Robert Adams’s photographs have often looked broadly at the idea of place, from photos he made in the expanding suburbs of Denver starting in the 1960s to more recent studies of the ravages of the timber industry in the Northwest. Place becomes personal in “Around the House & Other New Works,” a show opening March 10 at Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco and running until April 23. Adams’s own house in Astoria, Oregon, sits near the top of a hill overlooking the dramatic spot where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, in view of Washington State when the fog allows. In images made there—in his living room and his neighborhood—Adams delivers a bright, peaceful meditation on the pleasures of staying home.
The photographs range from tabletop still lifes to outdoor studies. There is a simple plate of tomatoes, a vase of nasturtium leaves, arrangements of architectural details and handmade objects, studies of the white clapboard house, views from its porch, and images of sky and nearby sea. Sunlight has always been a sort of spiritual force in Adams’s work, transforming housing developments or open prairie into something transcendent, and Adams uses light to the same effect at home. Writes the gallery in a statement, “Periodically shifting to porch or garden, as one might step outside over the course of a day, Adams’s photographs convey appreciation of the nearly imperceptible changes in familiar surroundings: the view of the Columbia River, the play of light on leaves, and most especially the ever-shifting clouds.”