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Creative Eye Photo Gallery records

Identifier: AG 39

Scope and Contents

The records of the Creative Eye Photo Gallery consist primarily of clippings, correspondence, exhibition announcements, contracts, resumes, statements and gallery memorabilia.

The bulk of the correspondence is between John Mercer and photographers who were interested in exhibiting at the gallery. This collection illustrates the daily operation of a small gallery and its appeal to a wide variety of West Coast photographers. Over fifty photographers are represented through biographies, resumes, and exhibition statements. Monthly critique sessions and the activities of the Critical Focus group are sparsely documented. The commercial work, publishing endeavors, and financial records of the gallery are not represented in this collection.

Memorabilia from the gallery includes a guest register, a shingle bearing the logo of the gallery, a tee shirt, and rubber stamps.


  • 1973-1977


Language of Materials

Material in English

Conditions Governing Access

To access materials from this collection, please contact

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission from the copyright owner (which could be the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates or literary executors) prior to any copyright-protected uses of the collection.

The user agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents, the University of Arizona, Center of Creative Photography, including its officers, employees, and agents, from and against all claims made relating to copyright or other intellectual property infringement

Historical Note

The Creative Eye Photo Gallery (Sonoma, Calif.), was established in June 1974 by John and Patricia Mercer. Their primary intent was "to educate the public about photography as a fine art by presenting monthly exhibits of quality creative photography by relatively unknown photographers from throughout the U.S." They exhibited the work of over thirty photographers in twenty four mostly one and two person shows. Although photographers Ruth Bernhard and Walter Chappell each had shows there, most of the exhibits were by younger artists, including Karen Truax, Jack Staler, and Diana Schoenfeld.

Besides exhibits, the gallery sponsored critique sessions and workshops. Critical Focus, a group of local photographers dedicated to the appreciation and discussion of photography and related issues, gathered occasionally at the gallery. Members of this group included John Mercer, Tom Schloff, Ann Duncan, Fred Jacobs, John LeBaron, Noble Dinse, and others. In July 1976, five members of the group exhibited their photographs at the Santa Rosa Junior College Art Gallery. The gallery also offered to execute, on commission, hand¬colored portraits for individuals, and published a monograph, Island of the Pelicans: A Photographic Essay of the Island of Alcatraz by John Mercer.

Due to financial difficulties the Creative Eye Photo Gallery closed in March 1977.


2 Boxes (fraction of a linear foot)

Metadata Rights Declarations

  • License: This record is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons license.


Correspondence, clippings, memorabilia, and exhibition files, 1973 - 1977, of the Creative Eye Photo Gallery (Sonoma, Calif.). The gallery was founded and directed by John Douglas Mercer (1945 - ) and Patricia Mercer from 1974 to 1977.

Custodial History

This collection was given to the Center for Creative Photography by John Mercer in June 1977.>


  1. Mercer, John D. (1945- )
  2. Mercer, Patricia
  3. Galleries
  4. Photography

Processing Information

Processed summer 1984 by Judith Leckrone.Fragile newspaper clippings were photocopied for reference use; the originals are located in last folder.

Finding aid updated by Meghan Jordan in May 2016.

Creative Eye Photo Gallery Records 1973-1977
Finding aid created by Lenox Wiese
© 2016
Description rules
Finding Aid Based On Dacs (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid encoded in English .

Repository Details

Part of the Center for Creative Photography Archives Repository

1030 N. Olive RD
Tucson Arizona 85721 United States