Across America – My First Photography Exhibit

In my first planning dreams of my Cross-Country Adventure, I had a wish that a fabulous way to wrap up the journey was with a photo exhibit. Last weekend, that wish came true with my first photography exhibit – Across America at my favorite San Francisco cafe, Contraband.

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One of the many goals of my roadtrip was to connect back to my creative self Writing this blog and taking photos were the two main ways I did. My love of photography started back in college but I gave it up because I hated the post-processing. The chemical smells made me sick. Digital photography allowed me to go after my love photography again. In 2008, I finally purchased a DSLR and really started to pursue my hobby. Then I used photography to connect several other interests of mine together – wandering, hiking, urban landscapes, and street art collided in my images. So my developed style today is a street and urban photographer.

My photography philosophy is to use small unobtrusive cameras to get close, pay attention to the light, focus on composition, and get the shot in the camera with minimal post production. My preferred cameras are my iPhone and a Panasonic Lumix DMC – LX7, so simple, almost invisible, light and easy to carry, and no interchangeable lenses. Yes, I lose some control and flexibility over the images I’m creating, but in honor of the history of street photography, I keep it simple. This philosophy followed me right along on the road trip and influenced most of the images I shot, even when I was not shooting urban environments.

For my first exhibit, I picked out 24 images shot in this style that covered some of my favorite roads, architecture, bridges, cemeteries, windows, and street art from Across America. These are the images selected for the show http://crellim.smugmug.com/keyword/cband/.

I’m selling the framed images for $75 each at the exhibit. I don’t have an online store set up yet, which is one of my next projects. However, I don’t want to keep you from buying a photo if you are interested in my photography, just message me on this blog and we can work out the details. 🙂

Okay, enough of the business, let’s get back to the fun of the exhibit.  After being gone for just over a month, I made my return to San Francisco to set up and open Across America. Thank goodness for me, that I have some amazing friends who came on a Friday night to set up the exhibit. I wouldn’t been able to set the show without Molly, Bonnie, and Thu!

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Contraband has a super nice frame hanging system so you don’t have to use nails to hang art. It hangs wires from the celling that can be moved to align the images. However, Contraband does not have a ladder, and I was definitely not tall enough to deal with hanging system. Plus, I was terrified about climbing up on chairs to hang the photos. Luckily Molly and Bonnie were not afraid, and they hung the entire show and made it look great. I felt guilty they did all the work, but was so grateful I didn’t have to climb.

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Thu also saved the show! Three frames were destroyed in transit and she went to Michaels to get new frames for me, so I didn’t have to worry about that. Then I had to trim some of the 12×12 photos to fit into the frames that claimed to be 12×12 as well. Thu did all the shopping and went to buy the paper cutter for me. So I cannot tell you how completely grateful I am to Molly, Bonnie, and Thu. I hope they had some fun, which I can’t tell for sure from these photos 😉

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Saturday, the day of the show, I was too excited to just sit around and wait for the opening, So I did what I enjoy most. I wandered around Chinatown through the shops set up before the Chinese New Year’s Parade. Chinatown is always busy but with the New Year’s Parade later that night, there were thousands of people so it was great wandering.

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Besides my friends, I miss the San Francisco food and I have my priorities for eating when I get there. My first stop after landing was Sushi at Sanruku. The Crunch Roll is my all time favorite sushi. It is divine! The real crunch doesn’t come just from the tempura pieces, it comes from the medium size roe in the middle. I love it! Yes, I know I can still get fantastic sushi in Ogden at Tona, for which I am happy, but the crunch roll is a special gift from heaven. After wandering around Chinatown, I met Molly for lunch for Ramen. I’ve not found Ramen in Ogden or even Utah for that matter, so yes it is a San Francisco treat. Ramen Underground had always been one of my favorites, but it had been getting mixed reviews lately. Luckily, it did not disappoint. The broiled egg was perfection. I also went to my very favorite restaurant from my old neighborhood, Co Nam. I used to eat there almost every Friday night. Even though they were busy since it was Friday after we’d set up the show, they still made room for Molly, Thu, and I. The still like me even though I left 🙂 Unfortunately, no photos from this meal since it was too dark, but all I will say is GARLIC NOODLES!

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I’d tell you even more about the food, but this blog is about my exhibit and not what I ate. I get so distracted at times! So after the Ramen, I headed to Trader Joes to get some treats for my exhibit opening later that night. Oh yes, I went all out for the exhibit. I had an artist statement, I’d been posting to social media to promote it, and did the full exhibit opening with wine and cookies. I was not half-assing my first exhibit!

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I won’t keep you waiting any longer. The show was a success. Rebecca who had to work at Contraband during the opening made a roadtrip playlist to set the mood for the opening. Super Bon Bon (Bonnie2) who manages Contraband stayed late to enjoy the show. Thu, Molly, and Bonnie1 weren’t too worn out from the setup and made it for the opening. Other Contraband regulars, Teddy, Josh, Bill, and Cricket all joined us as well. My dear work friends Linda, Ben, Brian, and Miyoung made the show. And special surprises included work colleagues that I had not seen in while who came to support the show, Mark and Mario.

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I admit it’s intimidating to share my art with the world. I feel like I’m giving a secret glimpse into how I see. But everyone was so supportive and kind about my art. Nathan who owns Contraband was super supportive by letting me show my exhibit, and I really hope I honored that gift with the images I exhibited. I don’t have the best words to express how grateful I am to have my first photography exhibit and how completely giddy I am about it. One of the odd things I kept thinking about San Francisco is that it is consider not cool to be too excited or too emotional about things. Just play it cool. I couldn’t contain my excitement, so I was as far from cool as could be in that wonderful city and I was perfectly happy with it 🙂

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So after the show, I stayed in town on Sunday because it was too damn expensive to fly home until Monday and I got more time to see my friends. I was supposed to treat it like a recovery day and keep it mellow. However, I met up with Teddy instead and had the best tour of Chinatown dive bars! Even though I walked through Chinatown daily when I lived in San Francisco, I never went to any of the bars. It was fabulous and I absolutely loved my Buddha beer! Later, we met up with Molly and went to a fantastic Korean restaurant, 707 Sutter, and I ate my first kimchi pancake. Yummy! Then we closed out the night at one of my favorite local bars, Bacchus Kirk. And for the first time in all my years of living in the Bay Area, I stayed out past last call!

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Opening my first photography exhibit was the experience of a lifetime. I loved it and I had an incredible weekend to make the opening even more special. I’m so grateful to all my friends and supporters, because this show would not have happened with out you! The exhibit will be on display until Friday, April 5. So if you are in the Bay Area, you still have a chance to go see it 🙂

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