Making photography a priority

Art: Photo Works, a new resource center, celebrates the medium and gives people a place to create.

Fine Arts

February 22, 2000|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

Photo Works, a photographic-arts resource center, opens Saturday in the old U.S. Post Office building at 3531 Chestnut Ave. in Hampden.

There will be a reception from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., during which visitors may tour the facility, meet the staff and view the opening photo exhibit, titled "Bread and Butter," which features the work of local photographers Jim Burger, John Dean, Chris Hartlove and Sun photographer Nanine Hartzenbusch. The exhibit explores the relationship between a photographer's personal and professional work.

Photo Works is the creation of two local photographers, Mike Welsh and Bob Creamer, who had become frustrated over the years by the difficulty of finding access to darkroom space in Baltimore.

Their solution was to renovate the old post office building as a combination gallery space, private and group darkroom space, classroom space and digital imaging center with 10 Macintosh G-4 computer stations plus scanners and printers.

"This is a facility that grew out of the fact that a lot of people had a lot of dreams that are coming true now," said Welsh, a former Baltimore stockbroker who left the investment business after 30 years to pursue his interest in photography.

"This is a place where people who are interested in doing their own work will have the ability to see their work come to fruition and not have to rely on a lab. It's a great feeling to be able to do your own work."

The idea is that local photographers can rent darkroom space and computer equipment at affordable rates to pursue their art.

The individual darkrooms each contain large-format enlargers that can take negatives up to 4-by-5 inches and can print mural-size enlargements up to 30 inches wide. The darkrooms also contain temperature-controlled sinks for film development, and negative and print drying facilities. In addition, the center also features a processor, which allows photographers to develop exposed color prints in four minutes.

The digital media center will give patrons the ability to scan their work on a flatbed scanner or a film scanner and manipulate their images on the computer. The images can be printed out on an ink-jet printer or saved on disk for later outputting as negatives that can be printed in the darkroom.

The center will also offer formal classes in the Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dream Weaver graphic arts programs, as well as courses in Web page design.

The center includes a 250-square-foot lighting studio which photographers can rent by the half or full day. The studio contains electronic flash and meter systems, a digital camera, and a variety of paper and Formica background sheets, camera stands, tripods, umbrellas and filters.

"The idea is that anybody can come in and work with the equipment to make images, and that the staff will be available to answer questions and introduce newcomers to state-of-the-art digital technology," said Elizabeth Malis, a spokeswoman for the facility.

Initially the center will be staffed by seven associates and a pool of instructors that includes both local artists and nationally known guest artists.

The center will offer a range of workshops in photography and darkroom techniques and in digital imagery. There will also be programs for teen-agers and senior citizens. The center eventually plans to introduce a travel program that allows photographers to take picture-making trips to various national and international destinations.

Finally there will be a guest artist series in which leading photographers will lecture about their work and participate in portfolio reviews and workshop critiques.

"This is the one of the few facilities of its type on the East Coast," said Susan Hayman, one of the founding associates of the center.

"Our goal is to give photography in Baltimore recognition on the local and national levels through exhibitions, workshops and by providing first-rate facilities for photographers to work in. It's about time something like this happened."

Student photo show

The City Hall Rotunda Gallery presents a group show of 15 Coppin State College students enrolled in the school's basic photography course.

All of the photographers are students of Linda Day Clark, a nationally recognized photographer and professor of fine arts at Coppin State College.

"These students have really produced some outstanding work, even though none of them are art majors," Clark said.

"They're very sensitive and beautiful portraits that show a great deal of aesthetic feeling and craft. This is really some very sophisticated imagery for basic photo students."

The show runs through the end of February.

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