Emeritus College Gallery pics up the pace

Families and administrators attended the opening night of the Santa Monica College student photography exhibit, "Between Light and Shadow," on Thursday, April 7, at the Emeritus College Gallery. "Where would you find a plastic bee like that?" asked Lucille D'amico, commenting on the precision with which a bee's image was taken.

The photographer of "Pollen Picking Honeybee," Alex Vidal, followed the bee from poppy to poppy until it was in just the right position to get the shot he wanted for his photo, which now hangs in the corner of the gallery.

Charles Haskell, a retired doctor, has been taking photo classes at Emeritus for five years. One of his displayed works, "Droplet Landscape", looks like a reflecting water droplet, but is in fact sap. Haskell said, "I was walking in Will Rogers State Park and I saw this little drop of sap on the lower edge of a tree limb and took out my macro lens."

"That's what I teach," said their photography instructor Ken Buckner, "to see the shot." Haskell's other photograph on display, "Tennis Spectator," is of a deer hiding on a hillside that Buckner happened to spot while he was attending a tennis match.

Emeritus College has been providing free classes to older adults for 36 years, offering classes in health, business, computers, and the arts. Buckner says, "They're here because they want to be here, they're here because they're learning and they're having a thrill."

The gallery exhibit showcases work from older adult students who have had varying degrees of photography experience, but have all been learning more about composition and digital imaging. Haskell supports his hobby of photography by learning Photoshop, and began experimentation in the field starting with one camera. He now has four professional level cameras and has done pro bono work for non-profit organizations such as the YMCA, Westside Shelter & Hunger Coalition, and the Santa Monica Library.

Meeting old friends at the exhibit's opening night, architect and Emeritus College student Doris Power says, "I built these two ladies' houses." Power provided the promotional image for the exhibit, of a reflecting pond of pyramids she took while in Mexico City admiring the architecture of Ricardo Legoretta. "I never knew how to do things with a digital camera," Power said.  For the piece entitled "Pyramid Pond," she used paint daubs because she "liked the sense of it being more opaque."

Aside from mingling, the opening night exhibit also included the handing out of awards, with first place going to Cass Cassidy's "Girl on a Train;" a sepia portrait of a young girl with wind playing in her hair. Her first reaction was, "I thought if I won, my ‘Egyptian Girl' would win. I thought it was the best picture I've taken in my life."

Cassidy has been taking photos for years, but started taking classes four years ago when she decided she needed to "fix" her photos up. She took her favorite photo, "Egyptian Girl," a close up of a young girl, while at a McDonald's. "I was having a sandwich and this little girl is sitting in front of me, it looked perfect."

"We have a great time playing with photography," said Buckner. "My seniors give me 110 percent." Former curator of the Emeritus Gallery, Lynn LaBate, described Emeritus College as a vibrant place with strong connections between the faculty and their students.

Other winners of the night included Carol Kleinman, who works with single image reflections printed on canvas, giving the effect of one image being laid on top of the other, and Jim Gerstley, whose "Sognefjord Mountain and Clouds" gives stark contrasts between cliff sides, sun, and clouds.

"Between Light and Shadow" is showing at the Emeritus College Gallery located at 1227 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Friday May 13.