Trunk Show: BOB HOWER

Louisville Kentucky's Olmstead-designed park system is a green gem.

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CITY OF TREES
The Trees: Louisville, KY's Olmsted-designed parks and parkways
The Threat: Highway building and severe weather Read more about Bob Hower’s photos
Bob Hower

Hower has received an NEA fellowship for his documentary work, and his prints are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among others. He is a founding partner of Quadrant Photography, a commercial studio in Jeffersonville, Indiana, across the Ohio River from his home in Louisville.

Bob Hower’s favorite subject is the industrial landscape of the so-called Rust Belt, which was already in decline when he started shooting it in the early 1980s. That predilection makes him seem an unlikely choice to photograph trees. By his own admission, Hower once derided what he called “the School of Rocks and Trees” in photography. Then, several years ago, he was commissioned to do photography for Louisville’s City of Parks initiative, a plan to set aside thousands of acres of land around a nearby watershed. “To add to the difficulty for me, nature in these parts doesn’t offer the kinds of big landscapes you’d find out West,” says Hower. “It’s more modest and understated.” Yet Hower’s strategy was simple: “Nothing to do but go walk in the woods and keep your eyes open,” as he puts it.

Hower took another walk when asked to make photographs of Louisville’s first park system. A network of three large parks connected by six parkways, it was designed at the end of the 19th century by the great Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who also envisaged Manhattan’s iconic Central Park. After Olmsted retired, his sons and company carried on, designing another 15 parks for Louisville. The system remained largely untouched, except by visitors, for a century.

Then came the expansion of the interstate highway system and a series of severe storms—forces that toppled many of the mature hardwoods that provide the shady canopy that is the parks’ hallmark. Hower’s images of the Louisville parks capture that ongoing double threat, both natural (a storm-blasted stump) and human (graffiti carved into an aging tree trunk). But they also conjure the dazzling things that big trees do to light, which is, after all, the favorite substance of photographers. .

trees22.jpg
CITY OF TREES
The Trees: Louisville, KY's Olmsted-designed parks and parkways
The Threat: Highway building and severe weather Read more about Bob Hower’s photos
Bob Hower
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CITY OF TREES
The Trees: Louisville, KY's Olmsted-designed parks and parkways.
The Threat: Highway building and severe weather. Read more about Bob Hower’s photos.
Bob Hower
trees24.jpg
CITY OF TREES
The Trees: Louisville, KY's Olmsted-designed parks and parkways.
The Threat: Highway building and severe weather. Read more about Bob Hower’s photos.
Bob Hower
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PRETTY IN THE CITY
The Trees: Japanese flowering cherries at Newark, NJ's Branch Brook Park
The Threat: Urban development and poor maintenance Read more about Yong Hee Kim’s photos
Yong Hee Kim
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PRETTY IN THE CITY
The Trees: Japanese flowering cherries at Newark, NJ's Branch Brook Park.
The Threat: Urban development and poor maintenance. Read more about Yong Hee Kim’s photos.
Yong Hee Kim
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PRETTY IN THE CITY
The Trees: Japanese flowering cherries at Newark, NJ's Branch Brook Park.
The Threat: Urban development and poor maintenance. Read more about Yong Hee Kim’s photos.
Yong Hee Kim
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AMAZING GRACE
The Trees: The American elms of East Hampton, NY
The Threat: Dutch elm disease Read more about Garie Waltzer’s photos
Garie Waltzer
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AMAZING GRACE
The Trees: The American elms of East Hampton, NY.
The Threat: Dutch elm disease. Read more about Garie Waltzer’s photos.
Garie Waltzer
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AMAZING GRACE
The Trees: The American elms of East Hampton, NY.
The Threat: Dutch elm disease. Read more about Garie Waltzer’s photos.
Garie Waltzer
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FOREST CATHEDRAL
The Trees:The old-growth forest of the abandoned Arborland tree Farm, Milliken, CO.
The Threat: Urban development, habitat destruction. Read more about Jay Dickman’s photos.
Jay Dickman
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FOREST CATHEDRAL
The Trees:The old-growth forest of the abandoned Arborland tree Farm, Milliken, CO.
The Threat: Urban development, habitat destruction. Read more about Jay Dickman’s photos.
Jay Dickman
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FOREST CATHEDRAL
The Trees:The old-growth forest of the abandoned Arborland tree Farm, Milliken, CO
The Threat: Urban development, habitat destruction Read more about Jay Dickman’s photo.
Jay Dickman
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FOREST CATHEDRAL
The Trees:The old-growth forest of the abandoned Arborland tree Farm, Milliken, CO.
The Threat: Urban development, habitat destruction. Read more about Jay Dickman’s photos.
Jay Dickman
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WISE ELDER
The Tree: A historic tulip poplar at Washington, DC's Tudor Place Historic House and Garden.
The Threat: The tree's age, which makes it more vulnerable to weather and environmental changes. Read more about Amy Bedik’s photos__.
Amy Bedik
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WISE ELDER
The Tree: A historic tulip poplar at Washington, DC's Tudor Place Historic House and Garden.
The Threat: The tree's age, which makes it more vulnerable to weather and environmental changes. Read more about Amy Bedik’s photos.
Amy Bedik
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WISE ELDER
The Tree: A historic tulip poplar at Washington, DC's Tudor Place Historic House and Garden
The Threat: The tree's age, which makes it more vulnerable to weather and environmental changes Read more about Amy Bedik’s photos__.
Amy Bedik
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ANCIENT MARKS
The Trees: The boxed pines of Weymouth Heights, in NC.
The Threat: Development, fire suppression. Read more about Frank Hunter’s photos.
Frank Hunter
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ANCIENT MARKS
The Trees: The boxed pines of Weymouth Heights, in NC
The Threat: Development, fire suppression Read more about Frank Hunter’s photos
Frank Hunter
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ANCIENT MARKS
The Trees: The boxed pines of Weymouth Heights, in NC.
The Threat: Development, fire suppression. Read more about Frank Hunter’s photos.
Frank Hunter
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ROAD WARRIORS
The Trees: Three massive bark-cloth ficuses in San Juan, P.R.
The Threat: A major highway passing directly under the trees' canopy Read more about Juan A. Pons’ photos__.
Juan A. Pons
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ROAD WARRIORS
The Trees: Three massive bark-cloth ficuses in San Juan, P.R.
The Threat: A major highway passing directly under the trees' canopy. Read more about Juan A. Pons’ photos.
Juan A. Pons
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MALL WALKING
The Trees: Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Boston, MA
The Threat: Heavy use and Dutch elm disease Read more about James Sheldon’s photos
James Sheldon
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MALL WALKING
The Trees: Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Boston, MA.
The Threat: Heavy use and Dutch elm disease. Read more about James Sheldon’s photos.
James Sheldon
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GARDEN TREE
The Trees: The Cummer Oak, a live oak at Jacksonville, Florida's Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
The Threat: Age and weather Read more about Larry Nighswander’s photos
Larry Nighswander
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GARDEN TREE
The Trees: The Cummer Oak, a live oak at Jacksonville, Florida's Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens.
The Threat: Age and weather. Read more about Larry Nighswander’s photos
Larry Nighswander
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WISE ELDER
The Tree: A historic tulip poplar at Washington, DC's Tudor Place Historic House and Garden
The Threat: The tree's age, which makes it more vulnerable to weather and environmental changes Read more about Amy Bedik’s photos
Barbara Bosworth
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WISE ELDER
The Tree: A historic tulip poplar at Washington, DC's Tudor Place Historic House and Garden.
The Threat: The tree's age, which makes it more vulnerable to weather and environmental changes. Read more about Amy Bedik’s photos.
Barbara Bosworth
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FOR THE AGES
The Tree: a massive black oak at the Katewood estate, Bratenahl, OH.
The Threat: Age and weather. Read more about Barbara Bosworth’s photos__.
Barbara Bosworth
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THE FIG TREE
** **The Trees:
The Aoyama Tree, a Moreton Bay fig growing in a Los Angeles parking lot
The Threat: THE lack of water and nutrients due to asphalt paving; overpruning Read more about Robert Glenn Ketchum’s photos
Robert Glenn Ketchum
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THE FIG TREE
** **The Trees:
The Aoyama Tree, a Moreton Bay fig growing in a Los Angeles parking lot.
The Threat: THE lack of water and nutrients due to asphalt paving; overpruning. Read more about Robert Glenn Ketchum’s photos
Robert Glenn Ketchum
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THE FIG TREE
** **The Trees:
The Aoyama Tree, a Moreton Bay fig growing in a Los Angeles parking lot.
The Threat: THE lack of water and nutrients due to asphalt paving; overpruning. Read more about Robert Glenn Ketchum’s photos
Robert Glenn Ketchum
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THE FIG TREE
** **The Trees:
The Aoyama Tree, a Moreton Bay fig growing in a Los Angeles parking lot.
The Threat: THE lack of water and nutrients due to asphalt paving; overpruning. Read more about Robert Glenn Ketchum’s photos
Robert Glenn Ketchum
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TEST OF TIME
The Trees: A 100-year-old row of American sycamores in Ames, Iowa.
The Threat: Infrastructure development; flooding. Read more about Dave Jordano's photos.
Dave Jordano
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TEST OF TIME
The Trees: A 100-year-old row of American sycamores in Ames, Iowa
The Threat: Infrastructure development; flooding Read more about Dave Jordano’s photos
Dave Jordano
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