Orange County Center for Contemporary Arts 2019
In October 2019 I had my first solo gallery show at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Arts, OCCCA, in the artist’s village of downtown Santa Ana, California. Rather than have a static art show that consisted of just my photos on the walls I decided to create a “Gallery Exhibition Experience” that involved all of the human senses as well as storytelling elements far beyond pictures on a wall. It was important to me that I do as much of the work as possible by myself. It was a very ambitious show and had many multimedia elements that I had no experience with. I filled 6,300 square feet with over 80 pieces of art, mostly large framed prints, curated costume pieces, an experience room with larger than life video projection, and hosted two special events as well an opening attended by over 1200 people. The work included 9 different series from over 12 years of underwater photography. I printed every single picture myself in sizes from 4x6 inches to 44x64 inches, on 8 different very specific papers ranging from thick, beautifully textured, European, fine art papers to translucent, mulberry bark based, Japanese papers, 100% cotton metallic paper, and even wallpaper. I mounted all the prints myself, picked out every single unique frame, helped my framer physically frame them, designed the show and hung the work with the help of a friend. With every single frame being unique and different sizes the show was hung in the style of a museum which created great visual interest. I created hanging scrolls, small embellished cabochon necklaces and a large room divider all with my work printed myself. I edited video taken underwater during my photo shoots and installed a TV to share behind the scenes of what I do. To best share the reason why I photograph underwater I created an Underwater Experience room with special effects lighting to simulate the feeling of being in my swimming pool, projected video of my models in the water during my photo shoots, hung one of the long flowing gowns that was in motion from a slow moving fan, had the sound of water piped in and even added a faint hint of the smell of chlorine to give a full sensory experience. We curated 15 costumes, gowns, headpieces and fairy wings from some of the designers I work with and displayed them on mannequins. My three mermaid tails were creatively displayed in large acrylic museum boxes. Rather than having an artist’s talk featuring just me I opted to host a panel with 6 of my most frequent collaborators, women who create costumes, headpieces, model, do underwater makeup and talk about what we all do, why and what makes for a healthy creative collaboration. We had over 100 people and the response to the evening was enthusiastic and positive. As a fundraiser for OCCCA I hosted a very well attended fine art printing workshop for photographers. As OCCCA is a non-profit gallery run by volunteers I was responsible for advertising and marketing the show. As an artist in residence I was present almost every single day of the month long event, often opening up and closing the gallery myself. While the purpose of this show was not just to sell work but rather create an experience, I did sell enough to cover all of my considerable expenses. The final day of the show I was on an airplane from New York where I was speaking at PhotoPlus Expo. We landed, jumped in the car, raced to the gallery 90 minutes away, took down all the work, moved it all out, patched and painted the walls, all before midnight. All of it was sooooo much work. And it was totally worth it. It exceeded all of my expectations and was a very valuable lesson in the business side of being an artist. I now have a full show that can be installed in any gallery. The gallery curator is welcome to choose from any of the series, individual pieces, or a combination of any of the elements. It’s all wrapped up and ready to go. Please contact me if you know of a gallery that might be a good fit for my work. Thank you so much.
This gallery show experience was just like my work - while I took all the photos and edited them to create the images, without the people involved I would be taking photos of clear water.
My work is a collaboration with many talented, hard-working creatives who I cherish and value.
For as much as I did the artwork myself, installing and putting the show together was a group effort by so many people who I am very fortunate to have in my life. Nobody who was just a “friend” or family would have gotten involved in this massive undertaking - these were people who truly love me.
I could not have done this without them and I am forever grateful for their love and support.
Laguna Beach Festival of Arts 2020 - 2021