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San Bernardino County Museum Opens Renewal And Devastation Exhibit

Photographer, Benoit Malphettes, captures the renewal of nature after the devastation of the Blue Cut Fire. – Courtesy photo

“Impressions of Blue Cut, Ruins / Renewal,” a photographic essay by Benoit Malphettes, opens at the Victor Valley Museum in Apple Valley on August 1, with an exhibit preview opening from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The exhibit comes to the museum from its recent run at the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands.

In August of 2016, the Blue Cut Fire tore its way through the Cajon Pass. Over the course of eight days, it burned over 37,000 acres and destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings in its path. Although the destruction left by the fire created a desolate setting, esteemed photographer Benoit Malphettes and his wife and business partner Katherine became interested in the resulting landscape. The images they captured, while filled with devastation and loss, also revealed nature’s ability to renew. Impressions of Blue Cut, Ruins / Renewal features Malphettes’ works focusing on the ruins that the fire left behind and the renewal that followed.

An internationally recognized photographer, Benoit Malphettes was born in France and by his early 20s was shooting for French Vogue before moving to the U.S. in 1977. He quickly gained recognition for his work published in French and American Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, W, Glamour, Bride, Essence, and more. It was during that time that he met Kathy Bishop, the creative director in charge of Robinson’s department stores. The two collaborated on award-winning campaigns and Malphettes created commissioned portraits with large format cameras.

”In 1992, I was working exclusively on portrait commissions,” said Malphettes, “but by 2006 I devoted myself fully to my personal work, allowing me and my now wife, Kathy, to leave the hectic life of Los Angeles and New York for an inspiring new environment and a welcoming community in the Inland Empire.” In May, 2016, Malphettes’ work was featured in the Riverside Art Museum project, Merchants of Riverside.

After the devastation of the Blue Cut Fires, Malphettes captures the beauty of nature’s renewal in the aftermath. – Courtesy photo

Museum Director, Melissa Russo added, “The Blue Cut Fire, now two years past, exemplified the tremendously frightening power of wildfires, and the severe disruption on people’s lives from evacuations to property destruction and loss of life. The images in Impressions of Blue Cut are a moving illustration of these powerful environmental forces that are a stark reality in our region. The show’s conclusion – regeneration in the beautiful wildflowers that emerged from the ashes – is a metaphor for the hope and rebuilding that takes place in every community after a devastating loss.”

The Victor Valley Museum’s exhibits of regional cultural and natural history and the museum’s other exciting events and programs reflect the effort by the Board of Supervisors to achieve the Countywide Vision by celebrating arts, culture, and education in the county, creating quality of life for residents and visitors.

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