Splendor in the Grass
by The Nature Conservancy of Iowa
Photography Exhibit of Iowa Prairies
The Iowa Nature Conservancy joined with Ankeny
photographer Gary D. Tonhouse in 1997 to spread the word on Iowa's endangered prairies by
assisting with the exhibition of his Iowa Prairies show.
The show consists of
50 stunning cibachrome prints of Iowa's
native flora and fauna. The photos were on exhibit for the spring 1997 opening of the new
Prairie Learning Center at Walnut Creek National Wildlife Refuge. Partial
funding for printing and
mounting the exhibit was provided by Taylor Ball of Iowa and the subcontractors and
suppliers that built the center.
In 1997 the exhibit traveled some 2,000 miles, including
shows at DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge, Grand View College, Smulekoff's in Cedar
Rapids and Kirkendall Public Library in Ankeny. In 1998, the exhibit will visited
Indianola High School, The Principal Financial Group, Lakes Art Center and Plymouth County
Historical Museum and the University of Northern Iowa Museum.
The Nature Conservancy is assisting with the traveling
exhibit as part of our educational efforts to make more Iowans aware of their
irreplaceable prairie heritage.
We also will be hosting some opening receptions in conjunction with the exhibit where Tonhouse and representatives from the Conservancy
will be present.
Tonhouse, general superintendent for Taylor
Ball in Des Moines, has been exploring and photographing the tallgrass prairies of Iowa in his spare
time for the past 12 years. His ability to bring emotions, feeling and life to his images
makes this an important exhibit to see. His work is driven by a deep passion for the
natural world and his desire to preserve a precious heritage - not just with photographs,
but by motivating his viewers to get active in conservation efforts.
Tonhouse expresses his passion for the prairie in words as
well as pictures. "Try to envision what Iowa must have been like more than 150 years
ago. It's early morning, a low-hanging veil of fog drifts silently over the top of a sea
of grasses. The early morning sunrise casts its warm glow on colorful, fragrant flowers as
far as the eye and mind can envision. Bobolinks and meadowlarks greet the early morning
glow with their wondrous songs. It's a new day in Iowa ... Iowa was once covered with this
scene. Twenty million acres, and today only 1/10 of 1% of those acres remain."
It is hoped that viewers of the exhibit will be filled
with the same passion and desire to preserve Iowa's prairies that Tonhouse was as he
photographed these images, and that they'll actively support the Conservancy's efforts.
Many of the images were photographed at preserves owned
by The Nature Conservancy. During 1998, several workshops will be jointly sponsored by
Tonhouse and the Conservancy using our preserves as places to explore and photograph the
wonders of nature.
For more information, call the Conservancy office at (515) 244-5044 or
contact Gary D.Tonhouse at: Reflective
I would like to thank The
Nature Conservancy, Gary Rieners and Claudia Cackler
for letting me reprint this article.
(c) 1998, The Nature
For Iowa Prairies Splendor in the Grass Exhibit schedule click HERE.
For Endangered Land Photography Workshops click HERE.