HIGHLAND PARK – After photographing Park Avenue Beach, Nelson Armour partnered with Evanston photographer Ted Glasoe to create “Surface Tension: Beauty and Fragility in Lake Michigan”, an exhibit that will open Saturday, January 21 at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago.
The 35-year Highland Park resident met Glasoe during a workshop at a photography festival. “Ted mentioned that he did a lot of his work on Lake Michigan and I said that I thought the lake was big enough for at least two photographers,” quipped Armour about the beginning of their collaboration. “The ‘Surface Tension’ project began about four years ago and we are quite proud to have our inaugural exhibit at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.”
Armour said he wanted to pair one of Glasoe’s “beautiful and iconic images of the lake with one of his images that in “some ways are beautiful, but also disturbing. We thought about the economy of beauty (in coming up with the exhibit’s title). Glasoe’s photographs represent the beauty aspects, while my photographs represent the more fragile aspects of the lake.”
Armour explained that the photographs were done in two parts beginning with the base layer – a photograph of Park Avenue Beach. “Each of my photographs was taken at Park Avenue Beach, but then due to various environmental issues surrounding Lake Michigan I worked on these images to bring out important issues by layering in other photographs,” he said. For example, Armour took photographs at a BP oil refinery in Indiana, as well as a coal burning power plant in Waukegan. “Some photographs have multiple images in the photograph, but the basic photograph is taken at Park Avenue Beach,” he added.
Armour has been so taken with Park Avenue Beach that he joined the now-defunct Park Avenue Task Force to help keep the beach open. “I think a lot of positive things have occurred,” he said. “The test will be whether or not the long-term plans that evolved will resolve the open issues, but for the past year the City of Highland Park and Park District came through and we’re grateful for that.”
In addition to photographing Park Avenue Beach at all different seasons, weather conditions and times of day throughout the year, Armour also enjoys sailing. He said the beach is “mesmerizing and it changes very significantly in terms of colors and the emotions of the lake.”
Armour hasn’t been down to the newly renovated Rosewood Beach, as he likes the idea of going back to one place and photographing it different ways.
The “Surface Tension: Beauty and Fragility in Lake Michigan” exhibit begins on Saturday, January 21 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and there will be an Artists’ Opening Walk and Talk on February 4 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m., where Armour and Glasoe (at 2:30 p.m.) will have an opening conversation and answer questions about their photographs.
The event runs through April 16 at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N Cannon Drive, Chicago – a block north of Lincoln Park Zoo. Armour highlighted some of the featured programs:
- On February 23, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. there will be an evening panel discussion with scientists from the Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum and a panel of experts from the Alliance for the Great Lakes and an organization called Sea Grant will be organizing a fair in collaboration with a photographic artistic exhibit.
- Armour and Glasoe will present a three-part Photographic Workshop on Landscape Photography March 28, April 1 and April 5. Two classroom sessions will be held at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on Tuesday March 28 and Wednesday April 5 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m at the Nature Museum. Attendees will also participate in a hands-on session at the Magic Hedge Bird Sanctuary at Montrose Harbor at sunrise, Saturday April 1 from 5:45 to 7:45 a.m.
- On April 8, Armour and Glasoe will have the Artists’ Closing Walk and Talk from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. and the discussion will begin at 2:30 p.m.
Armour said he’s excited about the unique opportunity to be doing this project in conjunction with the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, which is considered a “premier nature museum” in the country. He’s thrilled to continue to pursue his interest in photography, which began before he was a teenager.
Armour grew up in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. He said his dad set up a darkroom, but never did anything with it. Then a special gift and a faraway journey changed everything. “Between my sophomore and junior year, I went to Israel and my father lent me his 35 millimeter camera and I never looked back,” said Armour. “Throughout my life I’ve been involved in photography in many ways and it’s been a passion of mine.” He’s taught photography classes and workshops.
Armour studied at the University of Wisconsin (BA), the Harvard Graduate School of Education (MAT) and Loyola University of Chicago (EdD).
Both Armour and Glasoe have exhibited nationally and internationally.
Glasoe, a Minnesota native “studied acting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and moved to Chicago soon after graduation. He was immediately taken with the city’s architectural and natural beauty thanks to its proximity to Lake Michigan. This appreciation sparked an interest in exploring the relationship between the two through an artistic lens,” according to a press release.
“I’ve been in exhibits, but we came up with all these ideas to make “Surface Tension: Beauty and Fragility in Lake Michigan” not only a good visual experience, but a good educational experience,” said Armour. “Hopefully people will say oh, what’s this about as they compare Ted’s photographs and my photographs.”
Following the Nature Museum, the “Surface Tension” exhibit will be shown in May and June at Art NXT Level (in Bridgeport) and in July at the Evanston Art Center.
For more information visit: naturemuseum.org.