Amplified abstracts.

Ashley Adams

Ashley Adams canyoneering near Zion National Park in Utah, to get to a location to shoot. "We had to repel down into water filled canyons; it was a blast!"

I  have been looking at some super interesting student work at the 79 Gallery. Best described as modern and organic, Ashley Adam’s photographs grab you instantly and keep you speculating until curiosity gets the better of you. I took refuge in the titles to discern her journey through a seemingly concealed world, easier to ignore than to capture.

Floating through the images of magnified surprises from nature, I thoroughly  enjoyed the guessing game that inevitably followed.  An interview was due because I was intrigued.  Her work  reflects my own fascination for nature and affinity for abstract art.

  • Why did you choose photography as your medium of expression?

I have loved photography since I was a little girl. I can still remember hiking along the Appalachian Trail with my dad when I was nine and constantly stopping to take photos of nature.  I love being outside in the natural world and photography allows me to share what I see with others.

  • Do you plan your images? I am curious to know if the naked eye can anticipate the impact that your photographs make.

I have never been able to plan my abstracts.  They are sometimes incredibly hard to find while others times I have gotten four in one day. I have had to train my eye to look for the unexpected. I will be hiking in the woods and something catches my eye and I have to stop.

  • Your choice of scale challenges one’s perception of nature and forces the viewer into undiscovered or unexpected spaces. How did that come about?

From the beginning, my main priority has been to play with line, texture, color, and scale. I feel that most people that shoot abstracts only shoot macro photography: I did not want to fall into that category.  Plus, I have a lot of different lens: everything from a wide angle to a 400 mm zoom and my thought process is that I should use all the tools that are at my disposal. I think it is so much fun to play with perspective, it gives more of a wow factor when people really finally realize that the image is not just another close-up macro shot.  I like seeing people’s expressions when I tell them the rock they are looking at is a 30ft section or that the Ruth glacier image is actually a 2 mile cross section that I took out of a three person prop plane.

  • Does the brilliant sense of colour that is integral to your abstract photographs require the use of additional or specific chemical processes?

No. I shoot completely digitally.  For me I think there is no reason to add colors, textures or lines to my photographs. Mother Nature gives us enough beauty to look at and find: there is no reason to tamper with it. I use water and light to my advantage to get the colors you see.  There was one time I was shooting in the eastern sierras in November and it was the first snow of the season. When I was photographing in a birch tree forest I noticed this huge boulder and it had the most amazing colors I had seen on a rock before, the reason that there was such vibrant colors was because the rock was too warm for the snow to stick to and it just wet the entire boulder bringing out the color underneath.

  • Does your work involve a lot of traveling? Where has work taken you so far?

I am very fortunate that my work takes me to some of the most beautiful places in the world. As much as possible I pack the back of my pickup with gear and supplies and go camping and shoot. I usually stay in California because there is so much diversity here, but I have also been able to travel to Oregon, Utah, Colorado as well as Alaska, Bermuda, and Europe.

  • I love the sense of abstraction that comes inevitably from your choice of scale. Are you inspired by abstract artists?

Yes, one of my inspirations is Mark Chadwick. He is an amazing abstract painter out of the UK. I feel that his work has the vibrant color and lines that my work has. It is truly beautiful and inspirational.

  • What motivates you the most?

For me my motivation absolutely comes from my passion for the outside world. I love sharing the beauty I find with others and show them that Mother Earth is the original abstract artist.   By looking at nature in a new way, I also hope to give them a new appreciation for it.

Can you guess which enlarged environments these abstracts originated from? Cheat code : Roll mouse over image.

Abalone Shell - Ashley Adams Artist Palatte - Ashley Adams

Ice - Ashley Adams Kelp - Ashley Adams

Redwood Bark - Ashley Adams Ruth GLacier - Ashley Adams

I also recommend checking out Mark Elliott’s versatile figure paintings and Linda Olafsdottir’s carefully rendered dreamy illustrations.

On the agenda at 79 Gallery  next week is Sola Sawyer’s graduation show. I have met Sola a million times outside our studios and exchanged pleasantries but rarely ventured into her studio for a sneak peak. The opening reception on Thursday October 1, promises to unveil her paintings juxtaposed with some photography. Be there!


L’art et le vin.

Last Tuesday 79 Gallery bore witness to the beauty and hospitality of the lush DeLoach vineyards.  The opening reception of the AAU faculty and alumni plein air event drew in an impressive and eclectic audience. President Elisa Stephens graced the occasion with a brief appearance.

L’Art et Le Vin’ is a week-long exhibition displaying some of the finest impressions of the two day art event hosted by the DeLoach vineyards a short while ago.  Some artists painted on location while others found expression in sculpture, photography, installation and jewelry making.

The evening was a veritable delight as I wove my way through the amazing art of over thirty artists and engaging conversations. The verdict was unanimously in favour of the exquisite DeLoach wine served and the art displayed at the venue.

Expect to see unusual surfaces such as wine barrels that capture the stunning beauty of the vineyards and Carolyn Meyer’s signature cigar boxes that don thick and creamy pigments. Kelsey Simmen encapsulates her memories in gorgeous pendants and Margo Musser indulges in meditative sculptures of natural objects that bring the vineyards physically closer to us. A significant group has found inspiration in the animals at the organic farms. A large clay sculpture, ‘Earth and Sky’ by Peter Schifrin explores the interconnection between man, land and sky.

VINE TO VEIN - Kyle Silber

VINE TO VEIN - Kyle Silber

Kyle Silber’s tongue-in-cheek installation features an I.V stand tailor-made to suit the winos! Aptly titled ‘Vine to vein’, this service apparatus with 18 gage catheter needles boasts of providing both white and red wine to the unsuspecting spectator.  The device with two coloured glass bottles swings between utility and aesthetics wooing a duo into a tempting experience of bonding over wine. The connection between human interaction, art and multiplicity of meaning is important to the artist. Simply plug in the device that doubles up as a lamp if wine is not your thing!



I bring to you participating artist Anna Nelson’s views on sharing her life and art with Craig Nelson. This accomplished artist couple that needs no introduction has made a wonderful contribution to the show.

•    How did you meet?
Craig was my teacher at Art Center College of Design for an illustration class my third term.  I was totally amazed with his energy level and continue to be amazed by it now….it happens to be our 27th anniversary today.

•    How do you relate to each others work?
I am always impressed with Craig’s work, truly… going in and out of the studio and watching how quickly he can create what I feel is magical on canvas is inspiring.  According to Craig, I’m too critical about my own work and too positive about his work.

•    How was your experience at the DeLoach vineyards?  Did you paint together?
We had a blast at De Loach painting in the vineyards and on the property…we were in separate locations as we found things that inspired us in different areas.  It was so much fun to see so many artists creating and soaking in the inspiration surrounding us…not to mention enjoying and appreciating Jean Charles energy and enthusiasm.

•    Have you ever collaborated with each other to create art?
We discuss ideas and concepts all the time and offer suggestions here and there…it’s a lot of fun!  It’s nice when we travel because we appreciate and notice similar scenes that inspire both of us.

•    What is the most significant difference between you as artists?
Craig does more figure work, incorporating the figure into his compositions and he will work on a much larger scale.  He doesn’t generally do still life paintings and I enjoy them very much.  We both like to paint on location and have painted in Italy, Mendocino, Sonoma County and Lake Tahoe together.



And last but not the least, Jeremy Mann whose admirable work and super speedy growth as a successful artist reflect the aspirations of most students at the AAU.

•    What is the story behind your art?
I’m searching for ways to bring my painting closer to a desired state of emotion.  Not necessarily a story or dialogue, but moreover a permanent emotional icon.  I’m less concerned with the characters of the story portrayed and bring attention to the enduring state one might experience at the end of a good book.

•    How would you describe your artistic process?
Just referring to the steps I take to paint an image, its all over the board, as it should be I believe.  I’ve been systematic in my approaches and whenever I become too aware of that I experiment and adapt to new tools, styles, gestures, etc in order to keep the work fresh.  I study from plein air painting often in order to grasp the true qualities of light which cannot be found in work done only from photographs in a studio.  Everyday is an experience, and each one different, which helps destroy the development of a single process lest the artist, and his work, becomes boring and meaningless.  I try to be constantly aware of the transient nature of things, of light, of movement, of moods, etc. during life in order to replicate those things truthfully in my work.

•    3) You have a distinct sense of colour. What do you owe your personal palette to?
No idea.  I can say I have a great enjoyment of the tonalist painters, the early impressionists, old photographers, etc. most of which use a muted harmonious color palette which I most likely am inadvertently trying to replicate with a uniquely personal color choice.  I’ve conditioned my palette over the years to better achieve and accustom myself toward those color schemes, but from where does this decision originates is probably beyond a paragraph of discussion.  In short, from melancholy.

•    You seem to oscillate between a tightly rendered and a fluid, expressive style. What drives you to make that choice?
The recognition that an artist is weakened by constraining themself to one or a few forms of expression, and that the ability to work in many styles and mediums allows an artist to make choices and decisions that would otherwise be hindered by a lack of experimentation.

•    What would you attribute your success to?
Hard work, openmindedness, and an honest need to express visually what I fall short of verbally.



Brand Manager Patrick Egan informs that the exhibition travels to the DeLoach vineyards for a harvest party in the near future. The inspiring artwork, new artistic acquaintances interspersed with random bonding over art with strangers is what defined the evening for me.  It was wonderful to absorb all that the experience had to offer and I can’t wait for more!  I wish I could write about every single artist whose art inspired me in so many different ways. But this is where I choose to let it end. There’s more exciting news next week about the monthly student show at 79 Gallery. Some very talented artists, a variety of styles and an interesting interview. Till we meet again…