“Silent, hot and fierce” is the desert that Willard sought to capture with his camera. It was not enough to set up his equipment alongside roads or by towns, even if he excluded signs of human life from his exposure. Rather, the further removed from everyday life, the closer he felt he captured the living, breathing, spiritual essence of the Southwestern desert landscape. He could be seen on burro or by car traveling ever deeper into the remote areas, both artist and explorer, to be privy to the “Secrets of the Sun”.
Stephen H Willard, who grew up in Corona, CA and lived 1894 to 1966, began traveling to the Palm Springs area in 1914, ever moved by the “wonderland of desert and mountain, canyon and mesa”. Eventually he relocated to the area in 1921/22. He opened a photo studio and gallery in Palm Springs as well as a second one in Mammoth, where he would nip away to escape the summer heat. He photographed prolifically and amassed a collection of thousands of photographs of largely unknown, uninhabited and unvisited areas all around the American Southwest.
His exhibited body of work features photographs taken between 1908 and 1951 and is on display at the Marks Graphics Center. This work has rarely been seen in public. One can see his artistic development throughout his career as the earliest work featured in this exhibit was taken when he was just fourteen. His daughter, Dr Beatrice Willard, donated the collection to the Palm Springs Art Museum in 1999, which includes over 14,000 items from photographs, albums, hand-colored prints, photographic equipment and more.
Palm Springs Art Museum | 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs CA 92262 | 760-322-4800
This contest is open to amateurs and professionals worldwide, so long as the photograph is taken during the time stated in the rules. There will be monthly prizes awarded!