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Online Exclusive - Posted August 1, 2012 8:35 a.m.
photos by Drew Belle Zerby
"42nd & Lexington Ave. (traffic), 1965," is one of many Scott Hyde pictures featured in the Amarillo Museum of Art's exhibit, "Making Pictures," opening Aug. 2.

Pictures through the Ages

Amarillo Museum of Art showcases veteran photographer Scott Hyde’s collection of pictures

“I like to make pictures. It has no value as an object. It only has value as an image or a picture.”

Those are the words of photographer Scott Hyde. Nearly a year after we published that quote in our annual arts issue, the Amarillo Museum of Art is devoting a show entirely to Scott and his career that has stretched across more than half a century. Aptly titled “Making Pictures,” the exhibit, which opened Aug. 2 and will run through Sept. 30, will display more than 150 pictures Scott has created, from strangers traipsing around the streets of New York City to his daughter cleaning her toenails on the bathroom floor.

“I liked that term, pictures, because there is no other generic word for pictures. But it’s out of style now,” Scott huffs, swatting his hand as if toward an invisible fly.

Scott doesn’t like to call attention to himself or his pictures. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Scott has worked as a commercial and artistic photographer through the years. Before moving to Amarillo in 1987, Scott’s pictures made appearances in House & Garden and Science and Technology. One of his pictures became the album cover of Miles Davis’ Quiet Nights, which will be on display at the show.

When asked why he wanted to open a show of his pictures, his response was blunt and dry: “I didn’t want to; they wanted to,” he mutters, referring to AMoA.

“I’ve always liked Scott’s stuff so I took it to the exhibitions committee, and they approved it,” says curator Alex Gregory, who approached Scott this past March.

Although Scott’s pieces have been displayed throughout town over the years, his most recent show took place at the IC Gallery in the fall of 2003 and consisted of 88 pictures in a one-room gallery.

As Scott nimbly sorts through a stack of pictures, he starts snickering about how people are usually “put off” by his shows. “I jam the walls,” he bellows. “You know. You’ve seen my Ephemeral Museum,” he points out, referring to a montage of vintage Harper’s Bazaar spreads and copies of abstract images tacked on the wall of his dining room.

“My pictures are really weird,” Scott blandly states. “[AMoA] has some wonderful ideas for the exhibition that would never have occurred to me.”

The left hand of Andy Warhol, whom he knew before “he was famous” while Scott worked as an illustrator for Condé Nast, and the figure of sculptor Claes Oldenburg faded into the background of an elaborate montage are just a few of the renowned names that grace Scott’s collection of pictures.

Scott is never without a camera. Today that constant companion is a Canon Powershot A580, its battery door taped shut with an aged piece of tape, safely secured in a worn, plastic zipper bag rather than a conventional camera case.

Scott’s process is quite intricate. Usually shooting in black and white, he takes various pictures taken at different places and prints them in color to produce a lithograph, which is the combination of off-set printing and photographs.

While riding the bus in New York City in the 1970s, Scott captured images from street corner to street corner to merge them for a single picture. “Sabrett,” for example, is a montage of three hot dog stands with blue-and-orange-striped umbrellas taken at two different street corners. Scott used an orange filter image printed in blue and the blue filter image is printed in orange.

One of Scott’s pictures in particular stands out among the rest due to the time that passed between the two shots. In 1952, Scott took a photo of downtown New York City from the viewpoint of the roof of his apartment building. Eight years later, he returned to the same spot and set up his camera exactly the way he had nearly 10 years ago, and photographed the present scene.

The end result is a union of the two pictures, with an image of blue buildings representing the New York bombarded with “big dumb box” buildings as opposed to the architecture depicted in the picture taken eight years prior.

Scott doesn’t kill a picture before it’s even been born, he says. He allows a photo to take shape before he nixes it. “I don’t edit my impulse to shoot pictures, you see,” Scott begins, “Because artists by and large have a ferocious internal critic who’s probably tougher than external critics because this critic will destroy pictures before they’re even made. But I’ve always tried not to edit my impulse to shoot pictures… I try not to judge them beforehand.”

Recalling a prediction from the director of the Chicago Art Institute in 1927, Scott broaches how so many people are now versed in photography. “[The director] made the remark that, ‘Today we are all literate in language. But the day will come when we are all literate in photography.’ And it’s here.”

However, Scott doesn’t resent photographers snapping pictures on their smart phones and digital cameras. Irritation is the opposite of what he feels.

“I’m not in competition with any of those people shooting pictures,” Scott professes, his face crinkling as he cracks a charming, close-lipped smile. “And they will be more literate and appreciative of my pictures having tried it, having done it.”

What: Scott Hyde: Making Pictures
When: Opening Aug. 2; Exhibition Aug. 3-Sept. 30
Where: Amarillo Museum of Art 2200 S. Van Buren, 371-5050

by Drew Belle Zerby

After graduating from LSU in 2009, Drew Belle worked as a page designer in north Louisiana until moving to Amarillo and joining AGN Media in late 2010. In her spare time, she loves to read, travel and spout out useless movie trivia.
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