"Art of Photography" show and sale features staff members' photography

Gil Gonzalez was 12 years old when he developed film from some of his first photographs in his father’s house.

The pictures showed the lives of Gonzalez and his cousins when they played outside, from their new kite to their pets.

That was when Gonzalez became hooked on photography. Gonzalez is the head of photographic resources at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums, a position he has held for nearly 37 years.

“The picture is always talking back to you,” Gonzalez said. “Pictures tell you whether you took an interesting photo, a funny photo, a challenging editorial image.”

Gonzalez’s photography of Spiegel Grove and other topics throughout his career will be on display starting Feb. 2 in the museum auditorium during the special exhibit and print sale “The Art of Photography.”

The exhibit will open Feb. 2 with Gonzalez’s work. Then on May 1, Lake Erie wildlife and nature photography by Kristina Smith, Hayes Presidential Library & Museums marketing/communications manager, will be added to the exhibit.

Prints of both photographers’ work will be available for sale in the Museum Store.

Gonzalez and Smith will also give a program about their photography from 4 to 6 p.m. May 1 in the museum auditorium. Admission is free, and refreshments will be served.

The “Art of Photography” will be on display through July 1. Admission is free.

“The Art of Photography” is sponsored by The Fremont Company and Walmart – Fremont. 

Gonzalez’s photos will include some of his early work, photos of Spiegel Grove and other personal works that do not involve the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums.

 “I wanted to pull photos that are favorites but also photos that teach something about the art and craft of photography,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve taken many photos here at Spiegel Grove, and many of them were not used for one reason or another.

“I wanted to share images that people have never seen before, images that I hope will surprise and delight our visitors.”

Smith’s photos focus on her excursions at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and other birding hotspots along the Lake Erie shore. A lifelong nature enthusiast, Smith began taking photos of birds, frogs, turtles and other creatures she spotted on birding trips and general nature walks.

Her photos entering the exhibit coincide with the Biggest Week in American Birding, which brings thousands of people to Northwest Ohio during spring migration of warblers and other birds through the Lake Erie marshes. 

“These photos were taken at some of the best spots for birding in the world,” Smith said. “It’s amazing that we have these migratory flyways in our back yard. I hope that people enjoy seeing these photos and that they inspire them to visit and support our natural areas and these species.”

Her photos include shots of birds, frogs, raccoons and other wildlife and nature scenes.

“These photos were taken at some of my favorite places,” she said. “I hope that they bring attention to these tremendous and important natural resources.”

These photos tie in well with President Rutherford and First Lady Lucy Hayes’ interests. Gonzalez has taken numerous picturesque shots of the Hayeses’ beloved Spiegel Grove and chronicled history. He also has shared his knowledge and talents by teaching numerous people the art of photography.

The Hayeses also loved nature. Spiegel Grove is a state park that is home to or visited by various kinds of wildlife, including squirrels, birds and deer.

The Hayes Presidential Library & Museums is America’s first presidential library and the forerunner for the federal presidential library system. It is partially funded by the state of Ohio and affiliated with the Ohio History Connection. The Hayes Presidential Library & Museums is located at Spiegel Grove at the corner of Hayes and Buckland avenues.

For information, call 419-332-2081, or visit rbhayes.org. Like HPLM on Facebook at fb.me/rbhayespres and follow on Twitter at @rbhayespres and Instagram at rbhayespres.