Petroglyphs from Piedras Marcadas and Rinconada Canyon on Albuquerque’s west side. Now part of Petroglyph National Monument.
In 1980, shortly after moving to Albuquerque from Michigan’s Thumb, Steven noticed the volcanic escarpment on Albuquerque’s west side and began to explore it. His photographs of the petroglyphs he found pre-date the establishment of Petroglyph National Monument. He was drawn to the rugged beauty of the area and became very concerned about the vandalism he found on each photographic visit.
Many of his prints were shown in two one-man shows: first at the painter, Harry Fonseca’s Quail Plume Gallery in April and May 1982 and then at the Albuquerque Public Library.
The Quail Plume Gallery show was featured in an Albuquerque Journal article by L.A. Mitchell on Sunday, April 18, 1982. “To bring out the designs on the rugged lava rocks, Donahue overexposed plus-X film and overdeveloped it in the darkroom. In Donahue’s pictures, the viewer can immediately see a relationship between design, form, and environment. The jagged body of a snake is reflected in the jagged edges of nearby rocks.” The article goes on to say that, “Photography purists may be annoyed at the obvious grain and blocking effect Donahue stuck with in order to make the dim gray designs stand out better in the print. He admittedly sacrificed those pristine characteristics of good photography to enhance the center piece of his work – the petroglyphs.” He is quoted as saying, “I try to get a natural balance in a picture, either in the subject or in the light.”