Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Jerry P. Park - Artist of Distinction

After you've looked at Jerry Park's photographs for a while, you start to get a feeling that this is a guy who really enjoys living and also enjoys carrying his camera around to take pictures of where his life has taken him. I'm betting this is a guy who doesn't want to miss a photo opportunity...ever! Somehow, I imagine Park as someone who is insanely curious about what's over the next hill, enjoys traveling, has a keen eye for catching details, and has a pleasant and outgoing personality. I hope I'm right! It all comes through in his photographs...they are well composed...beautiful and expressive.  Park is showing eight photographs in Still Point Art Gallery's Still Point II exhibition; three are shown here.

Out of Tune, In Here Somewhere

Born in North Carolina, but loving Tennessee since moving there in 1986, Jerry Park's interest in photography began a long time ago. Since retiring a couple of years ago, Park is now spending a lot of his time behind his camera. And he couldn't be happier!

I asked Jerry Park to say some things about the photographs in the exhibition.

Out of Tune
My son-in-law knows I like to shoot abandoned places.  He put me onto the old high school, which was closed in 1999. Strangely, all kinds of things were just left against the elements, vandals, and time, including this piano in the school auditorium. As I was setting up my tripod for the shot, an owl came screeching out of the door behind the keyboard, over my head and out a broken window on the other side. I went back a year later to find that the roof had collapsed, burying the piano, seats, stage, and all forever. A short time later, somebody burned it to the ground. Sad.

In Here Somewhere
Hatch has been making posters (you know, the kind you used to see a lot of tacked up on telephone poles advertising gospel sings and wrestling matches…) for 140 years. The store, located on Broadway,
is a treat to visit. We were graciously allowed to go behind the counter and shoot all the one-of-a-kind nooks and crannies.  I'm sure the boss knows exactly where everything is on this desk….

Vieux Carre Palette
Spicy food. Raucous, jazzy noise. Humidity so thick you have to change clothes a couple of times a day to remain socially pleasing. The French Quarter. Wild, historic, vibrant, sensuous. You may or may not line up with everything about this storied village.  But, the color…oh, the colors. Rich, varied, warm, saturated, peeling. The residents tend to live life in eternal celebration, and the colors reflect their joy of life. This is old New Orleans.

Christine Cote: From where do you draw inspiration for your  work?

Jerry Park: Basically, the beauty all around me. There is good in abundance everywhere, if we just go at it with a sense of expectancy, of  believing it is there. The way an arc intersects a straight line. A tree  silhouetted against a ruined warehouse wall. Sun rays breaking through on the back end of a spring storm. I am also inspired by the greats in our field of passion. Ansel Adams has had a tremendous effect on my work at this point.

Christine Cote: What do  you most like to photograph?

Jerry Park: My favorite state to shoot is Utah. The canyons, colors, rivers amassed in the southern third of that state challenge me to find a fresh way to project this incomparable place. Currently, a project that has the juices flowing involves unusual work spaces. Places that most of us never see. The scenes "behind the counter." And, the messier, the better. These are places where real people do real work, untouched by relentless corporate rules designed to mold everyone into bland sameness. Places like a tire recapper, carseat re-upholsterer, cabinet maker, florist, auto repair shop, luthier (a what?), a two-chair barbershop...  I'm up to around 20 of these now and have another dozen or so on my list.  Great fun and I'm meeting fascinating people in these mostly family (in some cases, multi-generational) businesses that form the sinews and tendons of American commerce.

Christine Cote: How do go about creating a piece? What is your behind-the-camera process? What is your postproduction process?

Jerry Park: I rarely set out with an image in mind. Rather, I drive or walk around places  that are interesting to me. Then I just let it happen. I look all around the image in the viewfinder to see what is of interest throughout the picture. My images are often busy, with lots of  details. I'm thinking "story" all the time. What is necessary within the borders of the box to tell the story without making it too obvious?  How will this real object translate to two dimensions only? I strive to get a main story with other peripheral vignettes. I  want to finish with an image that immediately evokes some emotion, but that will also provide something new every time it is viewed. With much of my work dealing with multiple exposures of a scene, I often use an HDR software package to combine the light  values. Occasionally, I do this through layers and masks in  Photoshop.  Eventually, I wind up in Photoshop regardless, where I  typically will isolate tiny parts of the overall work for selection and editing.  An average number of individual layers  for me in a finished work is 50-60. I make my own prints on an Epson 3800 and do much of my own framing.

Christine Cote: Is there anything you want people to know about you or your work?

Jerry Park: Any artist, I believe, must create constantly, even if no one ever sees their work. The core of our satisfaction must come from our own experiencing. However, I do feel pressed to share whatever  talents I've been given with others. This is the only way community happens. This is how people live well.  There is a reason I have these talents, and it is not to keep them hidden. So, my hope is that the viewer of my work is a little better off after seeing one of my  pieces than they were before. If I've been able to do that, I'm good to  go.

Out of Tune (18x12), digital photograph, unframed $375
Vieux Carre Palette (12x18), digital photograph, unframed $375
In Here Somewhere (18x12), digital photograph, unframed $375

Return to Still Point Art Gallery

Christine Brooks Cote
Still Point Art Gallery
April 7, 2010

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