Wyoming is a natural nirvana as a canvas for world-class photography, and nobody has a vision through his viewfinder quite like Pinedale’s Dave Bell. His stunning Cowboy State landscapes, views and vistas are works of art.
His work will be featured in a public exhibition at the Sublette County Library in January.
“Visual Phenomenon” will feature 36 photos taken by Bell throughout Wyoming on a theme that’s personal for him.
“I wanted to create a show that highlights images that I've taken of ‘astro-events’ — clouds, lightning, the moon and rainbows,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “I think there's got to be something for everybody,”
The Ones In The Million
Bell has been a prolific photographer for decades, with more than 1 million photos on his hard drives. “Visual Phenomena” will showcase a couple dozen of his best and personal favorites.
“We've got some wonderful shots of the Milky Way in Sublette County, bright and beautiful over trees and landscapes,” he said. “We've got some gorgeous cloud images. I've said for many years that we get the best clouds in Sublette County — lightning, of course. Last year was a banner year for lightning. It was just incredible.”
The show will include Bell’s “most famous image” of light pillars towering over Pinedale. Each photo is printed on a 16-by-24-inch metal print, which will be available to buy.
“They're pretty cool,” he said. “I think that people will enjoy them.”
His Own Agent
Bell has done several similar shows at the Sublette County Library and other locations over the years. How does he manage to get so many chances to showcase his work?
The simple answer is he creates his own opportunities. While Bell’s work is revered by many through previous shows and social media, the public art exhibitions are entirely on his volution.
“It's my own idea,” he said. “For photographers to get out there, you’ve got to do things like this to highlight and showcase your work. Because of my work in Sublette County and involvement with Pinedale Online and Cowboy State Daily, people know who I am. They'll want to show up out of curiosity and what's new.”
Since it’s Bell’s idea, it’s also at his expense. Selling the metal prints of his photos will help recoup some costs, but he admits putting together a show can cost a lot of time and money.
“It's a lot of work, and it's a lot of expense. When you print 24 metal prints, you've got a pretty good amount of money in it,” he said.
In Bell’s experience, the key to a successful show is to go above and beyond. This show also includes an artist’s reception on Jan. 10 and a signing of his book, “23: The Place We Call Home.” It’s a perfect opportunity for anyone who received the book as a Christmas gift to meet and chat with the author.
Bell said the social aspect of an art show should never be underestimated.
“You can't underscore the fact that people like to see each other to visit and catch up, especially after the holidays,” he said. “In the past, we’ve had a nice crowd there. We all have to visit and talk about how life's treating us.”
If the time and expense of putting together a show weren’t worth it, Bell wouldn’t keep putting them on. After years of photography and increasing his reputation, he sees the shows as an invaluable tool to get eyes on his work.
“I recommend it to any photographer if they can figure out how to do it in a cost-effective manner that really showcases their talent,” he said.
“Visual Phenomena” opens Jan. 8 at the Sublette County Library in Pinedale, where it will hang through Jan. 27.
Andrew Rossi can be reached at email@example.com.