U 2 Can Take Pix

Posted July 2, 2009 in Arts & Culture

I can’t remember the first time I picked up a camera, but I do remember the first Polaroid I emptied and the first time I opened the back of my dad’s old point-and-shoot, exposing the film of our family’s trip to the zoo to the bright summer sunlight in the backyard of our old house in Riverside. They say it’s best to start young and for as long as I can remember, every family trip ended with a stop at the photo counter at our local Thrifty, or Rite-Aid to develop the day’s or weekend’s worth of film. Although neither I nor my siblings took on photography later in life, the interest always lingered.


So, during my first visit to the UCR/California Museum of Photography in downtown Riverside, the “Joshua Tree Photo Excursion 2009”—a collective of works from photographers of all levels and ages—caught me by surprise. 


This year’s night photography theme definitely shed a different kind of light on Joshua Tree National Park. For a weekend, photography enthusiasts and photographers alike gathered for special lectures in Palm Springs and workshops in Twentynine Palms all the while snapping photos of Joshua trees in between forays, resulting in a digital exhibit with over 60 photos. The twist is the selected photography now displayed in the museum’s digital studio came from people from all walks of life.


“They’re people who come from as far as San Diego or Santa Barbara. They may have just heard about it on the Internet,” says Reggie Woolery, the digital studio director. “We make it open to anyone who wants to participate. Last year we probably had about 40 people take photos and this year we had 80 people participate. Some of them stay over night and camp, others just take day trips.”


With photos ranging from night images of buildings and plants to dead jack rabbits, to double exposure and light tricks, the exhibit as a collaborative show can be seen as many different perspectives on one whole from simple mug shots of interesting desert plants to creative outlets derived from a strange night universe. And interestingly enough, the images are exactly that: a collective of different perspectives on one whole.


“If you look at the actual exhibit there are some works by students who are 12, which are OK or nice pieces, and then there are pieces that are exemplary mixed in,” Woolery says. “We try to find interesting ways for people to take pictures not just individuals but try to collaborate on something. So we’re trying to think of ideas.”


What seemed, at first glance, simple pictures of a desert community with closer looks, a more extravagant tale is revealed through the eyes of experts and amateurs.


“There are a lot of emerging and established photographers in the Inland regions, and through these types of contests and special programs they can get their work shown,” Woolery says. “They don’t have to be in Los Angeles to work.”


So while my siblings and I have yet to try our hand at the art, with exhibits like this one, should our day jobs fail us, we still have a shot to shoot.


Photographers represented in “Joshua Tree Excursion 2009” include: Alma Lopez, Ami Flori, Andrea Price, Angelique Galvan, Anthony Rosales, Barbara May, Beatriz Mejia-Krumbein, Bruce Miller, CR Steyck, Carlos Garcia, Carlos Puma, Corinne Cardenas, D’Arcy Curwen, Debera LaFave, Diane Calder, Doug Buckley, Michael J. Elderman, Eszter Delgado, Geno Lopez, Geoff, Shaw, Isabel Delgado-Betz, Jacalyn Lopez Garcia, Jason Ejercito, Jim Belsley, Jose Beruvides, Julia Buckley, Julian Cuevas, Justin Kenward, Katelin Johnson, Laura Araujo, Mary Maurry, Mateo Delgado-Betz, Memo Cuevas, Pat May, Peter Krumbein, Rex Bruce, Reggie Woolery, Rhoda Lewis, Susanne Melanie Berry and Thom Cameron.


“Joshua Tree Excursion 2009,” at UCR/California Museum of Photography, 3840 Main St., Riverside, (951) 827-4787; www.cmp.ucr.edu. Tues.-Sat., noon-5PM, thru July 25.


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