My wide-brimmed hat sits on the top shelf of a closet just inside the front door of my home in downtown Harrisonburg, Virginia. I use it on occasion during the winter, but it comes out in early spring and travels with me between Chesapeake Bay and Alaska during much of the summer and into late fall.
Harrisonburg is where I work as Director of the Sawhill Gallery at James Madison University. My home is located in the Old Town neighborhood in the heart of this burgeoning city of 50,000 people. Being a university town and living but three blocks from campus, I experience the energy associated with a campus of 20,000 students and the constant activity of artistic and scientific presentations and performances. It is a nourishing environment and a wonderful and most convenient place to live.
Having lived previously for twenty-five years in Alaska, my emotional attachment to the land is greater there than it is here for the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. When I travel to Alaska from Virginia to make new photographs of Alaska's wilderness, I find the first breath of cool Alaskan air exhilarating and refreshing.
The photographic work I do in Alaska is brought back to my studio in Harrisonburg. The studio is a place for reflection on the work I did in America's great north. But a few hours to the east is Chesapeake Bay, where I keep a sailboat. It also serves as a second out-of-the-way home for me, because the sailboat takes me to the most accessible of wilderness areas back east―the ocean―for long periods of solitude and directionless thinking.