The months of August and September feature the inspiring Everglades photography of Captain Don McDonald at The Marco Island Historical Museum. A reception with the artist was held on Tuesday, August 7, where a full house enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres as they mingled with McDonald and his wife, Anne.
For a mid-summer event on Marco, the turnout was extraordinary. “We had about 50 to 60 people show up within the first 15 minutes,” explained museum assistant, Lisa Marciano. Guests admired McDonald’s works and purchased copies of his photographic journal, “Reflections of the Everglades.” Also the name of his exhibit, many of the photographs featured at the museum display images of wildlife reflected through the still waters of the Everglades such as his photo “At the Bar.” Featuring a group of wood storks and roseate spoonbills, the birds‘ images are magnificently mirrored in the water beneath them.
Born and raised inMiami, McDonald has been snapping photos since he was ten. As he explained, “When I was a little kid, someone gave me a camera and that was it. I would cut lawns to get enough money just to buy film and get it developed.” Since then, he has been capturing images of South Florida, venturing into the wilderness about once a week.
The culmination of his efforts is featured not only on the walls of the museum, but also in his book, which he says is for his granddaughters. “By the time my two and three year old granddaughters get up to where they’re old enough to go back and see this stuff, a lot of it may not be here.”
Pointing out a ghost orchid in one photograph, McDonald explained how it is no longer around because the tree it grew on had been cut down. A large landscape portrait hangs inthe museum that, according to the artist, is now covered in rocks being stored to build roads. “From the time I was a little kid going out there, the changes are remarkable. You wouldn’t even recognize it.”
But for now, the beauty of the Everglades is still alive, evidenced in McDonald’s work. And in his experiences. One of his most memorable moments happened just this past year. “Last March I was by myself and I came face to face with a panther in The Big Cypress. It was just the most serene thing. It’s you, it’s him. He was following me and watching me and I was watching him. I finally realized that he was just curious. I’ve seen so many things out there but that had to be the most awesome.”
That raw feeling of being one with nature is echoed throughout McDonald’s work. See it on display at the Marco Island Historical Society through September 28.