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Featured Artist: Charles W. Guilder

Editor’s Note: I was fortunate to bump into photographer and traveler, Charles Guildner. I discovered that he is lives in the Puget Sound region not too far from me. Mr. Guildner’s focus on the rural heartland and ranchers is fascinating and worth sharing. You can learn much more about Charles Guildner by going to his website Impressions in Silver. Enjoy! -Steve

The Heartland – Lives of Tradition
In 1990, I began photographing the landscape and the lives of the people of the rural heartland, primarily spanning Montana, Wyoming, Colorado & Nebraska. Born and raised in Nebraska, drawn to my Roots, this project has developed into a quest to record and express my vision of the many Lives of Tradition that I find as I travel and network across the country.

Black and White Photography by Charles W. GuilderDescription: At the Haythorn Ranch, near Arthur, NE, an important component of ranch life is participation by the children of the cowboys. At an early age, these “Young Cowboys” began learning skills of riding and roping. They have become competent and contribute to the daily work of the ranch. From left to right are Sam Smith, J.C. Piepho, Bud Martin, Mitch Armour, Clifford Smith, Sage Haythorn, and Cord Haythorn.

The core of this project is finding and recording ordinary people who are living and working in some ways that have changed little since the settling of the heartland of this country. This has brought me to the study of farmers and ranchers and small rural communities where the people are living these lives of tradition. Many of these lifestyles are shrinking in numbers, so it is interesting to find people whose lives seem grounded in tradition, who find their vitality in long standing ways of living. How long many of these traditional ways will continue is uncertain. But the spirit I have found among these people suggests many will continue.

Black and White Photography by Charles W. GuilderDescription: Glenna and Earl own and operate a cattle ranch near Avon, Montana in the quietly beautiful Nevada Creek valley. Lush, gravity irrigated grasslands produce hay for winter feeding and surrounding mountain pasture provides summer grazing. While being both elegant and gracious, Glenna is the quintessential ranch woman, both homemaking and working right along with the men in all of the cattle raising activities.

Recently I have developed an interest in the still existing culture of the Rural School House. Since the spring of 2002, I have visited over 40 of these remote, rural schools, developing a body of work relating to the lives and traditions of this vanishing culture.

I travel in my pickup truck camper, visiting previous and new locations, following leads, and networking to find new people and places where traditions are sustained. I photograph almost daily for three to four months, beginning in April and returning home in July. The rest of the year is spent working with the new negatives, making museum quality, exhibition prints, corresponding with new leads and making preparations for going on the road again.

Black and White Photography by Charles W. Guilder

Each of my images is authentic and real, without setups, without contrivance, resulting in an accurate record of the unique lives and situations I find. A brief narrative is written about each of my images and accompanies the finished print.

You can find more of Charles W. Guilder’s fine photography and travels at Impressions in Silver.

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