Our fourth annual Bay Area Photo Issue highlights sharp-eyed local visionaries
The six photographers showcased in our annual collection of Bay Area visions include a trio of young artists with new visions of portraiture. Cover artist Dean Dempsey mixes realism and artifice to reimagine a personal history involving lost limbs. The photos of Amanda Lopez and Parker Tilghman are supercharged by a love of California and of queer life, respectively. The issue's other three artists — Seza Bali, Sean Desmond, and Katherine Westerhout — reveal otherwise unseen (and in at least one case, tricky) beauty within the local landscape.
Highway 1 Overlook (from "New Landscapes"), 2010, archival pigment print, 16" x 54"
ABOUT THE PHOTO With this body of work, I combine traditional photography and digital technology to create images that speak of fabrication, illusion, and truth in photography. Questioning photography's nature of representation, the images explore the ideas of real versus imaginary, scenic beauty, and the sublime. Oceans get stretched; land masses change orientation, disturbing the landscape's passive quality. By expanding and collapsing space and changing the perception of the real, I create a new experience of a place. I am interested in this construction of impossible lands to speak of fantasy and to challenge the viewer's beliefs about the existence of these places. By creating these idyllic and unconventional scenes, I search for the true meaning of landscape: a place mysterious and unknown to me.
CURRENT/UPCOMING SHOWS "Counterpoint 2010: Approximating Truth," through Aug. 21. Togonon Gallery, 77 Geary, second floor, SF. Reception: Thurs/5, 5–7 p.m. (415) 398-5572, www.togonongallery.com . "Root Division's Ninth Annual Art Auction," Oct. 21. Root Division, 3175 17th St, SF. (415) 863-7668, www.rootdivision.org .
The Director ("Artifice" series)
Hand/gun ("Fragmentations" series), both 2010, transparency in light box, 36" x 24"
ABOUT THE PHOTOS I'm showing from two bodies of work that share parallels in biographical history to examine personhood, normality, and social agency. In "Artifice," I create an alienated, othered person as a way of discussing hybridity and gender in the context of the viewer's gaze, exposing paraphernalia of process and production while simultaneously staging unreal and slightly grotesque figures. In "Fragmentations," I anatomically deconstruct the body as discourse of origin and paternalism to retrace sights of trauma. Both series are ongoing, and I'm expanding on them in unison to construct a wider and interrelated narrative.
CURRENT SHOW "Counterpoint 2010: Approximating Truth," through Aug. 21. Togonon Gallery, 77 Geary, 2nd floor, SF. Reception: Thurs/5, 5–7 p.m. Artists' talk: Sat/7, 4 p.m. (415) 398-5572, www.togonongallery.com .
Untitled (Red), 2009, c-print on glossy paper, 16" x 20"
ART AND LIFE I believe in Gilbert and George. They refuse to distance their art from their daily lives and insist that everything they do is art. While I don't quite take it to such an extravagant level, I do think it's important to incorporate my work into everything I do. Otherwise, all is for naught. I utilize traditional, analog processes the wrong way to produce unexpected results. I am rather interested in exploiting and manipulating the dying aspects of the photographic medium in order to achieve surreal and dreamlike images. I spend hours in the darkroom experimenting with and fine-tuning processes that I stumble upon in my explorations. I often take inspiration from those around me. We are so fortunate in San Francisco to be surrounded by beautiful, creative people with a lot of energy to give. With their help, I want to build a new queer history.
SHOW "Spectrum Art Auction for Access Institute," Oct. 17. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF. (415) 861-5449, www.accessinst.org .
Chandra, 2009, c-print on Fuji Crystal Archive, 20" x 30"
ABOUT THE PHOTO This photo is part of a series I'm working on called "Cali LOVE." The series is inspired by Dia de los Muertos, and is a collaborative project with makeup artist Jenni Tay and hairstylist Justina Downs. Chandra is a friend and agreed to let me take her picture as part of the project. Thus far, I have photographed 18 people. All of my subjects are friends or family members.
UPCOMING SHOWS "El Tecolote: Imagining the Mission — Pasado, Present, Futuro," Sat/7 through Aug. 29. Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission, SF. (415) 643-5001, www.missionculturalcenter.org .
Wards VII, 2001-07, pigment on rag paper, 20.5" x 25.5" and 30" x 40"
ART AND LIFE Closely related to the language of dreams, photography reveals reflections that inform my life. Within abandoned buildings, an echo punctuates human absence; carried on the light is a harbinger ... These buildings are full of mystery and promise, and the longer one lingers the more embraced one feels by a presence, beyond the prosaic, in a sweeping realm, conjoined and familiar. I want others to feel a part of these places, to feel connected to the light within. True to the initial exposure, the photograph speaks directly. This photo is of Montgomery Ward's former Western Distribution Center in East Oakland. It was taken during the site's demolition in 2001.
CURRENT SHOWS "Wondrous Strange: A Cabinet of Twenty-first Century Curiosities," through August 28th. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Artists' Gallery, Fort Mason Center, Bldg A, SF. (415) 441-4777, www.smoma.org ; "Degrees of Separation: Contemporary Photography from the Permanent Collection," through March 14, 2011. San Jose Museum of Art, 110 South Market, San Jose. (408) 271-6840, www.sjmusart.org .
Untitled (from "The Tenderloin Project"), 2009, 35mm Giclée print, 40" x 60"
ABOUT THE PHOTO This image is from an ongoing artistic endeavor I've been working on in the Tenderloin since November 2008. Through photography, I've had the chance to interact with the community and its residents, seeking to capture a compelling and honest portrait focused on the art of living. A common thread I've heard from people living on the street is that, hardships aside, they enjoy the freedom that the streets afford them. Like birds, they have no roof or limiting boundaries. For me, the photo evokes this freedom and also the capabilities that we as humans all possess. The pigeons, like the human subject in the frame, are ascending and going forth. They embark into an unknown future, where perhaps optimism will conquer adversity. It's all in tune with my project's aim, displaying a sense of benevolence and hope through art in one of San Francisco's most marginalized communities.