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Inside Marty Knapp’s Photo Gallery

Jean and I spent Thanksgiving afternoon readying the gallery walls for the opening of my GLASS Photography Exhibit. Here are some photos taken after we spiffed everything up for our opening reception on Saturday, November 29th at 3PM. Hope you can make it! And, if you can’t, please enjoy this little photo tour I put together especially for you.
If you click these photos, some nice larger ones will open for your enjoyment!

Front window and entrance to Marty Knapp Photo Gallery.

Front window and entrance to Marty Knapp Photo Gallery.

Years ago, the building that houses our gallery was home to a cafe and bar. It was owned by a man named Angelo, hence the “Angie’s” logo set in tile on our landing.

Left corner of lobby

Left corner of lobby

The lobby area is where we’ll set up refreshments during our Saturday opening.

Right corner of lobby.

Right corner of lobby.

The large ball appears to be floating, but it is the magic of the light creating the effect.

Entry into main gallery room.

Entry into main gallery room.

As you enter the lobby, the main gallery is to your right. Take a peak before you enter.

Reception counter and back wall to main wall

Reception counter and back wall to main wall

When you come in, either Jean or I will be sitting behind the desk. We welcome all our visitors warmly. Please come in and enjoy the world we have created on these dark chocolate colored walls.

Front, window wall and counter. Books, folios, notecards.

Front, window wall and counter. Books, folios, notecards.

At the back is a counter laden with framed miniatures, folios of prints, books and notecards. A complete catalog sits on a bookstand in the center of the counter. To the left is a bin with hundreds of large reference prints, including many not hanging on our walls.

South corner, flare photographs

South corner, flare photographs

The shorter gallery wall and shelf feature photographs of the unusual flare-like effects created as light passes through glass objects. Some of these effects were created by light passing through quartz crystals.

Mt. Vision Moon & Pacific Sunset

Twenty-five years ago this month I stood behind my tripod-mounted camera on a rock outcropping near Mount Vision on the Inverness Ridge. As I gazed to the east, a spectacular full moon rose above the knuckle-like creases of Black Mountain.  In the valley, a thick luminous fog rose, gradually swallowing the mountain’s sensual folds.

This was the second consecutive evening that I had ventured to that high ridge in search of a magical moonrise photograph. On the first evening my timing was wrong, but I ended up witnessing and photographing a spectacular sunset before leaving the mountain. My return to Mt. Vision the next evening almost didn’t happen, but somehow I managed to make it to the top. It turned out to be one of the most memorable of many photographic adventures I’ve had in the Point Reyes National Seashore. I commemorated these two evenings in my book, Point Reyes 20 Years. Here are the essays I wrote about the making of Pacific Sunset and Mount Vision Moonrise. These two photographs are forever connected and etched in my heart and mind.

Pacific Sunset, September 1989
From atop the Inverness Ridge on Mount Vision, you can look into two worlds—westward to the calm esteros that spill past rocky headlands to the Pacific Ocean, or to the east where you’ll see the fat knuckles of Black Mountain protecting the Olema Valley.

On a late November day in 1989, I went to Mount Vision to photograph the full moon. I hiked the trail north to the overlook from where I’d photographed Snow on Black Mountain. The sun had not yet set as I scanned the eastern horizon for the predicted location of the moonrise. As my eyes adjusted to the still bright sky, I saw that the moon was already up; its ghostly form was disappointingly high above Black Mountain. By the time the sky darkened enough for a good photograph, the moon would be hopelessly out of my composition. My shoulders slumped. I sighed audibly and then packed my equipment to trek back up the trail. I loaded everything into the van, and slowly drove out from the trailhead parking area.
To the west, a fiery sun was poised above a bank of Pacific fog, illuminating it and the icy cirrus clouds above it. I pulled over abruptly, as there were only minutPacific Sunsetes left before the sun would plunge into the sea. Abandoning my custom of measuring the light with my spotmeter, I made a wild guess at exposure and took several frames of this remarkable scene. The result is Pacific Sunset from Mount Vision.

As I left the mountain that evening, I knew that I’d return the next night to try to shoot the moon again, but I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams what an incredible sight the next moonrise would be.

Mount Vision Moonrise, September 1989
As I loaded my car the next evening, I felt discouraged about my chances of making a worthwhile moon photograph. A heavy wet fog had settled into the valley where I lived. Pulling onto the highway, I had to switch on my windshield wipers in order to see, and the fog thickened rapidly as I drove up the mountain road. Halfway to the summit, I considered turning the van around and returning to the warmth of my cabin. But something kept me going up the mountain—the fog so dense now I had to put the wipers on high.Mount Vision Moonrise

I was nearly to the top of the ridge with about 100 feet of elevation to go, when it happened. I drove right out of the fog. The darkening sky was clear, and a radiant full moon rose directly above Black Mountain. My heart quickened. And although I didn’t think about this until later, the very fog that had seemed my enemy became a generous partner. The moon shone brightly and magically. Below the mountain, a blanket of luminous fog filled the valley.

 

Does the Print Matter in the Digital Era?

There’s been much talk lately about the demise of the photographic print and the rise of its would-be replacement, the electronically presented digital image. Some will tell you that the battle is already over and that soon there will be no printing and no prints. After all, they say, we already view most of our photographs on laptops, tablets, or, lordy-me, our smart phone screens.  I’ll admit that back-lit, digital photographs viewed on today’s lcd screens are stunning, but I’m not ready to write the obit for the traditional photographic print.

Although the trans-illuminated image and the photographic print each inform and communicate, they affect us in fundamentally different ways. The electronic image is powerful but transitory, depending on electrical charges to exist. It’s elusive, like a dream that’s gone when we awaken. On the other hand, the photographic print is tangible and persistent. We can feel it’s solidity, sense it’s presence. It is there when we want it, accessible as long as there is light. Each serves different purposes–one represents art, the other is art.

Prints are a feast for our senses, whether framed, jewel-like, behind glass, or available to hold and touch from their folders and boxes. I love the way they feel in my hands, their weight and texture. I even enjoy their signature scents. It’s good that they’re still there when I walk in a room and look up at the wall. I also like knowing that I am looking at the image the way the artist wanted me to see it. I just feel more connected to prints than I do to the digital images that appear and disappear on my computer screen.

Nevertheless, digital images on my lcd screen are indispensable to my work. I use digital imaging both for the creation and representation of my artwork. I know that these electronic images are not the actual art, but rather the processing tools for the finished pieces, my  prints. And it is deeply satisfying to express my feelings and thoughts using this technology to create real and enduring artifacts. I keep clear the distinction between digital image and print, not confusing one for the other.

I love the fact that these digital images do become tangible–appearing in a book, a folio, or a frame–for us to see, hold and touch. And, over time, the enduring presence of a tangible print on our wall, will grow with us in a way that a fleeting image can’t.

So, the next time you reach into your wallet to fish out that precious photo of someone you love, be glad that we still have and can make photographs on paper. It’s a tradition that isn’t going to go away anytime soon!