My name is Sergio R.Romero, I am the fortunate man that found the latest photograph by Ansel Adams. I've always had a grand passion for antiques and a great love for all types of art. I see art as a door, for someone to express their most inner self. Because of my obsession for art, I began to collect it. I now have a small collection of antiques and various types of art work. I consider this my favorite hobby and have been collecting for about ten years now. I am a proud father of 8 children and an extremely proud grandfather of 11. Through the years two of my sons picked up the hobby and every once in a while one of us finds a small treasure. Never in my life did I expect to be the one to find such a prestige piece of art, especially one created by the Master of Photography. Here is where my story begins. In 2011 I obtained the most remarkable photograph and a few paintings at an estate sale. The estate sale had already ended, my involvement was to help clear out house of items that didn't sell during the sale. A local real estate co. was in charge of the estate sale after the sale ended. Our instructions were to empty all remaining items into a large dumpster that was place in front of the home. We were also told we could keep anything we wanted, it was all destine for the dumpster anyway. The sale was held in Pocatello, Idaho. When I arrived home after the first day, I carefully unloaded the photograph and paintings I spoke about earlier. It didn't take me long to determined the image was a black and white silver gelatin. It also looked like it had some age to it. This was the first time I was really impressed by a black and white silver gelatin. The The brown paper that sealed the back of the frame was half way torn off. In the state of frustration and not knowing it's historical value, I tore the paper off. However, the paper glued to the bottom of the frame that contained writing, remained. The writing was in pencil, on the left side it read, "Property of Wm. J. Potter". In the middle, the writing read, "El Capitan, Yosemite NP. Calif", and on the right side there is a signature that read, "Ansel Adams". Also, to the right of the signature, there was an art dealer sticker that read "McDowell and Harding Art Dealers 810 K st. Sacramento, Calif".Now, I knew very little about Ansel Adams at the time, and unaware that this photograph had flown under the radar for almost a century. About a month pasted and my family and I were getting ready to have a Bible study, I had the photograph hung on my dining room wall. Our Bible teachers almost immediately noticed the image and they asked me if the image had a signature. I answered yes, and proceeded to show them where it was located. We were all unaware how rare this signature really was. They told me they just saw an image created by Ansel Adams appraised for an outrageous amount of money on The Antique Roadshow. At that moment, I decided to take the image off the wall and secure it for the time being. That particular day, was the beginning of a journey that has so far lasted three years.
I can still remember some of the questions that went through my mind like, what was I really dealing with? Who really created this photograph? Who was Wm. J. Potter? Why was this photograph the property of Wm. J. Potter? Why was this photograph created so large? How did this image end up at an estate sale in Pocatello, Idaho? Why couldn't I find a signature on the web, belonging to Ansel Adams, that even came close to the signature on the frame. Who were the art dealers involved with this photograph? And what was I to do with this amazing historical find? Because I was so infatuated and determined to find the answers to these questions, I was faced with an uphill journey that would change my life forever. For example, in order to learn more about this photograph, I had to face one of my worst fears, the fear of a computer. I had to learn how to use a computer at the age of 48. I didn't even know how to send an email, as a matter of fact the only thing I knew about a computer was the on and off button. This was one of the most frustrating times of my life. Now, I can tear a motor completely apart and put it back together or build a house from the ground up, but I can honestly say that learning the computer was the hardest of all to learn. At the same time I had to learn how to spell better, my spelling skills were about a 1 on a scale of 10. The biggest dictionary in my home became my best friend until I learned to use the spell check on the computer. My reading skills were also being challenged, on a scale of 1-10 that skill was around a three. I did have my eyes checked and found I needed glasses which was a plus. I began to read more often and satisfied with my reading skills today.
As I was learning the computer, I also had to learn how to type. I felt like pulling hair out and also continued to ask myself, why I continue? I couldn't stop and became obsessed more and more everyday. So far, all of this took me about a year to learn and it felt like the longest year of my life. Now came the fun part, researching the image. As far as reading is concerned, I focused my time reading all about who Ansel Adams was. I sharpened my skills especially in the area on how to research. I invested at least 10 to 12 hours a day, most of my time trying to discredit the photograph at first, but everything I found just supported it. This made me even more obsessed and made me feel I needed to work harder and longer. Lets get back to those questions I mentioned above, keep in mind the fears and hurdles I had to overcome just to get to this point. The first question asked if I knew what I was dealing with. The answer to that was yes. After the first year, I realized I was dealing with the rarest and most amazing photograph created by the one and only, Mr. Ansel Adams. The second question asked if I knew who created this photograph? Like I mentioned, It is my belief today, Ansel Adams created this image in the year 1917, he was only 15 years old. The third question asked, who Wm. J. Potter was. It is my belief that he was one of Ansel Adams distant mentors in the art area, he was also recognized as an American Artist at the time. The forth question asked why was this image the property of Wm. J. Potter. It is my belief that Ansel Adams gave this image to Wm. J. Potter as a gift of appreciation, for knowledge given, knowledge pertaining to painting. The fifth question, questions the size. According to my research, Ansel Adams was experimenting with enlarging photographs in 1917. The size of this photograph is 16"x 20" and the earliest known 16"x 20" created by Ansel Adams today, is from 1938. How rare is that! Ansel Adams enlarged this specific photograph as a special gift for Wm. J. Potter. The sixth question asked how did this photograph end up in the state of Idaho. This is a question I would like to explain in more detail at a later time, as I will be expanding my story in the near future. The seventh question, questions the signature. Well, this particular signature can't be found on the web. Ansel Adams was only 15 years old when he created this photograph and he was 14 years old when he created his first photographs. So far, there is no record of Ansel Adams' teenage signature on any of the images he created as a teenager. How rare is that! Here's another question I forgot to mention, who were McDowell and Harding art dealers that were doing business at 810 K. street Sacramento, Calif. at the time? Their business sticker is also on the back of the frame. McDowell and Harding were art dealers that were doing business with master painters which was their main interest. It is my belief that Wm. J. Potter who was considered a master painter and McDowell and Harding were connected through art. Keep in mind that there were three parties involved with this photograph. During the second year, I focused on gathering evidences to support all of the questions above and I'm confident I've accomplished that today including about 25 other areas that support this photograph have been researched. Researching for answers was not too difficult , most of the information can easily be accessed on the web. I also realized that trying to discredit this historical photograph was a waste of my time. I made my first contact with Mathew Adams, the President of The Ansel Adams Gallery in California towards the end of the second year and was quite disappointed from his reaction but, I was not giving up. Today, after learning a little about the art world and all of the fraud involved with it, it's no wonder why Mathew Adams is so skeptical about anything new that pops up concerning Ansel Adams' photographs. So I was now faced with the biggest challenge of all, introducing and convincing the world that this photograph really exist and what a miracle that it has survived for almost a century. How can any American not acknowledge this historical photograph. I hope that everyone sees why I feel so obligated to see this photograph preserved, placed in the proper museum and available for the world to enjoy.
Is it inspiration or is it something divine that keeps me going, with the confidence of knowing I'm doing the right thing. If I was asked this question a few years ago I would have probably said it was insanity. Today I can truly say that it was both inspiration and divine that has gotten me to this point. The inspiration came from reading and getting to know a very inspirational man and his accomplishments, as he possessed a great love for beauty during the course of his life, that man is Ansel Adams. Do I feel this photograph is divine in some way? Yes I do, I feel this photograph has been divine since day one and for many reasons. Not once has the thought entered my mind that this photograph was not divine. So my three year journey has been both inspirational and divine and I truly believe that with all my heart. and soul. I have learned from this experience, that a man who sets his limits has also set his destiny. Being inspired by someone great, is a great feeling, but giving someone inspiration is a great accomplishment. So will I give up? Absolutely not, I've only just begun.