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Dennis Church

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Dennis Church 01SArtist:   Dennis Church

Genre:   Landscape, street photography

Website:   http://www.dennischurch.com

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His Art:

Approaching the world around him with a subjective eye and stepping back from traditional realism, Dennis Church explores the world of what we do not see in the traditional landscape. Using color and shape, he improvises thoughtful church photoimages that are simultaneously simple and complex, challenging yet peaceful, and which ultimately offer the viewer a satisfying view that reflects the beauty and grace so often overlooked in the mundane world around us. He calls this body of work AMERICCOLOR, and through it, Church seeks to bring order to the visual confusion all around us.

ennischurch4“Each day we move through a barrage of visual information that results in a cacophony of architecture, advertising, nature, color, and cultural symbols – all creating a landscape that is often chaotic and mind numbing,” Dennis says of AMERICOLOR. “This extensive series of images, made over eight years, is an experimental approach to photographic seeing, using a ennischurch2disciplined perceptual practice. I tinker with and often dismantle one-point perspective, creating planar and semi-planar ‘documentary’ style pictures of ordinary and overlooked views in the lineage of Evans–Eggleston. I explore traditional and improvised tools of depiction looking for new solutions to the challenge of presenting the color and form of the complex views I am drawn to. This ennischurch3creates a hyper-realism sometimes seen in paintings based on photographs. Constructing and layering of hues and shapes creates a way for me to comprehend and meditate on the world’s meaning, what I call AMERICOLOR.”

Church possesses the uncanny ability to find shots that not only feature mesmerizing horizontal and ennischurchvertical planes, but complimentary colors, such as various shades of mint and green opposed by pinks or hues of yellow contrasting against deep blues. “I photograph to nurture the growth of my vision,” Dennis expounds.” I witness, experience and capture my perception of the light, color and emotional vibration of the spirit of American life.”

Dennis proudly proclaims that he does not Ennis Leading Discussion 1own Photoshop. Instead, he keeps a sharp eye peeled and his camera at the ready should the right image suddenly appear. “I took a lot of these images from my car. With the window still up.”

His process keeps him in the moment, and in the moment there is eternity, joy, energy and excitement that wake him up to all life has to offer.

 

Biography:

Stand Before Us 06SDennis was born in 1949 in Mason City, Iowa. He grew up on the family farm in Mitchell County. After graduating from Iowa State University in 1975, he moved to Wisconsin to undertake graduate studies in psychology at The University of Wisconsin-Madison. That same year, he began photographing and was so moved by the power of the medium, he left graduate school to pursue Dennis Church 04Sartistic goals.

Although he is mostly self-taught, Church has attended artist’s workshops in Millerton, New York and The Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester. He received project art grants in Wisconsin, exhibited extensively in the Midwest, and enjoyed a 20-year career as a freelance photographer, working on assignments for local, regional and national magazines, advertising and public relations firms.

Church left creative photography to pursue business interests, Dennis Churchill 04but began photographing again after being “Rip Van Winkled” awake when he acquired new digital equipment one day some 20 years later. Since then, he has since produced a large body of new work and now lives in Bonita Springs. He draws inspiration in the fresh sights along his frequent travels, and is also highly influenced by photographers Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander and William Eggleston, painter Edward Hopper, the creative depth and endurance of Bob Dylan, an abiding love of jazz and Dennis’ ongoing pursuit of ideas through extensive and varied reading.

 

Awards, Accolades and Other Recognition:

Dennis Churchill 03Of late, Dennis’ work is garnering attention both here and abroad. A portfolio of his work has been published by Moscow-based Wonderzine magazine. The widely-viewed online magazine/website, LensCulture, picked his work as one of their favorite portfolios for 2013. And in May of 2014, Image in Progress Magazine in Rome (Italy) published a selection of his photographs and three pages of text about his work, artistic background and process. In addition, his work has been featured in solo exhibitions throughout the United States, including the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Darkroom Gallery. He will be featured in July of 2016 by the Marco Island Stand Before Us 04SCenter for the Arts along with Holly Manneck in a show called AMERICANA and his work was included along with that of Luke Greer, Steve Pennisi and Arturo Correa by the Art Galleries at FGCU in 2015 in Stand Before Us, an exhibition curated by artist, art critic and art author Veron Ennis.

 

Fast Facts.

Wonderzine Magazine’s website is www.wonderzine.com/wonderzine/life/photo/200157-america.

 

ARTICLES AND LINKS.

 

‘City of Palms’ photo show opens tonight at Davis Art Center (11-03-17)

City of Palms 09During the real estate boom of the 1920s, nurseryman James E. Hendry proposed that Fort Myers be nicknamed the “City of Palms.” It became the town’s official slogan. But in November, it will also be an exhibition at the Sidney and Berne Davis Art Center in which Lawrence Massing, Sandra Yeyati, Roy Rodriguez and Dennis Church interpret the slogan through their unique visions of how the palm has shaped our Florida experiences and culture. Each photographer has been working on the idea for more than two years, and will display some 30 images from the anthologies they’ve accumulated so far. 

Sandra Yeyati had to make a mid-course career correction. After college, she City of Palms Yeyatiwent to law school (Cornell), passed the bar and litigated cases for five years. Then she came to her senses and established a more rewarding lifestyle as a fine art photographer. That was in 2005. Today, she creates intriguing works of art with her cameras and plays with words as the managing editor of a publishing company and a freelance writer for publications and individual clients. Of late, a number of Yeyati’s pieces have been juried into local and national competitions (like the Naples Art Association’s Camera USA National Photography Competition) and displayed in Naples and Fort Myers galleries (including Arts for ACT Gallery). Her photographs have also appeared in various publications, including Gulfshore Life magazine. “City of Palms Yeyati 2In the digital darkroom, Yeyati layers multiple photographs that she has taken of people and textures into one composition, creating painterly images while honoring the photographic elements,” notes Arts for ACT’s Claudia Goode. Art critic Donald Miller compared one of her pieces to the expressionist paintings of Alexej von Jawlensky. “I am mesmerized by the fractal beauty of decay and deterioration as it forms strange patterns in surprising colors and tones,” says Yeyati. “Faces also fascinate me; I look to them for answers to City of Palms Rodriguezquestions about identity and the way our surroundings influence our sense of self. Many of us hide inconceivable secrets behind a simple smile. Every one of my compositions is a confession.”

Roy Rodriguez uses a variety of cameras to capture images that contain rich narrative, whether in the form of City of Palms Rodriguez 2abstract compositions formed by the random remains of beet juice on the evening’s dirty dinner dishes or arresting land, sky and seascapes from such diverse local environs as Myakka River State Park, Jupiter or while waiting for the traffic light to change on a rainy afternoon. Roy has two images on view at the Davis Art Center right City of Palms 13now (one is the black-and-white image, right). Accepted as entries in its Positive/Negative Exhibit, Rodriguez calls them “practice” for the big show opening November 3 that honors both the city and Florida’s iconic state tree.

Approaching the world around him with a subjective eye and stepping back from traditional realism, City of Palms ChurchDennis Church explores the world of what we do not see in the traditional landscape. Using color and shape, he improvises thoughtful images that are simultaneously simple and complex, challenging yet peaceful, and which ultimately offer the viewer a satisfying view that reflects the beauty and grace so often overlooked in the mundane world around us. He calls this body of work AMERICCOLOR, City of Palms 08and through it, Church seeks to bring order to the visual confusion all around us. Read here for more on Dennis and his body of work.

Lawrence Massing has enjoyed a lifelong love affair with photography. Some of his earliest (and fondest) memories are of his dad processing film and City of Palms Massingproducing photographs in a makeshift darkroom in a tiny bathroom. Competing with his dad for “best of show,” his earliest photographs chronicle his family life and vacations. But it was while stationed in amazingly beautiful locations such as Alaska and Bermuda while serving in the United Sates Coast Guard that he became prolific in photographing his experiences andCity of Palms 14 surroundings.

“I started to think of becoming a professional photographer, reading about and learning everything I could find on photography,” Massing recalls. He used his experiences as a springboard for formal study, obtaining a Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University with concentrations in fine art photography, journalism and environmental sciences.

Following graduation and more than five years working for local, national and international corporations at Schwartz Studios and Massing Patterson Studios in Dayton, Ohio, he relocated to Florida where he became affiliated City of Palms 18with the late Robert Rauschenberg. Through Rauschenberg’s Untitled Press, Massing documented and archived the iconic artist’s new work, prepared large-format transparencies for reproduction, and printed both early vintage and new negatives for use in various projects, publications, and museum installations.

“This 25-year period was a time of artistic growth for me via the mentoring friendship and support of Bob Rauschenberg and others within the Rauschenberg organization,” Massing reflects.

Active today with the SW Florida Photo Salon, Massing has been juried into shows at the I have a renewed interest in showing work. Within the past three oCity of Palms 15r so years I have been juried into shows at the Alliance for the Arts, Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center and Arts for ACT. The subject matter he finds most compelling is that which includes the influence of man (a man-altered landscape/cityscape) and the relationship of functional elements or found objects within incongruous assemblages (man and/or nature City of Palms 16inspired/generated).

“Sometimes the alterations are intentional, sometimes not, sometimes humorous, sometimes eliciting ‘Is-that-for-real?’ double takes,” states Massing, who is drawn to the ornaments and the landscaping that we add to our homes and workplaces to make us happy and serene and with the functional objects we SBDAC Aerial 2013 Badd to our environs which precipitate out of our lifestyles and experiences that give us our unique identities.

“An exciting aspect is that the process is never ending, constantly changing and never dull,” Massing adds. “Function and form; man and environment; seeking it and finding it.”

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Dennis Church’s ‘Muffler Shop’ part of Camera USA 2017 exhibition 06-26-17)

Church USA 02One of the exhibitors in the Naples Art Association’s Camera USA 2017 photography exhibition is local photographer Dennis Church. The native Iowan is self-taught. He previously worked as a commercial and freelance photographer for national magazines and numerous commercial clients.

Conley Camera USA 04Dennis’ Camera USA 2017 image is titled Muffler Shop, North Fort Myers, Florida 2017. It is a classic Church formulation in which he imposes order on a scene of visual confusion.

“Each day we move through a barrage of visual information that results in a cacophony of architecture, advertising, nature, color, and cultural symbols – all creating a landscape that is often chaotic and mind Weaving a Life 04numbing,” Dennis has said of similar and related images. Tinkering with, and often dismantling single-point perspective, Church creates planar and semi-planar documentary style pictures of ordinary and overlooked views in the lineage of Evans-Eggleston.

“Sometimes it is the challenge of ‘how many balls one can juggle’ ennischurch4in the picture frame and create a picture that works,” Dennis says of Muffler Shop in particular. “Also, my interest may be intrigued by simple echoing color harmonies and/or jarring harmonic discord, even in the same picture. My intent is akin to improvising music, pictures that are to be felt, ‘listened’ to. This practice, infinite in the creative possibilities of the viewfinders’ rectangle, church photokeeps me in the present moment, an engaging perceptual practice that I find enduringly exciting and satisfying.”

Church’s fine art photographs have been exhibited in a number of galleries in the United States, and has been featured in many online and hard copy publications in the USA and Europe (including Wonder Magazine, Dennis Church 04SMoscow, Fine Art Photographer, Prague, Image in Progress, Rome, Lens Culture and Lenscratch, Paris, The Oxford American and The Southern Photographer in the USA).

In 2012, Church was a finalist in The Michael P. Smith Fund for Documentary Photography overseen by The News Orleans Photo Alliance. His work is represented by The Photography Room in Canberra, Australia and DAAS CO-OP in the SoCo Cultural District in Fort Myers.

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Marco Island exhibit to treat viewers to slice of ‘Americana’ (06-21-16)

Dennis Church 01SAmerican culture meets artistic vision in a new exhibition opening July 5 at the Marco Island Center for the Arts. Through the improvising camera lens of Dennis Church and the iconic montages and imagery of Holly Manneck, AMERICANA will treat art center visitors to a slice of America shaped by the creative vision and personal interpretation of the artists.

“My intent is akin to improvising music, pictures that are to be felt, ‘listened’ to,” imparts Church, a native Iowan and self-taught photographer. “This practice, infinite in the creative possibilities of the viewfinder’s rectangle, keeps me in the ennischurch4present moment, an engaging perceptual practice that I find enduringly exciting and satisfying. I call this work AMERICOLOR, from an American improvising pictures with American places and subjects in digital color.”

Dennis says that making a record of American scenes is not his primary intent. Rather, the Weaving a Life 04camera does that automatically by seeing and experiencing real places and subjects in the “straight” photography tradition. “My pictures are as much about me as they are a default documentation of this country,” Dennis believes. “I will let others address what my pictures mean or say, if they care to comment.”

holly 01Experiencing the art on a personal level is just as important to Holly Mannek. “As I develop a montage of images, a story emerges which invites the viewer to experience the tale,” says Holly. “I use vintage images and my own photos, always choosing images that I connect with. I hope the viewer finds a connection that either evokes a feeling or thought. My topics are iconic imagery people, places and objects.”

Holly Manneck 104“My style can be referred to as NEW AMERICAN/POP ART, a combination of my academic studies of Fine Art and Graphic Design creating a unique style,” Holly continues. “My process may be complex but my images are simple. They are a slice of life past and present that tell a story.”

Taken together, Dennis’ and Holly’s art weaves an American story of experiences, culture, places and possibilities that define AMERICANA, something The Atlantic once called “slang for the comforting, Holly Manneck 105middle-class ephemera at your average antique store.”1

Their work is at once familiar and fresh. It’s relatable and comforting while challenging the viewer to rethink their perspective. In the end, it captures an America that’s both rooted and innovative – firmly connected to its heritage while always looking for a new idea.

AMERICANA is being curated by Kat Nimtz Rinaldo.

holly 02The opening is July 5, with an opening night reception of Tuesday, July 12, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. and Artist Talk with Dennis Church at 4:00 p.m. on July 17, with Ricky Howard and Don Mopsick performing light jazz. The show will run through July 29.

Marco Center for the Arts located at 1010 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island, FL.

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Photographer Dennis Church gives insight into his process during ‘Stand Before Us’ gallery talk (05-31-15)

Dennis Church 01SOn view now in the Art Gallery at FGCU is Stand Before Us, an exhibition that pairs works by two painters and two photographers. One of those photographers is Dennis Church.

“I have a very strong inner critic which at times can be disabling, so for me, I shoot quickly,” Church told the crowd who attended the exhibition’s opening and round table Gallery Talk. “Everybody has a critic in their psyche that’s troubling … talking, talking, talking … but I decided I’m going to avoid mine even though at times it’s pretty strong. So I shoot very quickly when I’m attracted to something.”

Dennis Church 03Church also told the group that he gravitates toward scenes that are filled with complexity. “I like pictures that have complexity and depth,” said Church. “I like them because those are the pictures that last. They hang on. They live a lot longer.”

But developing an eye for compositionally complex photos did not come over night. “Eventually, I [took enough shots] it just became second nature, and now I don’t have to think about it anymore. It took a while to get there. It’s sort of like baseball. Weaving a Life 04Hitting at first is awkward, but then at some point it becomes automatic and you have reflexes that take over. It’s a training that the mind has to go through, and it’s the same for painters. With a photograph, you have to do it right now, of course. Granted, you may have another chance. If it’s a stationary object, you can shoot many frames, but I found that most of the time it’s the first one ennischurch4because that’s the intuitive one. If I start thinking about it and trying to perfect it, it doesn’t have the life. It just doesn’t have the same life that the first one does.”

Some psychologists have postulated of late that one has to repeat a task at least 5,000 times to master it. Before digital photography and cell ennischurchphone cameras, that would have been a very expensive proposition. But now it’s simply a matter of pointing, shooting and uploading, but the key is analyzing each shot with an eye toward improving one’s overall feel for composition. “Composition is what feels right,” Church proclaims. “It’s simply that. We can analyze it after the fact, but it’s what feels right [once you’ve developed that intuitive reflex through repetition]. ennischurch3If it works for me, then hopefully it’s going to work for [viewers] as well.”

Church finds that the complexity he relishes is the best way for him to get viewers into an image and keep them there. “Once they’re in the picture, I want to give them something to do, and that has taken a long time to develop. It’s a conscious effort Dennis Church 05sto do that,” says Church, whose images often combine strong geometrical shapes that attract the eye on a subconscious, subliminal level.

“A lot of times I’ll pass up a scene because it’s very simple,” Church elaborates. “While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not my purpose. I want to pack the picture with lots of layers and ideas. It really becomes an all-consuming endeavor.”

You can view Church’s images and see how curator Stand Before Us 02SVeron Ennis paired them with paintings rendered by artist Arturo Correa at the Art Gallery at FGCU. The exhibition runs through June 18 and is made possible in part with the generous support of Rona Steingart.

The gallery is in the Arts Complex on FGCU’s main campus at 10501 FGCU Blvd. S. Parking is available in Lot 7 for gallery visitors. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.

 

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