Family Circus | Tatjana Loh

SIDE GALLERY: 3.20.08 – 4.20.08

Since Tatjana Loh has taken thousands of photographs of her family, she has seen that families hold all of life’s qualities and emotions: beauty, drama, boredom, tragedy, comedy…And everyone comes from some kind of family. In her case, the story includes a wacky father, comic nieces and nephews, and their harried parents. Tatjana documents the everyday moments as well as the extraordinary happenings that involve these characters.

As part of this family, Tatjana hopes that life will go smoothly.

As a photographer, she knows that her family lives in interesting times, so she brings plenty of film.

Whimsy | BAPC

MAIN GALLERY: 3.20.08 – 4.20.08

The Bay Area Photography Collective is a nonprofit organization committed to building a community of photographers. Their work ranges from fine art to documentary, color to b&w, traditional darkroom to digital imaging. This exhibition explores the idea of whimsy. Humor is often overlooked as an element in fine art photography. This show addresses the lighter side directly and includes work that is witty, playful or ironic.

Pinhole Photography Juried Show Winners

SIDE GALLERY: 4.27.08 – 5.10.08

On display in our side gallery are the winners from an open call for photographic work taken with a pinhole camera. The main and side galleries are showcasing the pinhole photography in honor of WorldWide Pinhole Photography Day. During the reception, on Sunday, April 27, 2008, there will be free image uploads onto the WPPD website, supplies for making pinhole images, and displays of pinhole cameras.

WorldWide Pinhole Photography Day Featured Artists | Kath Kreisher & Rebecca Rome

MAIN GALLERY: 4.27.08 – 5.10.08


Click for event photos…by TJ Rollins


As a unique celebration of WWPD, FREE bus rides on the oh so unique Bus Obscura will be available on a first come first serve basis only on Sunday, April 27, 12pm-3pm. The Bus Obscura is a passenger bus converted to a multiple aperture camera obscura using a rear projection technique that allows the individual images to flow into one another. As the bus moves down the street a 360 degree animated panorama is created inside.

Passengers sit in the seats as usual but instead of looking out on the real scene as it passes by, they see a real time projection of the same scene. The exterior view from the bus is projected onto the interior of the bus and the individual apertures create images that merge into each other and create a real time animated projection of the world outside. The bus becomes the camera and the projector and the audience sits inside.

Bus Obscura’s reinforces the cinematic quality of the piece. Sound artists Colleen Burke and Walter Sipser have made soundtracks for each city the bus has visited. Because the bus is being realized in different cities and environments with different images, light, ambience and history, a new soundtrack is made for each venue.

Kath Kreisher’s images begin with photography. Over several decades of art-making, she has altered photographs of herself and her personal environment by employing the distorting effects of handmade cameras, linking pictures through direct collage, painting on the surface of finished photographs, transforming them as photo-etchings, and eventually feeding them to the computer.

Current images about one’s unstable sense of self in an unpredictable world are driven by archetypal images derived from dreams. She begins with pinhole photographs, because they extend the serendipitous nature of the photographic medium, supplying her with pictures that seem to come directly from the subconscious, the source of dreams.

The original pictures for the “Contemplating Peace” diptychs are made outdoors through very long exposures in a large cardboard pinhole camera that holds 11×14″ fiber base photographic paper. After development, she generously alters some of the paper negatives by drawing or painting on them. Then Kreisher scans the painted pinhole photographs to her computer for further manipulation in where the files are stacked in a tight diptych format creating tall extended frame digital prints. Between frames comparisons can be made, narratives invented, real and imagined worlds linked.

  Image courtesy of Rebecca Rome

Image courtesy of Rebecca Rome

Rebecca Rome is a photographer and visual artist whose work centers around startlingly honest and autobiographical self-portraits. These images also display her undeniable mastery of pinhole photography and Polaroid-based techniques. Rebecca’s unique artistic vision is the result of a lifetime of immersion in, and dedication to nature. She has lived, worked, and photographed in settings as varied as New England, California, Hawaii, Nova Scotia, and New Zealand.

Looking at these pictures, the viewer can see that they are about many things: the impermanence of nature, the assertion and negation of self, the artist’s role as a woman and as a human being in a world that is often violent and binding. They speak of fear, submission, and overwhelming exhaustion. They embody sexuality and death: the relent of self-possession. These pictures not only describe the ephemeral self and the unstable experience thereof, but also capture a fugitive landscape. Rebecca has also found that the photographs spark her memory of the profound ability for a human being to simultaneously sustain both overwhelming sorrow and joy. The experience of the sublime amidst the instability of the ever-shifting, conflicted, all-encompassing chaos of the internal self.

Side Gallery | 06.11.08 – 07.10.08

Featured in the side gallery is the work of local photographers Bryan AlberstatMeghann Riepenhoff, Arthur CohenDaniel Grant, and Steven Hight as well as a great talent found at Fotofest in Houston: David Eisenlord. All these image-makers also interpret the landscape genre in varied and beautiful ways. Come see their creations this summer and be inspired to see the world a little bit differently.

Landscape, Other Views Outside Convention

MAIN GALLERY: 6.11.08 – 7.10.08

Roving near and far, a group of artists explores one of the most documented subjects in the history of photography: the landscape. And each of them sees it very differently from their predecessors. There is no Ansel Adams in this group. Though some of these image-makers use the same large wooden field camera that Adams did. But man, they kept driving when they saw Half Dome.

Tom Hawkins flew as far as Bonaire, an island in the Netherlands Antilles chain, off the coast of Venezuela. One third of the island is devoted to the harvest of salt, and the huts of the colonial era slaves who worked the salt pans are preserved within the modern salt production facilities. Hawkins’ pictures inform us that sometimes the marks of our cultivation are both beautiful and terrifying.

Local artist Chris McCaw, might as well have gone to the moon to make his “Sunburn” photographs, which are experiments in starting fires inside his camera. Many of the places he documents are familiar to us, Joshua Tree National Park, the Golden Gate, the Marin Headlands, and yet they are transformed into an alien landscape that features multiple suns and often beautifully augmented skies with a streak of a comet burning it’s way across the picture plane, smoke included.

Elizabeth Mellott’s Lovescapes embrace the bittersweet reality of courtship by exposing an atmosphere of melancholy and uncertainty. Intangible landscapes demonstrate a dream-like world and delicate figures, created by ghostly photograms, remind us of the fragility of ourselves. They unfold before us, literally, in the form of tiny accordion books.

Kristopher Stallworth finds himself in Bakersfield, California, after growing up in Austria and Kansas. It could be shock that drives him to document the edge of town that is constantly shifting, as new subdivisions and industry spring up. He hopes to capture the transformation of the land in his series of night photographs called Periphery.

Charity Vargas of San Francisco is another photographer that finds herself out after dark, stalking the changes, some subtle, some overt, in the Presidio in San Francisco.

Clay Harmon, from Texas, read Cormack McCarthy’s The Road, and the next thing he knew, he was photographing the end of the world in his “roadscapes”. And then making giant platinum prints that are so beautiful, that the end doesn’t seem so scary after all.

Melissa Fleming’s work has always been inspired by the natural world. Attracted to the duality of the danger and beauty of the ocean, she began to photograph the waves at night, a time when the ocean feels the most unknown and un-navigable. Waves visualize the power of the ocean and in the black void of night the swirls of white in Sentient hint at that unseen energy we know in our minds to be present.

Noah Beil’s color landscape photographs explore mankind’s modifications of the earth’s surface, questioning whether this reshaping should be considered destructive or decorative.

Hendrik Paul, an MFA student at the San Francisco Art Institute, seeks images where different dimensions meet: where land meets water, where the manmade meets nature or where this world meets the beyond. His passion lies in finding this edge where something ends and something else begins. The viewer finds himself torn between the two worlds revealed in the image.

Pernilla Persson, originally from Sweden, started working on her series, Seasons of Light, as a search for distinguishing things – from leaf to leaf, the moods of colors, forms and motions as well as the impact of Mother Nature through the four seasons. She was astonished to realize that capturing the expressions of the leaves was very much like discovering herself.

At low-tide, Kelli Knack, is at the beach, making her lyrical photographs of the place where the water meets the land. Then she painstakingly hand-colors each gelatin silver print and it’s as if the viewer is standing in the most golden sunrise of their lives.

And last, but not least, K. Features went underground and photographed the most stunning and strange stalactites and stalagmites that were ever formed. Leading us to places indeed that few people, let along an artist with a giant camera, have been before.

Come see this show which embraces every process of photography from platinum and silver prints to c-prints and digital prints and even a combination of the old and new media. This is the landscape revisited. And not one picture of Yosemite, not even close.

Into the Ether Contemporary Collodion Work

MAIN GALLERY: 7.18.08 – 8.8.08


Come see this landmark West Coast exhibition featuring the work of 10 of the greatest contemporary collodion artists to ever coat a plate. Both ambrotypes (one-of-a-kind images made on glass) and ferrotypes, or tintypes (one-of-a-kind images made on thin metal plates) will be exhibited. The photographers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and pursue a wide range of subject matter, but they are united in their choice of process and their passion for this technique that renders some of the most exquisite photographs ever seen.

In 1978, John Coffer hitched a bay workhorse named Brownie up to a 19th century style darkroom wagon dubbed the “Photographic Van” and criss-crossed the continent for seven years, plying his trade as an old time traveling portrait photographer. This was an experience as unique as the many tintypes he made and sold along the way. In 1985, after more than 11,000 wagon miles and having passed through 36 different states, John and his horse, Brownie, settled down on their own 50-acre farm in the heart of the beautiful Finger Lakes country of up-state New York. John lives in a one-room cabin that he built himself. He lives off the land and has no phone, no electricity, no automobile, and no running water. There, Coffer photographs the livestock, the farm implements, and the annual cycles of nature. RayKo will be showing selections from his Daily Tintypes series; each reveals various aspects of the artist’s existence.

Will Dunniway has been an American history re-enactor for 25 years. It was while re-enacting the 125th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, that Will watched with fascination as John Coffer and Claude Levet worked their collodion magic. As a serious historian, professional designer and photographer, Will knew he was watching the perfect blend of his interests and abilities. He talked with John and in the summer of 1990 apprenticed under him and the late Claude Levet. Since 1990, Will has practiced the art of collodion primarily on the West Coast working in Gold Rush, Old West, and Civil War events.

N. W. Gibbons is a photographic artist and life-long resident of Westport, CT. He has worked in large format non-digital photographic media since the mid-1970s, and most recently has produced work using a number of different 19th century photographic processes. Mr. Gibbons creates very large tintypes and ambrotypes, both as single images and also in diptych and triptych formats. He makes cityscapes and landscapes in lower Fairfield County and nearby New York State, most recently working on an extended project documenting the surprising natural beauty of the Bronx River.

Robb Kendrick, now living in central Mexico, uses the tintype process and other historical techniques in conjunction with collected audio and video to create one-of-a-kind pieces that incorporate other experiences for the viewer. This allows not only for unique photographs, but also forms memories of the experiences he’s had by engaging the subject in other ways. In the end, it becomes an intimate collaboration that connects him to the people he photographs. His most recent wet plate project documents the working cowboy in 14 Western States, Mexico and Canada for the December 2007 issue of National Geographic. The images are collected in a new book, Still: Cowboys at the Start of the 21st Century. At RayKo, Robb will also be showing some surprises that no one else has ever seen!

Quinn Jacobson works exclusively in the wet plate collodion process and has developed his own style and methodology for making plates. Quinn also teach workshops and has published a full-color illustrated manual called The Contemporary Wet Plate Collodion Experience. He currently lives and works in Germany and is working on a new project that’s an extension of his Portraits of Madison Avenue work, but on a larger, more comprehensive scale. Quinn plans to publish and exhibit the work when it’s completed in 2009 or 2010, hence we’re getting a sneak preview of his plates here in San Francisco.

Kerik Kouklis specializes in the hand-made photograph. Born and raised in California with a background in music and geology, he strives to combine a contemporary eye with 19th century processes to produce work that is uniquely his own. Influenced by the Pictorialists of the early 20th century, Kerik often uses diffused focus lenses to explore obscure, little-known places and make images that can be at once calm and unsettling. In 2004 he learned the wet plate collodion process from Will Dunniway and it has become an integral part of his current work. Kerik began teaching wet plate collodion in 2006.

Michael Shindler teaches wet plate classes at RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco. Michael had formerly worked exclusively in the studio, but then he got inspired and built his own portable darkroom and got on a plane. He is in Peru at this moment and if the customs agents in Lima let him get the silver nitrate into the country, he could be exhibiting something completely new and different!

Joni Sternbach has concentrated on locations that are close to or directly on the water. At this juncture between land and sea, she explores subject matter in a constant state of transition. For the last year she has been drawn to the people present at these locations, specifically the surfers in Montauk’s Ditch Plains, at the eastern end of Long Island. The surfers act as a bridge between the sea and the shore line. Working with a “wet” instantaneous process that must be prepared and developed on location serves her well. It draws spectators as well as entices new subjects. Using collodion compels Joni to compose carefully before sensitizing the plate, yet its very nature is spontaneous and unknowable.

Ellen Susan is a photographer who lives in Savannah, Georgia. Her current Soldier Portraits project documents members of the U.S. Army based in Southeast Georgia using the wet collodion process, producing both ambrotypes and aluminum tintypes. The majority of the subjects have deployed to Iraq 1 to 3 times since 2003. The work has been shown in Boston and New Orleans, and appears in a solo show at the Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Oregon in July of 2008. Her newest project consists of still lifes of Mardi Gras costumes from New Orleans.

The Invisible Age

MAIN GALLERY: 9.4.08 – 10.10.08

Photograph courtesy of Mary Ramain


What is the invisible age? To a large extent it’s a phenomenon of our society, which sees and values younger women for their beauty and energy and also sees and values older women for their wisdom and character. But, in the eyes of this same society, the 50ish to 65ish woman is of little value and practically invisible.

But, what we’re dealing with is not a purely external phenomenon. The invisible age is also internal. It’s an age of transition, when women often must go through the unsettling process of redefining who they are to themselves and to the world.

Born Among Mirrors | Najib Joe Hakim

SIDE GALLERY: 10.18.08 – 11.2.08


In October 2006 I visited my birthplace, Beirut, Lebanon. Barely three months had passed since the latest war with Israel had destroyed much of the country—over a thousand killed, fifteen thousand homes leveled, every major bridge and highway damaged or destroyed—and perhaps most damning, millions of unexploded cluster bombs holding the future hostage.

I didn’t exactly go to document the destruction—those images had made the nightly news ten times over. Instead, I went looking for what persisted in the land where I was born. Fifty years had passed since my family left Lebanon for America—my parents refugees from Palestine, my brother and I babes in arms. And thirty years had passed since my last visit. In that time, Lebanon had suffered a long civil war, several Israeli invasions, Syrian and Israeli occupation, rebuilding and re-destroying.

But I encountered what seemingly can not be destroyed—the character of a resilient people who defied their savage and surreal world as they picked up the pieces, built devotional altars to their gods and heroes, and went about their routines—every cup of coffee enjoyed, candle lit, cigarette smoked an affirmation. Like fishermen daily repairing their nets, the Lebanese were already rebuilding—yet again. And I found their undiminished determination inspiring.

2008 Open Studios Show

MAIN GALLERY: 10.18.08 – 11.2.08


Come see this landmark exhibition featuring the work of 9 contemporary Californian artists working in a variety of photographic media from traditional silver prints to digital prints to chromogenic prints. The photographers come from diverse backgrounds and pursue a wide range of subject matter, but they are united in their passion for their techniques and the fact that they make all their work at RayKo Photo Center’s comprehensive facilities. These are some of the most exquisite photographs ever made.

Ian van Coller: Interior Relations

SIDE GALLERY: 11.5.08 – 12.6.08

photography by Ian van Coller

Portraits of Female Domestic Workers in South Africa, by Ian van Coller

Interior Relations explores the deep fault lines between the country’s public democratic ideals and the ongoing racial and economic inequality that circumscribes the lived experiences of many black South African women. Many of the contradictions evident in South Africa’s transition to democracy are encapsulated within white households that employ black and coloured domestic workers, often housing them in segregated living quarters on their property. These households, simultaneously private spaces for employers and public spaces for the employees, are ultimately political spaces where race, class and gender inequalities are negotiated. Interior Relations is a portrait series focused specifically on female domestic workers—nannies and maids—who continue to embody this daily repertoire of inequalities.

SFAI Collective

SIDE GALLERY: 12.6.08 - 12.10.08

San Francisco Art Institute presents a collective of photographers documenting political issues revolving around the 2008 elections. 


Pamela Belknap | Rachel Ceretto | Manuel Gil | Kenny Hurtado | Christopher Jones | Whitney Legge | Joseph Lubishkin | Gwendolyn Mejia | Charlie Nichols | Rafael Roy | Craig Schwanfelder | Mark Shastany 

Ed Kashi, Lou Dematteis & Kayana Szymczak

MAIN GALLERY: 11.5.08 – 12.6.08

photography by Ed Kashi


Curse of the Black Gold: Fifty Years of Oil in The Niger Delta takes a graphic look at the profound cost of oil exploitation in West Africa, featuring images by world-renowned photojournalist Ed Kashi. Now one of the major suppliers of U.S. oil, Nigeria is the eighth largest producer of oil in the world. Set against a backdrop of what has been called the scramble for African oil, Curse of Black Gold documents the consequences of a half-century of oil exploration and production in one of the world’s foremost centers of biodiversity. This work exposes the harsh reality of oil’s impact and the absence of sustainable development in its wake, providing a compelling pictorial history of one of the world’s great deltaic areas. Kashi’s photographs capture local leaders, armed militants, oil workers, and nameless villagers, all of whose fate is inextricably linked. His exclusive coverage bears witness to the ongoing struggles of local communities, illustrating the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty. A book by the same name has just been published by powerHouse Books.

photography by Lou Dematteis


In 1993, I traveled to the Ecuadorian Amazon to investigate reports of extensive environmental damage and contamination as a result of large-scale oil development. During that trip, a doctor from Ecuador’s Ministry of Health told me that the region was sitting on a time bomb as a result of the toxic contamination dumped and left in the environment by Texaco’s oil drilling and production operations. He told me it would take ten-to-twenty years for cancers to begin manifesting themselves, but then we would see them all over the place. When I returned to the region once again in 2003 after an absence of ten years, I found that the time bomb had exploded. Everywhere I turned, it seemed, I encountered people with cancers, birth defects and other serious health problems. I was determined to help give voice to the people who are living this tragedy. I hope that the photographs and testimonies in this exhibit help to do that.

photography by Kayana Szymczak

I went to the Amazon knowing that I would see the effects of contamination on the environment, culture, and health of the communities living in the wake of ChevronTexaco oil development. Nevertheless, I was simply unprepared for the level of devastation I encountered— children born with tragic birth defects, toxic oil facilities built in people’s backyards, and indigenous communities facing total cultural loss. I was shocked daily at the depth of the destruction, and became determined to tell the story of those facing it, and resisting it. I have attempted to bear witness to the reality of the struggle in the Ecuadorian Amazon today. I hope that these photographs will inspire viewers to support the people whose struggle—for livelihood, justice, even survival—continues.

A book by the same name has just been published by City Lights Books.

Jessica M. Kaufman & Michael Starkman

MAIN GALLERY: 12.10.08 - 1.10.09

Photography by Jessica M. Kaufman
No one bears witness for the witness --Paul Celan

Panopticon – I approached this series as I have all others: with the intention to investigate, or call attention to, how identity shifts and changes when catalyzed by experience, and more dramatically, trauma. For this project, I again was drawn to the landscape as muse, but uncharacteristically chose one loaded with meaning, burdened with a history so cumbersome that I initially was afraid to pursue it.

The title of this series, Panopticon, refers to an 18th century circular prison model that allows for secret surveillance of all prisoner activity through natural illumination. The subject matter is the grounds of Nazi concentration camps. Far from being documentary in nature, these photographs are decontextualized excerpts through which I sought to dispose of most recognizable clues to the specific places, and focus on the surrounding, and surviving, environments in order to recast them as sites for new meaning. The resulting images, mutated through a technical process that relies on decay as an operative force, do suggest trauma, but don’t require a reaction that encompasses a response to iconic horror. Instead, I make this work in the hope of inspiring a dialogue between the viewer and imagery that fuses indeterminate disturbance with transcendent beauty.

 Photography by  Michael Starkman

Photography by Michael Starkman

Where Nepenthe Flows – For the past several years, integrating my art making and spirituality has been my deeply held quest. I long to use my camera as a divining rod that can help lead me toward ecstatic experience.

Relinquishing control at the time of capture, I trust the viewfinder to point me toward beauty, allowing the intervention of camera and film to co-create the negatives. The final form is a gift, discovered rather than pre-visualized, the result of a creative process sustained through long collaboration with happenstance, luck – or spirit – rather than confined to a single decisive moment.

The photographs from the series Where Nepenthe Flows began during the year following my mother’s death. For me, they are about opening myself to the darkness at the edge of beauty, mourning, slow healing, and the awe of staring at the Veil.

[Nepenthe: in Greek mythology, a drink of the Gods that banished grief and sorrow]

Jessica M. Kaufman is a nationally exhibited artist who received an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art, and a BA from Yale University. Her work is included in the collection of the Jewish Museum in NY, and will be exhibited at RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco in December 2008, and at Susan Eley Fine Art in New York City in January 2009. Kaufman is a 2008 recipient of the NYSCA Individual Artist TIER Award and a NYC Department of Cultural Affairs grant for her latest project, Seep, both administered through the Brooklyn Arts Council. Her photographs have recently been published in the book Flash Forward 2007: Emerging Photographers from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States; and she is a winner of The National Graduate Seminar Fellowship from The Photography Institute at Columbia University. She currently lives and works in New York City.

Michael Starkman started making photographs after training in drawing and printmaking. His work is in public collections in the United States and Europe, including the Harry Ransom Center for the Humanities in Austin, Texas, and the Hollar Gallery in Prague. He has shown in solo and group exhibitions, including a solo exhibition at the Foto and Photo Festival in Cesano Maderno, Italy in 2006. He lives in San Francisco.