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Exhibit highlights wildlife, landscape of South Texas
by Jason Collins
Oct 04, 2012 | 1595 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This Great Horned Owl was photographed by Jimmy Jackson. It is one of many photographs on display at the college.
Jimmy Jackson photo
This Great Horned Owl was photographed by Jimmy Jackson. It is one of many photographs on display at the college. Jimmy Jackson photo
slideshow
This photo of a Texas thistle taken by Al Past is one of the many photographs that will be on exhibit through Oct. 17 at the Simon Michael Art Gallery at CBC.
Al Past photo
This photo of a Texas thistle taken by Al Past is one of the many photographs that will be on exhibit through Oct. 17 at the Simon Michael Art Gallery at CBC. Al Past photo
slideshow
This photo of a black vulture is one of about 60 on display at the Coastal Bend College art gallery. The exhibit of wildlife and nature photography will be up through Oct. 17. 
Robert Benson photo
This photo of a black vulture is one of about 60 on display at the Coastal Bend College art gallery. The exhibit of wildlife and nature photography will be up through Oct. 17. Robert Benson photo
slideshow
One is close and tight on the head of a black vulture.

Another shows the vibrant yellow color of a Bullock’s Oriole.

A third shows the tentacle-like structure of a purple thistle flower.

Artists from throughout the area will have their landscape and wildlife photos on display at Coastal Bend College through Oct. 17. An artists’ reception was held this morning for the exhibit which hangs in the Simon Michael Art Gallery.

Robert Benson, who is one of those coordinating the show, said that he has always been impressed with the quality of the photographers in this area — especially those who specialize in wildlife and landscape.

The idea to highlight them came to him about a year ago almost in passing.

“I just casually mentioned to Jayne Duryea when I saw her in passing on campus, ‘Why don’t you ever do show with nature photography?’”

Well, Duryea, the art instructor at the college, jumped at the chance and volunteered Benson to put it together.

“I didn’t have any choice after that,” he said laughing.

The college has promoted wildlife photography in the past.

They yearly publish a calendar with some of the top wildlife photos from area photographers.

But this is different.

“It just wasn’t as up close and personal like it is to see it in big format hanging in the gallery,” Benson said.

What has really made the exhibit unique is the variety.

“I think it is a nice array of different stye and different subject,” he said.

Locals will recognize some of the regular photographer names like Jimmy Jackson and Sylvia Garcia-Smith. But there are some who people might not know like Cissy Beasley, who Benson said has that natural eye for photography.

More than 60 photographs will be on display, representing many hours of field work by 10 of the best wildlife and nature photographers in the South Texas area.

Shows like this, Benson said, not only promote the art of photography but help people understand just how important it is to preserve the habitat and wildlife of this area.

“People need to experience nature if we are going to save what we have got,” he said.

And it isn’t just the deer, quail and turkeys that need help.

It’s all of the birds, varmints and critters that need help to ensure their survival.

“All of that is what we need to preserve if we are going to pass it along to the younger generations,” he said. “Even if it is just sitting on your back porch and watching birds come to birder feeders...”

Having so many photographers in the area just seems natural considering how people are raised in this part of the world.

“I think it comes from the culture of South Texas,” Benson said. “South Texas has always been about the outdoors, hunting and fishing.

“People raised in that kind of culture very naturally move to photography.”

For those aspiring photographers, exhibits like this can also be learning experiences.

“The nice thing about having a lot of good photographers is it ups your game,” Benson said. “I have been at it 20 years, and only in the last five to seven years have I gotten serious enough to look very carefully at what other photographers are doing.”

He speculated that he isn’t alone either because “everybody’s styles and skill are raised every year.”

For those newcomers in awe of the abilities of these artists, Benson reminded that many have honed their craft for years, having spent many hours in the field.

“One of the things I will mention is that for every image you see hanging here, there are 200 that didn’t make the cut.

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.
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