Carl Skoog

A few years back, I had the good fortune to hook up with the late photographer (1959–2005) on a gorgeous autumn weekend climb of Glacier Peak. There are some family connections, too, but I basically knew him from his work—commercial photography for REI, Marmot, Patagonia, cover images for Skiing magazine, Couloir, and Backcountry. Skoog, who died in a ski mountaineering fall last October in Argentina, was too much the craftsman to push the product into the lens. Instead, when a bus rolled down First Avenue emblazoned with his image of some madman telemarking down Rainier's Mowich Face, you'd think, "Holy shit! I've got to go skiing!" The notion of buying a new parka or skis was secondary to the scenery. Descending off Glacier (where he shot some MSR tent, as I recall), we talked about the hardships of being a freelance lensman. But it was clear he wasn't in it for the money. The mountains came first, as demonstrated by this exhibition of a dozen-plus large-format photos, most in color. There are a few jolts of artificial fabrics and logos amid the snow, rock, and clouds, but it's hard to identify what item of gear is being featured. The alpine environment always dominates: orange-needled larch framing Prusik Peak in the Enchantments; red alpenglow in the North Cascades; clouds boiling up the sunny flank of Mount Fury just before a skier—his brother Lowell, as it happens—is about to plunge in. Skoog's interest in the shapes of pure, weather-sculpted terrain is also evident in his snow-free work, like the erosion-whorled red desert rock of the Southwest. The show is called "Carl Skoog: Backcountry Visionary," and his lasting vision will inspire more than a few trips into those same pristine regions. Sam Day Studio, 79 S. Main St., 206-714-6586, www.samday.com, www.carlskoog.com. Noon-5 p.m. Sat., or by appointment. Ends May 30.

 
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