Phoenix College is honored to host an exhibition of Allen Dutton's work from March 18 through April 4, 2019, at the Fischl Gallery, with an opening reception March 18, 5:30 to 8 pm. The exhibition honors Dutton as an artist and recognizes Dutton for all that he did for Phoenix College and the thousands of students whose lives he impacted and who benefited from his vision.
Allen Ayers Dutton was a renowned photographer and artist. A natural-born teacher, Dutton started teaching at Phoenix College in 1960, where he later served as department chair. Allen loved teaching and his classes were in high demand; he treasured life-long friendships with many of his former students.
“Getting to a place where there are no answers” was Dutton’s educational philosophy. The best educators know that learning flourishes when students drive the process, test original theories, reveal unknown truths, and precipitate new ideas. Learning cannot have all the answers if we want new answers to be discovered, or in the case of art, new imagistic ideas to be created. Dutton transported students to places without answers.
Selected from four of his well-known bodies of work, the photographs in the exhibition evade, in the best pedagogical traditions, certainty. Whether they are landscapes that refuse to give up their figure as in his Hide and Seek series or the unidentifiable tableaus of his photo-collages, Dutton’s work admonishes us to pursue the unknown.
In his pioneering tenure at Phoenix College, Dutton curated a collection of photographs by masters of the medium such as Brett and Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and Minor White. His exhibitions gained national recognition and he exposed a generation of students to the works of these master photographers. Few college campuses were teaching photography in the 1960s, and Dutton quickly created a photography program considered one of the finest in the western United States. He retired from teaching in 1982.
Dutton photographed every community in Arizona, and The Arizona Historical Society houses an archive of more than 25,000 of his photographs. He was also an accomplished painter, depicting the lives of wranglers on the legendary Rocking AD Ranch. Dutton’s work is exhibited worldwide in numerous public collections, including the Center for Creative Photography, Yale University Art Gallery, The Museum of Modern Art, Bibliotheque Nacionale in Paris, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC.
His published photographic books include Arizona Then and Now, Phoenix Then and Now, Strange But True: The Arizona Photographs of Allen Dutton, and Real to Surreal. In his later years, Dutton was a prolific writer of novels and poetry. Mr. Dutton passed away in 2017.
In 2010, the Allen A. Dutton Center for Photography, a suite of labs and classroom space at Phoenix College, was dedicated to Dutton in recognition for his lasting contributions to the College and the photography program. Dutton’s legacy is memorialized through the Allen Dutton Memorial Scholarship for PC students, supporting the next generation of great American artists.
Special thanks to Joe Wojcich and Tempe Camera for help curating the Dutton exhibition. Thanks also to Allen’s daughters Beth and Wendy Dutton for their leadership and guidance in presenting this collection of work, and for gifting proceeds from the sale of the photographs to the Allen Dutton Memorial Scholarship.
Dutton’s original signed works will be for sale during the opening reception, benefiting the Allen Dutton Memorial Scholarship.
Phoenix College Allen Dutton Exhibition: March 18 - April 4, 2019, opening reception March 18, 5:30 to 8 pm. Phoenix College Fischl Gallery – Fine & Performing Arts Building, 1202 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix, AZ 85012. Visit the Fischl Gallery web site for additional details and a listing of other exhibits at phoenixcollege.edu/campus-life/eric-fischl-gallery
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 The Many Lives of Allen Dutton, interview with Rebecca A. Senf. In Real to Surreal: My Twentieth Century Sixty-Five Year Odyssey in Photography. VIII
Photo credit: Jack McCurdy, photographer and A former student of Allen Dutton