A man of many and diverse talents, Peter Dobbins has taken photographs for the Navy, built his own home, served as Publicity Manager of the Friends of the Garcia River, published The Lighthouse Peddler, operated a picture framing business, headed up his own advertising photo studio in Los Angeles—and, of course, practiced photography. He studied too, in the University of Alabama’s audio visual department and at the Art Center School (now Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design). Commenting on his academic background in an interview, Dobbins wonders how much his schooling helped hone his unique artistic vision, noting that school “ruined” his photography for years “by making me too cerebral.”
Perhaps. But while his images are intellectually compelling, they are also far from “too cerebral,” often grounded in the material here and now of what he is seeing around him in western Mendocino County. As he puts it, “a worthy photographer should be able to look around in one place and find a worthwhile image. . . I never walk down Main Street Point Arena, four blocks down and back, something I’ve done a thousand times, without seeing pictures.”
While the subjects Dobbins treats are very diverse, viewers will recognize certain themes, such as an intense engagement with light and dark. When an art instructor told him and classmates that “light is law,” Dobbins took the statement to heart: “I am still intrigued,” he says, “by darkness. Light is Law, but its interplay with its opposite, dark, is where I find many of my subjects.” Another theme running through much of Dobbins’s work is what he describes as “solitude . . . perhaps loneliness” that comes from discoveries made through “unguided meditation on Zen stories and haiku.”
Visitors to the Dolphin Gallery will find these and other themes explored in Dobbins’s eclectic and thought-provoking images, ones intended to challenge us to get outside our little individual bubbles and engage with this artist’s realities: “My best guess,” Dobbins says, “is that we artists all want to illustrate truth and reality as we perceive it to be.” All are invited to experience Dobbins’s truth and reality in this exciting new show. And in the meantime, check out some of the stunning images available on his Website, http://peterdobbins.com/.
Top: “Actor and his Bike”. Top left: “City Art”. Bottom right: “Pensive”
Visitors to the Dolphin may have seen Haber’s work before, during her 2017 show, or at many other venues in northern California. A founding member of the Mendocino Inland Ceramic Artist Guild, Haber has worked hard to create and sustain a group of talented, knowledgeable, and generous artists. She stresses the life-long learning that accompanies a commitment to art: “There is so much more to learn and explore in the field of ceramics. I value the newfound skills and the challenge of working with a demanding substance to make beautiful objects that will enhance the lives of other people.” As her words suggest, Haber’s ceramic art is often functional, allowing her to feel a connection to the ultimate user of her work: “I have always felt that my work is not completed until it is in use in the home,” she says.
An illness in midlife led to Haber’s decision to “act on the longing for a more artistically inspired life” and to the move from urban San Francisco to the rural beauty of inland Mendocino County and to what she calls “the engrossing discipline of clay.” There she draws inspiration from the mountains and the lush natural surroundings she can see from her studio. Haber earned a Master’s Ceramic Technician Certificate from Mendocino College, where she took “every available class” and studied with the many talented instructors there. In addition she has participated in art retreats throughout the county, where she has had an opportunity to learn from renowned ceramic artists.
For a preview of some of this striking and graceful work, check out Haber’s page at http://www.micaguild.org/debra-haber.html. There you can see some of the celadon glazes and geometric designs she says are meant “to evoke tribal images from around the world.” Viewing the images there will no doubt leave readers wanting more, which the Dolphin Gallery show will certainly provide on opening night and throughout April.