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Seven artists manipulate everyday images into art in Candela Books & Gallery’s exhibit, 'CHOP SHOP'

Posted by: Amy – Mar 20, 2017

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Through various processes of manipulation, six international and one Richmond artist aim to transform everyday images in Candela Books & Gallery’s latest exhibit, CHOP SHOP.

All of the works in the group exhibition have been altered through digital manipulation, but each one has been “chopped” or changed through some medium whether it be illustration, deconstruction, collage or surrealism to present a new perspective.

“The current show is a little bit of an outlier. It’s half and half [outlying and traditionally what is done],” said Gordon Stettinius, owner of Candela Books and Gallery. “Sometimes we say, ‘we like so-and-sos work a ton, let’s see if we can get that work in the gallery,’ and it really is a solo show or a two-person show comes around because we admire someone’s work.”


Ayumi Tanaka “The path,” from the series Wish You Were Here. 2014. 16″ x 20″ Silver Gelatin Print

Stettinius added the gallery is hoping to introduce notable artists from all over to Richmond to try to "bring a little more awareness to what contemporary photography is.”

Artists from all over were asked to contribute their work including Nadine Boughton, Tom Chambers, Peter Brown Leighton, Lissa Rivera, Ayumi Tanaka and Maggie Taylor, and Richmond’s own Blythe King.


Lissa Rivera, “San Jose, California,” from the series Absence Portraits. 5″ x 7″ Archival Pigment Print Courtesy of ClampArt

Ashby Nickerson, Associate Director at Candela Books said they started talking about the idea about six months ago and she said the owner was able to narrow down what artists to showcase.

“Gordon travels around and goes to a lot of portfolio reviews and photography gatherings across the country,” she said. “So he had met a couple of people who he had seen their work in a couple different ways and had kind of brought them to the table. There were a few that I knew, one Blythe King, who was a Richmond artist.”


Nadine Boughton, “Wingtips,” 2015. 15″ x 15″ Archival Pigment Print

Blythe King’s work is similar to her counterparts in the show in that she creates new images through the recycling of older ones. What sets her apart is her collages and how it incorporates her affinity for old catalogs from the 1940s.


Blythe King, “X-Ray Vision,” 2017. 20″ x 16″ Image Transfer, Collage, and 23K Gold Leaf on Illustration Board

“I happened upon an old Montgomery Ward mail order catalog from the 1940s at a yard sale in my neighborhood in Church Hill,” said Blythe King, a local artist originally from Pittsburgh. “I have been really captivated and fascinated with the imagery in these old catalogs ever since. I’ve amassed a huge collection of these catalogs and feature the fashion models from these catalogs in my work.”

Candela Books & Gallery held an artist talk March 2 and during the talk, King mentioned her work is a seamless culmination of her interests.

“[I] talked about how my work is this interesting combination of three of my seemingly unrelated interests: popular culture, religion and Japanese art.”

King's work can currently be found in galleries across Virginia including a piece in the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art in the New Wave Show.

The artist explained to RVAMag and audiences at the Art Talk how her take on photography mirrors her talent for collages and design.

“The way I manipulate images is through image transfer, which I combine with elements of collage photography and calligraphy,” she said.

Peter Brown Leighton describes his creative endeavors as "running alongside the emerging digital technologies to make art."

“Throughout the 20th century, photography, like a one-celled organism, evolved on a relatively linear path from one stage of development to another,” he said. “The advent of digital imaging alternatives upset that equation.”


Leighton, “Man Lives Through Plutonium Blast,” 2014. 10″ x 7″ Archival Pigment Print

Brown’s work has frequently been shown in exhibitions held in Candela Books and Gallery. One of his pieces was bought for the personal collection at the gallery and landed him the connections to be brought back for Chop Shop.

His attention to his craft has led his work to be shown internationally. “This coming June I’ll have 40 prints showing at the Promenades Photographiques de in France," he said.

The gallery also incorporated the artwork of Tom Chambers, a Pennsylvania native who worked for years as a graphic designer, into the exhibit which frequently features his daughter or her friends and aims to catalog or capture the growth of an adolescent girl into a young woman.

“The oldest piece of mine is Springs Landfall, 2006, which depicts a girl in a boat of flowers ‘landing’ in a Winter field," he said. "My newest image is, "Edge of a Dream," which depicts a white tiger walking down a village street. Both images employ magic realism, which expresses a realistic view while also adding magical elements."


Tom Chambers, “Glass Flower,” 2010. 14″ x 14″ Archival Pigment Print

“The thoughts about the work sort of command when you think about all these people in the room together- the work of these different artists somewhat support each other, somewhat challenge each other,” said Stettinius. “There are a couple of people who arguably may not even be photographers but they sit very comfortably in this show we feel.”

This non-traditional photography has sparked quite a bit of conversation and questions with guests, according to Nickerson.

“I love when people come in here and ask, ‘how is this a photograph’, we get that a lot,” Nickerson said. “That is always exciting because we get to explain whether or not if it’s an old process or new process, however they are doing it to say that this started somewhere in photography and they are taking it somewhere else. They are adding to it.”

"Chop Shop" will be on display at Candela Books & Gallery at 214 W. Broad St. through April 22.

Words by Tico Noise. Top image: Maggie Taylor “What remains?,” 2016. 22″x 22″ Inkjet Print

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