February 19, 2015  •  Leave a Comment




It’s difficult to complain about being crazy-busy when everything is so good – but may I just say, 2015 is already in contention for busiest year ever!

January’s showing at Photo LA was an enlivening, inspirational, and educational whirlwind of an experience – especially with two other simultaneous exhibitions presented at separate locations by the Arts District Alliance and LA Art Show.


St. Madeleine Catholic Church - Infrared Exposure - Trona, CA - 2010PRAYER CHANGES THINGSOne of my most personally affecting portfolios, and by far the most difficult to discuss. It's all too easy to quip about forsaken outposts with more churches than bars, or to genuinely wonder at the apparent strengthening of faith amongst populations suffering economic and environmental hardship. Yet every attempt to articulate what draws me to make these pictures only serves to further remind me of my outsider status, on multiple levels. In the end, the range of vernacular architectural solutions, and the surreal dissonance of these structures in the landscapes they punctuate, are aesthetically compelling. It may not be possible to say for certain what these images mean, even to myself, but it feels important to document them, if only because they are so important to the people who build them.

St. Madeleine Catholic Church - Trona, CA - 2010

Infrared Exposure - First printed: 2014

Presenting a stark, Brutalist exterior, the Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat Roman Catholic Church was completed in 1958. Perhaps the height of Cold War contributed to the creation of such an imposing structure, though a central stained glass feature, not visible from the outside, brings unexpected warmth and luminosity to the interior. The California desert offers a tough environment for any being, so the church may indeed be well suited to Trona, a struggling 100-plus-year-old mining town on the southern border of Death Valley.

Analog vs. Digital – The Hive Gallery – Los Angeles, CA – 2018
Pinholes & Infrareds - Chungking Studio - Los Angeles, CA - 2016
Uniting the World Though Art - LA Art Show/Arts District Alliance - 2015
Cultural Excavation - Curated by Elizabeth James (Cherry and Martin) - Gallery 825 - 2014

St. Madeleine Catholic Church - Trona, CA - 2010


High & Dry, my collaboration with writer/historian Christopher Langley is in the midst of publishing a three-part series on the Salton Sea. High & Dry is a regular feature on KCET’s Artbound, where our work seems to be connecting with audiences far and wide (our Emerald City of Salts Dispatch has received over 2400 likes on Facebook!) Chris and I are currently working on a book based on our long-term investigation of Trona, CA, a company town struggling to survive on the southern fringe of Death Valley. Trust me, you’ll hear about that soon. Hint: crowd-funding.


Sky, Whitecaps, Earth, Halobacteria - Bombay Beach (Salton Sea), CA - 2014Sky, Whitecaps, Earth, Halobacteria - Salton Sea, CA - 2014First printed: 2015

The Salton Sea was created in 1905, when the Colorado River Aqueduct broke free from irrigation canals, and for two years surged uncontrollably into a low desert basin. Today, the lake is drying up. Fed only by agricultural runoff and infrequent rains, California’s largest lake is an environmental disaster-in-the-making, but remains an active and essential sanctuary for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway.

The distinctive red species of archaea that give parts of the lake its striking color form only in highly salt-rich environments, such as the increasingly toxic, sediment-laden Salton Sea. The intense coloring is the beautiful result of an untenable evaporative cycle, and a testament to nature’s remarkable adaptability in the face of direct human influence and climate change. This image first appeared in High & Dry’s story "The Salton Sea: A Distillation of the West’s Problems in Search of Solutions” and is re-syndicated on
KCET's Artbound.

Seismic Shift - Confronting Catastrophe – LAUNCH LA - Avenue 50 Studio, Highland Pk, CA - 2017
Desert Island - Desert X Parallel Program - Coachella Valley Art Center - Indio, CA - 2017
First Place Award - Best Feature Photograph - Outdoor Writers Association of California - 2016
Art Makes Change - Earth WE Gallery - Santa Monica, CA - 2015-16
VisionLA 2015 Climate Action Arts Festival - Santa Monica, CA - 2015
Museum Tour (Solo Show) - Venice Institute of Contemporary Art/Gypsy Trails Gallery - Torrance Art Museum - 2015
Compass Magazine - Summer 2015
Magic and Realism: Photographs by Osceola Refetoff & Bill Leigh Brewer Curated by Shana Nys Dambrot - Chungking Studio - 2015
Waterworks 2 - The Art Gallery at GCC - Glendale, CA - 2015
Waterworks 2 - Porch Gallery - Ojai, CA - 2015
Sky, Whitecaps, Earth, Halo Bacteria - Bombay Beach (Salton Sea), CA - 2014


Coming up this April, I’ll be exhibiting in a two-person show at Chungking Studio with Bill Leigh Brewer as part of the MOPLA (Month of Photography LA) juggernaut, curated by Shana Nys Dambrot. Then in June, I’ll have new work (possibly infrared exposures from September’s Africa trip) at Art Share LA in an exhibition titled Haunted Landscapes, alongside some very talented colleagues.

What else? I am so pleased to have work featured in Duncan Miller Gallery’s YourDailyPhotograph.com. They’re a curated collection service with a very fine range. If you have not checked them out, I encourage you to subscribe. It’s one of the few emails I look forward to every morning.


Wildebeest Running with Tree - Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya - 2014Wildebeest Running with Tree - Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya - 2014Infrared Exposure - First printed: 2015
Flirting with Disaster: Africa

ApocryphaJuried by Thomas Caravan – Los Angeles Art Association – West Hollywood, CA – 2018
Art in Place - Venice Institute of Contemporary Art - Long Beach, CA - 2017
Pinholes & Infrareds - Chungking Studio - Los Angeles, CA - 2016
Museum Tour (Solo Show) - Venice Institute of Contemporary Art/Gypsy Trails Gallery - Torrance Art Museum - 2015
Haunted Landscapes - Art Share LA - 2015
Wildebeests Running & Tree - Maasai Mara Nat'l Park, Kenya - 2014

Quick note to collectors: I've already instituted a new 2015 price list (modest, yet I’m told, important increases), but through the end of February, fine art prints purchased directly from Chungking Studio are available at 2014 prices. Big thanks to early collectors for your support!


So busy is good, right? As they say, it beats the alternative.


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