October 12 to December 10, 2006

Son of Imogen Cunningham, apprentice to Ansel Adams, protégé of Dorothea Lange, who is Rondal Partridge and what's he been up to for more than 85 years? Berkeley photographer Rondal Partridge's work is celebrated in the exhibition "From the Byways to the Highways: Rondal Partridge Photographs California 1936-1969." This stunning exhibition of 53 of Partridge's black and white photographs is at Merced County Courthouse Museum beginning October 12 to December 10, 2006.

Rondal Partridge began helping his mother, Imogen Cunningham, in the darkroom with her platinum printing when he was five. During the 1930s he worked as an assistant to Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange, who both strongly influenced his work. Partridge was part of the National Youth Administration before striking out on his own.

From the "Byways to the Highways," is divided into six sections, each highlighting the key photographic moments during his career. "Early Influences" features photos of Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange and other famous photographers at work. "California Rodeo" documents cowboys on the local rodeo circuit in the mid-1930s and "Rural Depression" includes photographs of migrant workers and campgrounds shot on location with Dorothea Lange. "Urban Pastimes and Politics" and "Postwar Expansion" sections documents people and places in California during and after WWII. Photographs in the "Prosperity and Pollution" section illustrate the impact of the expansion of highways, subdivisions and the population explosion on California's landscape.

"Photography is a life of learning," states Partridge, "that's all I want from photography. I don't want the money. I don't need the fame. I don't need the admiration. I'd like all of those things, but I don't need them. Because what I get from photographing is learning. I have spent my life learning by looking through a lens."

"From the Byways to the Highways" is accompanied by the catalog Quizzical Eye: The Photography of Rondal Partridge. The catalog is written by the photographer's daughter and curator, Elizabeth Partridge and UC Irvine art history professor Sally Stein, and published by California Historical Society Press & Heyday Books. The book contains a forward by Dan Dixon, Dorothea Lange's son, with approximately 100 black and white plates.

At the exhibit opening on Thursday, October 12, Merced-Mariposa area photographer and historian Leroy Radanovich will give a PowerPoint presentation entitled, "A History of Photography."

The "From the Byways to the Highways: Rondal Partridge Photographs California, 1936-1969" exhibition tour was organized by Elizabeth Partridge and the California Exhibition Resources Alliance (CERA). It is based on an exhibition originally produced by the California Historical Society and the Oakland Museum of California. CERA is a network of professionally operated museums and cultural organizations that collaborate to create and tour smaller, affordable, high quality exhibitions that enhance civic engagement and human understanding. CERA is supported by generous grants from the James Irvine Foundation, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation and the California Council for the Humanities.