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by Sharon Gittleman
FENDALE- Visitors to the newly reopened Pittmann-Puckett Art Gallery will soon have their first chance to see the work of BTL Graphic Designer Kari Helm when her nearly month-long show begins at Affirmations Community Center.
At 7 p.m., on June 14, the celebration will kick off with a meet-the artist reception. Painter Alice Allhoff will share the stage and exhibition space with Helm.
Photography is Helm’s great passion. “I’ve always liked it as a hobby. When I was a kid I borrowed my mom’s camera,” said Helm.
The explosion of digital cameras caught her fancy about four years ago. “It was fun to take a million pictures of everything,” she said.
Photography is a big escape from her work, she said.
“You get to be out in the world. Your face is away from the (computer) screen for a while,” said Helm. “It forces you to see things differently.”
Nature is her favorite subject.
“I really like to get pictures of spiders spinning their webs and close-ups of sea gulls,” said Helm.
Her cat Nibbler is an occasional model.
“She gets a little frustrated with me but she’ll put up with about 50 shots before she’ll leave,” said Helm.
Helm was encouraged to explore her work after she posted hundreds of photographs online, at web sites like Flickr, where professionals and amateurs alike evaluate each other’s shots.
“I have 562 photos on there,” she said. “I sell them on photos.com.”
What makes a great image?
“I think the most important thing is perspective and showing things in a different light,” she said.
“Shadow and light are very important.”
Scenes of peace and contentment are among Helm’s greatest joys.
“This is my therapy,” she said.
Her work came to Pittmann-Puckett gallery curator Charles Alexander’s attention, after Helm published a book of her shots for her friends and family.
“Charles saw it and flipped over the photos,” she said. “He’s been telling me for a while I should show them.”
Her photographs will be on sale at the gallery.
“Someday, I would like to be a photographer and travel around the world,” she said. “I’d like to go to the rainforest. The curiosity is to see the different creatures from all over – different little crawly things. I think the light would be really great in the rainforest.”
Helm’s show will be the second since the grand opening of the gallery which kicked off with a display of Alexander’s collages and paintings last month.
His show was a nostalgic event for many in the crowd.
“He was also the first person to show in the other gallery,” said James Ramier, a member of the center’s art gallery committee.
Alexander helped run the exhibition space upstairs in the old center, from 1993-96.
The new site offers a big contrast to the old location. It’s exhibition area is spacious and bright, with strips of gentle track lighting providing an enhanced view of the works on display.
Seating areas offer onlookers a chance to talk to each other about the painting, sculpture and photo exhibitions planned for the upcoming year.
At the opening celebration, Ramier said he admired Alexander’s collages.
“It’s the kind of thing you have to look at for a while to take it all in,” he said. “There’s a lot to it.”
Watercolorist Steve Gamburd had a theory about what makes certain paintings rise above the ordinary.
“What makes good art is when the art looks like the artist; when it comes straight from the heart. It is purely of their own discovery with hints of influences,” he said.
Alexander’s work had an extra spark of fun, he said.
“You could stare at it for hours and see gradations of the dots – the pointillism. The patterns make it rich and encourage you to move your eyes around it,” he said. “Every piece is different and it has its own story behind it.”