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An Aye for an Eye: PADA’s “Optic Nerve”

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“Safe,” by Joelle Petit Adkins.

The Photographic and Digital Artists group, or PADA, pushes photography to its limits, from the real to the abstract and back again. The various members are currently exhibiting recent work at Summer Studios Arts Academy in Lomita.

Lamplight splashes bright streaks along the wet stone pavement of a narrow alley in Venice, Italy – just enough to illuminate a few shuttered doorways and a silhouetted figure carrying a bent umbrella. Venice has drawn photographer Jim McKinniss back nearly every year since 2006 to capture the timeless mystery of masked carnival celebrants and lonely streets.

From the stillness of accumulated centuries in McKinniss’s Venice to the speeding blur of Ariel Swartley’s North America, “Optic Nerve” reveals a wide spectrum of artistic vision. Riding shotgun in a hurtling car, Swartely captured motion that blurs into impressionist landscapes. On her stops, she says she caught “bountiful farmland, quirky individualism, and magical visitations. Also dying towns, stunned faces, fallow ground.”

“The Chase,” by Karen Schuenemann. PHOTO COURTESY of KAREN SCHUENEMANN

“The Chase,” by Karen Schuenemann.

The floral images Earl Veits creates by combining photography, digital scans and Photoshop editing share the stillness of McKinniss’s work, but they couldn’t be more different. The starkly simplistic leaves and flowers isolated on a pure white background look like antique botanical prints. In contrast to Swartley’s blurred long exposures, Karen Schuenemann’s high-speed close-up freezes cormorants in action as one steals another’s catch.

The title “Optic Nerve” stimulated Beth Shibata to blend neurology and optics into her seemingly abstract composite photographs. She explains, “‘Let There Be Light’ uses the idea of nerve connections and nerve excitation firing off an idea…a eureka moment. ‘A Propensity of Dendridic Arbors’ is actually tree limbs, which resemble nerve pathways.”

The show also features works by Don Adkins, Joelle Petit Adkins, George Gelb, Judith Herman, Jerry Kotler, Douglas Magill, David Parsons, Patrick Smyth, Joyce Weiss and John Wessel.

Summer Studios Arts Academy also takes part on Saturday in the South Bay Museum and Gallery Art Crawl, 12 noon to 6 p.m., and which also includes the Torrance Art Museum, South Bay Contemporary/Zask Gallery, the Art Gallery at El Camino College, the Palos Verdes Art Center, the Artists’ Studio Gallery, the California Museum of Fine Art, and the APC Fine Arts and Graphics Gallery. Maps are available at each venue or by going to torranceartmuseum.com.

If you go:

What: “Optic Nerve,” presented by the Photographic and Digital Artists (PADA)

When: an Artist’s talk by Beth Shibata on Sunday from 3 to 4 p.m. Another, by Ariel Swartley, takes place on Sunday, May 18, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Where: Summer Studios Arts Academy, 2161 Lomita Blvd. Lomita

Duration: The show runs through May 18.

Gallery hours: Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

To learn more: Call Judy Herman at (310) 377-8047 or 310-591-7235 (cell)


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