Celebrating the Uniqueness of Asheville
By Gina Malone
John Haldane makes a habit of traveling the world—and never fails to pack a camera as an eyewitness to the wonders he encounters. “I spent 30 days in four countries (South Africa, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe) in 2019,” he says, “and got up close and personal with lions, white rhinoceros, wild dogs and hundreds of other birds and animals.” When not indulging his love of travel photography and “the rugged and wild outdoors,” he is likely to be found scoping out some of the wonders closer to home—like downtown Asheville’s drum circle on Fridays at Pritchard Park.
An East Asheville resident, Haldane has spent the last ten years capturing images of people on Asheville’s city streets. His collection, Uniquely Asheville, is being exhibited at Green Sage Westgate through April 15, and opens next at Green Sage Downtown, running April 15 through June 15.
Throughout his more than 40 years as a professional photographer, his work has been exhibited in fine art galleries, featured in calendars, books and magazines, and purchased by businesses and organizations. To create his one-of-a-kind images, Haldane uses cameras, software, digital tools and, sometimes, paint.
“My favorite subject matter is street photography,” Haldane says. “This includes buskers, travelers, homeless people, protesters, drummers, tourists and just plain folk captured candidly.” He was drawn to downtown scenes by street fairs and festivals. “The people, the food, the music and the drum circle all interested me,” he says. “I also shoot venues and buildings. Asheville has an eclectic mix of styles. All of this says ‘Asheville’ to me because we are not just one thing or one people; we are as diverse as America.”
He guesses that there is something for everyone who loves Asheville in this exhibition. “Like our city itself, Uniquely Asheville has photographs, digitally manipulated photographs and digital art,” he says.
Haldane also does photo restorations for others, a skill he developed in the 1990s when working on a book about his mother’s ancestors. “A relative in Maine mailed me a book of tintypes dating to 1864, which I restored and included in the book,” he says. “Co-workers at my government job saw what I did and asked me to fix some of theirs.” He began a side business of restoration. “It really took off after a professor from Texas asked me to restore original negatives from the signing of the Berlin Accord in 1938,” Haldane says. “The negatives had been burned by steam and were in terrible condition. Using
Adobe Photoshop, I was able to restore images of Hitler, Mussolini, Neville Chamberlain, the French prime minister and others.”
Besides exotic locales like Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu, he captures beautiful images all over the state. “I have driven the Blue Ridge Parkway end to end twice,” he says, “continuing through Shenandoah National Park each time. The photo with the most views, most comments and most sales was taken at the Pisgah Inn, just southwest of Asheville on the Parkway.”
To learn more about Haldane Creative Art, visit John-Haldane.pixels.com. Green Sage Westgate is located at 70 Westgate Parkway in Asheville. The downtown location is at 5 Broadway Street.