OAKHURST — Local photographer, well-known teacher and beloved community member Brian Wilhite recently had the rug of health pulled out from under him when he was diagnosed with bone and lung cancer. One minute the outdoorsy artist, 73, was flying joyfully down the slopes during an extended ski season and the next, it seems, he was digesting the sort of news no one wants to hear.
As the usually fit and athletic owner of White Cloud Photography fights back against this blow, family and friends rally to his aid. Daughter Chelsea is his primary medical advocate, going along with her dad on his appointments and helping to orchestrate necessities on his behalf.
A fundraising site has been established online, and up next is an exciting auction featuring portions of Brian’s personal photography collection — along with a party — to celebrate and share his talent while adding much-needed coin to his recovery fund.
“Come on down to Oakhurst’s lovely riverside wine bar for an opportunity to own one of Brian’s most brilliant photographic pieces,” say organizers including Wendy Fisher, who explains that guests will have nearly 100 matted images of various sizes to choose from during the auction.
Prices for the silent and live auction range from $30 to more than $800, depending on the piece. The event is scheduled for Thursday, June 23 at Queen’s Inn by the River, starting at 6 p.m.
The wide-ranging collection features breath-taking landscapes from Yosemite, as well as images of Brian’s travels around the world. Born in Atascadero, Brian grew up in Fish Camp, Wawona, and Yosemite Valley, and is an alumnus Sierra High School and Fresno State; he has taught at Yosemite High School and Oakhurst Community College.
Now living in Ahwahnee, Brian is active with the Fresno Ski Club and Central Valley Hiking Group, and many of those members plan to be in attendance the evening of the auction. In addition to photographs Brian has taken, items up for bid will also include historic and museum-quality images he’s collected over the years.
The night is shaping up to be an exceptional one, with John Kilburn playing jazz and classical guitar. There is no cover charge to attend. Brian is undergoing chemotherapy, so how he’s feeling varies from day to day. Still, everyone knows Brian likes a good party so, if he can, he’ll be there.
Queen’s Inn is located at 41139 Highway 41 in Oakhurst
This article was updated on June 17 at 1:50 p.m. – Willow Creek is not catering.