Those of us who live on the east side of the Washington State Cascade Mountains know that there is more to the Pacific Northwest than the city of Seattle.
“Oh, it rains all the time over there,” outsiders comment. “And people throw fish at you in the waterfront marketplace.”
Thanks to master photographer John Clement of Kennewick, WA, the rest of the region is exposed — no pun intended — to those unfamiliar with one of the most uniquely beautiful areas of the world, the rest of the Pacific Northwest. It is as varied as it is vast, embodied by its mighty mountains — Rainier, St. Helens, Adams, Hood — meadows, fields, rural roads, waterways, and drylands.
And Clement captures it all.
“My studio is the Eastern Washington landscape and its weather, which I have been photographing since 1970,” Clement says.
It’s odd how the smallest decisions can make the biggest impact. During Clement’s senior year at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, WA, where he double majored in geology and cultural geography, John needed an elective class to round out his schedule, and chose photography. Borrowing cameras from two friends, Clement shot local scenes including barns in the Kittitas Valley, and was encouraged by one of his instructors who saw potential in John’s artistic eye.
After graduation, a job opportunity was offered in photography, doing pictorial church directories in the eastern part of the U.S. Because many of the churches he visited — in a territory that reached from Texas to New York — were located in rural areas, John spent his spare time capturing the landscapes and their people.
“One of the frequent comments I hear about my images is that they remind the viewer of a place or past experience they had when they were younger,” Clement says. “They start their conversation with, ‘this reminds me of . . .’ and then share their story of why this image is meaningful to them.”
Returning to the Pacific Northwest in 1974, John worked for Battelle Northwest Laboratories as lead photographer, documenting research and production at the company’s 17 scientific departments. In 1980, he decided to devote his skills full time to landscape photography, and since then, “The Lord has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams,” Clement says.
“I believe that God has given everyone a gift, and that he wants us to use our gifts for the benefit of those around us.
“My gift is the art of seeing his creation in a way that will inspire people to recognize who he is and want to know more.”
Clement, who holds a Master of Photography degree from the Professional Photographers of America, has won more than 65 regional, national, and international awards for his work, and one of his images, “Red Dawn,” hangs in the International Hall of Fame of Photography. Four of his prints were accepted into the Washington State University Museum of Art, and 17 murals of his Eastern Washington landscapes are installed in the Seattle Seahawk Stadium. How apt.
Corporate purchasers of John’s work include Swedish Hospital, Battelle Research and Development, Dade Moeller & Associations, Westinghouse, McGregor Company, and Lamb Weston. Clement and writer Richard Scheurman have published six books featuring Clement’s photography.
“I enjoy the landscape because of its diversity, its everchanging colors, light, and the quiet peace it brings to me when I’m out capturing God’s creation.”
Because of that light — which is most striking in the early morning or around evening’s gloam — capturing the right image involves getting up very very early, or staying out rather late. In viewing Clement’s work, one is conscious that the geology degree didn’t go to waste, at all, because John’s eye is open to the color, textures, lines, form, and patterns of the world around him.
“When you look at the images, don’t just glance,” Clement says. “Look.
“Absorb the colors, lines, textures and subject, then ask yourself, ‘What am I really seeing — a moment in time never to be repeated . . .
“Hopefully, your emotions are stirred, and the images warm your soul.”
Clement’s panoramic photographs are featured at Wenaha Gallery’s Art Event, with his show running from May 12 through May 31, 2014 at the downtown historic gallery, 219 East Main, Dayton, WA. An Artist’s Reception is scheduled for Saturday, May 24 from 10:30 to 1:30 at the gallery. Refreshments will be served.
Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online.
Wenaha Gallery, located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington, is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists. Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail email@example.com. Gallery Website: www.wenaha.com
Read more about Art Event, our celebration of Pacific Northwest Artists, here.
This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.