Opening Reception & Artist’s Talk: Thursday, September 14 from 6pm to 8pm
Maryland Milestones/Anacostia Trails Heritage Area Inc. presents Connecting River Milestones – Maryland’s and District of Columbia’s Waterways, a solo show with Bruce McNeil, an award-winning environmental fine arts photographer from September 6 to October 15 in the new Maryland Milestones Heritage Center, located within the Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center building at 4318 Gallatin Street, Hyattsville, MD 20781. This show includes distinct views of the Anacostia River and tributaries, Patuxent River and Potomac River as part of a continuum of documenting the Anacostia River and many of the 13 tributaries for over 20 years. These new and exhibited works showcase the diversity of the water environments in different places and communities that spans centuries ago.
This is the first exhibit in the newly developed Maryland Milestones Heritage Center art space. “Bruce’s work premiering here is an opportunity to highlight the importance of the natural environment and conservation efforts throughout the Heritage Area and connect that environment to art,” said Aaron Marcavitch, Executive Director of Maryland Milestones/Anacostia Trails Heritage Area Inc. “We look forward to presenting works that connect residents and visitors with our heritage – history, art, culture, and nature – now and in the future.”
McNeil has received local and national attention for his work that captures the stunning artistic elegance of the Anacostia River and other waterways in the region and throughout the world. His artistic advocacy on behalf of the Anacostia River has influenced environmental and social changes, prompting the Washington Examiner and the Washington Post to give him the title “DC River Man” and “Washington’s River Man.”
Selected images highlights the birthplace of Anacostia River in Sandy Spring, and several of the thirteen tributaries of Anacostia including Jug Bay Natural Area and Patuxent River in Upper Marlboro, MD, Anacostia Watershed in Bladensburg, MD, Northeast Branch Tributary in Prince George’s County, Anacostia River and a glimpse of Potomac River located in the nation’s capital. Besides, Anacostia, Patuxent and Potomac are historic rivers, cleaner and much larger. Also, Sandy Spring, MD is noted for being an Underground Railroad destination for enslaved Africans.
Since 2011, McNeil first exhibited images on the Anacostia River are on view as a permanent art installation in the George Washington House, the headquarters of Anacostia Watershed Society in the historic district Bladensburg, MD. Other achievements are conservation work as for the U.S. Forest Service, continuum exhibitions on Anacostia River at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, first major show on the river, nationwide and Sandy Spring Museum, his 16th solo exhibition, speaker, panelist and climate photography workshop instructor for the District Department of Energy and Environment.
“Literally, Bladensburg is one of the few places that Anacostia becomes immortal of contentious events and priceless milestones including the War of 1812 that shaped the United States of America at the loss of what was once a major and thriving river,” adds McNeil. Bladensburg was a busy tobacco and inspection port, shipping out flour and tobacco, until the river silted up by 1830s due to extensive soil erosion from upland tobacco farming. From steering any ocean-going vessels due to its depth of forty feet to grounding the smallest boats, this was the beginning of what Anacostia became a lost wilderness, until the late 1990s,” continues McNeil.
Bruce McNeil’s most recent photography projects about the Anacostia River consider the length its waters travel, from its origin in Sandy Spring, MD to the point where it meets the Potomac River. His works balance abstracted and documentary views that draw attention to both environmental concerns and the natural beauty of the waterway.
Bruce McNeil Artist’s Statement
Some people may look at the Anacostia River and see only dirty water. As an east of the river resident, I have come to know this body of water intimately. For 20-years plus, I explore, research, and photograph the surrounding communities, natural landscapes and waterways of the, nation’s capital, Anacostia River and most of the 13 tributaries flowing through Montgomery and Prince George’s counties located in Maryland. By using my camera, I provide a different point of view. A wide-range of styles of photography are presented to evoke emotions. Each separate waterway offers a unique perspective as the sublime beauty and style of natural photography. These images are portrayed as a compendium, “Anacostia River Photography.”
With subtle embellishment, I create painterly photographs that are my unique, signature, abstract expressionism. Sometimes creating the most accurate visual portrait of an environmental location comes from knowing the place: knowing when there will be just the right amount of lighting to blend the elements into one composition. My photography captures the brilliance of the light–its reflection and interaction on all things.
In the past, I had photographed historic sites, including the Cape Coast Castles, along the Atlantic Ocean, Hudson River (New York), Saint Laurent River (Canada) and the Yangtze River in China (before the dam).
My mission has been to produce a fine arts archive of my original photography that enlightens the public while encouraging policymakers to establish and maintain conservation programs. My images have stimulated a renaissance that provokes dialogue and real engagement about historic rivers.
Maryland Milestones Heritage Center is located at 4318 Gallatin Street, Hyattsville, MD. For more information on Bruce McNeil, the history of the exhibited waterways, historic sites, calendar of events, partnerships, and more, visit www.marylandmilestones.org.