James Rohan: Wide Awake in Dreamsville and Hints of Civilization
Jim Rohan’s wonderful toy camera images will be front and center at RayKo’s 7th Annual International Juried Plastic Camera Show. Jim is the celebrated artist and he will be exhibiting a selection of his work when the show opens on March 5th. As a long time fan and participant of the Rayko Plastic Camera Show, I know that Jim will be well fetted and celebrated at the opening on March 5th from 6-8pm. The exhibition runs through April 29th and is a testament to Rayko Director Ann Jastrabs’ curation and heroic efforts. Ann describes Jim’s toy camera journey:
“In 2008, for reasons still unclear to Jim, he picked up a plastic camera to better understand where he was both geographically (he does take a lot of snow pictures) and emotionally (this could explain this year’s postcard image of the man resembling Saint Sebastian full of arrows). Six years later, he still finds himself using plastic cameras, like Holgas and Dianas* and Brownie Hawkeyes and an Agfa Isoly with a flipped lens (and all sorts of other crappy cameras that you never knew existed). Rohan uses plastic optics to capture dreamlike memories of both the beauty and incongruity of the world around him. Though a fine art photographer, Jim has worked in the commercial photographic industry for the past thirty-five years as both a photographer and the co-owner of a professional Boston photo lab. Jim is currently self-employed as a digital retoucher specializing in architectural imagery…and spending every other moment out shooting with an arsenal of beloved plastic cameras held together with duct tape and a prayer.”
Jim is a fine art photographer living in the Boston area who uses plastic optics to capture dreamlike memories of both the beauty and incongruity of the world around him. His plastic camera images can be seen nationally in many juried group exhibitions, including the last four Annual Juried Plastic Camera Shows at RayKo Photo Center and a few Krappy Kamera shows. Several of his images have won awards, most recently a first place finish at this year’s Photocentric Show at the Garrison Art Center in Garrison, NY and a second place finish at this year’s Holga Out of the Box show at the TCC Gallery in Longview, TX.
I am a late arrival to my own photography. I spent thirty-five years in the commercial photographic industry as a studio photographer and photo lab co-owner. To this end, my time was devoted to making images for others. But in the past five years, in the semi-retired commercial photographic life that I now lead, I have rediscovered my own photography through the use of plastic cameras. Why plastic cameras? Well, it’s pretty much the antithesis of everything that I did in the commercial photographic world for all those years. I think of using plastic cameras as sort of a therapy, a cure for the super sharp, detailed color images that dominated my professional past. The commercial imagery has now been replaced for the most part by blurry black & white images. These images are evocative of memories and dreams for me and allow me to create my own personal photographic past that I missed for the last few decades. I find that plastic optics, rather than super sharp modern lenses, are wonderful tools for recording places as memories. As I get older and have less of a future and much more of a past, I’m storing up these half-remembered moments quickly these days, making up for lots of lost time.
The following images are taken primarily from two series. “Wide Awake in Dreamsville” is somewhat a dreamscape travelogue of geographic memories for me. Most of these images are taken in local places that I visit quite often or special places that mean something to me on an emotional level. “Hints of Civilization” are images of the incongruity that I see while traveling through the world around me. This series of images often involves my ongoing fascination with the written word and it’s relationship to the natural and social landscape.
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Thesis Project: Leah SchretenthalerMay 5th, 2020