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Charlie McCullough Retrospective: Tower Gallery to reveal unprinted photos by famed photographer

February 8, 2018
By TIFFANY REPECKI ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

A one-year project that showcases never before printed photographs by Charlie McCullough, along with ones that have not been printed in quite some time, will debut this week at Tower Gallery.

The "Charlie McCullough Retrospective" will open on Feb. 8 at the artist co-op, with a public reception from 5 to 9 p.m. The event will feature newly discovered photos from McCullough's private collection, prints framed with wood from his home and a showing of a documentary about him.

The gallery will also hold a raffle for prints and auction off a signed McCullough photo.

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Shrimp boat photograph by Charlie McCullough.

Mike Danley, one of the Tower Gallery artists, explained that the McCullough family had wanted to print and frame the collection. Specializing in photography, he began the project in January 2017.

"Charlie had a couple thousand photos in his archive," Danley said. "Going through his files, there were like 2,000 images."

Sorting through the files, he first had to determine what could be printed.

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"Some of the files were too small to print," Danley said, adding that some needed to be cropped or reformatted, while others had to be touched up because of dust spots on the film.

He also had to sort out the non-island photos from the rest.

"I was excited to do it," Danley said. "I am a big fan of his photography."

Best known for his black and whites, McCullough also dabbled in sketches and watercolors.

"He captured the simplicity of the early days on Sanibel," he said of McCullough's better known medium. "He captured everyday life, and he was basically the only one who did it."

While pouring over the files, some images jumped out at Danley.

He cited a night fishing excursion as one.

"It's someone out on his boat fishing," Danley said, the name of the subject pictured in the shot lost over time. "It was pitch black out, and it was such a great shot."

Some of the prints will be framed in wood salvaged from McCullough's 1908 home, which was damaged by a fire in 2016 and later torn down. They will be available for purchase at the opening.

"It was one of the original homes on Sanibel," he said.

Also during the reception, the documentary "Postcards & Photos from Sanibel: The Sequel" will be shown. Produced by seven-time Emmy Award winner David E. Carter, the film features more than 60 photos from McCullough's private collection - many taken between the late 1960s and early 1980s.

Danley noted that the documentary contains many of the files he reviewed.

"Most of them will be in his film because I provided them to him," he said of Carter.

In a silent auction, attendees will have an opportunity to bid on an originally-signed photo.

"The signed ones are rare now," Danley said.

"We're also going to have a print giveaway," he added.

Framed and unframed prints, notecards and more will be available for purchase, along with the book "Sanibel Memories: The Photographs of Charles McCullough," which his family had published.

"There's different stuff and different sizes," Danley said.

Refreshments and hor d'oeuvres will be provided.

Throughout his life, McCullough's goals had been to capture on film how people respond to their environment and how the natural world develops and takes form, according to the gallery. He picked up a camera in 1939 at age 13 and never put it down. He took photos throughout high school and during his time at the University at Cornell. While there, McCullough joined the 10th Mountain Division.

After World War II, he married his high school sweetheart, Ann. He returned to Cornell to finish his degree and while they were there his daughter, MaryAnne, was born. After three more children and a long career in sailboat sales, McCullough and his wife retired to his grandfather's fishing clubhouse on Sanibel. He lived in the home until his death in 2013.

For more information, call 239-472-4557 or visit

Tower Gallery is at 751 Tarpon Bay Road, Sanibel.



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