Other Country: Barry Lopez and the Community of Artists Cover

James Perrin Warren, Other Country: Barry Lopez and the Community of Artists. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2015. 240pp. Cloth (Hardback) $50.00.

Harkening to the American Transcendentalist ethos, James Perrin Warren’s scholarship and familiarity with Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller is reflected through his unveiling of the synergistic relationship between one of America’s foremost environmental writers, Barry Lopez, and the community of artists. Warren explains that the concept of Other Country derives from Lopez’s ways of knowing garnered through his immersive experiences and relationships to nature. In addition to the scholarship, insight, and unique framing afforded by Other Country, the reader is privy to photographic plates collected from Rob Adams, Linda Connor, Alan Magee, Richard Long, Ben Huff, and Richard Rowland. These photographic plates contribute to the conversation between Lopez’s work and the community of artists, rendering the essence of their mutual ethos tangible.

The book consists of three sections, each organized into three chapters, leading to a crescendo in the third chapter. These sections are also chronologically oriented, thereby displaying the growth and evolution of the community of artists in relationship to Lopez’s work. “Captured Light,” the first section, employs Lopez’s “Learning to See” as an orienting source. Beginning with a discussion of Lopez’s early aspirations to be a professional photographer and concluding with a detailed explication of light imagery in Arctic Dreams (1986), Warren places photographers Rob Adams and Linda Connor—among others—in dialogue with the ethos and essence of Lopez’s works. The second section, “Fields of Correspondence,” predominantly explores and delineates collaborations between Barry Lopez and Alan Magee and their subsequent mutual influence. “Opening Fields,” the third section of the text, behaves much like the third chapter in each section, serving as a nexus for the culmination of materials presented in the prior two to give rise to the broader, ever-evolving depths of artistic confluence. Artists included in this section are placed in dialogue with Lopez’s community projects and ultimately his edited anthology Home Ground (2006). This section—and ostensibly the book—conclude with an exploration of John Luther Adams’s soundscapes and his collaborations with Barry Lopez spanning the past thirty years.

Warren describes the scope of Lopez’s work addressed in Other Country as insular to the artistic community discussed in the text. Readers expecting a comprehensive discussion of Lopez’s life, contributions, and works may be surprised at the narrow swathe Warren cuts from the body of Lopez’s expansive writings; however, as Warren acknowledges, the intention of this work is to delve deeply into the parameters set rather than a breadth of scope.

Contextualizing the exchanges and growth as antiphonal, Warren orchestrates a symphony of landscape artistry against the rhythms of Lopez’s nearly fifty year career. Addressing a gamut of art forms, Warren effectively creates a multi-sensory, multi-media experience for the reader. This book is a “must-read” for followers of Barry Lopez’s work, art enthusiasts, environmentalists, and those seeking an emergent New American Transcendentalism.

Bernadette Russo

Texas Tech University