Gene Crowe was born in San Francisco, grew up in Marin County, moved to Nevada County in 1964 to begin his teaching career at Nevada Union High School, and lived in Nevada City for the last forty-plus years of his life. He attended College of Marin and San Francisco State College, where he obtained a B.A. in Art and a Secondary Teaching Credential in Art. He later did graduate work in photography at Sacramento State University.
For many years, until the early 2000s, Crowe taught art and photography at NUHS and Sierra College.
Crowe described his work as variations on straight photography. He would start with an idea based on something he saw on the ground glass and, in the darkroom or on the computer, would enhance that idea with minimal manipulation. He liked to describe his process as “intentional photography.” He once wrote: “There is pleasure in composing the image so the photograph works as a whole, not as a collection of unintended parts. The possibility of failure is the threat that makes success all the more exhilarating. In all of my work, I am mindful of the painter Frank Stella’s notion that one doesn’t know how good an idea is until it’s hanging on the wall.”
Over the years, Crowe experimented with many photographic processes and explored many themes. One series was a group of large color prints of botanical subjects printed on acid-free watercolor paper. Also in the exhibition are images made from paper negatives, a process that began with the scanning of transparencies and negatives and the printing of paper negatives, which were then contact printed and processed in the darkroom.
Other subjects included the ruins of Cistercian Abbeys in England and Scotland, life in urban and rural China, the pre-renovation San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Nevada City street scenes, and a project focusing on “small things.”
Crowe’s art and photography have been featured in many galleries and several other venues in the Sacramento/Nevada City area. A longstanding member of Viewpoint Gallery, he was also a member of the Artists’ Collective at the Osborn Woods Gallery at Miners Foundry in Nevada City.
His family has established a scholarship to be awarded annually to a graduating Nevada Union High School photography student.
Gene Crowe passed away in 2020. He is survived by his wife, Judy, three children, and five grandchildren. His art lives on in a variety of media, including paintings and drawings, wood and stone sculpture, jewelry, and photography.
A portion of the proceeds from gallery sales will go to the “Gene Crowe Memorial Scholarship” to benefit photography students at NUHS.
Gene Crowe Retrospective
–The Center for the Arts Granucci Gallery, 314 West Main Street, Grass Valley
–Friday, October 28 through Saturday, December 3.
–Gallery Hours—noon to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday
–Opening Reception—October 28, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.