The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts presents “Transfigurations and Recent Work: Photography by James Honzik” in the Upstairs Gallery at the Newport Visual Arts Center from July 10 through August 1.
Honzik will exhibit experimental portrait photography from his ongoing series“Transfigurations” as well as transfigured landscape photography from his new series “Storm of Roses.” A public reception for the exhibit will be held July 10 at the VAC, 5-7pm, and an artist talk will be held during the reception.
James Honzik refers to himself as a photographer, poet and artist living in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin and then studied poetry under John Yau, Bernadette Meyer and David Trinidad at the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, the heart of poetry in New York City, and with Charles Bernstein at the New School. Honzik moved to Portland 14 years ago and landed a job as a commercial photographer. Over the course of one year, he took over 50,000 photographs of buildings in cities all over the Pacific Northwest, “in rain, in fog, in sun, in shadow, in mist, in summer, and winter.” More recently, his poetry and photography have merged. “Lichen, water, stone, corrosion, decay, and the faces of my friends, have become the vocabulary of a visual poetry,” Honzik says.
Honzik’s creative pursuits have also included independent film and video. He produced the documentary film “Salmon Poet,” directed by Sabrina Guitart and starring Portland, OR’s proclaimed “street poet” Walt Curtis. Honzik also directed what has become a cult video satire, “The Worriers,” a parody of the lives and loves of the Portland poetry community based on the movie, “The Warriors.” The video’s tagline: “Bad Gangs, Bad Girls, Bad Poetry.”
Honzik’s photography series, “Transfigurations,” represents a dynamic collage of portrait and landscape photography. In one image, “Crown of Rust, Dress of Ashes,” the model, a younger woman from Southern Oregon, now wears a dress made from an image of layered volcanic ash found on the side of Mt. Hood. “Her crown is an image of one of the most beautiful decayed objects I have ever seen, a sheet metal door, warped and burned in a fire, exposed to the elements, and corroded,” Honzik says. “I take many thousands of photos. Sometimes when I go hiking I focus exclusively on the lichen, moss, rock, rock and wood patterns, ignoring the landscape,” Honzik says. “I photograph decay, corrosion, dissolution. I photograph the facades of buildings reflecting changing lights. All these textural elements have symbolic and poetic meaning, as well as visual beauty.”
Honzik’s favorite philosopher is Baruch Spinoza, whom he quotes in his artist statement: “In so far as the mind sees things in their eternal aspect, it participates in eternity.” Honzik’s favorite film director is the Soviet and Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. “When I am ready, I analyze my images. I take my best portraits, and my best textural photos, and combine them digitally,” Honzik says. “I go through hundreds of pairs of images, exploring the complex combinatorial space, following my own heuristic devices and intuitions until, as if it had dropped out of the sky, a new piece appears in front of me.”
James Honzik is an engaged member of Portland’s creative community, but he has not fallen into the trapping and stereotypes of Portlandia. Honzik has shown his work at the Mark Woolley Gallery, the Show and Tell Gallery and Manor of Art in Portland. He is active as an online artist and on social media, where he has over 35,000 followers on Google+ and over 5,000 followers on twitter. “Transfigurations and Recent Work” is James Honzik’s first solo exhibition.
The Upstairs Gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 4pm.