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Island photographers capture this place they call home
Dozens of Island photographers are setting out to prove that when it comes to artistic inspiration, there’s no place like home.
In an apparent coincidence, five separate exhibitions will open this weekend, creating a rare chance for the public to hop from gallery to gallery and sample homegrown work by almost all of the Island’s best-known photographers.
The shows, which will include ravishing local landscapes as well as dramatic portraits of some of the Island’s most eccentric and beloved residents, will take place at the Blue Heron Art Center, The Hardware Store Restaurant, Vashon Community Care Center and Books by the Way.
Each will host an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 3.
The Blue Heron’s exhibit, “Inner Vashon, An Outer View,” will feature the work of 31 professional and emerging photographers who are active in Photographers of Vashon (POV), an informal organization that meets monthly at the Heritage Museum. POV boasts more than 80 members and offers workshops as well as a chance for members to network informally and share ideas.
According to Michael Elenko, a POV member who helped coordinate the exhibit, the show has been a long time in the making.
“We’ve been working on this for 17 months, developing the vision and growing the talent,” Elenko said.
The exhibit was juried by painter Brian Fisher, Seattle photographer Kevin Cruff and Blue Heron Gallery curator Janice Mallman.
“I want people to walk in and be surrounded by these images and know that they’ve come home,” said Mallman.
Viewers will also drink in familiar sights in “Island Waters,” a group exhibit on view at The Hardware Store Restaurant.
The show is the culmination of the latest “Shoot to Show” class, a comprehensive photography course taught by renowned Island photographer Ray Pfortner.
The class, which has been offered by Vashon Allied Arts for the past six years, offers photographers an opportunity to shoot an assignment, share the results for in-class group critiques and submit a final set of images for professional jurying. Along the way, students also learn to print, frame, price and hang their work.
Pfortner said the current “Shoot to Show” class — comprised of seven photographers with varying levels of experience — unanimously chose water as the theme for the class and worked for three months at a number of Island locations.
Sharon Morris, who has participated in “Shoot to Show” three times, spoke in glowing terms about her most recent experience with the class.
“This time I heeded Dorothy’s lesson in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to look for my heart’s desire in my own backyard,” Morris explained. “All of the photographs in the show were taken on Raab’s Lagoon, which is in my own backyard.”
Two other photographers — Mary Beba and Cathleen Shattuck — have also been inspired by Vashon’s natural beauty.
Beba, whose work is also included in “Inner Vashon, An Outer View,” will have a solo exhibition at Vashon Bookshop, showing off her shots of Monument Farm.
Shattuck’s solo show, “Natural Vashon,” will be on display at Books by the Way.
Shattuck, a commercial and fine art photographer who has lived on the Island for three years, described her time on Vashon as “a local intensive in nature photography.”
“With nature photography, there is always that moment when immediacy takes precedence,” she added. “This may never happen the same way again.”
Nature, however, will take a backseat to artful artifice in yet another Vashon-themed exhibit — a retrospective of Hawk Jones’ documentation of 20 Drama Dock productions in the past eight years.
The exhibit, on view at Vashon Community Care Center, includes photographs of such memorable Island shows as “Working,” “The Sound of Music,” “Treasure Island” and “The Wizard of Oz.”
All five photography shows will remain on view throughout July, offering Islanders the visual proof of Ray Pfortner’s conviction that photographers should train their lenses on what they know best.
“Photographing close to home is the best photography,” Pfortner said.