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March 26, 2008 > PhotoCentral hosts a stunning spring

PhotoCentral hosts a stunning spring

By Julie Grabowski

PhotoCentral began life in the simplest of ways with a one night a week schedule for darkroom use. Now, 25 years later, the program has become an impressive and beloved community resource offering classes, workshops, private lessons, darkrooms, mat cutting and dry mounting facilities, photo lending library, and gallery space. Geir and Kate Jordahl are the founder/directors of PhotoCentral, run through the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District (HARD). Both hold masters degrees in photography and are represented by Modernbook Gallery in Palo Alto. They have published books and exhibited their work internationally, and have been teaching for the past 24 years.

"We just sort of built the curriculum on what people wanted to do," says Jordahl, a current professor of photography and digital imaging at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. Classes are short and contain 5 to 20 students of all ages, depending on the subject. The spring schedule has something for all abilities and interests: beginning instruction on camera use, darkroom printing techniques, using a digital camera, and nature photography outings. Opportunities for more extensive field trips also come around, mostly in California, with ventures to Utah and sometimes Japan, where a sister program (PhotoCentral Japan) was established by Mieko and Hiroshi Tamura in May 2001. "You never run out of new things to learn," says Jordahl about photography. She believes that photography is important because it is close to our lives.

The annual Spring Exhibition is a time for artists to share what they care about in selections of their own choosing; this year the founders of Modernbook Gallery gave awards to celebrate PhotoCentral's 25th anniversary. In a director's statement the Jordahls' say, "Sharing part of one's self is not always an easy thing. Art is about exploring personal concerns; what you love, fears, joys, what is beautiful and what is not. In all cases it stretches the creator to see more deeply." Over 50 artists take this leap, producing 129 outstanding and diverse photographs from a Buddhist temple to a trio of Calla Lilies, the majesty of Yosemite and Yellowstone to wine barrels and Pacific Tree Frogs, an Everest sunrise to a Venetian gondola and a New Zealand Sunset. Nick Calarco was awarded Best of Show for Riverdale House, of which the presenters said "A good work of art should inspire the viewer to question, think, feel, and wonder, not only at the first glance but continually over time. This picture achieves that...I am inspired to imagine beyond the artist's intentions. This is how good art transcends a moment in time and lives on in many lifetimes."

Spring show participants Curtis and Marcela Griffin turned to photography after the loss of their only child in 1992. A search for meaning led them to classes offered at PhotoCentral. "It's a way to express yourself," Curtis says of the art of photography. "My way of communication." He uses medium, panoramic and large format cameras, and has a special interest in the pinhole camera: a simple device without a glass lens that focuses all light in a scene through a small hole to create a crisp image. The Griffins shoot mostly landscape and take photography trips to various places in the state such as the northern California coast, Point Lobos south of Carmel, and Pescadero. Mono Lake in the Eastern Sierra is a favorite spot along with Monument Valley and Arches in the Southwest. With no specifics in mind, they simply find things to take pictures of. "You just walk along and something says 'Wow'!" Curtis says.

Marcela works in medium format as well as digital, and calls PhotoCentral a "beautiful artist's community." Meeting with likeminded people, sharing work, getting feedback and tips or just talking about their craft is important and uplifting. "You need to talk to people who understand what you're doing," Marcella says. And there's no mystery to why she's doing it. "We do it for love's sake. It's a beautiful hobby and we're both thankful to have it," says Marcela. "It's been a life saver for Curtis and I."

Susan Honda Eady has always had an interest in photography, but her discovery of the digital medium 6 years ago captured her completely. "It's kinda how I process life," she says. "It helps me learn to be more observant." She shoots intuitively, issues and themes emerging in the photos upon review. "The pictures tell me what I'm thinking or drawn to," says Eady, whose lens has helped her come to terms with things such as heritage and aging.

She first participated in PhotoCentral through one of their spring shows and then began taking classes. Now Eady co-leads the Sunday Photo Group with Robert Jankowski, a get-together the last Sunday of every month for photography lovers to share their works in progress and "image creating experiences." Coming to photography later in life, Eady sums it up in one word: joyful.

PhotoCentral's high standards and generous support is a tremendous gift for photographers looking to grow and explore their art, and provides the community with a wonderful view of their world. "Photography is really something that can speak to everyone," says Kate Jordahl. So stop into PhotoCentral and hear what marvelous things the Spring Exhibition has to say to you.

PhotoCentral Spring Exhibition
Through April 12

5 p.m.-10 p.m.
Tuesdays and Thursdays
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Noon - 4 p.m.

1099 E Street, Hayward
(510) 881-6721

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