Ansel Adams: Portfolio Four: What Majestic Word

02.20.20 Art Exhibition featuring Ansel Adams and Robert Beulteman

We invite you to come see the captivating beauty of nature as immortalized by two strikingly different artists, both of whom have supported Sempervirens Fund. This is the second exhibition of work by these two artists together.

The first is world-renowned photographer Ansel Adams, whose black-and-white images are instantly recognizable. The second, fine art photographer Robert Buelteman, uses high-frequency, high-voltage electricity and different light sources to capture the beauty and energy of plants onto film. Selected works of each will be at a unique showing  February 21 – March 14, 2020 at Slate Gallery in Oakland.

Both Adams and Buelteman have unique histories with Sempervirens Fund. Adams served on an early Sempervirens Fund advisory committee. He created two portfolios, or selections of his works, as both a memorial to Silicon Valley entrepreneur Russell Varian and to help raise funds to fulfill Varian’s dream of protecting the land that is now Castle Rock State Park. A longtime volunteer and supporter of Sempervirens Fund, Buelteman has photographed several properties owned by the land trust. These are represented in his portfolio, Californiana.

In 1959, Silicon Valley founder Russell Varian secured an option to buy the property that would become Castle Rock – a place he had often hiked with Ansel Adams, a close friend. Varian died unexpectedly before he could donate the land to California State Parks, but his widow, Dorothy Varian, leveraged Sempervirens Fund as a trust to acquire the lands for conservation.

In 1963, Ansel Adams produced Portfolio Four, which he subtitled “What Majestic Word, In Memory of Russell Varian.” The series of images, which includes a photograph from Castle Rock State Park, is accompanied by poetry written by Varian and his father, the poet John Varian. Ansel Adams gifted three of these portfolios to Dorothy Varian.

In her estate, Dorothy gifted these portfolios to Sempervirens Fund to help support the future of the park. Sempervirens Fund sold one copy of Portfolio Four in 2018 to help fund the Robert C. Kirkwood Entrance, a state-of-the-art portal to Castle Rock State Park that includes a 90-car parking lot with environmentally sensitive permeable paving, electric car charging stations, six restrooms with flush toilets, a drinking water station, a 60-seat amphitheater, a native plants garden, accessible pathways and picnic areas, WiFi connectivity, and a downloadable app with trail maps. The entrance was opened to the public on August 1, 2019.

Slate Gallery


February 21 – March 14, 2020

Monday – Friday: 10 am – 5 pm

Saturday: 12 pm – 5 pm

Oakland Art Murmur First Fridays: March 6, 2020: 6 pm – 9 pm