Jones, a photographer, curator and photography educator, left New York's LIGHT Gallery, of which he was a founder, in 1975. Although it was a loss for LIGHT, Tucson reaped the benefits of Jones' move out west. In collaboration with other UA members and supporters, including John D. Schaefer and a certain photographer named Ansel Adams, Jones founded the UA's Center for Creative Photography in late 1975. His vision was to add to the CCP's archives in order to foster continued growth and to bring CCP's holdings in line with new developments and changes in the world of art photography. Additionally, he hoped to infuse the center with the wisdom and creativity of living art photographers.
"The Center for Creative Photography," says Doug Nickel, current director of the institution, "was built on a unique vision of archiving the entire careers of seminal photographers, and providing a venue for the research and dissemination of their life works. Some 28 years later, it continues to perform the vital work charted for it by its founding director, Harold Jones."
In 1977, Jones accepted a position as assistant professor and coordinator of the photography program in the UA School of Art. He is also guest curator of the center's current exhibition, In The Center of Things: A Tribute to Harold Jones, which features his work and that of colleagues from the past and the present. Artists shown include Judith Golden, Barbara Kasten, W. Eugene Smith, Todd Walker, Jack Welpott and current faculty members Joe Labate, Carol Flax, Kenneth Shorr and Joyan Sanders. In the neighboring gallery, an exhibition of works from the center's collection features 54 photographers, all of whom were shown at LIGHT Gallery. Featured are Paul Caponigro, Mark Cohen, Linda Connor, Robert Frank, Emmet Gowin, Robert Heinecken, Eikoh Hosoe, André Kertész, Barbara Morgan, Bea Nettles and Minor White.
Jones' history at the Center for Creative Photography is a long, illustrious one. His own collection at the center includes 96 prints, correspondence, records and other ephemera from his entire career. Prominent in the collection is University: a Photographic Inquiry (1984-1985), from the project Universe City. The two-volume maquette contains 44 gelatin silver prints and three color prints.
"I have been fortunate," says Jones, "that in my life, photography always seemed to open in front of me. Someone was always asking me to do incredible jobs, often ventures that were to happen for the first time. I must credit this path to a remarkable string of good fortune, and I always have loved photography."
The timing of this tribute exhibition is not a coincidence: In May 2005, Jones will be retiring as a professor of art. In addition to the show, a series of five public programs and events throughout April will highlight the work and life experiences of Jones and other colleagues.
Friday, April 2, features an open reception and discussion by Douglas Nickel, CCP's new director. Nickel will describe the institution's founding, its years under Harold Jones and his own vision for the future. Nickel himself has quite a history in photography galleries. He was curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, hosting exhibitions such as Dreaming In Pictures: The Photography of Lewis Carroll (2002) and Carleton Watkins: The Art of Perception (1999). Nickel is also a seasoned author of books, reviews and articles, including publications on Francis Frith, Roland Barthes, William Henry Fox Talbot, Clarence White, Walker Evans and others. The reception begins at 5 p.m., with the program following at 6 p.m.
Lectures will be presented every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. through April 29, beginning with Odyssey, a Life in Photography by Jack Welpott on Thursday, April 8. All programs and events are free to the public.