2nd Annual Juried Plastic Camera Show

EXHIBITION DATES:  2.26.09 – 4.1.09
 Roy Berkowitz

Roy Berkowitz

RayKo’s Second Annual Juried Plastic Camera Show includes strange and stunning images made by the winners of this competition. Photographers from all over the Bay Area as well as national and international entries are featured in this dynamic exhibit. There were over 400 submissions for the exhibition, so it was difficult to whittle the acceptances down to 150 artists. Also highlighted in this exhibition is the work of 3 California artists who have been pursuing plastic camera imagery for nearly 30 years: Roy Berkowitz, Michael Emery, and Aline Smithson, each of them stumbling upon the plastic camera as a tool when they were just beginning their photographic careers.

Michael Emery

Aline Smithson

Christophe Dillinger

Inaugural Artist-in-Residence | Michael Elsden

SIDE GALLERY: 4.10.09 – 5.20.09

While a borrowed term, Pogonophora has the literal meaning ‘beard bearer’ which encapsulates the notion that men carry or hold a beard rather than being defined by it. In these images, RayKo’s first Artist-in-Residence, Michael Elsden, was looking for a feeling of the reflective, classical, even ‘monastic’ quality seen in renaissance period portrait painting. Working with a large format camera in the studio also became key to this vision as the slow, deliberate process helped promote an intimacy with the subjects and their expression.

Inspired by the work of Karl Blossfeldt, this series titled Men as Botanicals, seeks to depict the male body as an organic plant-like form, twisting and furling, but isolated on a white field like a scientific specimen. As with nature, each of the models provide differing interpretations as their body shapes, decoration and gestures suggest delicate individuality.

Elsden’s recent direction finds him making portraits of men; more specifically, men with hairy faces. His goal isn’t so much to catalogue facial hair, but instead it is to uncover some of what it is to be male, where the beard or moustache is used as a neutral labeling device for identifying and connecting the male of the species. Using the studio during Rayko’s three-month Artist-in-Residence program has allowed Elsden to continue and progress his visual thinking on this subject, pursuing two very different ideas. In both series he sought to make portraits that eschew sociotypical projections of ‘masculinity’ such as ‘courage’, ‘bravery’, and ‘assertiveness’, and instead reflect sensitivity, tenderness, and vulnerability. This exhibition is the culmination of this exploration and Elsden’s ideas. Not only will the artist be at the opening, but so will some of his subjects!

The Great Disruption

Jon Edwards, Sandrine Hermand-Grisel & Tempest NeuCollins

MAIN GALLERY | 4.10.09 – 5.20.09

These three artists are depicting their different views and experiences of society in three different photographic medium, all dark, all arresting, all beautiful. This is an exhibition of the current times by artists from three different generations and from three different parts of the country. Intriguing, challenging and not to be missed.

(The title for The Great Disruption was borrowed from the NY Times article by Thomas L. Friedman, The Inflection Is Near?)

Jon Edwards practiced civil rights and environmental law for over twenty years, and has spent the last six years photographing inhabitants of islands and coastal areas of Maine. These individuals live simply, and demonstrate dignity and tenacity when, by choice or lack of opportunity, they are forced to survive under either the harsh economics or isolation of island living, or an increasingly difficult traditional way of life. They reside in remote or isolated beauty, and maintain a direct connection with the natural environment. Their lifestyles demonstrate how far our society has come from the once organic, symbiotic relationships between human communities and natural conditions. The images he will be exhibiting at RayKo are from his book, A Way of Being, and harken back to a world that many of us never knew existed, let alone have forgotten. The prints are rich gelatin silver prints made from B&W negatives: the perfect medium for Edwards’ project.

Jon Edwards

Sandrine Hermand-Grisel is exhibiting selections from her series, Somewhere…, as in ‘somewhere in the United States.' As an emigrant, she is not a tourist, nor a total stranger, nor totally at home. Her photographs (ghostly, scratched inky prints) are unusual, timeless, and irrational; her memories of America are not what we expect, not like others. Her images are an elusive vision of a country without limits…Somewhere… is her American testimonial, her testimonial from here, nowhere and elsewhere…

Sandrine Hermand-Grisel

Tempest NeuCollins has been exploring ideas of existentialism, combined with the theory of the ‘every-man’. Specifically, she has been creating vacant landscapes with small, indiscriminate figures placed within. Tempest is exploring existentialism on a modern level, taking ideas of isolation and alienation that emerged after WWII and interpreting them in relation to the apathy that stems from media satiation within her own generation (she is a recent college graduate). This is done not through symbolism, but through mood and ambience. The figures in her pieces (large carbon prints) are wandering through abandoned industrial-scapes, which represent technological advances and the abandonment of old ideas as new ones emerge. The overwhelming space and the large industrial-scapes conspire to annihilate the figure, forcing them to struggle for their existence. Compounding thus, the figures’ world is limited to the space surrounding it. The audience can see much more, which alludes to a time and space foreign to the figure.

Tempest Neucollins

Portfolio Exhibition | City College of San Francisco

SIDE GALLERY | 5.22.09 – 5.25.09

The Photo 130 class is designed to train the advanced photography student to design, build, perfect, and present a professional portfolio to future clients and galleries. This show will display all their hard work and effort. Each artist has designed their portfolio to match their personal interest in the photographic field: fashion, architecture, fine art, documentary, pets and animals, portraiture, lifestyle, etc. Photographs will be available for purchase at the show or please contact Bob Nishihira (rnishihi@ccsf.edu) for more information.


Out of Site Retrospective

SIDE GALLERY | 5.25.09 – 6.23.09

A retrospective by photography students from the Out of Site Youth Arts Center. With performances by students from Out of Site’s The Booth: Hip Hop on the ever-turning wheel of the word – Poets, rappers, and MCs step up to the mic. A CD release party for this Out of Site class.”

Out of Site is a nonprofit arts education organization that provides free after school arts programs for public high school students in San Francisco. Our visual and performing arts programs fill a gap for teenagers: not only are they not getting art in their schools but there are few safe, free, fun and challenging programs for high school students. Students come to Out of Site looking for the chance to experiment in the arts, whether it is painting, music, acting, architecture, poetry or photography, and for a place to be themselves: all find artistic training, new mediums for self-expression, and a diverse and supportive community.




Becoming | Michelle Sank

MAIN GALLERY | 5.25.09 – 6.23.09

Michelle Sank was born in Cape Town, South Africa. She has been living and working in the UK since 1987. Her photography has always encompassed issues around social and cultural diversity. She has photographed young people in different social contexts with the portraits being produced through a mix of street photography and youth group collaborations. By photographing in varying physical and social environments, she captures the nuances, norms and sense of identity that are particular to and a reflection of youth within different societies today.

Her photographs have been exhibited and published in England, Europe, Australia, Mexico, South Africa and the U.S.A. She has undertaken numerous residencies for prominent galleries in the U.K. and Europe. Her work is held in both private and permanent collections such as The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas and The Woodstock Centre for Photography, New York. In 2007 she was a winner in The Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

A monograph of her work called “Becoming” was published in 2006 and another book “The Water’s Edge” in 2007

We Are | Lisa Kanemoto

MAIN GALLERY | 6.25.09 – 7.31.09


This show is dedicated to the Memory of Mary Dunlap and her fight for Justice.

Twenty-five years after images from the photography publication ‘We Are…’ were featured on the cover of the gay community’s long-standing magazine The Advocate, and in the former Christopher Street magazine, and nearly 30 years since the project was initiated, rich portraits of San Francisco’s gay community in the early 1980’s are coming out of the closet. All shot from the perspective of a female heterosexual German immigrant, Lisa Kanemoto, the RayKo exhibition features over 25 black and white photographs evoking a sense of excitement, nostalgia, pure joy, intimacy, and even a bit of discomfort and glee for the fashion of the times.

With camera in hand during a San Francisco gay pride event in 1980, Kanemoto – who grew up in a small German town with, as she recalls, one known gay man about whom everyone whispered – began photographing a drag queen that she thought was silly and frivolous. He asked her why she was photographing him, introduced himself as Sister Missionary Delight, and the two engaged in a conversation that launched for Kanemoto both a long-standing friendship and the photographic series ‘We Are…’.

Kanemoto quickly realized after speaking with “Sister Missionary Delight” that her stereotyped assumptions about homosexuals were quite incorrect, and she felt compelled to share this knowledge with as many people as possible. What ensued was three years of meeting and photographing gays and lesbians, from rabbi’s to drag queens, non-profit workers to puppeteers, at their workplaces, homes, public events and local bars, in order to provide a balanced snapshot view into the broad spectrum of lives, livelihoods, and personalities comprising ‘gay’ San Francisco during the early 80’s. “I found myself meeting and falling in love with the people I photographed,” notes Kanemoto. “Even today, 30 years later, I am fortunate to be in contact with many. Actually, some of the men have become my best girlfriends. ”

The provoking and iconic images presented in ‘We Are…’ overflow with liberation. And as one observer noted, “The show is wrapped in nostalgia appeal, and I mean that in the best sense of the word. It captures the moment in time in which the gay rights movement blossomed, recalling both how different things became after that moment, and embodying the concept of a forgotten gem. ” 

21st Century Photography


  Sunburned GSP#308 (Oceano),  Chris McCaw 2008 8″x10″ unique gelatin silver paper negative

Sunburned GSP#308 (Oceano), Chris McCaw 2008 8″x10″ unique gelatin silver paper negative


F295 partnered with San Francisco State University for a free seminar on 21st Century Photography. It was a day long event which exclusively featured photographers talking about their work and the inspiration, ideas, and rationale behind it. The event began at 10am and went until 4:30pm. It took place in the Coppola Theatre in the basement of the Fine Arts Building. After the seminar, a reception with the speakers was held here at RayKo Photo from 6-8pm! Each speaker had an image on display.

Family of Mine | Steve Bliss, Katrina d’Autremont & Jason Houston

MAIN GALLERY | 11.5.09 – 12.12.09

RayKo is proud to present a show that features the work of 3 artists who have been obsessively photographing their families for years. No cute kid pictures here. Instead, there are the documentary images of Jason Houston who works as a photojournalist and who spends most of his time on assignment for editorial and NGO clients. Houston turns his lens on his family and records what he sees a little differently. For instance, Easter, a few years back, his wife’s sister’s husband’s twin brother showed up dressed in a well-worn, day-rental bunny costume. To assure none of the kids knew who it was, he was completely mute behind the screen hidden in the buck-toothed plastic grin for the entire time he was there.

Houston’s photographs of family events are spontaneous, mutely observant, and never staged. Blood, love, and obligation draw them together in a place where worldviews mix, match, confuse, and clash. As an embed in this intimate, interpersonal world, he documents his particular and familiar reality and explores the sometimes tense dichotomies that define American family life. Houston then prints these images as 30×40” color prints, the exact opposite of the 4×6” family snapshot.

Katrina d’Autremont’s body of work, ” Si Dios Quiere…” (If God Wants) explores issues of intimacy and distance within her mother’s family in Argentina. The house where she grew up and the people who are part of that life serve as characters. The environment becomes a set for the photographic staging of the images. It reveals how a place can influence and form us. The word “Family” connects us, but the extent of our connection depends on several factors. Families can be separated by physical distance, but often it is more complicated and the relationships themselves form walls and separations. “Si Dios Quiere…”which means “If God Wants,” attests to the fact that relationships are inherently difficult. Closer proximity to the people we love can be just as complex as distance. Within the family structure, specific roles are developed over time. We idealize these roles and the people who fill them, as well as the places that hold us.

d’Autremont’s color images have a palette that makes us believe she is in Argentina with William Eggleston in the early 1970’s. The photographs look like dye transfer prints even though they are c-prints. The timelessness of the color makes us unsure if these images are contemporary or vintage, and also make us romanticize the people and the place even further. Family pictures that are seductive as well as challenging…

And finally, “Boyland”. For this series, Steve Bliss has committed to shooting the 8×10” camera whose clarity and beauty still seems to outshine most digital possibilities. Bliss makes giant negatives of his small boys. As a father, photographing his sons has come about in the most natural of ways. Like most parents, Bliss has an inherent, perhaps genetic interest in recording the fleeting states of his children’s development. As a practicing photographer, however, he is also keenly interested in the formal play within the frame: color, placement, gesture, comparison, proximity, and in projected narrative, sequence and environment.

The boys, Aidan and Griffin, are quintessential/typical examples of their gender whom Bliss loves dearly… However, their characters are not something he set out to expose. Believing in few theories of art (if any), it is his estimation that the prototypical portraiture myth of revealing persona in images is just that: a myth. The artist’s sons function in these images as ciphers or symbols: ones that probably represent the photographer himself more than the boys themselves. These photographs attempt to communicate one person’s remembrances of boyhood rituals, stages, interactions and expectations. For Bliss, that’s plenty; it’s more than enough.

It’s Still Life

MAIN GALLERY | 8.6.09 – 9.22.09


RayKo is proud to present its first juried still life and interior space show which will feature everything from a wax Woody Allen contemplating teepees to a hundred iridescent hummingbirds frozen in time…and much, much more! The submissions have been astounding and have indeed proven, that it’s still life…amazingly so.

Elaine Duigenan (pron. ‘Dygnun’) works with objects; sometimes they are familiar items which have been discarded, other times they are the things which have been kept and valued. She places them in an environment in such a way as to effect transformation or bestow status. She is fascinated by what she has begun to term ‘intimate archaeology’. This arises out of a passion for both ‘sense of place’ and collecting/unearthing treasure. We all keep or preserve things as mementoes and Elaine is able to discover symbolism in the most mundane of objects. Her work invariably has an air of mystery and ambiguity which is often heightened when subjects are placed in a particular light or landscape.

“For me photography has become an ‘act of preservation’ and objects I focus on become the locators or igniters of memory. The traces and remnants we find in any landscape can spark recognition. They can even invoke a presence.”

Meggan Gould’s central conceptual interests within photography are considerations of vision—of how we look at the world at large, as well as how we customarily employ photography to document and speak to our surroundings. She asks the questions what do we look at photographically, and what do we ignore? Gould’s recent work, Verso, looks to probe the tension between what conventionally constitutes a picture space and the underlying factors, textual or otherwise, that work to reinforce and define that space. These stark images allow a glimpse of the backs of photographs—gleaned from her family’s visual history as well as from anonymous, found photographic collections.

This body of work began with hours spent sifting through boxes of slides and paper photographs, inherited from her grandparents. She was initially frustrated at the distinct lack of clues, of tangible names or dates, on most of the images – glue marks indicating only that they had once had a place in a photo album, yellowing paper meant yet another image would forever remain enigmatic. Meggan began to look at other photographs and the recto/verso interactions more closely. In stark contrast, her mother’s collection with full names, exact dates, and relevant family event information —more closely resembles a scientific collection than a treasury of beloved images. Meggan expanded her search/quest to flea markets, antique stores… what could the albums and loose photographs, gleaned from the histories of other families, unknown and unknowable, add to this underbelly of visual history?

Lightning, Lava, and Bombs | Ben Nixon, Hendrik Paul, and Susan Seubert

MAIN GALLERY | 9.25.09 – 11.1.09
OPENING: FRIDAY, 10.02.09 6-8P

RayKo is proud to present a show that features nine tiny bombs beautifully frozen, lightning illuminating the Polish countryside and landscapes that lava left transformed.

Ben Nixon’s latest photographs focus upon the basic elements of the collodion process. The 19th century technique he has used to make these images builds a certain conceptual connection to the subject matter (the subtle minutia and undercurrents that form the topography of the American West), by inviting the serendipitous nature of the wet-plate process to create the mood and portray the sense that both the resulting image and the land itself are formed by a well-organized improvisation. Nixon then enlarges his glass plate negatives and creates huge gelatin silver prints. The viewer can experience the details of the moving collodion and the shifting landscape of the West simultaneously.

On another continent, Hendrik Paul was watching the land too. While leaning out the window of a moving train in a lightning storm, he made long hand-held exposures, using the lightning as his flash. Still using traditional film, Paul explores the natural world and its impact on the human spirit and the environment.

The appropriated images used in Susan Seubert’s “Bombs in a Box” (tic, tac, toe) are all from the United States’ archives and are believed to be within the public domain. In the 1983 film War Games, tic-tac-toe is used as an allegory for nuclear war. In the climax of the film, the protagonist prevents an out of control military defense computer from launching nuclear missiles by making it repeatedly play tic-tac-toe against itself. After quickly learning that good strategy by both players produces no winner, the computer then plays through all known nuclear strike scenarios, again finding no winner. The computer concludes that, “The only winning move is not to play.” The same year as the release of the movie, Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov, a retired Soviet Air Defense Forces lieutenant colonel who, according to several sources, averted a nuclear war on September 26, 1983, when he deviated from standard Soviet doctrine by positively identifying a missile attack warning, that had been activated by a Soviet spy satellite, as a false alarm. He was later honored at the United Nations in New York City for his actions.

Come see this silvery suggestive exhibition that makes us appreciate the beauty of destruction and the possibilities of seeing things in a different way…

City of Children | Monika Merva

SIDE GALLERY: 11.5.09 – 12.12.09

Monika Merva has photographed the children in and around their home, using a Contax medium format camera and natural light. The shots are not set up or posed, to avoid sentimentality and preserve the authenticity of what she has witnessed.


As a photographer Merva has always been interested in people. As a first generation American of Hungarian descent, her interest in Gyermekkozpont is personal. She spent her childhood summers in Hungary, speaks the language and has extended family there. Her focus on Gyermekkozpont comes from understanding that one’s sense of self comes with a sense of belonging within a community. Merva believes home is where our strength lies. It’s the source of everything, where all our fears, questions, love and a sense of belonging originate.

The situations in these pictures seem common: a quiet moment alone, teenage boys lounging, and laughing with a friend. The environments are familiar: a schoolyard, a kitchen, and a teenager’s bedroom. This is the everyday at the Karloyi Istvan Gyermekkozpont, a government housing facility for children seeking help from their dysfunctional and poverty stricken families. Gyermekkozpont is in Fot, Hungary, and it is its own community. The children commute into the city to attend school. At the end of the day they return “home,” where adults supervise them, have chores, are made to do their homework, given allowance and have curfews. They call this place “The City of Children.”

Reconstructed Memories | Liz Steketee | Artist-in-Residence

SIDE GALLERY | 12.17.09 – 1.18.10

Reconstructed Memories is a unique print series that uses my personal family photographs to rewrite history from my vantage point. By choosing unrelated images and digitally manipulating them into unlikely combinations, I build new memories. I forge new relationships, address old confrontations, imagine different experiences, and face old demons. I disrupt linear narratives and recompose events, establishing my family history as a construct. Once these new snapshots have been finalized, they are printed, aged and weathered according to what is appropriate to the content. This rebuilding of memory has allowed me to establish my own version of reality, as I prefer it. Reconstructed Memories takes the form of a unique print series as well as a series of reconstructed “false” family photo albums that adhere to my revisionist history.

Nature/Nurture | Hiroyo Kaneko and Betsy Weis

MAIN GALLERY | 1.14.09 – 2.20.09

Hiroyo Kaneko

Picnics, people bask under the cherry blossom trees once a year; they gather and enjoy the flowers in bloom. The experience imparts a mixture of spiritual uplift and relief. Nature presents opportunities for us to share moments that become a unique but universal experience in memory. In the locations Kaneko has chosen, she sought situations that hold the feelings that arise from crossing and communing with nature, matter and people. Through the visual richness and complexity of society’s everyday life, her photographs attempt to develop emotional vibrations that will stream into the viewers of her images.

Sentimental Education is comprised of images of Kaneko’s family taken in a bathhouse in Japan. The setting of the bathtub lends itself to an impression of a Japanese painting, even a Renoir painting. There is a sensuality and a sweetness to these photographs that is heartrending. Compared to other objects, a photograph does not hide its origin. It approaches the same level of vulnerability and adaptability as people. And the people in these pictures, the way they touch and hold and nurture each other, is enough to make any viewer pause in their footsteps and think about where they have been in this life.

Betsy Weis

Betsy Weis’ series, Icelandia, embodies the forgotten landscape, a timeless tabula rasa. Her enigmatic images encourage the eye to discern what cannot be defined, what preceded and what awaits. Visual elements in Weis’ images are cryptic like dreams, as though she has interwoven a binary code among the ethereal textures — where water, sand and snow blend seamlessly. Yet something uncanny in its serenity and remoteness reminds us of pre-human consciousness. Weis reveals a curiosity (the product of her finite vision and technical mastery) with endless musings: leaving us with a map but without a compass, urging us to use our senses to navigate independently – Maya Joseph-Goteiner, November 2008