John Vlahakis Engages The Kenilworth Garden Club

“For me, photography is a moment in time that I will never forget. It is the recorded history of our lives.” Recently at ZIA Gallery, John Vlahakis spoke about his work as a photographer to creative members of The Kenilworth Garden Club.

John Vlahakis talks about his photography.

Members of The Kenilworth Garden Club listen to John Vlahakis talk about his photography.

John first became interested in photography when he was in high school. Those early years awakened a concern for the environment and a fascination with human behavior, dual paths that proved to have staying power.  Throughout college he was known to carry a camera wherever he went. Years later when he picked up photography again, John pushed ahead with a quiet passion and studied observation, diving deep into his creative process.

"Periwinkle" by John Vlahakis, 30" x 30" edition of 5.

“Periwinkle” by John Vlahakis, 30″ x 30″ edition of 5.

Today John has embraced the digital camera while treating it as he would his analog equipment: taking time to compose, waiting until the optimum second to capture the light, the movement, the image; reluctant to waste “film” on a throw-away photo.

John Vlahakis with one of his digital cameras and tripod he uses for capturing nature in movement and low light.

John Vlahakis with one of his digital cameras and tripod he uses for capturing nature in movement and low light.

"Chicago's Winter Glory" 20" x 30" by John Vlahakis edition of 5.

“Chicago’s Winter Glory” 20″ x 30″ by John Vlahakis edition of 5.

Those two early paths of interest continue to show in his work.  Today John Vlahakis is noted for his clean, subtle landscapes that envelop the viewer – and his depictions of city life and the everyday person. More of John’s city images can be seen on his recent Instagram postings at https://www.instagram.com/johnvlahakisphotography/

John Vlahakis' Instagram postings of street life.

John Vlahakis’ Instagram postings of street life.

During the evening’s presentation to the garden club John was asked, “If you could wake up anywhere to photograph, where would that be?” John replied, ” For landscape, I would wake up in Iceland in a town called Vík with the beach of black lava sand.” There one is exposed to, “rain, sleet and snow; monstrous waves and the power of nature.”

"Stormcoming" by John Vlahakis 40 x 60 edition of 2.

“Stormcoming” by John Vlahakis 40 x 60 edition of 2.

On the other hand, for street photography, “In New York, I would wake up on an overcast day, with a little misty rain and lots of people.” In the street vendor, there you see the on-going story of “the immigrant trying to make a living. Fascinating people.”

"Night Noir" by John Vlahakis 26.5" x 40" edition of 5.

“Night Noir” by John Vlahakis 26.5″ x 40″ edition of 5.

Again of nature, John recalled a visit to the south coast of Australia where he realized no one else was there. “I was blown away by the solitude.”

John Vlahakis will have a featured exhibition this coming fall at ZIA Gallery, opening Saturday, October 14th, 2017, 5-7pm. Here he will exhibit work from his boxed portfolio project titled “Own Nature.” The introductory viewing was at AQUA Art Miami Basel in December where his work garnered many accolades. Some of the members of the garden club were also treated to a viewing.

"Own Nature" by John Vlahakis edition of 10

“Own Nature” by John Vlahakis edition of 10

Photographer Kimberly Schneider’s Haunting Depictions of Nature by Shannon Gallagher

New York City-based photographer Kimberly Schneider’s abstract landscapes are haunting depictions of nature left untouched by man. The desolate land and seascapes, frequently shot with infrared film, somehow transplant complex feelings of peace, stillness, melancholy, and the endurance of time into the viewer’s mind.

"Undercurrent" by Kimberly Schneider

“Undercurrent” by Kimberly Schneider

The work, for Schneider, is essentially a form of self-portraiture. She immerses herself in the environments she aims to document and employs meticulous hours in the darkroom perfecting the images. The artist connects deeply with Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and the coastal California town of Carmel, (where famed photographer Edward Weston lived and worked), and feels compelled to create as a result of her time there.

"Wave Study" by Kimberly Schneider

“Wave Study” by Kimberly Schneider

“I haven’t connected to anything the way I have with Carmel,” she said. “Since my first photography class, before I even knew that I was a landscape photographer, the plan was always to go to Carmel and make work. It all began when I took a trip to San Francisco. A friend of mine hooked me up with a stay in the Weston cabin, which was completely unexpected, and turned out to be everything I could possibly dream of. I had seen the cabin in photographs; and when I got there, I watched my dreams come to life. I just felt that I was always meant to shoot there,” she said.

"Point Lobos" by Kimberly Schneider

“Point Lobos” by Kimberly Schneider

Schneider went on to explain that much of the work is instinctual, and she tends to discover the subconscious aspects of her art while developing the images in her studio. “I shoot what I’m inspired by, but I’m not overthinking it.” When she begins to print the images, she discovers that the level of connectivity to her own life is obvious. “As I work, I realize how tied I am to my photos; there is no separation between my work and my life,” she said. “It’s sort of a zen thing. I just go with it.”

"Memory 2" by Kimberly Schneider

“Memory 2” by Kimberly Schneider

Living in New York provides the network necessary to pursue art as a career, but leaves Schneider longing for a place to escape the hurried nature of the city. “The goal is to be bi-coastal,” she said. “I’ve lived in California. I can’t be there full time, I need a big city… but I want to shoot in California. I have Pacific withdrawal right now,” she went on.

"Entanglement" by Kimberly Schneider

“Entanglement” by Kimberly Schneider

When she needs to get away from the city, but doesn’t have time to get to the West coast, Schneider visits the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, or takes the train to the Upper East Side. “I have a friend that lives by the edge of the water. There’s a walking bridge right on the water, and I’ll shoot and have fun, but I don’t take it as seriously, and I don’t often wind up printing the images. It doesn’t compare to California. I love the eroded feel of the rocks and terrain out West. It’s been a long time since I’ve been highly inspired locally. I cannot have a camera in my hand and not shoot, but in order to invest in printing something, I must feel connected to it,” she said.

Installation view of exhibition at ZIA Gallery

Installation view of exhibition at ZIA Gallery

The artist works from a custom-built, fully functional home darkroom that fits five 16×20 steel trays. “I live in New York, so it’s a very tight space. It can be challenging at times, but it works… and it’s necessary to have it at home,” she said. To get in the flow of creation, Schneider listens to loud music while working, including blues and jazz. “I’ve been listening to a lot of Judith Hill,” she continued. “I discovered her by accident, but she makes awesome printing music.”

"Whisper" by Kimberly Schneider

“Whisper” by Kimberly Schneider



As for what Schneider has planned for the future, her goals are to stay productive, continue making work, and to go back to California with a large format 4×5 camera. A photographer friend of Schneider’s gifted her a Graflex Crown Graphic that had been converted to a field camera, which she plans to use it on her next trip out West. “I’m not sure if it’ll be the end-all-be-all, because eventually I will want to use lenses that are too heavy for it, but I’m planning on making some new work with that,” she explained excitedly. “The more I print this work, the more I realize that it’s time to go large format. The next phase of this series needs the amount of detail that only a large format negative can provide. I am preparing to return to California to start the third phase of my ongoing body of work, which I hope will be the strongest I’ve made thus far,” she said.

Kimberly Schneider and some of her infrared photography

Kimberly Schneider and some of her infrared photography

Kimberly Schneider and Clyde Butcher are currently exhibiting at ZIA Gallery through June 18th, 2016. The gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10 – 5 pm and by appointment.