What: “Saturate Yolo” photography exhibit by Dave Webb
When: Saturday through Feb. 2, with reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11
Where: Davis Art Center, 1919 F St.
Participate: Post your own phone art throughout January on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PhoneArtInDavis?fref=ts
Longtime Davis resident Dave Webb is replacing the dull sheen cast by winter’s gray skies with vibrancy — by using colorful camera filters and carefully framed pictures to abstract the local landscape.
And, believe it or not, he’s doing it all with a smartphone. That’s right, the images in Webb’s exhibit, “Saturate Yolo,” were all taken with an iPhone. The exhibit opens Saturday in the Tsao Gallery at the Davis Art Center, 1919 F St.
Webb, 56, has lived and worked in Davis since 1974. He was the first marketing director for both the Davis Food Co-op and the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. He now consults for Three Stages, a $50 million arts facility at Folsom Lake College.
It was in 2008 that he cultivated a creative outlet of his own design: capturing and manipulating iPhone images. At that time, Webb’s only audience was Facebook friends, who were eager to give (mostly) positive feedback for his photo posts.
“Back then, it wasn’t so common, but it is more so now,” he explained. “I began by challenging myself to put one image a day up on Facebook. That community started encouraging me to do more.
“My friends were kind, and if they didn’t like what I was doing, they didn’t say so,” Webb said with a chuckle. “People applauded a little louder for some versus others. Frankly, their response to the saturated images specifically is what inspired this exhibit.”
“Saturate Yolo” will remain open until Feb. 2. The Art Center will host a gala reception for Webb’s exhibit on Friday, Jan. 11, from 7 to 9 p.m. as part of the Second Friday ArtAbout. More than 50 printed images will be on display, along with a five-frame electronic installation of rotating pictures.
Now for the meta: Webb’s exhibit, which was inspired by posting iPhone images on Facebook, also will feature some iPhone image Facebook posts from locals. These contributions will be displayed in the center of the gallery on a large … post.
The gallery’s interactive component will take material from a designated Facebook page, which will go live on Saturday, along with the exhibit’s debut. Webb encourages local residents to get creative and participate once it launches.
“We’re asking people to focus on something they consider art,” he said, adding that pictures of Thanksgiving dinners with parents and house cats probably do not fit the bill.
The visual artistry of his first local gallery showing could be considered a major departure for Webb, who generally focused on music and writing. He compared his process of improving as a songwriter to developing his craft as a photographer:
“I wrote my first song and it was terrible. My fifth song was OK. Wrote my 10th song, I liked it. Wrote my 20th song, my girlfriend liked it. Wrote my 40th song, the band liked it. By the time I wrote the 50th song, the audience liked it.”
Webb now has about 35,000 images stored on his iPhone (full transparency: Most are variations of photos with different filters). His work has been featured in the New York Times blog, “Lens,” the Sacramento News & Review and Sacramento’s Viewpoint Gallery.
Another deviation from the norm is Webb’s use of the tool itself, the iPhone, which has not always been associated with artistic photography.
“The iPhone as a camera does some things wonderfully, and other things not at all,” he said. “And the things it does wonderfully were mesmerizing. Suddenly, the clarity of images I was getting was really neat.
“The applications, which you can get for $1, basically take the best parts of Photoshop and make it very doable for a photographer. I was able to put a lot of filters on, and get effects that I really enjoyed a lot.”
The medium is one that the Davis City Council sees fit to honor by designating January as “Phone Art Month.”
Webb said seeing through the camera eye of a smartphone allows him a fresh perspective and awareness of his surroundings; something that he’s hoping his “Saturate Yolo” images convey to others.
“Some of it’s quirky, some of it’s angsty,” he said. “Mostly, it’s just one person’s take on our county, and one person’s take on how to extenuate elements of it. Hopefully, people walk away feeling they’ve experienced Yolo County in a new, sort of exaggerated, way.”
For more information on Webb’s work and his upcoming show, visit his website at www.davewebbcreative.com.
— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052.