James Smart has a brilliant knack for capturing the treacherous terrain of the western United States.
The CSUSB professor and Coyote Chronicle faculty advisor had his wonderful works on display over the weekend at the 32nd annual Art for Heaven’s Sake show in Redlands, California.
The art show, held at the Redlands United Church of Christ, features more than 60 artists in the fi elds of painting, ceramics, photography and jewelry. Many of the artists are local, but over the years the art show has showcased exhibits from all across the globe.
Smart, who lives outside of Joshua Tree National Park, draws his inspiration from the harsh and rugged terrain of his spectacular backyard.
“The land is stripped, it’s such a harsh environment,” said Smart, “There’s a certain nakedness to it.”
In addition to Joshua Tree, Smart has traveled all across the western portion of the country, shooting breathtaking photographs as far east as Utah and Idaho.
He also has taken pictures of abandoned movie sets in Amboy, California which were used in old John Wayne fi lms.
Some of his photographs required lots of footwork and manpower. To get a certain shot, Smart and his team once hiked for miles on rough and pathless terrain in the dead of night.
“The challenge is to take something out of the rocks and isolate it for the photograph,” said Smart.
Some of his most prominent pictures capture old, rundown buildings in dusty ghost towns. Although the exteriors look dead, the histories they portray give them new life through Smart’s photographs.
A great number of Smart’s photographs take on a surreal quality. A certain photograph of Spatula Rock looks like it could exist on an extraterrestrial planet.
Many patrons of the art gallery were taken aback by the natural majesty portrayed in Smart’s work. Some mingled around and studied them, while others were inspired to visit these places or reminisce about once being there.
“I was there once,” one art patron said to Smart, “I remember it being the creepiest place in the world, but it looks so nice here.”