Natural history, hockey history collide

The Oregon Historical Society is presenting two new exhibits that are sure to inspire and intrigue any and all interested in the flavor of local history. The two exhibits, “Ansel Adams: Masterworks” and “Rose City Champions: 100 Years of Hockey,” will provide a mix of art and sports history to enrich the intellects of Oregonians and history buffs alike.

“Many of Oregon’s contemporary photographers and artists have been deeply influenced and inspired by the work of Ansel Adams, so the roots of his creativity are firmly in Oregon’s soil,” said Brian J. Carter, museum director of the OHS.

Anyone who has seen even one of Adams’ landscape photographs can attest to the point that Carter conveys. Beyond creativity and inspiration, Adams’ photography almost seems to encapsulate the Oregonian spirit of discovery and outdoorsmanship.

Many of the chosen works on display, which Adams himself considered to be his best, showcase beautiful depictions of nature waiting to be captured, earthly essences waiting to be enjoyed. Some sobering, some provoking, each work visually represents the vivacity of the beautifully lonely world we inhabit.

“I am drawn to ‘Mount Williamson, The Sierra Nevada, From Manzanar, California, 1945,’” said Carter. “On first glance the landscape seems remote and inhospitable, but as you give the photograph more of your time, the rocks and boulders come to life, and it seems one can almost see their personalities emerge and demand attention. That is the mastery of Ansel Adams, capturing the breath of life in his work.”

The exquisite landscape photography of “Ansel Adams: Masterworks” will be on display through April 14, and will be followed up later this year in November by a show of Oregon’s contemporary landscape photographers.

However, if there’s a chance that gorgeous photography isn’t your thing, fret not: “Rose City Champions: 100 Years of Hockey” is sure to please.

“Hockey has endured and thrived in Portland for 100 years and has at times been one of the most popular and best attended sporting events in town,” said Scott Peterson, contributor to the Rose City Champions exhibit.

“When the Memorial Coliseum was built in 1960 for the Portland Buckaroos franchise, the arena was packed for every home game and the word on the street was that the Memorial Coliseum was the place to be on Saturday nights. The Portland Buckaroos averaged 7,000 fans per game from 1960 to 1970, which means that an average of 450,000 fans attended the Buckaroo games each year during that time frame,” Peterson said.

Focusing on the legacies of three largely influential Portland hockey teams, the Rosebuds, Buckaroos and Winterhawks, “Rose City Champions” spans the scope of the 1960s heyday of hockey love to the modern popularity hockey enjoys in the city.

Though the Winterhawks have a definite widespread fan base that may even teeter toward fanatical, it is interesting to note how the popularity of hockey in Portland has fluctuated over the years.

“Hockey is still very popular but it would be difficult for hockey to ever again reach the heights of popularity that it enjoyed during the years of the Portland Buckaroos from 1960 to 1974,” Peterson said.

Despite changing franchises, fan bases and venues where the sport is played, there is no denying the rich history hockey has in Portland and the roles these teams have played in the history of competitive sports in Oregon.

“Each of these teams have had a significant impact on the sport of hockey and each found a place in the heart of Oregonians,” said Lori Erickson, curator at the Oregon Historical Society.

“Whether it was the Portland Rosebuds playing for the Stanley Cup, the architectural marvel Memorial Coliseum being built as the home for the Portland Buckaroos, or the Portland Winterhawks leading the way in NHL draft picks, Portland teams have had an impact on the city, the state, and the history of hockey in America,” Erickson said.

“Rose City Champions: 100 Years of Hockey” will be on display through April 1.