ESCONDIDO — First came opening up a storefront on Grand Avenue and recruiting members to join the collective. Then came a dark room and an instructional component. Now, a busy year and a half for The Photographer’s Eye will culminate with its first jury-judged gallery.
For Donna Cosentino — the founder of the collective, a former adjunct professor at Palomar College and former photojournalist — the juried show and entrance of 100 photographers into the competition is a sign that The Photographer’s Eye has truly put itself on the map as a destination for photographic arts in North County. And she hopes it can propel the gallery to new heights.
“This was our first juried show and we are very happy with the results,” said Cosentino, who added that photographers from throughout San Diego and Los Angeles County submitted their work for judgment. “Our juror was impressed with the quality of the work entered.”
The theme of the show is “(s)Light of Hand,” a display of photos developed via alternative processing techniques.
“A photograph is a (s)Light of Hand, a magic trick of sort, conjured into being,” the collective explains of the concept behind the show on its website. “Light is summoned, and chemistry is concocted making visible both the intangible and the corporeal. It is heart and mind, imagination and craft, melding together into an experience of life-altering alchemy.”
Cosentino explained that those processes include cyanotypes, platinum and palladium, photogravure, tintype and others. To a dilettante, these words might as well be those spoken in another language.
A photogravure is an “engraving is formed on a metal plate, from which ink reproductions are made,” according to Dictonary.com. That website also explains that a cyanotype is “a process of photographic printing … that produces a blue line on a white background.”
Ultimately, the work of two photographers rose to the top: Stacey Prince for her photogravure work and Wayne Swanson for his cubes. The two of them won the Juror’s Choice and the Director’s Choice, respectively.
Cosentino said she gave Swanson’s work the Director’s Choice due to its craftsmanship.
“Wayne is a thoughtful artist whose work is impeccable. His work is deeply personal and well crafted,” she said. “He is part of the San Diego photography community and his work is beginning to be juried into shows across the country.”
As a result of winning the awards, the work of Prince and Swanson will sit on display beginning on Oct. 12 at A Photographer’s Eye and will stay there until Nov. 2.
Alongside Cosentino, veteran photographer Suda House, a professor of art and photography at Grossmont College, served as the juror. She will have 31 of her jury chosen works on display, alongside the winning work of Swanson and Prince, as part of the gallery.
Swanson exhibited a sense of elation at winning the Director’s Choice award.
“The Photographer’s Eye Gallery and Creative Collective has been a great addition to San Diego’s fine art photography scene since it opened a year ago,” Swanson wrote of winning the award on Instagram. “So, I was thrilled to find out that my Spine De/ReConstruction cubes have been selected for their new juried show. And absolutely blown away to receive the Director’s Choice award.”
Prince responded to her award-winning effort succinctly on Instagram.
“I am honored to be part of this exhibition and extremely honored to receive the Juror’s Choice award,” she wrote, noting that her piece to be displayed at the show is named “Human Artifact.”
Each photographic artist brings a different school of thought to their work. For Swanson, he says his background in writing and print journalism informs his work.
“I am drawn to imagery related to time, memory, atmosphere, a sense of place, and a subtle sense of humor,” he writes on his website. “I like to expand my vision by going beyond the straight photographic print. Through interventions with the physical print and the use of grids, collages, and 3-dimensional constructions, I can create an interplay between the rational/objective and the emotional/metaphorical.”
For her part, Prince says nature, an environmental spirit and a sense of self-reflection runs through the veins of her work.
“The examination of my history, the materiality of the body, psyche, and nature are the major themes in my artwork,” she told the publication San Diego Voyager in November. “I think my work is layered because I confront a time, self, and a space in which I was vulnerable and allowed myself to be silenced. Art has strengthened me and allowed me to see that we all have something unique to offer the world.”
In addition to having their award-winning work on display beginning at the Oct. 12 Second Saturday event at A Photographer’s Eye, by winning their respective awards, Swanson and Prince now will also both have their work on display in a two-person gallery in the fall of 2020.
A Photographer’s Eye is located at 326 E Grand Avenue in Escondido. The Second Saturday event will run from 4 to 9 p.m. and regular gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Editors Note: An original version of this story listed the gallery’s opening from Friday through Sunday. The story was also updated to clarify that Cosentino’s works on display were jury chosen. The Coast News regrets the error.
Steve Horn is a San Diego, CA-based reporter covering Escondido and San Marcos. He works in a full-time capacity for The Real News Network, an online broadcast news outlet, covering climate change. He has worked as a staff investigative reporter for the publications Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News and as an investigative reporter for the climate news website DeSmog.com. Contact Steve at email@example.com.