2 Open Studio artists make digital art worth seeing
Originally published October 12, 2012 in the Santa Cruz Sentinel
When I was a journalism student at Fresno State, professor Flynn—a quirky, straight-talking veteran of both the navy and the Miami Herald—started his reporting class by drawing a list on the blackboard. Flynn’s “Hierarchy of Writers” placed poets at the very top. They were the loftiest, most respected of all writers. Below poets were novelists, playwrights, essayists, advertisers, publicists, etc., and at the very bottom were reporters, the lowliest of all writers, commonly associated with the word “hack” if they did it for too long. I did well in the class, but Flynn’s “Hierarchy” certainly put that into perspective.
|"Celeste" by Bonita Diemoz|
As a photographer, I have sometimes sensed a similar unspoken ranking for visual artists. At the very top level are, or course, painters—presumably what all artists would aspire to be if only they had the talent. Below painters in significance are sculptors, architects, printmakers, designers and all sorts of crafts-persons. Photographers are nowhere near the top, and, like journalists, probably somewhere near the bottom—or maybe even in a category all their own, separate from art. Why else would photography be excluded from juried art shows, or share the home arts building with the county fair apple pies and postcard collections? (To be fair, I hope this has more to do with the popularity of photography and the volume of entries, rather than a snub at photography.)
|"Rhoda" by Bonita Diemoz|
Those led to photography can be just as brilliant and talented as any other artist. And these days, digital processes have given photographers many more ways of expressing themselves. In the Open Studios Art Tour calendar for 2012 you’ll find 38 photographers and 13 digital artists. Some digital artists further subcategorize their media as collage or mixed media, and print on surfaces as varied as paper, metal, glass and fabric.
|Bonita Diemoz’s surreal
photographs are a treat to see, as well
as her beautiful Victorian home in
downtown Santa Cruz.
|"Magdalena" by Bonita Diemoz|
Bonita Diemoz, who creates digitally altered photographs, will be participating in her seventh Open Studios Art Tour this year. A former weaver and casual photographer, she took a digital photography class at Cabrillo College from Ted Orland about 10 years ago just to learn how to use her new digital camera. But when she also learned how to use Photoshop, she was hooked. “Once I discovered what I could do in Photoshop, I found my niche.” she says. “I love it. I spend hours and hours and hours even though I work fulltime. If I ever get to retire I’m going to do Photoshop all day long every day.”
Diemoz describes herself as the “Cemetery Queen.” Her favorite cemeteries are in Italy and France, where larger-than-life marble statues adorn the graves of the wealthy. On her website, she shares maps to guide others to Staglieno Cemetery in Genoa or Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris. “From about the 1880s to about the 1920s there was a real renaissance of people hiring famous sculptors to make their one-of-a-kind monument,” says Diemoz. “Today, that’s just prohibitively expensive.”
|"Metamorphosis" by Bonita Diemoz|
|"Rosebud" by Bonita Diemoz|
Over the years, she has amassed a large collection of statuary imagery from visits to her favorite cemeteries—angels with impressive wings, lovers kissing, a mother feeding a baby, a woman sleeping—and has combined these emotive images with dramatic scenery. Local residents will recognize the cliffs, surf and beaches along West Cliff Drive as backdrop for many of her photos. The results are startlingly beautiful and otherworldly, more surreal and romantic than tragic.
|Linda Cordy’s paintings and
digital collages are|
displayed in her living room, as she gets ready for
Open Studios, with her dog, Bailey.
|"Jelly" by Linda Cordy|
Cordy was also a student of Ted Orland’s at Cabrillo College. Her collages are a fascinating combination of objects and places she’s photographed, and she enjoys pointing out local elements in her work that people will recognize, such as the roof of the Rittenhouse Building or the top of the Boardwalk Merry-Go-Round. In addition to combining layers of her own photographs, she uses digital images of her paintings to create texture and subject matter. She also scans real objects such as flowers and feathers for her collages. “I have to go through thousands of photos. There aren’t many photos you can make collages out of,” says Cordy.
|"Wonderland" by Linda Cordy|
Much of Cordy’s work is personal or family-related. She has a large portrait she painted of her paternal grandmother on the wall of her living room, with words and phrases floating around her head such as “suffragette,” “union organizer,” and “seamstress to the queen”—so her legacy would be remembered. Cordy has also created a digital family tree collage, with biographical photographs of her relatives. And, above her fireplace is a painting of a seductive scorpion fish—a personal and political statement, she says, about her bank. “They have my loan and they have been evil,” she says with a laugh.
|"Velocity" by Linda Cordy|
|"Legend" by Linda Cordy|