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A few weeks back I made a trip up to the headwaters of the Metolius River. My purpose was to spend some time with photographer Gary Albertson and revisit Camp Sherman. I hadn't been there for many years.
The Metolius River begins its journey at the base of Black Butte, where the foothills of the Cascade Range and Green Ridge form a natural basin. The fingers of scattered mountain springs, like those of an awakening child, slowly stretch out in their search to join other waters. It's a wild river, gentle in it's birth, but ferocious in its journey.
Meandering through Camp Sherman the curent gathers volume and speed as tributaries join the flowing waters. Guided between basalt cliffs carved out over millennia, the river cascades nearly a thousand feet in its sixteen mile journey to reach Lake Billy Chinook. It is truly one of Oregon's wild rivers.
The name of the Metolius River was a translation from it's Indian name, Matoles. The word had two meanings; Light Colored Salmon or Smelly Water.
Millons of salmon venutred upstream annually to lay their eggs. Once spawned they would begin the process of death. As they lost their color they became pale and pasty. The name of the Metolius River was a translation from it's Indian name, Matoles. The word had two meanings; Light Colored Salmon or Smelly Water.
Once spawned they would begin the process to die. As they lost their color they became pale and pasty. Rotting fish littered the riverbanks, fertilizing the trees and contining the cycle of life.
Dispatches from the Dry Side
Culture, Curiosity and Character
about the Oregon East of the Cascade Mountain Range
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Gary Albertson in Camp Sherman
Gary Albertson was featured in an exhibition at the Photographic Image Gallery called Six
Shooters On The Mountain, dealing with the eruption of Mt St. Helens.
I spent the day with him where he lives at Camp Sherman, in the foothills of the Cacade Mountain Range.
I wanted to connect with Gary, catch up, and enjoy the solitude of Camp Sherman before the Summer crowd hit. It's a popular resort in Oregon, for photographing, fishing, hiking and long walks on the forest paths.
Over his career Gary has been a writer, graphic artist, portrait painter, has done photographiy assignments all over the world and owned an art gallery in Sisters, Oregon. Now, at sixty years old, he is suffering from Pigment Dispersion Glaucoma, an inherited disease. He is going blind.
As we spent the day on the river and in the forest, I soon realized that he was exhibiting what could only be described as Extreme Posivity. He refuses to look at his condition as being a reason to keep him from moving forward.
"My first entry into the artworld was working as a graphic designer, then I broke away and started my own graphic design business. I dealt with alot of photographers and realized that mabye I could do that, so I did." That served him well and before long he was getting assignments. "Then one day I was in Sisters and happened by a gallery and frame studio. It was owned by an Italian couple who were getting ready to retire. In 2001 I bought the business, I taught myself to frame and before long my photography was filling most of the walls."
In 2010 Gary's eye problems were becoming evident and so he sold the Gallery. He was living in Camp Sherman at the time and continued to photograph. "I've been enjoying my photographic journey into sightlesness."
He told me a favorite story about a three-legged dog. "In awhle the dog doesn't know he has a handicap and he just runs with the other dogs." It's a great lesson to look at it that way.
"For me, still at 72, just as I've been since a child, getting lost in nature, being captured in mesmerizing shapes,color and movement and sounds, and only using every ounce of my mind to capture it and share it. My memory has very much improved from my blindness."
Everybody in Camp Sherman knows Gary and loves him. When I got the the Camp Sherman store I asked the clerk if she knew someone named Gary Albertson. Three people answered me back. He can be seen riding in his elecric quad all over.
"I have a zen way of photographicing." Gary said. "You must let it capture you before you can capture it." He describes his approach like that of using a geiger counter. "I just sweep what's before me, sweep-sweep-sweep, until the clicks come together."
"I have even given serious thought that someday, as my eyesight fails beyond my ability to photogarph, to find a writing partnership my word skills. Gotta find that book "If you Want to write" by Brenda Ueland...it was quite insprational for my photographic passions many years ago."
Gary loves giving talks at a local gallery, and loves to inspire people with "what is in me." He describes it as a state of pleasure.
What's next for Gary? He will keep photographicing until his sight leaves him and is thinking about turning to writing. Once the Pandemic is over he is hoping to be able to attend a workshop in South America with a very well known author.