When photography emerged in the later part of the 19th century, it completely revolutionized how people viewed and captured moments in their life. Before the camera, painting was the only way to create a lasting memory, but the new medium provided an instantaneous shot of a certain place, person or time. Since, it’s come to be a respected art form and function as an integral part of our lives.
With the invention of smartphones and multiple photography apps, like Instagram, we now have an easier time taking pictures and sharing our lives with the world. Enhancing the colors and the images through programs like Photoshop, we can truly make a photograph a canvas, and enhance or detract from its beauty as much or little as we wish. Still, with all the advantages of technology, we often forget how incredible original versions of images and the artists who truly work to understand the ins and outs of camera equipment can be.
Local artist Mike DeVries grew up in Michigan and moved to Wilmington in 1972. Here, he developed a passion for photography, and began capturing his coastal lifestyle and toying with darkroom techniques. In the early days of his career, DeVries worked in the movie industry. With his wife, Margaret, he formed The Telemedia Group—a consortium of production talent to provide creative and technical support services to the emerging movie industry. He also worked as a photographer and editor for WECT, gaining additional experience shooting photographic stills.
DeVries and his Telemedia Group provided video production services to films such as the cult classic “Blue Velvet,” along with “Year of the Dragon,” “Weeds,” “Super Mario Brothers,” and the popular TV series “Matlock.”
Though he worked on a variety of productions, DeVries never lost passion for the art of photography. His respect for visual imagery in storytelling form enhanced his career as a photographer, editor and media producer.
He often stopped during his travels to capture unique landscapes. “I am inspired by old things that people ignore or have forgotten,” he says, “and I try to make them beautiful. I want to take something that’s virtually ugly and make it attractive.”
DeVries’ photographs remain unique because of his technique of creating “fused photography.” This idea stems from his carpentry skills. When DeVries began rescuing and reusing old wood, he started to create frames that complement the texture and feel of his photographs. For example, a photo of an old barn is paired with rustic wood that gives the illusion that it was removed from the photographed barn itself to make the frame. In this way, he creates a personalized work of art.
Currently displayed at the Art Factory, a collection of DeVries works—entitled “I Wonder What Color Today Will Be …”—features hand-colored black-and-white photographs from the 1970s. “There is an endless, ever-changing ‘parade of color’ in the southeastern skies, from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, a luminescent quality of light that has attracted photographers, painters and filmmakers for generations,” says Francine DeCoursey, a personal friend of DeVries who also works in the film industry. “Co-creating with nature, DeVries adds his craftsmanship and passion to capture, fuse and texturize his own stylized art.”
One of the most eye-catching pieces in the DeVries exhibition is “Flight,” made in 2011. A sunset scene, the colors are so vibrant that as soon as one enters the gallery space, immersion immediately sets in. Golds, reds and deep purples jump off the picture, and highlight the space where the skyline and the water merge into one. DeVries’ images pulsate with brisk stillness; they evoke a peacefulness that we almost forget to observe when experiencing nature. The frame for “Flight” is made of a tropical wood given to
DeVries by a friend. He likes that it amplifies the sunset’s colors but also highlights the richness of the image itself.
To see more of DeVries’ fused photographs the Art Factory is located at 721 Surry Street in downtown Wilmington. His work will be on display until Friday, January 24th. A closing reception will be held as part of Fourth Friday Gallery nights.DETAILS:
I Wonder What Color Today Will Be…
by Mike DeVries
Art Factory • 721 Surry Street
Closing reception: Fri., Jan. 24th, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. • Free