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Featured Artist: John Repoza

Fine Art, Photography, Newport Art, Local Artist, Unique Home Goods, Locally-made, Newport Gifts, Travel Art, Handmad

“If you have your eyes open, you can find something beautiful.” This is the message photographer John Repoza conveys through his remarkable work and philosophical outlook. Real estate agent by day and seeker of beauty at all times, he not only produces the kind of photography worthy of hanging in the multi-million dollar homes he sells, but that resonates with people in all walks of life. Why? Because he’s been through them all. Previous hardships of financial struggle and health related issues have provided him with a powerful sense of perspective and a positive outlook.  To Repoza, everyone is an artist. The only distinction is that most people either suppress it or don’t have to opportunity to pursue it. He’s in a place in life he hasn’t always had the luxury of enjoying. Now, he is careful to take full advantage of the world around him, relishing its splendor with deep, emotional gaze. The photos he exhibits are full of heart and the perspective of someone who is truly enchanted with what’s in front of him.

Fine Art, Photography, Newport Art, Local Artist, Unique Home Goods, Locally-made, Newport Gifts, Travel Art, Handmade

Where it all began

One day, he heard a quote from the Dalai Lama, “The purpose of all the major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.” This resonated with him, and he began working on his, “inside”. Repoza was inspired to go to school at Union College to acquire his Visual Arts degree, an opportunity that revealed an artistic self previously dormant. As time went on and he began receiving feedback, he realized he had a knack for finding beautiful moments. His cumulative experiences, including stage 4 lung cancer, have provided him with struggle, but in turn, they put the world in a new light. He finds it hard to explain how to see the world differently, but as you can imagine, going from potentially losing your life to being able to live it to its full extent, makes you slow down and take in your surroundings on an entirely new level.

Fine Art, Photography, Newport Art, Local Artist, Unique Home Goods, Locally-made, Newport Gifts, Travel Art, Handmad

The creative process

His artistic process begins when he wakes up in the morning. He explains, “preparedness and opportunity are where success in life lies,” and as such, he always has a camera with him. Every day he takes from 100 to 1,000 photos, capturing anything and everything that strikes him as a potential moment. Repoza calls it an intuitive, educational process and says he doesn’t go out with any plans or expectations. There is no “creation” of a shot, or means of production behind the lens. Instead he seeks a balance of lighting and nature and shoots whatever speaks to him. His open attitude about shooting results in an ability to notice and photograph moments of sublime and startling natural phenomenon. “Creativity in its true sense is not an intellectual pursuit. In fact, it’s proven to be an entirely different part of the brain altogether,” he says. His refined presence of mind is contagious, especially when viewing his work.

Fine Art, Photography, Newport Art, Local Artist, Unique Home Goods, Locally-made, Newport Gifts, Travel Art, Handmade

For a cause

When asked if he had a favorite piece, he laughed saying, “That’s like asking to pick your favorite child!” While John himself may not be able to decide between his works, there are plenty of people who have chosen their own favorites. At the Newport Photo Guild Annual Member Show, he placed second. He previously won the novice division at the Newport Flower Show, and he’s been featured in galleries all along the east coast. However, in alignment with his priorities, he partakes in competitions merely so that others can enjoy his photos and he donates the majority of profits he receives from them. He makes it clear that at this stage, he’s not looking for money when it comes to his art. He has found his peace, and his balance, and instead of taking more than he needs he chooses to give back.

 Fine Art, Photography, Newport Art, Local Artist, Unique Home Goods, Locally-made, Newport Gifts, Travel Art, Handmad

John Repoza at Blink Gallery

On November 3rd, from 6-9pm, Blink Gallery, located at 478 Thames Street, Newport, RI, presents the John Repoza exhibition, Serendipity, which will feature a variety of his photos. John’s outlook is enlightening, and in accordance with the rest of his message and artistic priorities, all of Mr. Repoza’s profits made from the sales of his art will be donated to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Newport, RI. For more information about the John Repoza Opening, please call (401)619-3717

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Blink Gallery shows a collection of photography with authentic, extraordinary, yet relatable moments – story telling with a little edge and a local touch. Owned and operated by Newport native and professional photographer Alexander “Sandy” Nesbitt, the gallery displays his work year round, a two-part collection of adventure travel images from around the world and the rest being the “real” Newport. In addition to Sandy’s photography, various local artists also show their work, making it a one stop shop for edgy fine art photography, alternative gifts, and unique items for the home.

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Featured Artist: Mary Jameson

“I have black cherry kombucha, or red wine,” Mary offered while pulling up chairs and clearing off table space to accommodate me. I was earlier than anticipated, and with Mary’s jam-packed schedule of creating art, teaching workshops, helping her community, running her own small business, and looking after her family, including her husband and 11 year old son, every minute is filled. Still, she does it all with ease, a warm smile, and an infectious positive attitude.

Rhode Island native, Mary Jameson owns Saltwater Studios located in Newport. She’s been an artist her entire life, spending most of it drawing figurines. However about 8 years ago she garnered new inspiration. She was exploring scrapbooks at the Newport Historical Society and discovered pressings with poems and writing. As she began looking at other Historical Society’s scrapbooks, she saw the same. It inspired her to create her own version of pressings, and in turn, a legacy. She first experimented using the same methods that people use for flowers and leaves, and used that to develop her own method of pressing seaweed to both capture it’s essence and movement.

She begins by heading to the beach. Using her artistic perspective, she studies the seaweed in the water, seeking its shape, color, texture, and movement. She then brings it to her studio, where she put it into plastic tubs covering her table space. The first step is to dip the paper in saltwater, necessary for these sort of pressings, and once she feels she has the seaweed in the right shape she carefully places it on the paper. This paper is covered with thin fabric, blotting paper, and into a contraption she calls a portfolio.

Then of course come the weights and actual pressing. Because the seaweed is so delicate, Mary has to check on the pressings throughout the first day in order to swap out the blotting paper. After this stage, she is able to leave it for as long as necessary, which varies from piece to piece. This process essentially loosens the fibers of the paper just enough to allow the seaweed to integrate itself into it. The result? You can feel the texture of the seaweed on the paper but it is completely fused.

Mary scans these and creates beautiful pieces on a variety of surfaces, including matted and canvas prints, plates and platters, and even jewelry. Lately she’s been experimenting with black paper backgrounds and Eco-printing, a process that includes cooking the paper and natural products by boiling them in saltwater, leaving manipulated paper which she then presses seaweed on, to give a new look.

When Mary first started her seaweed creations, she was bringing them to the farmer’s market to sell where passerbys were enthralled by the pieces. Soon after, she had her breakthrough with this art style, when Newport Art Museum gave her a show and exhibition.  Although she admits she wasn’t an expert at first, she certainly is now as evidenced by her vast, new-found knowledge of seaweed and the spectacular pieces she creates. Over the past 8 years she has developed, and continues to develop, new processes and inventive ways to construe plants on paper. From freezing it, to letting it slightly decompose and create a new color outside of nature, there’s nearly nothing this artist hasn’t tackled in the world of seaweed.  Her personal favorite? “Grenell’s pink leaf. It’s thin, pretty, and delicate.” Find prints with this, and countless others, at Blink Gallery as well as her studio, Saltwater Studios.

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Mary Jameson, Saltwater Studios