Ray Collins Questions

Ray Collins is a miner and an amazing photographer of the oceans topography.  Arthur Meyerson, juror of our recent exhibition “blue”, gave Ray his Juror’s Award for three of his seascapes.  Ray has won many awards and accolades and was recently a short listed finalist for the prestigious Smithsonian Annual Photo Contest.  It is hard to peruse social media these days without coming across Ray’s work.  The following are three questions Kevin posed to Ray concerning his images.

Ray you certainly have made a splash in the photography world recently.  Forgive the pun.  Your images are being admired and debated all over social media and elsewhere. The four we had up in the last exhibition, “water,” were some of the most discussed we have ever hung.   Could you please give us a little background and some insight into your process?

Basically, the image you see is the final link in a chain of events…

I spend hours, days or even weeks and months pouring over weather maps, checking storms, tides, wind, swell, temperature and light. From there I correlate all the information and see where along the coastline my best chances of dynamic waves will be. Most places aren’t user friendly and can often require scaling down cliffs along some treacherous coastlines to reach offshore reefs, usually in the dark so I can make the most of the golden morning light.

Having a heavy pro body camera inside a water housing with a prime telephoto lens can get very heavy at times and as the ocean is pulling and pushing you into and under the waves you have to then focus, compose, adjust shutterspeed, aperture and iso all while staying a float and out of danger, it can often all come unstuck…

But you have seen the end result.

And as long as I draw breath I will continue to push my own boundaries of image making.

Ray Collins / Blue Hook / Juror's Award


Ray, I understand that you used to be a coal miner.  Your photographs capture light emanating through and reflecting on water, transforming a wave into a prismatic solid on paper — a fixed phenomenon; no longer transitory or fleeting.  Did your time underground in a world void of natural light inform or influence your photography?

Still am a coal miner in fact! I want to freeze the ephemeral. I want to show my relationship with the ocean as it is all I have ever known. I feel an intimacy when I am immersed and I want to show that. I’m not sure there is a direct parallel between coalmining and ocean photography, but in saying that… The photos have me woven through them, my interpretation, myself, and I’ve been working 12hr shifts underground for 12 years now so that has influenced me as a human and most probably transferred into the images I make. It would be cool to see a parallel universe of what my images would look like if I never worked in the mines, how different they might be. But tearing my knee at work underground in 2007 is what led me to buying my first camera so it’s an impossibility.

Ray Collins / Oil / Juror's Award


I know that you are a surfer, as someone that briefly dabbled at surfing as a young man, the two things that I took away from attempting to ride waves was the understanding of the raw power of moving water and the undeniable rhythm and cadence of breaking surf.  Your photographs render the ocean beautifully static and solid.  Is there something of rock here or am I overanalyzing? 

That’s the beauty of art isn’t it, the interpretation that we each bring to an image. The way it makes us feel and the way it makes us draw from ourselves, our experiences and our understanding of life.

Ray Collins / Fang / Juror's Award

Check out   Ray Collins on YouTube


Kim Turner-Smith Questions

Kim Turner Smith is very patient, and this is the very least of her talents.  We have been so busy and it has taken too long to get her to the blog.  Thanks for your understanding Kim.  Kim was the Juror’s award recipient for our call for entry “Treasure.”  Roy Fulkinger was the juror.  We asked Kim a few questions.

How did you come to photography? 

As far back as I can remember I have been fascinated with photos.  I used to love looking through my grandmother’s old family albums and hearing the stories of the people in the pictures.  In middle school I had a 110 camera that I carried around taking goofy snapshots of my friends and family.  My mom would get so frustrated when we would go pick up the film from the photo lab.  She would grimace and say “this one is a reject”or “this person isn’t even looking at the camera”. During high school I got my first ‘real’ camera and took a photography class and learned to develop my own film and make silver gelatin prints. This is when my passion for photography really intensified.  I continued studying art and art history into my college years graduating from Columbia College Chicago with a concentration in photography.  My time in Chicago were some of the most impactful years growing and evolving as a person and an artist.  It was an amazing time that I’m so grateful for.

Can you tell us about your images?

 The two images in the Treasure show are from my series titled Childhood which documents day-to-day moments in the lives of my children.  I push myself to look beyond the steady routine and mundane demands of daily life and find the magic in those fleeting moments.  As I listen to my girls engage in fantasy and play, their perceptions of the world are revealed.  I am drawn to capturing the momentary tableaus that have a sense of mystery or oddity.  I hope the photos reflect the essence of play, spontaneity and wonder but still retain the authenticity of our daily life.  While this series is ultimately a tribute to my own children I’ve discovered that it’s also a documentation of my journey as a mother. As I watch their little bodies and listen to their inquisitive minds, I am reminded that parents are privileged to experience these moments.  This time will someday feel ephemeral; these are the days that I will one day want to relive.

© Kim Turner-Smith23

Does a sense of place play a part in your photography?

A sense of place plays a big role in my photography, but so does lack of place.  Not necessarily geographically, but psychologically.  Themes of family and home are common threads in much of my work, but I am also attracted to concepts of humans lost in their environment; the superficial and artificial, and breaking my everyday surroundings down to banal components out of context.  This is what I’m exploring in both seriesNavigating Circumstance and Neighborhood. 


Could you tell us more about what you are currently working on?

Lately I’ve been experimenting rather than working on a specific project.  I’m mostly shooting film with the intention of “messing it up”, light leaks, blur, cross-processed, over exposed.  The imperfections and surprises are what I love most about shooting film.  I also recently took an encaustic workshop and am enjoying the process of creating tangible photographic objects again.  I’ve been missing the craftsmanship of making darkroom prints and have always been intrigued with encaustic, so I’m excited to experiment with this.  Not sure where my work is going at the moment and I’m enjoying not having a plan.

576© Kim Turner-Smith9

If you were a camera what would you be?

Definitely a film camera with expired film.  Probably a converted Polaroid 110a camera with type 59 film.



A couple of weekends ago,  we hosted a tremendously fun and energized reception for the “treasure” exhibition.  The evening was enlivened by Richard Orton signing his book,”The Upshaws of County Line, An American Family” and the gallery talk given by Roy Flukinger, the juror of “treasure” and the writer of the preface to Richard’s book.  We also had all the great folks that attended Meri Walker’s “It’s Not Just Luck” iPhone artistry class, sponsored by the gallery, that was held just down the street.

The weekend started on friday evening with a casual pozole party in the gallery.  For those that aren’t familiar with pozole, it is a traditional mexican soup or stew.  The basic ingredients are pork (or chicken or tofu), hominy and five different kinds of dried chilis.  Pozole is hominy in Spanish. It is a great communal supper because of the accoutrements and condiments that go along with it:  cabbage, queso fresco, avocado, tomato, onion, fresh chili pepper, lime, mexican oregano, tostadas and more.  Set all this out on a table and hand someone a steaming bowl of the soup and watch ‘em break out in a big grin!  There was a bunch of grinning going on the other night which was most definitely helped along by the tasty margaritas made by Judy Sherrod, of Shootapalooza fame, and the great conversation.  This is what it’s all about.

Meri Walker’s iphone workshop continued on Saturday morning down the street at Chantilly Lace Bed and Breakfast.  Porter and Sylvia’s southern hospitality and great meals are legendary around here.  Porter can be abrupt sometimes.  Some say it’s because he hit his head in a plane crash years ago.  Others say it’s because he’s always hungry.  Sylvia knows, but she’s not talkin’.  We owe Porter and Sylvia a big “thanks guys” for helping us make our workshops an ongoing success.

From all the very interesting posting going back and forth on Facebook by the class participants it appears that Meri’s class was a great adbenture.  We have especially enjoyed watching our friend, Aubrey Guthrie, burst out into social media — keep on truckin’ Aubrey!

The reception Saturday night was one of the best we’ve had.  We had folks from all across Texas.  We were especially pleased to meet the photographer Remi Lai.  He came all the way from Kirksville, Missouri.  The evening ended with another great communal meal at our local brewpub, Pecan Street Brewing.  Thanks to all who came and made the weekend a memorable one.

Oh, check-out the very amateurish video of the exhibit below.  We will get better at this.  Amanda apologizes for slaughtering the photographers names.  We will also get better at this.

See ya!




New Children’s Science Museum Opening in Johnson City

This past Saturday, Johnson City, Texas got a preview of something really, really special.  When Amanda opened the gallery four and a half years ago she never envisioned being around the corner from something as cool as this.  The new Hill Country Science Mill hosted a preview party and we went dressed as free range chickens, no, not really, but we did take our cameras.

forgotten receptions September 27 and October 25

We almost forgot…..  here are images from the “forgotten” receptions.  King Tut even showed up for champagne and pumpkin brownies!  Thanks Blue Mitchell for selecting a great group of images that will not be forgotten!


“downtown” reception July 30, 2014

There are always moments of magic when you fill a room with creative individuals.  We were not disappointed this past Saturday afternoon at the closing reception for “Downtown”. 


First, the three ladies in wonderful floral wear (they asked that their names not be used) asked to have their picture taken.


Three old friends met and talked of old times — they had been medical photographers and an illustrator at different hospitals here in Texas. 


The brownies con chili and the champagne were well received.  


David Hansen gave a very moving talk about his image which was reminiscent of the work of Piet Mondrian.


Lynn Baldwin brought along his beautiful and arresting book of panoramas.  They are mostly of disappearing small towns here in Texas and Missouri. 


Jasmine Peters,who drove up from Corpus Christi, spoke about her great image of Town Lake in Austin.   She is a former student of our friend, Steve Goff, at Odessa College.  She also regaled us with humorous stories of her day job. 


Carol Serur explained the capturing of her beautiful images.  We also want to thank Carol for helping us hang the show.


Thanks again to for Peter Liepke for selecting such a wonderful group of photographs. 


See ya

We’re back in the saddle


There has been a lot going on around here over the last couple of months: workshops, receptions, building stuff, feeding the cats — haven’t had time to blog. We have been working like crazy on our new workshop/studio space, Blue Taller Studio, unfortunately it wasn’t ready this past weekend for our encaustic workshops, however, we held the classes in the gallery and it worked out beautifully. We had a great turnout of eager, talented participants. It was so much fun and so encouraging to work with so many committed photographers that are as stimulated by encaustic as we are. We especially want to send a shout out to our friend Vicky Richardson Reed for inspiring us with her wonderful encaustic images. 


The weekend of May 30th and 31st was fantastic with Fran Forman and Tami Bone teaching workshops in conjunction with the reception for the exhibition “Magic”. It was Magic. Fran juried the show and chose a great group of images. Her gallery talk was one of the best we’ve had and got folks participating and rhapsodically waxing aesthetic. Fran and Tami’s classes were enthusiastically attended and, according to the participants, very informative and life changing. Fran is a wonderful instructor, showing others how to also create magic. Tami got her participants to dive into the pool of themselves and come up with personal epiphanies and insights into the “why” of their art — I sat through part of her class and it was fantastic. Little Johnson City was very lucky to have these two creative forces in town. And last but not least, the irrepressible, creative fun champion, Judy Sherrod, showed up and parked her Shootapalooza Art Bar Airstream in front of the gallery and led everyone in creating lumen prints with broccoli, peppers, cabbage etc. There were visitors all over the gallery, smiling, holding an onion, a sprig of cilantro or some other item of produce. Thanks Judy. 


Saturday June 28th was the opening reception for “Downtown”. The juror, Peter Liepke, selected a very compelling group of images for the show. I was touched and sparked by Tami Bone’s workshop at the previous reception and we decided to have a gallery talk in the same vein. Right out of the shoot, Pierre Cook started talking about his photo of a fellow sitting, playing the guitar with a passerby just passing by in the foreground — turns out Pierre is a musician with certain feelings about the passerby just passing by….Tami’s on to something, the “why” of it is a good question. Later we went to dinner with a local photographer and her husband — he was a competitive diver in college.  Turns out he now builds swimming pools. Very interesting. The final reception for “Downtown” is July 26th. 


Well, back to work on the new studio, see ya. 



It’s Gonna Be a Big Weekend in Johnson City!

No, LBJ’s not coming back.  Photographers Fran Forman, Tami Bone and Judy Sherrod are coming to town.  Fran will be here to celebrate the opening of “Magic,” the current exhibition on the walls here at the gallery.  Fran was the juror for “Magic.”  She will give a gallery talk at 5:30 on Saturday.  Fran will also be presenting a two workshop Friday and Saturday.  Tami will also be here Saturday to present a workshop.

Photographer, camera maker and the leader of shootapalooza, Judy Sherrod, will have her “shootapalooza Art/Bar Airstream” parked out in front of the gallery on Saturday demonstrating the lumen print process.  Everyone is encouraged to come by the gallery, eat some of Amanda’s famous brownies, have a glass of wine, make a lumen print and meet Fran, Judy and Tami.  It will be a very special day.  These three great friends of the gallery are immensely talented folks with an abundance of creative energy and knowledge to share – please come if you can.


Schedule of Events

Deconstructing the Digital Collage | taught by Fran Forman
May 30 1pm to 4pm and May 31 9am to noon – $200

Lunch | with Fran, Tami and Judy at Chantilly Lace
May 31 noon to 1pm – $15

Finding Treasure | taught by Tami Bone
May 31 1pm to 5pm – $60

Reception | “magic”
May 31 4pm to 7pm with a gallery talk by Fran Forman, juror, at 5:30pm

shootapalooza Art/Bar Airstream | with Judy Sherrod
May 31 1:30pm to 5:30pm making Lumen Print Extravaganza


Hallelujah, we’ve got the new website up and rockin’!  Bloggers are bloggin’, whales are singin’ and photographers are photographin’ — it’s a good day!  Amanda has been working her tail off putting this together, she deserves a big round of applauds – clap, clap, clap!  I have been appointed the official gallery blogger.  This is going to be fun and hopefully, illuminating.

I take this endeavor very seriously and do not take the influential task ahead of me lightly nor do I consider Amanda’s trust in me inappropriate or all out of proportion to my abilities.  Boy, it’s fun to write sentences like that.  Ok, no more kidding.

There is so much great stuff going on with photography right now – so many talented and fascinating folks making pictures.  There will be a lot to talk about.  Stay tuned.

Good be on you,

P.S.  Please share this around, we need the exposure for the new website.


Welcome to our blog. Stay tuned!