“Picture Perfect”

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One of the true joys of my 25 years teaching at the art college was my chance to work along side wonderful artists. I had never met any before I worked there, and I really enjoyed their idiosyncrasies and talents. I worked with a majority of the faculty for at least 15 years, and many I worked with for the entire time I taught. In the next few posts, I will share stories of a few of these colleagues, but sticking to my promise to only include photos of those no longer living so as not to invade their privacy.

Terry Toedtemeier, pictured above pointing out, taught photography. Terry’s work can be seen at the web site of the Portland Art Museum’s online archive of Terry’s photography. He majored in geology as an undergraduate, and it was his love of the Columbia River Gorge that provided much of his inspiration. He and John Laursen co-authored a book “Wild Beauty” of the Gorge, a compilation of photos taken there over a hundred years.  In a sad twist, Terry died of a massive heart attack at a book signing of that collection.

He had a rambling way of talking, and it was often impossible to figure out exactly what he was saying. It never really mattered, however, as he inspired his students and encouraged precision in their darkroom techniques. Terry was old school all the way, as you can see in his gelatin silver prints.

My favorite anecdote from Terry involved his taking a long time to find a perfect place to look down for a panoramic view of the Columbia River from a perch in the Gorge. When he located the spot, he looked behind him and found an ancient pictograph on the rock he was leaning against. Clearly he was not the first to find the ideal vantage spot, he told me. And he felt connected to those who had inhabited and loved the Gorge before him.

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