John Wimberley: Gestures to the Spirit—Celebrating Fifty Years of Photography

Exhibit Dates:

Wednesday, Jan. 6 to Saturday, Feb. 6

Artist Reception (Member Event):

Friday, Jan. 8 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm

2nd Saturday Opening (General Public):

Saturday, Jan. 9 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Viewpoint is delighted to present an extraordinary retrospective exhibit celebrating fifty years of photography by John Wimberley.

Wimberley says that selecting the images to include in this exhibit wasn’t an easy task. “Rather than choose one image from each year, or those fifty which have been most well-received, I opted for an eclectic collection of what I consider to be my best work. My criterion of selection was based primarily on each photograph’s quality of relationship between physical description and spiritual resonance.”

“In terms of a human life, fifty years is a considerable period of time,” he says. “In terms of a spiritual journey, it’s both long and extremely short. As I look back over the decades since I first purchased a camera on April 6, 1966, that duality becomes very striking. Photography has lost absolutely none of its excitement and gratification: whenever I photograph is still like the very first time. I have decades of experience yet am forever a beginner.”

“This experience of time as possessing two seemingly incompatible aspects was one of the clues that my photography had a spiritual basis. It existed in linear time, yet it transcended time by not being subject to fatigue or entropy. That affirmed that it originated primarily from the Self. Or to use a more common phrase, photography was my soul-work. On the basis of that affirmation, I have consistently, without reservation, given my all to the medium.”

“As I move past the half-century mark, I feel that I’ve only just begun to make photographs. From experience I know that the potential of the medium is inexhaustible and, if I live long enough, there will be a one-century retrospective in the year 2065. I hope to see you there.”

John Wimberley is a completely self-taught photographer, having never taken a workshop or studied with anyone. He used books, experimentation, and persistence to teach himself to expose negatives, develop, and print photographs.

From 1981 to 1982, Wimberley produced a series of figure photographs with a female friend in a swimming pool. Wimberley’s photograph titled Descending Angel is a part of this sequence. Since 1981, Wimberley has sold more than 700 signed prints of this photograph, making it one of the most successful images in the modern photography art market.

During the 1990s Wimberley was drawn to photograph abandoned mining camps in Nevada. He visited and photographed dozens of the old camps, compiling in a body of work that explores tangible remnants of human greed in the landscape.

In 2000, Wimberley began photographing Native American rock art at remote sites in the Great Basin and Mojave Desert. Many of these sites are thousands of years old. They record the visions and dreams of ancient Native Americans. In 2009, some of this work was shown in an exhibit at Viewpoint. In 2010, Wimberley received the Oliver Award from the American Rock Art Research Association for his self-published book titled “Evidence of Magic.”

Along the way, Wimberley has experimented extensively with film developers. In 1969, he began working with the forgotten photographic developing agent pyrogallol. He eventually perfected a formula called “WD2D” (Wimberley’s Developer No. 2, version D), which can be obtained from Photographers’ Formulary.