Exhibit at Davis Arts Center documents changes in photographic process 

Davis, CA – January 2, 2015:  This month Davis Arts Center presents From Darkroom to Digital, an exhibit of work from the Center’s historic photography collection alongside contemporary digital photographs by Dave Webb. The exhibit will be on display from January 2 through January 30, 2015 in the Arts Center’s Tsao Gallery. Gallery hours are Monday-Thursday, 9:30 am – 7:00 pm; Friday, 9:30 am – 5:00 pm, and Saturday, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. 

A reception, which is free and open to the public, will take place on Friday, January 9 from 7 to 9 p.m. during the Davis Downtown 2nd Friday Art About.

Before the advent of the digital camera, most photography was created through the time-consuming, technically demanding process of the darkroom. Over the past ten years, the wide availability of smartphone cameras and applications for manipulating images has revolutionized the way fine art photographs are conceived. Davis Arts Center’s current exhibit contrasts darkroom and digital images from different eras, allowing viewers to observe and reflect on the results of this technical sea change.

Davis Arts Center’s photography collection, acquired from the 1960s through the early 1990s, includes work by Jeffery Briggs, Stephen Bristow, Hedi B. Desuyo, Hal Faulkner, Lloyd Fergus, Kurt E. Fishback, Lynda Frese, Geoffrey Fricker, Mary Gottwals, Margery Mann, David Posther, David Robertson, Rob Saecker, Larry Snyder, Jim Sylva, and Kathryn Sylva. During a time of burgeoning creativity and innovation in the arts in our region, these photographers used their medium and enhancement techniques like solarization, hand-tinting, and superimposition to heighten the subjective intent and create images that are more visionary than representational.

In Lynda Frese’s solarized and toned gelatin silver prints of human figures with photograms (1983), Jeffery Briggs’ depiction of superimposed faces (1984) and Kathryn Sylva’s woman in motion (n.d.), the development process leads to images that are less about their subjects than about the photographer’s aesthetic vision. Taken a step further, in work like Marjery Mann’s “Pleasant Valley” series (1963) and David Robertson’s “Bridal Veil Falls” (1984) abstract patterns clearly rise to the foreground, subsuming the “reality” of the original images.

Dave Webb’s photographs, in contrast, were captured and edited relatively instantaneously on an iPhone, and the juxtaposition of his pieces with the earlier work is fascinating. While photographic techniques may have changed dramatically, certain subjects, themes and aesthetic elements have remained constant.

Webb has a master’s eye for composition and an intuitive use of color that supports the strong architectural lines he is drawn to, such as the minimalist view of the Capitol building in Jerry Brown (2013), the rusted but preternaturally solid farm truck in Actually This is Your Father’s Oldsmobile (2014), and the ghostly cabin in Habitat (2014). 

When seen next to Fricker’s simple but elegant San Francisco Light (1971) or Mary Gottwals’ hand-tinted Turquoise Highway, New Mexico (1992) and “Down Lo” Round Rock Texas (1992), Webb’s compelling images prove the old adage that – in art, at least – the more things change the more they stay the same.

Davis Arts Center’s photography collection is part of a larger collection of over 100 artworks in a variety of media by local artists, some of whom – like Robert Arneson, William Theo Brown, and Paul Wonner – went on to achieve national and international recognition. All works are for sale and proceeds are being invested with Yolo Community Foundation to provide long-term financial stability for the Arts Center and support its community arts engagement programs. 

Dave Webb’s iPhone images have been featured in the New York Times blog Lens, the Sacramento News & Review, Davis Enterprise, KCRA, KXTV, KMAX and Sactown. Past shows include “SATURATE YOLO,” an exhibition of hundreds of images of Yolo County, presented in conjunction with the City of Davis’ “Phone Art Month,” and “SATURATE SACRAMENTO,” a similarly conceived exhibition concurrent with Sacramento’s “Phone Art Month” and partly funded by the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. His work has been exhibited at Davis Art Center’s Tsao Gallery, AID Co-op and John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis; and at Capital Public Radio, Little Relics, and the Viewpoint Gallery in Sacramento.

Photos attached:  San Francisco Light (1971), gelatin silver print by Geoffrey Fricker; Habitat (2014), digital print by Dave Webb.

Contact:  Erie Vitiello, Executive Director

Davis Arts Center, 1919 F Street, Davis, CA  95616

(530) 756-4100       erie@davisartscenter.org

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