An Eye For Direction
It’s a well-known fact that the clearest definition for appreciating a work of art is to term it subjective. An individual’s perception of a painting, sculpture, or photograph, it’s meaning or what inspired it can all be influenced by so many personal factors. A stroll through a museum or gallery can evoke so many varied reactions from viewers all viewing the very same pieces. That truly is the beauty of art. Art’s sole purpose is to try to convey what the creator was thinking, the tone they intended, and the emotion they want you to feel as you gaze upon their work. Brentwood is fortunate to host a place where art aficionados and young children alike can gather to appreciate the creative gifts of local artists. Inside the Gallery of the Arts located at the Streets of Brentwood, the walls have new stories to tell that shift with the seasons. The new gallery director is the driving force behind the exhibits changing, and he’s got his eye focused on making the gallery a social hub.
Photographer Robert Ashin is many things–a lawyer, a sailor, a photographer, and now a gallery director intent on bringing more admiring eyes into the doors of the elegant domain that is the center of the arts community here in Brentwood. Robert is an exhibiting artist and has long been involved in the Art Guild of the Delta, the nonprofit organization associated with the gallery. Says Robert, “The former gallery director was retiring after seven years and I became very concerned. Who was going to take the lead on this and keep the gallery humming? She eventually said to me, ‘I want it to be you.’” With that, Robert went from being a photographer, to a man with a defined plan for developing the Delta Gallery into a place where many would converge, to admire the local artisan contributions, buy the unique items that hang within, and become enriched by the classes offered.
“The admiration for his art is a direct result of his vast portfolio of photographic excellence, compiled through many years of studied shots.”
“You see, sometimes an artist will set up outside the gallery and as people pass by, they become very interested in what that person is doing. They tend to wander in. We’ve also brought on a social media coordinator who will keep the community abreast of the many events we offer.
Extending our hours so that evening diners can stroll in on their night out is also something we are planning for. All these efforts combined will surely breathe new life into this gallery. We are planning to host community events here, we intend to have many memorable moments happen within these walls.”
Robert and his wife moved here from Elk Grove over three years ago. Maybe it was his love for sailing that brought him to our delta community, but certain physical setbacks halted his sailing days. “I started doing photography when I was 12. I was pretty good at it, but law school and my career put that pursuit on the backburner. When I couldn’t sail anymore, I thought I’d take up photography as a hobby instead. On one particular trip to Mendocino, I met a talented photographer and gallery owner who would become my mentor. Paul Kozal sat with me and helped me develop a plan for becoming a gallery-featured artist.”
“Photographer Robert Ashin is many things–a lawyer, a sailor, a photographer, and now a gallery director intent on bringing more admiring eyes into the doors of the elegant domain that is the center of the arts community here in Brentwood.”
His first show was in Elk Grove. He didn’t sell one photo and received zero feedback. He didn’t let that stop his momentum. He continued to follow his mentor’s plan of doing smaller art shows, all the while developing a quickly growing following on social media. He joined the Art Guild of the Delta and began exhibiting in his own town of Brentwood. After recognizing his talents through various gorgeous social media postings, the Alamo Danville Artists’ Society that shows at the Blackhawk Museum reached out and invited him to show his work in their gallery as well. The admiration for his art is a direct result of his vast portfolio of photographic excellence, compiled through many years of studied shots. “You must analyze certain factors prior to that click of the camera. I have been to a location where I intend to shoot six months in advance. Sometimes, I drive streets for days on end before taking the photos I am planning along the route. You must visualize the photo you want to take. Whether it will be during the day or night, and where exactly the sun will be during that pivotal moment is all-important. And a tripod is a must.”
Robert has set himself apart in the photography world by producing photos that appear to be a painting. His final product is the result of highly detailed computer rendering that has earned him the moniker online as “The Wizard of HDR.” His works of art enable the beholder to see details in the highlights and texture in the shadows. The depth and layers exude a 3D effect that makes the subject come alive.
One of Robert’s very favorite pieces was taken in rural Illinois. There are majestic clouds sitting above a rural road, a painted, patinaed mailbox is in the foreground, and there’s a distinct tire track next to it from where the mailman has delivered to the house for years. “There’s a story being told there on that old road. I took that photo on the fly, and fortunately, I happened to get it just right.”
Currently, Robert is working on a Barn Series. Some of the art he has shared with folks via social media has been met with awe. One admirer even stated that his work was showcasing God’s beauty. Robert shares, “In that particular case, God had a lot of help from Photoshop. But, I take it as a great compliment that the Photoshop work I have done has gone unnoticed.”
Inside the Delta Gallery, artists like Robert have found a home where their work can shine. In the back of the gallery, painters, sketch artists, and mixed media artists can all be working at once in a collaborative environment. It is inside these spaces where inspiration can hit, leading to a new work. Or, maybe a new lesson for doing something a different way is learned. It’s a way for artisan creations to find their way into the homes of our community too. Part of the funds raised through sales of artwork go toward keep the gallery functioning.
The Banner Up! Program will be taking place soon. For months, the banners will fly high above the streets throughout our town, embellishing our views with artistic elements at every turn. The popular auction that takes place to ultimately sell the banners, will help shed light on some of the great artists that live and create in our area, and proceeds will go toward supporting the Art Guild of the Delta and its endeavors further. When looking to dive in further and discover paintings and sculptures, weaving, jewelry, or photos created by artists from our community, take to the Streets of Brentwood shopping center. Enter the beautiful venue housing an array of items waiting for your envy and take one home to support your local art scene.
Photos By Robert Ashin