The remote and rugged nature of the Milk River landscape is an international treasure. From its entry point intoAlberta as the North Milk River near Whiskey Gap to its exit east of the ecological reserve at Kennedy Coulee,
the shallow silty visitor travels through a sparsely populated, little disturbed, and infrequently visited part of
Alberta. Different from the treed north, the central plains and the mountainous country to the west, the arid
badlands have been a formidable deterrent to development, thus preserving its natural beauty. The landscape
has changed little since the first writing on the sandstone walls. It is a country of mystical vision quests
dominated by views of Chief Mountain, the Milk River Ridge, and the Sweet Grass Hills whose three
unglaciated summits stood as Nunataks above the Laurentide ice ten thousand years ago.
aLand Beyond The River, is my photographic study of the Milk River and environs of southern Alberta and
northern Montana. I have always had an affinity for the dichotomy of this high latitude arid land with its vast
stretches of unobstructed prairie views and tight, steep ravines eroded by the constant grind of natural forces.
You do not happen upon this land. You gravitate to it. Once there, you stand at a window of time stretched out
before you. You witness a dance of spirits in the wind with the ever-changing light on a canvas of sky and land.
My photographs and accompanying verse are a narrative of the land, a meeting place of geography, history, and
cultures. They reveal the spirit of the sweet forever – Katáóowahsinnoon.
I began my photographic journey into the Milk River country in earnest in the late 1990’s while on
photographic assignment, for the Alberta Farm Machinery Research Centre (later called Agtech), in Lethbridge,
Alberta. This assignment grew into a yearly contract with Agtech and the Publishing Department of Alberta
Agriculture that lasted for close to ten years. Over that time I would visit the area regularly between spring and
autumn capturing the various farming and rural activities. This led to a lot of back road driving and exploration
of the country. In 2006, I was commissioned by Alberta Parks, Recreation and Tourism to begin the production
of Through the Seasons, a series of nature videos for three of its parks in the southeast region, one of which was
Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park, the heart of Milk River country. The productions required filming for a
week in each season of the year in each of the parks. The project took two years to complete and provided me
time to study the changing landscape and nature. The resulting videos were shown in the park interpretive
centres and sold in the gift shops.
During my travels through this country, I have met a handful of people who have been instrumental in the
development of my interpretation of this land, allowing me to experience it from alternate perspectives, and
over time, to capture images and create verse that translate my feeling of the landscape into this body of work.
Landscapes evoke genuine emotion – where colour, form, and texture become the important elements, and where
place, time, and conditions fuse, creating a feeling which becomes my focus – first of the image and then of the
verse. The 20 photographs and verse in this exhibition is my first offering from my immersion into aLand
Beyond The River. The selected photographs are printed on Moab Entrada Rag Bright 300gsm Paper and
Hahnemühle Fine Art Pearl Paper using Ultrachrome K3 Ink and mounted in an archival method.
aLand Beyond The River is a limited edition of 24 books printed by me. It contains 25 photographs and
accompanying verse and was produced using Moab Entrada Rag Bright 190 gsm Paper and Ultrachrome K3
Ink. It is presented using Moab Chinle Digital Book v2 with Black Leather Cover and Slip Case which are acid
and lignin free.
Book Signing at The Camera Store:
Saturday February 15, 2014
12:00pm to 4:00pm
802 11th Ave SW Calgary, AB
Join us at The Camera Store for the book launch and signing of:
Limited Edition A Land Beyond The River – Photography and Verse By Mark Vitaris.
Mark Vitaris is a Calgary based Photographer, Videographer and Media Producer. He has been the principal of
Mark Vitaris Productions since 1978. Commercial Clientele include: Corporations, Federal & Provincial
Government Agricultural & Tourism Departments, Advertising & Design Firms, Commercial Property Real
Estate Companies and Associations, and the Energy Industry, including Wind Power and Oil & Gas. He has
contributed to a number of book publications. His photography and mixed media assemblages have been shown
in group and solo exhibitions and are included in public, corporate and private collections internationally.
His commercial and personal work can viewed at www.markvitaris.com.
Which way do I turn?
Making haste in the morning twilight.
Circling, there is no beaten path
To this story without a plaque.
The view is always to my back.
Coffin Bridge Parhelion
Luminous diamond dust
Drapes the iron Coffin.
Cold light bends
Mocking the sun
‘Dazzle mine eyes’
The south wind cries
Through December’s eye
Tears of frost
Sting the winter sky
Life frozen in time.