he still made art that survived to modern times!

 I want to document as many petroglyphs as I can, modernize some of the ancient artists’ works, and share them with those who can’t see the sites for themselves.  Funding would be used for travel to the rock art sites and for post-production of the resultant photos.

Many of the rock art sites are protected within National Parks and Monuments –except now, because of political machinations, our parks and monuments themselves aren’t exactly protected—which leaves these delicate ancient rock art sites endangered again.  An example of a potentially at-risk site is this one, in the newly-shrunken Bears Ears National Monument:

Other sites, in non-protected areas, have been heavily vandalized by graffiti and even bullets! 

Here's a site vandalized by graffiti

Hopefully my new photos will lead to a greater awareness of the rock art sites and their continual need for preservation.  Availability of high-quality photographs, both documentary & artistic, obtainable by anyone interested should result in less vandalism and destruction of these sacred sites.

Documentary photos of Rock Art

While there are already many photographs of Rock Art much of the existing photography is of an academic nature aimed at archeologists, folklorists and researchers.  Much of the ‘fine-art’ photographs that include Petroglyphs and Pictographs are landscape photos in which the Rock Art isn’t the main subject.  My goal is to create elegant documentary photos and to create new impressionistic works using the ancient Rock Art as a starting-point.

The Goal:

After I find and photograph petroglyph sites I will process the photos three ways:

1.       Straight, unretouched documentary photos.  Primarily for academic/study use.

2.       Retouched, removing signs of decay and vandalism.  I will do my best to return the image to what it most likely looked like at the time the petroglyph was created.  For exhibition or publication.

3.       Using the retouched petroglyph as starting-point I will digitally post-process the image to create something new, based on the old.  This is my own artistic interpretation to build on what the ancient artist left.  A continuance of expression hundreds or thousands of years after the source material was created.

Artistic reinterpretation of Ancient Rock Art

Up to this point I’ve self-funded the project but it’s grown far beyond what I’d originally begun and I’d like you to help out.  Mainly, funding will be used to cover travel expenses: fuel and lodging.  Occasionally fees or other gratuities must be paid to access private lands or sacred Indian sites that are either unknown or forbidden to White Men.  From time to time Indian guides must be hired to visit some sites and they must be compensated.  Any extra funds will go to pay for printing, postage, presentation and exhibition/publication.

Ultimately I’d like to photograph at least thirty-six sites in seven states --or as much as funding will allow!

About me:

I’m a full-time professional photographer with over thirty-five years of experience.  I have a degree in photography.  I work with both film and digital and have produced photography and digital art for advertising and editorial clients worldwide.  I’ve produced works in a variety of styles including abstract-expressionism, surrealism, impressionism and photojournalism.  For this project documenting Ancient American Rock Art I will be working in a straightforward documentary style photographically and then continuing the Ancient Artists’ work digitally in an impressionistic style.

For 2018 I already have two, small, exhibitions of some of this work scheduled for galleries in Arizona.  Once the project is completed I will seek a large-scale venue for an extensive exhibition.  I also will produce boxed-set portfolios of the imagery.

And if I find there is enough interest, a book may be produced.  Stay tuned for that.

Please donate!

Help me document the past
and bring the ancient art into the future!

Thank You!!
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February 2019

The first Major Exhibition of works from The Petroglyph Project has just concluded. FORTY images were on display for six weeks at The Raven, a popular restaurant in downtown Prescott. I usually don’t do restaurant exhibitions but with nearly 1000 patrons visiting The Raven daily the images were seen by the largest audience ever. Everyone has been very positive about the artworks and a number of large-scale pieces were sold. I’m quite encouraged by the favorable reaction to the new photos! Profits from print sales will be put toward more location photography in 2019.

I’m seeking more venues to continue exhibiting the Petroglyph Project images.

I hope to visit a ‘secret’ location on the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona very soon. I have two more extensive photo-shoots in the planning stages to visit more obscure sites. One will take me to the foothills of the Sierras in California and then on to other sites in central Nevada. The other shoot will take me back through Utah and Colorado to visit some ‘off the map’ sites. The California-Nevada shoot and the Utah-Colorado shoot are ‘on hold’ pending further funding.

On a personal note, I’m feeling rather overwhelmed and dispirited by the seemingly hopeless situation caused by Trump administration anti-environmentalism. I’d written a lengthy ‘political rant’ which was too depressing to publish but here’s the abbreviated version of what’s happening: We are firmly in the ‘screw you’ era of politics. The Republican administration of Trump has reduced the area of Bears Ears National Monument by 85%. Bears Ears was enlarged by President Barak Obama. President Bill Clinton (also despised by Trump) created the Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument so Trump has reduced its size by 46%. There are over 20 more Western parks and monuments at-risk (all of which contain ancient art and archeological sites) and all were created or expanded by Trump’s perceived enemies, Barak Obama and Bill Clinton.

It’s clear and obvious what’s going on here – pure political vindictiveness and nothing more.

Let’s also keep in mind that our current Secretary of the Interior is David Bernhardt, a former fossil-fuel lobbyist. And Andrew Wheeler, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency is a former coal industry lobbyist. These people don’t have, and never had, any interest in environmentalism or conservation. It’s pretty obvious that Trump’s park and monument plans for mineral and fossil fuel extraction is little more than a thinly-veiled ‘screw-you’ to Democrats. Unfortunately in his zeal to screw over Democrats, he’s screwing all three-hundred-million Americans.

I am not hopeful that this stupid and aggressive disregard of our collective historical art and archeology will end soon –or well. Until it does I will continue to do what I can to document and raise awareness of Ancient Rock Art in America …dependent upon funding, of course.
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Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Happy Festivus to all! A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who has donated in 2018, your generosity is greatly appreciated. The project continues. For 2019 I'll be doing what I can to stay ahead of the deregulation that endangers so many MORE historical sites. In the spirit of #GivingTuesday please share this so I can continue to document the Ancient Rock Art sites throughout the Southwest. Every penny helps!
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I photographed the Rock Art Ranch site near Winslow, Arizona on October 10th. Since this site is on a working ranch which has been private property for over one-hundred years none of the 3000+ petroglyphs in Chevelon Canyon have been vandalized. This means I won’t have to retouch any of the images! This was a very interesting site that I probably would not have visited if it was not for the one-day expedition sponsored by Yavapai College and led by Chris Wuehrmann.

On Tuesday October 23 I re-visited the petroglyph site in Grapevine Canyon near Laughlin, Nevada. I spent more time documenting the many vandalized areas and I hiked further into the canyon than last time and photographed petroglyphs I’d missed previously. I think I’ve pretty well covered this area now.

I am going to have an exhibition of works from The Petroglyph Project at The Raven restaurant here in Prescott opening on January 16, 2019 which will hang through February 24th. Approximately THIRTY pieces will be on display. This is the third and largest exhibition of these works and will feature straight-unretouched documentary photos, panoramic images of some of the larger petroglyph panels and at least twenty new ‘impressionistic petroglyphs’ digital paintings.

Usually I do not exhibit in restaurants. I’m making an exception to my rule this time because The Raven is a popular food and art-venue which gets almost one-thousand visitors a day. This will allow for tremendous exposure for the project and, hopefully, will generate interest (and donations) to the GoFundMe campaign. All the artworks are for sale too.

To be continued in 2019…………..
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Petroglyph Project Update #8

I’m still working with the thousands of photos I shot in Utah back in June. There are so many known (and hidden) petroglyph sites in Utah I could spend months in the state photographing them. There are also some off-the-map sites in New Mexico, Texas, Nevada and California I’d like to photograph. All that’s needed is time and money and access…

…Access could become an issue soon here in my home state of Arizona. As of September 6 the ignorant and short-sighted Trump administration has ordered the BLM to begin auctioning off 4200 acres of public land in Northern Arizona for FRACKING! This could affect the Petrified Forest National Park. The petroglyphs found in the Petrified Forest are not specifically endangered –at the moment. Potential (and inevitable) chemical spills due to fracking could contaminate the Little Colorado River and nearby Silver Creek. If this happens access to the Petrified National Park could become limited.

The Trump administration has skipped environmental reviews and has not consulted with local Indian Tribes and has deferred all environmental analysis to their buddies in the drilling industry!

The Holbrook, Arizona basin has been specifically targeted for oil, gas and HELIUM extraction. Helium is in short-supply these days and high prices make it profitable to drill. It’s important to note that the fracking process injects acid into the groundwater. Arizona gets a lot of water from aquifers and this could potentially poison the water used by thousands of people.

One species of endangered fish and one species of endangered bird are also threatened by this.

This is only going to get worse so long as the anti-environment Republicans have a majority in the House and Senate. There is an election coming up. There is one party that is pro-environment and you should consider voting for them.

Next month I am going to photograph the Art Rock Ranch Petroglyphs near Winslow, AZ. These are not on public land but rather, private property, and are in excellent condition. This will be a single day shoot and I’m going with a group of people from Yavapai College. Hopefully I’ll learn more in a group than when traveling alone. Also in October I am going to re-visit Grapevine Canyon in Nevada. This is a heavily-vandalized site and I will be making ‘forensic’ type photos to document the damage. I’ll also be looking for undamaged petroglyphs that I didn’t find the last time I was there.

Look for another report after photography at Art Rock Ranch and Grapevine Canyon.

Finally a shameless plea for funding. If there’s anyone you know who might support this project please share my GoFundMe page with them! I need your help to stay ahead of deregulation that could endanger all these sites!

Thank you for your support!!!!!!
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