Friday, October 18, 2013

Hillerman Country Exhibition: Featuring the Photographs of Don Strel

On October 4th I had the opportunity to go to the Tony Hillman Country Exhibition. When I got into the law school I was amazed by the beautiful environment, the greenery, and the high end culture. There was unique live music being played. A wonderful woman walked me into the forum and guided me to some refreshments and finger foods. I could tell that the event was professional and I immediately felt underdressed. There had shrimp, an array of crackers and dips, and mini cakes. The food was outstanding but that was far from the best part of the event.

I walked around and perused the artwork, Don Strel is indeed a talented photographer. His works took my breath away and I was amazed by his attention to the details and the timing of the photographs. In one of the photographs it looked as if the cloud was smeared across the sky in the distance because it was raining. The concept of clouds falling is one of my favorite and I wished I had the 400 dollars to buy the photo. Sadly, I didn't have the money for it. Nor will I for a while probably, however I get to keep a mini version in the pamphlet. Another one of my favorites was "Condors, Grand Canyon" the photograph caught three condors flying in a circular motion over something. However, the photograph had the sky as the background so from that perspective you could not tell just what. I especially liked that the photograph was in black and white. I feel that black and white photography can bring out many of the details that we would have missed if it was in color.

After looking at all the pieces of art the event coordinator, Sherri Burr, introduced and spoke of the purpose of the event. Anne Hillerman and Don Strel spoke to the people who came for the event. Out of the people who talked Don Strel struck me the most because he was so genuinely touched that he was brought to tears. I felt myself tearing up at his thanks and I don't know what about his speech touched me so much. Possibly the raw expression of emotion that he had to hand off the microphone because he was too choked up for words is what got me, but I immediately had a lot of respect for him.

After the talk I had a chance to talk to Don Strel and I told him how much I admired his work and that my favorite was "Condors, Grand Canyon." After I told him this he told me about how tour buses come to the Grand Canyon and tons of people get out and the condors circle hoping that one of the people will drop dead. I don't know why but I found this really funny, and I liked him even more as a person. I know that years from now I will remember Don Strel and his amazing photography and great personality.

After meeting Don Strel I met Anne Hillerman and I spoke to her about how I am now in the "Meet the Authors" class. She was excited and welcoming, and especially excited to be coming to meet our class. I look forward to getting to know her more as an author when we will meet her later this semester. She signed my pamphlet since I had forgotten my copy of "Spider Woman's Daughter" which had come in the mail the night before. I hope to get a signature from her when she comes and to discuss her work.

At the exhibit I learned that a lot of people consider Anne Hillerman's work to be a continuation of her father's work. It is interesting, because I never thought about how it would be to be the daughter of an author. She said that she grew up with the characters from Tony Hillerman's books just as if they were her uncles, aunts, and friends. Characters became reality for her and she had no problem writing about them just as if they were her own. Now that Tony Hillerman has passed away I felt that everybody at the event was nostalgic and the atmosphere became melancholic. People talked about how Tony was such a great guy and I felt regret at the fact that I never had the chance to meet him. But I guess that is how it is with many authors we admire, they died before our time. However, they live on through their works and words.

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