Arts and Entertainment

Vashon Theatre to host benefit for photographer John Anderson

John Anderson’s photograph of Mount Baker, “Looking Back,” will be raffled off as part of “An Evening of Earnest Frivolity,” an event at Vashon Theatre that is being held to help the well-known Island photographer with medical expenses. At upper left, a recent photo by Carolyn Amick.   - Courtesy photo
John Anderson’s photograph of Mount Baker, “Looking Back,” will be raffled off as part of “An Evening of Earnest Frivolity,” an event at Vashon Theatre that is being held to help the well-known Island photographer with medical expenses. At upper left, a recent photo by Carolyn Amick.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Islanders will gather next week to salute John Anderson, an award-winning landscape photographer known for his striking portraits of the Pacific Northwest’s wild beaches, craggy peaks and dense forests.

“An Evening of Earnest Frivolity,” to be held next Wednesday at Vashon Theatre, will be a rare opportunity to see another side of Anderson’s artistry — two films he made in the 1980s. A third short film in the program stars Anderson.

The benefit — a night that will also include desserts and sparkling cider — was organized by a cadre of Islanders as a way to help Anderson pay medical expenses from his battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Anderson, 51, was recently dropped from his health insurance coverage and now must pay for a regime of medication that costs upwards of $800 every month.

Anderson’s career, which has included a slew of exhibitions and awards since his diagnosis with Parkinson’s in 2003, has literally taken him to mountaintops.

For Anderson, a love of nature came first, followed by photography.

“I wanted to be outside in the place I loved,” Anderson recently said in an interview.

He first picked up a camera in his teens, and soon after that, he followed a connection to meet and study with the famed photographer Ansel Adams.

Anderson recalled Adams’ gentle tutelage.

“He was very friendly, and he would critique your work in such a way — telling stories about himself and so forth — that only later, you’d be driving home and realize, ‘oh, my prints are too dark.’”

Anderson was also mentored by the photographer Brett Weston.

In the early 1980s, he began to make films that went on to debut at the Cannes and Sundance film festivals.

Two of those films, “Avalon” and “Fatal if Swallowed,” will be screened at the benefit.

“Avalon,” a 15th-century adventure saga that was a selection at Sundance in 1988, has recently been recut, and the new version will have its premiere at next Wednesday’s event.

Anderson also recently published “Landscape and Desire,” an art book of his photographs. In the book’s introduction, Anderson sums up what he hopes viewers find in his work.

“Yes, the wild can be found in the human heart and psyche precisely because of where our heart and psyche evolved,” Anderson wrote. “The wilderness is our mind’s primordial sea; our true home. If these photographs can in some small way return us to that world; if they can remind us of what we long for; if they can awaken desire, then they will have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.”

“An Evening of Earnest Frivolity” takes place at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 28, at Vashon Theatre. Tickets, $25, are on sale at The Monkey Tree, Vashon Theatre, Books by the Way and www.johnandersonbenefit.eventbrite.com. Raffle tickets for a print of an Anderson photograph are $10 and are also for sale at those locations. Contributions can be made to the John Anderson Donation Account at Chase Bank. Visit www.johnandersonphotography.com for more information about the artist. Interviews and clips from Anderson’s films can be found at www.vimeo.com/channels/thestateofjohnanderson.

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