100 Years of California Through Her Lens

A new exhibit at the Post Ranch Inn explores the photographic work of California women.

Visitors to The Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur treasure both its breathtaking forest setting and impeccable hospitality and amenities. Art lovers have another reason to celebrate this popular destination thanks to the addition to the Post Gallery. Opened in May 2016, the gallery offers an array of black and white photography, sculptures and fine jewelry. Featured artists include Big Sur photographer Kodiak Greenwood and metal artist Trevor Meeker. A Sculpture Garden offers a peaceful refuge with works by Robert Holmes, Greg Hawthorne and James Hunolt.

The current exhibition She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not features photographs by 13 women who have inspired social change throughout their careers as fine art photographers. Between them, they have over 500 years of creating visual experiences for millions of viewers. How they connect with those viewers varies according to their own styles and techniques, but the photographs in this collection all explore the same theme: men through the lens.

The exhibition title, She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not, loosely references the Zupf Blume (plucking flower) oracle that originated in the 15th century, and alludes to the many and varied outcomes the process predicts. Similarly, photography offers limitless permutations through the creative process. Another reason for the title is the fact that the cycle of taking photographs is one of repetition: an act that expresses a vision, then produces an outcome, and then you do it again and again. We see, we click, we look, we repeat, and with this spiral of addictive actions over dozens of years, we create volumes of work—as did the women featured in this exhibition, who made their own timeline of visual record. The idea for this project generated from the long history of male photographers that has dominated the West Coast tradition. Images of women by men have been shown in countless venues for over a century.

“Through the She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not exhibition, I want to redress this imbalance by creating a structure around the idea of women photographing men,” shares curator Carol Henry. “Many women photographers have inspired me through their dedication to the medium. I was curious about how we, as women photographers, had achieved success and how we integrated men into our work. The images featured here represent the work of tenacious, determined, groundbreaking women who have built remarkable careers. Though most have experienced sexism within their chosen field, the creative cycle captured their spirit and … obstacles be damned!”

Beginning with Imogen Cunningham’s photographs from 1915, the exhibit is a timeline of success for women in the field. Included are the original works of artists such as Dorothea Lange, Joyce Tenneson and National Geographic photographer Jodi Cobb. Many serve as classical examples of Calfornia’s west coast tradition in photography; others like Flor Garduño of Mexico City and Holly Roberts of Santa Fe bring a contemporary vision to the exhibition.

The exhibit will be on view at the Post Gallery through March 1. For more information, click here.