Joseph Donovan – wall space @ Utina

Tonight I am in Seattle to celebrate one of our newest artists in wall space’s program of creative artists, Joseph Donovan. Hanging his beautiful work at City Catering Company, I am excited to showcase this quiet, thoughtful approach to the landscape. While Joe isn’t with us tonight, his work surrounds us with vision, clarity and a bit of contemplation. I am very specific about my landscapes, I need to be moved, or somehow connected to the vision of the artist, and Joe’s work gives me a quiet space to participate in his landscapes. His softly toned images have a distinct sharpness, yet an enduring grace and essence to them, that most days I find intangible to discuss. His images are those where words aren’t enough. I believe there is a bit of magic in these photographs.

Please join us tonight in Seattle at City Catering Company for a happy hour of great food, a tip of the beverage and some stunning work from Joseph Donovan.

About To Witness –

I start with the experience of a place before I get to the photograph. I start with reverence and work my way from there. Somehow it helps to feel a bit humbled at the beginning. To stand simply before a vision without the certainty, or artistry, of what I can make of it behind my camera. Clarity will come in time.


I’ve established some small rituals to help connect me to a particular scene. My eyes and private self needs time and texture to settle organically into a place. I’ll pick up a stone or acorn or seashell or leaf – some keepsake to help focus and ground me. I will slow my sense of time to a more natural rhythm and patiently allow awareness to infuse me. The Irish philosopher John O’Donohue says that perception is “the adventure of knowing” and I’ve now lived that truth. Beauty is luminous but I have to prepare myself to feel its presence. I aim to be fully present before I take a photograph.


What I’m seeking to perceive is the essence of a place, its vital source. But at best I’m just here to witness the mystery, not explain it. I remain actively surprised by how the land can be a repository of memory and metaphor. I am here in ways I didn’t expect to find.  How long have I been that lone tree, weathered to the hill, knowingly in communion with the coming storm.In these solitary places, I find hardship and loss, hope and love.

About Joe Donovan –
Personal and poignant, the photographs of Joseph Donovan use the raw clay of the natural environment to craft, in Ansel Adams’s phrase, ‘the poetry of the real’. Joseph finds his way to contemplative spaces – passages and outlooks and points of departure – open to portent and possibility. The hard plain grandeur in many of his scenes is marked with humility and humanity. The viewer feels alone in these lost spaces but still connected to a greater good. The slow beauty in the work becomes a call to awareness for others to hear.


Joseph studied photography and print-making with such influential educators a George de Wolfe, Charles Cramer and John Sexton.  For his own studio work, Donovan has developed strict expectations for the quality and expressive power of each print. He is keen to make each photograph an immersive translation of his actual experience of a place.  “I want the final print to feel the force of what I saw which means that every detail matters”.
Donovan is influenced by the long transcendentalist tradition in American landscape art. He admires the way Frederic Church, Minor White and Andrew Wyeth – among others – let loose the spirit in the land. He builds on this energy, infusing it with his own private faiths, memories and emotions.


Joseph Donovan lives in Sunfish Lake, Minnesota near to St. Paul. When working in his print studio, Donovan is happy for an audience of pine trees, wild birds, some deer and the ever restless weather.
For all this, he says, “I am grateful”.

509 Dexter Avenue North, Seattle, Washington 98104

to RSVP – contact us at gallery (at) wall-spacegallery (dot) com

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