Nationally Recognized Artist Clyde Butcher to Show at International College's Falciglia Art Gallery

The stark, natural beauty of Florida's swamps, rivers, uplands and bays are showcased during the latest exhibit at International College’s Falciglia Art Gallery in North Naples. The exhibit, which runs from Nov. 8 to Jan. 3, will include about 30 pieces featuring Butcher’s award-winning black and white images of Florida’s ecosystems.

Butcher, a nationally known landscape photographer and preservationist, has been photographing hidden, untouched areas of Florida for more than 35 years. His work has been recognized by organizations such as the Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Preserve. The exhibit is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. A free "Meet the Artist" reception will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15 at the College.

Butcher plans to present a video during the Artist Reception. The video reveals his concept of the state of the environment. A portion of the video will take viewers on a tour of an Everglades swamp walk. Discussion will follow the video.

International College is one of several Colleges Butcher has shown his work at this year. This summer, his work was displayed at Florida State University’s gallery. Butcher explains the reason behind his collaboration with schools of higher education.

“We can’t be flat thinkers and most people are flat thinkers. I want to get people to think round,” Butcher said. “It’s not just what we do in Florida that affects us, but what people in the entire world do that affects all of us. It would be nice if we could define sustainability. We need everybody to define that, so we can have a sustainable world.”

Melody Hainsworth, Ph.D., Vice President of Information Resources and Services, said Butcher’s art is a logical fit with the College’s Environmental Management Masters Degree Program, which teaches students management skills, as well as sustainability and the relationships between businesses, the economy and the environment.

“Mr. Butcher does not just take photos. He represents the photos he takes and brings a message about ecology and the wetlands. In turn, that message is taught in our environmental management classes,” Hainsworth said.

Environmental Management student Justin McBride said he is honored that an artist of Butcher’s caliber is coming to his College.

“Clyde Butcher’s work is a glimpse into areas of Florida not seen by many. He forces people to question their role in sustainability of wetlands, swamps and other ecosystems. If people can identify with the photographs, they will be more apt to recognize what they have to lose and will pick up the cause of sustainability,” said McBride, a senior environmental specialist for the Department of Natural Resources Marine Division in Lee County. “Environment is what Clyde Buther’s work is about. It heightens awareness of the ecosystems in which we live. Equally, the Environmental Management Program is exposing the ideas of sustainability and the role of sustainability in arenas not introduced before.”

Kris Thoemke, Ph.D., chair of the environmental management program, is looking forward to a continued relationship with Butcher after the gallery showing.

“Clyde Butcher’s interest in sustainability is expressed through artistic work. My interest in sustainability is expressed through the Environmental Management Masters program,” Thoemke said. “Hopefully, this visit forms a nucleus of future projects down the line.”

Butcher uses an 8"x10", 11"x14" or 12"x20" view camera to capture Florida’s images. The large format camera allows him to elaborate detail and textures that distinguish the landscape. The photos range in size from 11"x14" to 5'x7,’ and are printed on fiber base paper, and selenium toned for archival preservation.

Some of Butcher’s recent projects include work for the State's "Save Our Rivers" program, the South Florida Water Management District, the Bureau of Submerged Lands and Preserves, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary; Everglades National Park, The Nature Conservancy, Rocky Mountain National Park, and The Wilderness Society. His work can also be seen in various books and PBS documentaries.

In 1998, Butcher received the highest award the state can give a private citizen: The Artist Hall of Fame Award. He was also chosen as "Person of the Week" on the ABC Peter Jennings evening news program, and received the Heartland Community Service Award for his work educating Floridians’ about the beauty of their state.

Ultimately, education is what Butcher strives for through his art.

“I hope the public gets a sense that Florida is a unique place in the world. It’s not just a dismal swamp. It’s not just beaches and Disney World. It’s much more than that,” Butcher said. “Florida is a healthy, breathing ecosystem with crystal clean water and endless beauty.
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