Robert Adams -“Summer Nights Walking” (2009)

By Doug Rickard, ASX, April 2010

As the summer night falls and the crickets chirp, the sky slightly aglow from the street lamps, the stillness comes. And the stillness of the summer dark lays over the land like a warm blanket surrounding a child and it becomes a paradox. The blanket gives the impression of security as you button up inside your little American house, yet the feeling of the falling darkness brings tension and pulls at the blanket, near the edges, reminding you of the things that make children hide under the covers at night.

This feeling of delicacy and menace, warm air and wonder and the distant sound coming of far off imaginary thunder. The night breeze flows through your hair as darkness comes toward you. You put away the toys on the lawn and lock up all of the doors. These are feelings that are buried deep inside all of us, the child in us. In our heads are vaults of long ago memories and the “magic” of the child. But now as a grown up, the magic is mixed with the dominating awareness of the “lion” and the invading anxieties of the world now seen through eyes of the adult.




In Summer Nights Walking, Robert Adams taps fiercely into our feelings and memories and he does it with his deft and recognizable, delicate touch. The book layout is a visual tour from the streets of the Longmont, Colorado suburbs to the top of the surrounding mountains, the views looking into windows and down into the weeds, into car headlights and far above the glowing lights of a new frontier town way off down below. Adams presence disappears from the scene and all one can feel is alone, a voyeur view into your own walk and into the things of the night. This walk is not only Adams walk but yours, in your minds eye. From dusk to the dark of night we are taken and the shadows and beauty become one with the stillness.

Robert Adams refers to a William Blake prayer that deftly describes this paradox…

“The splendor of the Creation but also the reality of the Wolf and the Lion.”

Yes, the beauty is undeniable and the danger in the shadows and the anxiety of the dark, also undeniable. Our world is precious, filled with awe and so much wonder yet menace abounds, and in the night time there sometimes comes murder and thunder…

Human existence in shadows and light, our joy and our fear, underneath at the core.

A square little gem.



Summer Nights, Walking. 
Photographs by Robert Adams.
Aperture/Yale University Art Galler, New York, 2009. 84 pp., 70 tritone illustrations, 8¾x8½”. 



All images © copyright the photographer and/or publisher

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