For some time I have wondered why artists feel the need to write “about” pages on themselves. Not that there is anything wrong with it, it just has always made me curious as to why. I know we all are curious of others and I am no different. I have always been one that would rather have their actions speak much more than simple words. I guess it’s a pet peeve of mine, that being, blowing ones own horn for all the world to hear. Does it really matter (and I’m serious about this) if I grew up with a camera in my hands or have a Masters in the Fine Arts. Or better yet was raised by a pack of wolves on the arctic tundra and became one with nature. Or if I dropped out of school in the 6th grade to work and help put food on my families table. Does any of that matter to you more that 30 seconds after you have read it? Does it make my work more appealing? I would be curious to know.
I was born, raised, and educated in a small community located in N.E. Kansas, Onaga to be precise. The youngest of 4 kids, raised by hard working parents, always given time to explore the wonders of nature and small town life with friends. Time spent indoors was limited, eat, sleep, get ready to go outside. Sometimes reduced to just get ready to go outside and do the eating and sleeping there. So from a young age I gained a deep appreciation of the outdoors. A place where the wind blows in your face and the sun warms your body. Where fun times await and it’s oh so hard to leave.
It seems to be somewhat common that to be an “artist” you will have started at a very young age. You would have been raised in a home that had at least one parent that was an “artist”. You would have been exposed to the creative lifestyle everyday and made to be part of it. Or you will have in your possession that piece of paper that claims you earned a “degree” in the arts, possibly from reading the right books. This seems to be the case with many artist bio’s. I can only assume it lends a little or perhaps a lot of credibility to the person. Besides being a very presumptuous way of describing yourself, I always wonder, does it make their art better?
I realize we all are curious of others so I will attempt to provide a small slice about myself. I will first state, I am not completely comfortable explaining anything about myself. It is that deep introverted part of me that really just wants to be left alone when faced with such explanations. A one sentence explanation of “who I am” can only be summarized as; I am the person who experiences those things I choose to be part of my life. My experiences are continually forming the person I choose to become.
I would like to say, “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”, quoting from one of my favorite movies The Wizard of Oz, remember I am from Kansas;) I would much rather have my work speak for itself, it seems to do a much better job explaining most things about me than I could ever do in a few paragraphs but perhaps some things are not so obvious beyond the love for nature. I like to keep life and most things in it simple so I will attempt to do that here.
- I was born in 1960 and raised in a small town in north east Kansas, Onaga.
- I have lived in Kansas my entire life.
- I have a great love of plants and all they represent.
- I have great respect for the wildlife we share our world with.
- I have strong naturalist values.
- I have a degree in electronics technology.
- Creative arts are meant to enrich everyone’s life.
- It is more important to have fun than to work.
- Music is my favorite form of art.
- Life is too short to take most things serious.
- I believe we all must find our passion and let nothing stand in the way of achieving our dreams.
- You are never to old to learn something new.
- My involvement into the professional aspects of photography began in 2006.
These are a few tidbits about me, my hope is that I am always changing for the better, it must remain a dream of mine until my time on this earth is through. I hope I can in some way make it a better place or bring a moment of happiness to someone, if even for a single person my time here will have been well spent. Photography has taught me many things about life in general, possibly most important, we must always appreciate the lands we live on, the life we share our world with, and the beauty around us.
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I chose to not think of myself as a photographer. The title seems very limiting towards what I do and why I engage in the creative process. Titles, attention, even notoriety, are not things I aspire to, or am completely comfortable with. There seems to be enough artificial and misplaced meaning in the world. It is not my place to decide on such things. It is my place to create in a meaningful, personal, and deliberate manner. This is not about taking pretty pictures, but discovering them within, creating them anew, evaluating, celebrating, and sharing them regardless of what artificial titles society has placed on them.
The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. -Aristotle
Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known. -Oscar Wilde
The art I create is personal. It is first and foremost my attempt to connect with the world in which I live. When we aspire for knowledge we must first find a way, a vehicle, as it were, we can use to help us acquire the understanding we seek. A way to keep the journey alive, strong, and continually moving forward. Art has, from its beginnings, been an attempt to connect in a deeper way to our surroundings. A form of understanding, relating to, or attempt to connect our individual lives to the bigger picture. From the cave paintings of the Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic (25,000 – 8,000 BCE) humans have attempted to create visual representations of their world. Not for fame, notoriety, or prestige, but for reasons of personal meaning.
There is a challenge as a photographic artists to portray the beauty of a land while also attempting to provide protection. This protection is threatened each day. As human population grows it is important to educate others of these wild places of magic and beauty. Important as this may be it is equally important to provide protection from the same growth.
There is a desire, a life giving need to be part of this “thing” called life that must come from outside myself so I can become part of something that is bigger than me or any one of us. I do love the wonders of the vast mountains, valleys, and prairies. The mysteries of the oceans and skies. The miracles of plants and animals, the simple beauty in the color of an autumn leaf. These are the things of this world that feed my most inner self. A place to draw strength, hope, and pleasure.
From the times rolling down a grassy hill laughing and eating dirt and grass with every roll, to today. It is not only part of who I am, it is who I am. I strive to not only capture the essence of nature, but to share my deepest respect and admiration of it. The appreciation, passion, and respect one has for their chosen subject of photography, far out ways the knowledge one has of the art itself. Or to put it simply, love what you do and why you do it.
Find those places that instill a sense of hope, peace, and well being. It is my hope you see more than a picture when viewing my work. It is not about a photograph, it is about life and the journey in reaching our place of solitude.
Wide open spaces of the prairies, grasslands, and rolling hills. Unobstructed views from horizon to horizon. Clouds so pronounced they seem unreal, like a dream of floating white ever changing forms. These things become more than just experiences, they become my soul and life giving breath. The smell of wet soil so rich you can literally smell the life within it.
Living surrounded by land that is rich in prairie abundance one sees first hand the circle of life with each passing year. To breathe deeply the fresh cool air that has been filtered by the vast expanse of the grasslands can only be described as nourishment with each life giving breath.
Am I actually experiencing these things? Are they part of me? Am I part of them? There have been a handful of times when these questioned become so overwhelming a noticeable lump begins to swell in my throat, my sight becomes blurred with warm moisture. I have allowed myself to be transformed. Transformed by nature and the very essence of life. Do I have a right to be here? What is my part?
The Flint Hills and prairies have been my home my entire life. I have never felt alone standing by myself surrounded by miles and miles of open lands and nature. There seems to be the ultimate in freedom when holding a camera in such a place with complete control of what and when to take a photograph.
As an artists who’s tools are simple and experiences are personal nature inspires me to see what many may never get a chance to. A beauty in the grandest of lands and the smallest of life, a direct result of my love for nature and the outdoors. A place where life sustains life, where the winds blow in your face as the sun warms your body. To capture the essence of nature, one must understand all that it has to offer. This drive, desire and love to understand such things can only be produced in a photograph if the person taking it, feels it.
My work focuses on both intimate and grand portraits of the lands that inspire me. They are personal renditions rather than documentary pictures. Some of these are bold visions while others challenge the viewer to explore subtle compositions of lines and form beyond their initial impact.
It has become increasingly difficult to portray the beauty of the lands we live on and capturing only the beauty may have unintended consequences. Many times the lands have been abused, inundated with population growth, agriculture, and industry, this must never be ignored. But there are still those places we should explore and learn from. Protect and educate is key to maintaining the fragile lands we call home.
Will what I chose to do make a difference?
Will that difference be a positive influence to others?
The images I offer are a result of my honest effort to share the world I live in with the people I live in it with.
Logos change from time to time but there has been one thing consistent with what I choose to represent a core value in my work. The logo you see has as its base principle the representation of our grasslands. The grasses image represents the place that has been my lifelong home, the prairie, more specifically the tallgrass prairie. Grasses, one of the most abundant flora on the planet representing more than just something we have to mow in the summer.
I have also replaced the singular description of “photographer” or “photography” with what I feel to be a more accurate description of what I do and how I choose to present my work; “Photographic Artist”. Based in the believe the camera is simply a tool to capture material that is then translated into a developed, finished form of art in a personal and self-described manner.
Some history of grasses and our grasslands
Grasses became dominant during the Cretaceous period some 65 million years ago and to this day exist on every continent except Antarctica. They have adopted to thrive from rain forest to dry desert, cold mountains to coastal beaches. Grasses are the most valuable food resource for all fauna life on earth both wild or domestic, without grasses man never would have survived. From millions of bison on the prairies throughout the plains of North America to the vast African Savannas grasses have been the key to life on earth. So the grasses logo holds more then just symbolism to me when it comes to nature, to me it is the key to why and how nature as we know it exist today.
Exquisite beauty comes to the tallgrass prairie each autumn, as the grasses some reaching over head high begin to turn from their summers green to a glowing bronze deep with golden tones. The vastness of this natural array of color can overwhelm those not use to seeing such a sight that can stretch from horizon to horizon. A truly remarkable landscape matched nowhere else on earth.
The tallgrass prairie is an ecosystem native to central North America, with fire as its primary periodic disturbance. In the past, tallgrass prairies covered a large portion of the American Midwest, just east of the Great Plains, and portions of the Canadian Prairies. They flourished in areas with rich loess soils and moderate rainfall of around 760 to 890 mm (30 to 35 in) per year. To the east were the fire-maintained eastern savannas. In the northeast, where fire was infrequent and periodic windthrow represented the main source of disturbance, beech-maple forests dominated. In contrast, shortgrass prairie was typical in the western Great Plains, where rainfall is less frequent and soils are less fertile.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is a United States National Preserve located in the Flint Hills region of Kansas, north of Strong City. The preserve protects a nationally significant example of the once vast tallgrass prairie ecosystem. Of the 400,000 square miles (1,000,000 km²) of tallgrass prairie that once covered the North American continent, less than 4% remains, primarily in the Flint Hills.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is a new kind of national park. The preserve is 10,894 acres (44 km²), but most of that land will remain under the ownership of the The Nature Conservancy, which purchased the land in 2005. The National Park Service may own up to 180 acres (0.7 km²), yet the legislation calls for the entire area to be managed cooperatively by the National Park Service and the The Nature Conservancy.
On September 20, 2002, approximately 32 acres (129,000 m²) were donated to the National Park Service from the National Park Trust who was the private landowner at the time. This area includes the 1881 historic ranch house, limestone barn and outbuildings, and one-room schoolhouse.
Tallgrass Prairie is the nation’s second newest national preserve and the park is still under development with visitor opportunities continually being expanded.
There are currently five maintained hiking trails in the preserve allowing visitors access to the tallgrass prairie. During the summer, narrated bus tours of the prairie are offered.
On January 29, 2008, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve was named as one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas. In 2009, The Nature Conservancy introduced a small herd of bison into the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. The heard continues to increase.
The following paragraph is a quote from the book Great Plains, Americas Lingering Wild by Michael Forsberg with Dan O’Brien, David Wishart, and Ted Kooser. I met Michael in 2010 at The Great Plains Nature Photographers annual meeting in Pittsburgh Kansas. A humble passionate man who cares deeply about this lingering wild place called the great plains. His book “Great Plains America’s Lingering Wild” is a remarkably beautiful hardcover large bound account of history and the unquestionable need to protect these great lands, complete with stunning photography as provided by Michael. I highly recommend it.
The tallgrass prairie must have been a sight to behold. Early travelers struggled to capture in words its immensity and diversity, its fragrance, its teeming wildlife, its strangeness. William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition frequently wrote about this plentitude in his journal. On July 30, 1804, Clark climbed the bluffs of the Missouri River Valley in what is now Washington County, Nebraska, to gain a view of the country. Before hime he saw “the most beautiful prospects imaginable,” a seemingly boundless upland prairie of little bluestem, needlegrass, and prairie dropseed, with big bluestem on the lower slopes. “Nature appears to have exerted itself to beautify the scenery by the variety of flowers,” Clark wrote. He specifically noted bright yellow sunflowers ten feet high, but also would have seen slender white prairie cover, silvery leadplant, bushes of purple aster, and many of the other 250 varieties of forbs that added profusion and color to each square mile of the prairie.
The Great Plains were once among the greatest grasslands on the planet. But as the United States and Canada grew westward, the Plains were plowed up, fenced in, overgrazed, and otherwise degraded. Today, this fragmented landscape is the most endangered and least protected ecosystem in North America.
A partial list of our growing business, corporate, and institutional clients.
- National Park Service
- Distinctive Art Source
- Northeast Georgia Health System
- Stormont Vail Healthcare
- Alexian Villa St. Joseph Nursing Home
- Meredith Corporation
- Kansas Magazine
- Kansas Calendar
- Sunflower Publishing
- Kansas Department of Travel & Tourism
- Kansas Historical Society
- Flint Hills Regional Council
- Flint Hills Resources
- Pottawatomie County Economic Development
- Security Benefit of Kansas
- McCormick Armstrong
- Koch Creative Group
- Boys and Girls Club
- Family Service & Guidance Center
- American Cancer Society
- American Family Insurance
- Along with many private homes
82 x 42 inch 3 panel canvas – Corporate Ridge building, Olathe, Kansas
It first should be said, this website is about life. Not my life but our life, at least how I chose to see it. It is my little corner of our world, and yes, sometimes, I view it through rose colored glasses. Sometimes, possibly most of the time, I prefer it that way.
Since 2006 I have had an online presence for my work. Small at first as I worked my way through the online challenges. Today, in the ever changing world it seems to be a necessity if one wishes to keep their work in front of those who may be interested. There is much more to being an artists today than most may think. One can create and stock pile their work in a closet and possibly still enjoy the creation process to it’s fullest (even though that seems silly to me). I don’t want all my work piled in a closet. I feel the work I produce needs more than just my eyes falling upon it. It has nothing to do with “my” work, but rather “the” work.
This online site is where you will find most things that go into my work. My thoughts, experiences, successes, failures, projects, products, and fine art prints. I have very strict specifications about how the process should work for those interested in my work. Ease of use, convenience, and simple, seem to be on my short list. As well as visual appealing I hope.
These things are all fine and good as long as one major player remains strong, security. There was a good deal of thought put into this site when it came to security. Long gone are the days where a person can develop a website and simply throw it out into the world on the cheap. Sure you “could” do that, but it is very likely it won’t be around long. If it is, it is even more likely it won’t be of much use, and of no use for any commercial tasks. That brings up the issue of cost. It is not cheap to develop and maintain a full featured, secure, commerce enabled website. I have never been one to scrimp when it comes to quality. Without getting all geeked out I can assure you there is no scrimping on quality when it comes to the security of this site. Each and every transaction that takes place is secured with SHA-2 & 2048-bit encryption, the strongest on the market. When security options advance so will the security of this site.
You will notice a small icon in the lower right corner of this page, I have also enabled this icon on the contact page. It is the McAfee Secure notification icon. It is here as a notification as to the security of this website. It exists for the entire site not just these two pages. I just did not wish to show it on every page. At anytime you can click on this icon and it will verify the security of bradmangas.com. This is an additional feature I chose to implement throughout this website.