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Launching RommesArts

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

This new photography website showcases the work of Don and Nancy Rommes with an initial focus on areas in and around Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments in southern Utah. By presenting images in related series, we hope to give our viewers a broader and more nuanced picture of the landscapes we photograph—starting with the Monuments mentioned above, then expanding to include image series from other parts of the country.

Lower Calf Creek Falls, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Photo: © Donald J. Rommes

Sad Irony

There is a sad irony in bringing to life a website at a time when so many people in this country and the world are losing theirs. With the surging numbers of people falling ill and losing their jobs in the coronavirus pandemic, with the economy collapsing and everyone's financial and personal future uncertain, surely there are surely more pressing things to attend to, aren’t there?

“We realize the irony in bringing to life a website at a time when so many people in this country and the world are losing theirs."

Staying at home—time on our hands, fear in our hearts.

On the other hand, with no treatment yet available for the virus, all most of us can do is to stay at home, keep our distance from others, and try not to get infected. We can’t go to work, run errands, or go out to public places, so we have a lot of free time on our hands. The idea of this website has been bouncing around in our heads for years. Why not try to make it happen now?

Eventually, this pandemic will pass. We will not be able to fully erase the memory of it, and we will be traumatized by our losses. But when we do get to the other side of this, and the fear of dying fades, many of us will have new ideas about what is truly important in our lives—the lives we have been spared.

Post pandemic.

Undoubtedly. we will start gathering with friends again, tentatively at first. Those who have jobs to return to will want to work, but free time to spend with friends and family will be more precious than ever. We’ll think again about traveling, probably not as much as before, and maybe not by air. The idea of a cruise may remain unappealing for quite a long time.

There will likely be a surge in domestic travel because the perceived risk will be less than traveling internationally. Places of natural beauty in this country will have great appeal—they will feel safer and more restorative than crowded cities or beaches. Besides, being in nature comes with proven mental and physical health benefits. However, these natural places must exist in order to be visited, and many of them are under an existential threat.

Grand Staircase National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument, two large preserves of exceptional beauty and enormous cultural importance, have had their combined size cut by the Trump administration by approximately 2 million acres. That's like removing more than half the State of Connecticut from the public’s inheritance and opening it up to mining and other commercial interests.

Ancient granary, Grand Gulch, Bears National Monument. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes

Photography and the preservation of public lands.

In this country, photography has a long tradition of helping protect public lands—by showing people what is at stake if they were lost to commercial interests. We have been hiking and photographing in southern Utah since the early ‘80’s and, by following that grand tradition, believe our photographs have played a small, but real role in the creation of these two Monuments. We would like them to play a role in their preservation as well.

RommesArts mission—in a nutshell.

This time of crisis will likely lead to a period of introspection as we search for meaning. As we reflect on what is truly important in our lives post-pandemic, We believe more value will be placed on natural areas that, once lost, can never be recovered. If our photographs motivate even one person to help preserve them, this little website will have been a success.



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