By Bob Sadler
I’m a fine art photographer living in Pacific Grove and I’ve been a fan of Wynn Bullock’s work since the ‘70s in ”The Family of Man” coffee table book and Black and White magazine Wynn and his friends were the pillars of the Monterey Photography Legacy that drew me to this area from my hometown of Hartford, Conn.
I wasn’t alone in my admiration. He was so highly regarded by Ansel Adams that Ansel named the Friends of Photography gallery after Wynn. I am a member of Imagemakers and the Center for Photographic Art (formerly known as Friends of Photography), which both stand proudly on the shoulders of that legacy. We continue to benefit from their images and the open and supportive culture they left behind. Wynn wasn’t as well known as the Westons and Adams, but he was one of the major pillars of the Monterey Photography Legacy and I want to make sure his archive is preserved with the others at UC SantaCruz.
I’ve also been a good friend of Barbara Bullock-Wilson for the past 15 years. For most of her life, she served as her father’s model, collaborator and historian, and has documented more about his life and the Bullock family output than any other scholar to date. She’s preserved unique recordings, oral histories, rare publications, photographic equipment, and copyright that round out the archive.
After the recent fire in Carmel Valley threatened her home and the archive, she decided to find an institution that could guarantee the safety and good use of the archive for perpetuity.
Wynn’s legacy is the heart of the Bullock Family Photography Archive. At its core it’s a key set of more than 450 vintage prints that document the full arc of his career and constitute a thorough representation of his work, extending far beyond most institutional collections. The set’s black and white photographs are complemented by the collection of Wynn’s original Kodachrome slides, along with rare prints of his abstract color work. In addition, there is the complete framed Color Light Abstraction traveling show that was created by the estate in 2010 to document and safely exhibit this innovative work.
The archive also includes the creative work of Wynn’s wife Edna, who was an important part of her husband’s story for 32 years. Widowed at age 60, she chose to follow her husband’s example and became a dedicated photographer in her own right. I like her work just as much.
With her imagery showcased in more than 100 group and solo exhibitions, she enjoyed a prolific career as an artist and popular workshop instructor for over 20 years. Featuring more than 450 of her original prints, along with her negatives and proof sheets, Edna’s collection adds both character and breadth to the holding.
The estate, in collaboration with UC Santa Cruz, is seeking funders to support the purchase of the archive at a substantially discounted price from its estimated market value of about $6 million. Barbara is willing to release the archive to UCSC for $2.9 million.
A portion of the gift will go to establish new cold storage infrastructure at the university to properly preserve this archive and others in the university’s care. Another significant portion will go to the creation of a charitable remainder trust, or gift annuity, that will provide income to Barbara during her lifetime and establish a permanent endowment at the university for ongoing engagement with and care of the archive after her death.
I am a member of the council of advisors that have helped Barbara get the agreement with UCSC.
We have a campaign plan and a list of international, national, and local collectors and philanthropists who have an interest in the arts and the Monterey Legacy photographers. We have begun to reach out to them for help and contributions. We anticipate reaching our goal of over $2.9 million by December 2025.
We will also soon launch a Monterey County fundraising campaign through local and social media. We hope to get contributions from the hundreds of local photographers and art enthusiasts who knew Wynn and Edna or know the local importance of their work.
Contributions are tax exempt. Checks should be made out to “UCSC Foundation” with a note that this is to go towards the “Designation code: LI079F / Wynn Bullock Photography Fund.”Checks should be sent to:
UC Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
Gifts via credit card can go to this link, selecting “Special Collections” and then adding, under “notes or special instructions for your gift” towards the “Designation code: LI079F / Wynn Bullock Photography Fund.”
Photo: Wynn Bullock, There Be Light, 1954 © 1988 Bullock Family Photography LLC. All right reserved.