Photographing Structures Before They Disappear Becomes Rick McAllister’s Niche

August 18, 2017


It seems fitting that Rick McAllister’s black-and-white photographs depicting Southeastern history and culture would hang in a gallery on the oldest street in the oldest city in the nation. Now, McAllister’s work which has hung at the Georgia Nick Gallery in St. Augustine for three years can also be appreciated at The Hub on Canal. Three months new to The Hub, McAllister will be hosting a free Talk Art titled “The Olde South Series” September 2, 2017 from 1 to 2 p.m. at The Hub.

Talk Art is a chance for the community to hear from the artist, or in this case photographer, firsthand about what drives their passion and what techniques they use. The hour-long presentations are lively and informative, and provide a unique opportunity to connect with art appreciators.

Interesting himself in photography upon his return from Vietnam in the early 70s, McAllister says his work is different from what one would traditionally expect to find at an art gallery.

“Photographers who display, for the most part, are fine art photographers,” said McAllister, who has been referred to as a visual historian. “My work is more like Ansel Adams and Clyde Butcher.”

While McAllister said he will touch on some technique, his Talk Art will mainly focus on the historical subject matter of his photos. Once a hobbyist photographing micro botanicals, a motorcycle ride to Micanopy, Florida changed everything for him. It was there he photographed four Cracker houses being preserved by a farmer.

McAllister has since branched out and also photographs disappearing old churches, motels, commercial properties, textile mills, sugar mills and forts. His work has captured the interest of the National Parks Association that has “heritage-related sub-organizations responsible for preserving cultural images and structures indigenous to a particular area.”

When talking about forts, McAllister’s Talk Art will touch upon congressional authorizations. He will also provide his insights about Cracker houses, Cracker history and sugar mills as they relate to Florida’s early pioneers.

“I’m trying to conserve the heritage of these structures that are disappearing and do legitimate photography in the process,” said McAllister, whose work at The Hub is located within the main lobby area.

His book The Olde South, a Photo Journey Along the Back Roads of the South will be on hand and Talk Art goers will recognize scenes from Volusia County. Also of interest will be the  500-mile journey he embarked on in 2014 across Northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago.

“Every photographer is looking for a niche,” said McAllister. “They want to have something that defines them and I had been searching for that myself. When I shot those four houses, converted them from color to black-and-white, the little light went off. I think there’s a real possibility here. So I just started hitting the back roads and it’s grown from those four images to over 400.”

Written by Tonya West, Hub volunteer

Photographer Rick McAllister will dive into the history of disappearing structures in the Southeast Saturday, Sept. 2 at 1 p.m.