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'Butterflies to Blackbirds' shares photographer's passion for flight
Photography exhibit on display through Sept. 23 at Yuba-Sutter Regional Arts Council Gallery
'From Butterflies to Blackbirds'
TIMES: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; through Sept. 23
WHERE: Yuba-Sutter Regional Arts Council Gallery, 630 E St., Marysville
CALL: 742-ARTS (2787)
Jet aircraft were photographer Brian Shul's first passion.
"When I first had pilot training in 1970, I was already quite enamored with jet aircraft, and before I ever got my wings, I carried a little Kodak Instamatic camera in my flightsuit pocket," Shul said. "Not that I had much opportunity to use the camera then, but right from the very beginning, airplanes were my first photography subject."
Now retired from a 20-year career in the United States Air Force, during which he was a fighter pilot in the Vietnam War and also flew the iconic SR-71 Blackbird, Shul has spent decades honing his talent behind the lens, both in the air and on the ground, and has authored several critically acclaimed aviation books, including "Blue Angels: A Portrait of Gold," "Summer Thunder," "The Untouchables" and "Sled Driver: Flying the World's Fastest Jet."
It's little wonder, then, that Shul is fascinated by things that fly, an allure that is apparent in his collection of winged creatures that includes jet aircraft captured during his earlier years — and now, mainly fowl and butterflies.
A sampling of Shul's extensive collection, "From Butterflies to Blackbirds," is on display through Sept. 23 at the Yuba-Sutter Regional Arts Council Gallery in Marysville.
The name of his YSRAC exhibit is a play on words, Shul said, although it accurately represents his body of work — there are many butterflies and many birds, but also many shots of the SR-71 Blackbird that played such an influential role in Shul's career as a pilot.
Shul has also spent his recent years renovating the former Scott's Ideal Bakery building, at 308 D St. in Marysville, to become the brick-and-mortar realization of his dream to own a photography studio — Gallery One — which already has a virtual home online at sleddriver.com.
"Gallery One is unique in that it's going to be a gallery that incorporates my aviation photography as well as my nature photography," Shul said. "I wanted to have a gallery where I could incorporate all of my photography in one location. It's the wish of all photographers to have a place to show their work — it's nice to have your own gallery, but it's a difficult thing to do. Thus, we have been working on it for four years." Shul's goal is to open Gallery One to the public in early 2012.
"The SR-71 Blackbird is what propelled the gallery to international fame in that we have a very rare collection of SR-71 Blackbird photographs," Shul said. "The heart of my photography initially started in aviation, but unbeknownst to many of my fans, I had been doing nature photography for many, many years as a hobby.
"The gallery will incorporate a very eclectic mix of aviation photography and nature photography," he added. "But although it's an eclectic mix, we've found that the fans have taken to it well. There are people who really love our aviation stuff and will always come to see that and buy our books — and then there are people who really like our pelicans and ducks and tigers and other things."
Although Gallery One will display Shul's work exclusively, "We will have photo contests, and sometimes we may do some things with the schools. We may do some special events," he said.
Shul expects students will enjoy his gallery because "it will be a little interactive in that they may learn something about the birds. We'll have books on the tables about birds or about the animals. It's just a little bit of a learning thing to introduce people to a more intimate view of the natural world — not a science museum, but just one man's view of the natural world, one man's photography.
"It's kind of a bold undertaking," Shul added, "but it's just a dream I've had to have a place where I could share my work with the public in a way that was large enough to display it."
Shul hopes the public will attend his YSRAC exhibit. "It's an opportunity for people to come out and gain a unique and intimate view of the natural world around them — and see some other things along the way that they may find interesting. I encourage them just to view the daily miracle that is occurring around us in the very real world of nature," he said.
CONTACT Susan Benitez at 749-4773.