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Renee’s Photography Exhibition

By Michael Buss, 2014-09-28

Renee Stewart Jackson must be the Arts Council’s favorite photographer. Not only does she take the most stunning, beautifully observed pictures but she’s always smiling. Always there. Always passionate about everything she does.

Left: A photo by Michael Buss of a photo by Renee Stewart Jackson!

So when I popped in to see her exhibition at the Carnegie Library today there she was, with husband Phil, smiling! And then we have to smile back because her exhibition of “Faces” leaves you with little choice. There are the chimps in black and white, and the gorillas with a touch of color, with thanks to San Diego Zoo. But the art of the photographer is to see what most of us never even notice, then freeze the moment and then keep it before us such that the moment extends into minutes, into hours. The way the baby chimp nuzzled at its mother’s teat captures all the intimacy and love you might see with a human parent and child. The gorilla, finger to twisted mouth, who seems to be saying “Now just a minute…” has his eye firmly fixed on a fly some nine inches away from his face – a facet of the picture I wouldn’t have noticed were it not pointed out to me by Phil, Renee’s husband.

Further round the gallery and I came across the faces of Native American Indians, brightly painted for a pow wow at Pechanga. Renee had gone there with her student, a disabled young lady who doesn't let her disability or wheelchair stop her from enjoying life, who under our photographer’s tutelage has now won a variety of prizes in her own right!

Other portraits follow, again in black and white; grizzled old men where every whisker is its own portrait.  And you see, once more, what only the photographer and the artists really see, every detail.

But we are not finished, for on the final wall are the compilations, skillfully merged and blended, to tell a story right out of the mind of the artist. Trees set against an orange sky seem to have, yes, eyes subtly peering through the branches, gazing back at the onlooker. A mirror for the lover of nature.  I dart back to the previous compilation where a black silhouetted spider hovers on its web over toadstools pushing up through the mulch. And sure enough, after a moment, you discern faint grainy eyes from the left gazing at the spider. A voice whispers in my ear: “Little Miss Muffett!” Renee is there, enjoying the moment. Smiling.

Thank you, Renee, for sharing your gift;  and for the sweet hospitality, the salami and crackers, the olives – and the cookies!



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