Trees at the core of Hayward photography exhibit


Ikaika Nichols,

Artist Glenn Hemanes likes going to Navarro Beach for the bonfire leftovers which he calls “rescue wood.” He turns what some may see as leftover debris into pieces of artwork that he can sell. He specializes in vessels, wooden hand-made hollow containers, that look similar to bowls.

Hemanes recently provided 45 art pieces for the Love of Trees open viewing gallery, an ongoing event organized by PhotoCentral Gallery director Geir Jordahl, a Hayward grad and East Bay alum who started the gallery in 1987. Works of art will be on display until April 9 at 1099 E St. Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., downstairs Monday 5 to 10 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and by appointment.

“It’s great validation, but it is hard to let go of certain pieces,” Hemanes told The Pioneer. “Twenty percent of my Pacific Grove collection I didn’t want to sell.”

Director Jordahl started this gallery due to his strong inclination to ecology. The importance of trees, oxygen and enjoyment of life have been strong inspirations to his personal works and for the Love of Trees gallery which he emphasized is a unique exhibition not an annual showing. He shows about six shows a year and has run about 100 total shows as PhotoCentral Gallery director. He recruited these set artists due to their similarities, and interest in how they present trees and nature.

Each of the three members involved has a specific role he plays in the production of the art gallery. Plexman creates large format panoramas of clear-cut trees from Ontario. Hemanes finds wood to create small vessels and trinkets.

“When you create a show you deal with the synergy,” said Jordahl. “I have to be able to provide balance. The sum of the artists needs to be greater than that of the individual. We see despair in Matthew’s clearcuts, then feel hopefulness in John’s photos and the woodwork by Glenn works as the glue that ties it all together.”

March 7 from 5 to 7 p.m., Phase One and Bear Images presented The Road to Clearcut: Matthew Plexman artist talk and public reception. It was meant for the public to understand the thought process and inspirations behind his works as well as hands-on equipment demo talks. The public reception included food, beverages, art and good company.

“Once I started I couldn’t stop,” Plexman told The Pioneer. “Clearcuts are not just scenes of destruction, they are new landscapes created by loggers that make for a fascinating sight. When shooting dynamic lighting and composition are key.”

Along with his artist talk, Plexman provided 17 prints and 11 photos total for the gallery. The other artist categorized as a photographer is John Dotta who provided 15 pieces for the gallery. Dotta teaches full time at Napa Valley College and pursues his interest in photography on weekends. He was introduced to the roster through Jordahl, who was his graduate advisor in college.

“I’m sad about the state of nature and the world,” Dotta told The Pioneer. “It’s difficult and heart-wrenching. I try to look at the positive aspects of nature and see trees as individuals.”

Dotta’s formula hasn’t changed much in his shooting process. He tends to capture his images around the same areas in Bodega Head and uses only one camera and one lens. He told The Pioneer, “These materials are just what I need.”

For Jordahl, the combination of these three artists and his PhotoCentral staff is all he needed in order to provide a meaningful environmental gallery. He encourages all groups, big or small, to take part in this showing. In an attempt to leave guests with a memorable experience, he allows for personal interpretation to take over and leave a mark. As director, Jordahl made it clear that the main focus was on the artists’ work and most importantly the trees.

“Shared by any directorial position, there should be no overshadowing of the director to the point it takes away from the artists,” Jordahl told The Pioneer. “For guests hopefully they can come back and experience something new with repeat viewings.”