Jeff Laydon image to transform Pagosa Mountain Hospital entryway

When I received the telephone call from Jeff Laydon with news of a possible donation for the Pagosa Mountain Hospital permanent art collection, Michelle Visel, of the Hospital’s Board, and I quickly realized that we needed to re-form the Hospital’s Art Committee. With its new members; Linda and Lal Echterhoff, Sabine Baeckmann-Elge, Patricia Francis, Katharine Frisbee, Dong Long and Jean Smith; the Pagosa Mountain Hospital’s Art Committee has begun to accept new works.

 Our decision to select Jeff’s “Ponderosa Pines,” a black and white photographic image on framed canvas was made instantly. There was no doubt where this panoramic image of the Ponderosa pine trees located across South Pagosa Boulevard from the Pagosa Mountain Hospital would be placed among the hospital’s permanent art collection. With its Ansel Adams-like aesthetic, this 51-inch wide by 21-inch tall piece emulates the peaceful yet powerful healing environment of the inspirational Pagosa Springs area. A distillation of the emotional experience of natural beauty around us! Laydon has truly captured the sublime magnificence and power of nature in this image, whose outward trees appear bowing towards the sunrise that pierces almost miraculously through the stand of trees centered in the image. Perhaps in thankfulness and awe of the dawn of a new day.

 Donors, Sam and Frances Lane, long-time residents of Pagosa Springs and Center, Texas, revel in the striking, simple beauty of Laydon’s “Ponderosa Pines.”

“The new Pagosa Mountain Hospital is so important to our community; so needed. We’re very proud to support the Hospital and Jeff through our donation,” exclaims Frances. The Lanes have known Jeff and Lora Laydon ever since the Laydon’s moved to Pagosa Springs, and have always admired Jeff’s photographic work. On one of Frances’ recent visits to Lora’s business, Frances’ eye was caught by Jeff’s “Ponderosa Pines.”

“This image, in black and white, captures the essence of its subject.”

 Ponderosa Pines will be hung on the expansive wall just to the left of the hospital’s chapel doorway, and will be a tribute to the three “fallen” trees located just outside the hospital — the trees that will soon be carved by artist Chad Haspels, the 100- to 150-year-old giants that succumbed under the pressures of their changing environment. To accompany the Laydon image, Visel envisions installation of a video loop capturing wood carver Haspels as he transforms these fallen soldiers of time into their new sculptural healing force of life.

 For Jeff Laydon, making photography his career continues — a work in progress with so many directions to take and not take. “My career in photography has been quite an adventure. The assignments came at an early age and with, seemingly, little effort on my part.” High school pictures led to staff and administration portraits, which led to the local suburban newspaper special features and news pictures. A trip Laydon took to Europe as a 17 year-old inspired an appreciation of classical culture and arts. “That trip is still a close memory because of the pictures I took, some of which I still sell. College was a fun, independent study on which direction my career would lead.”

 Next stop, a major newspaper in Dallas. Laydon found he worked best with direction and challenging demands. Fast-paced hard work with enthusiastic attitude and drive made Laydon’s every assignment more fun. His results were accepted with rewards beyond financial. Concentrated daily practice of commercial purpose! Brochures, catalogs, special sections, annual reports, fashion, food,  jewelry, celebrities, dignitaries, politicians, aerial, architecture, concerts, just about everything a  photographer could wish for in a career. 

 Then another direction: Laydon’s pictures could help meet needs. Serving with his pictures to help larger causes — diseases, environment, crime and suicide prevention, issues of children and the elderly — those rewards developed in Laydon a substantial inner need to continue the practice.

 “With all the great things happening in my career, I found I wanted to return to Colorado with my wife and 3-year old twin girls. I was sort of tired of the pace and the ‘distant’ relationships with all the commercial subjects I had.” Laydon’s return was a renaissance of his career that was not expected. At the time, “I was even looking at a different career. The camera kept pulling me back with assignments, I was very capable of. But something was different.”

 Portraiture was part of Laydon’s portfolio, but it was rarely portraits for the individual and the people most important to them. “The portraiture I did was for publicity, promotions and advertising, and generally was not an archive, but instead had a temporary life.” In Pagosa Springs, Laydon was doing portraits for families and lovers, children, grandparents, celebrations, anniversaries and high school days. Real portraiture that would be heirlooms to the next generation! “I am grateful for the chance to make the pictures for people. It is gratifying beyond my expectations and has become a mission.”

 “With all the directions I could have taken, I am happy to continue on this direction. This work is not work, I love the experiences and contacts with so many legacies.” Jeff has remained true to his medium; and for that we are grateful.

Photo courtesy Linda Echterhoff
Sam and Frances Lane, left and center, donated Pagosa photographer Jeff Laydon’s black and white work “Ponderosa Pines” to Pagosa Mountain Hospital. Laydon is seen at the right, with the Lanes.