A local take on Humans of New York; book launch event July 19 at Warwick's La Jolla at 7:30 p.m.
By Jennifer Coburn
May 16, 2018 (San Diego's East County) - We’ve all seen how projects like the popular blog and book Humans of New York connects people through photography. Real people are seen through a new lens as they share their life experiences. Snapshots and text serve as a means to share universal truth through unique images.
San Diego artist and photographer Jennifer G. Spencer is adding a new photographic element to this conversation with the release of her new book THE ARTIST PORTRAIT PROJECT: A PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMOIR OF PORTRAIT SESSIONS WITH SAN DIEGO ARTISTS (She Writes Press, July 12, 2018). Eleven of the artists live right here in East County, including La Mesa residents: Dottie Korn-Davis, David Beck-Brown, Suda House, Chris Lee, Polly Jacobs Giacchina, Jess Dominguez, and Mary Lynn Dominguez; El Cajon residents Ellen Phillips, Ron Tatro, and Bill Mosley; and Spring Valley resident Kim Knox.
Spencer asks, “Have you ever imagined who was behind the art you see in a gallery? When people go to a museum or art gallery, they see what artists have created, but rarely do when have a chance to see the person behind it all. Whenever I have the opportunity to meet artists and talk them about their inspiration, message, and challenges, my appreciation for their work deepens.” This is her goal in photographing these 50 well-known artists, she says. She hopes to share a new side of San Diego legends like Cindy Zimmerman, Jim Hubble, Anne Mudge, and Philipp Scholz Rittermann. Additionally, Spencer shares her notes from photography sessions that reveal the unique style, vulnerability, and quirkiness of each artist.
It was challenging creating a portrait of a multi-dimensional artist like Jim Hubble, says Spencer. During their portrait session, Spencer wondered, “Which side of Jim should I portray? His sculpture side, his public art side, his drawing and design side? The one thing that struck me about photos I’d seen of Jim was that they were all taken from a distance, placing him in some nook or cranny so that you would visually discover him by accident. What caught my attention most about Jim is how he artistically expresses himself, not just with the finished product but with his forward-thinking ideas and plans. Capturing him in a close-up looking forward, like a sea captain aboard a ship looking toward land, appealed to me as the way to portray Jim.”
Already the book is getting buzz in San Diego’s art scene. “Jennifer Spencer has created a very moving, compassionate, and celebratory series of portraits of a generation of tenacious San Diego artists,” says Hugh M. Davies, Ph.D. Director Emeritus of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Veteran art critic Robert L. Pincus, who penned the introduction to the book, agrees, adding, “We can view and contemplate these portraits in the present tense, but they will likely have historical value as time passes.”
About Jennifer G. Spencer
Jennifer G. Spencer is a painter and photographer who creates images using alternative photographic processes and digital imagery. She served for 13 years as Executive Director for the Combined Organizations for the Visual Arts (COVA) in San Diego.