Photography or fine art? Artist’s style keeps ‘em guessing
Local artist Lisa Ross has blurred the line between photography and fine art. Her large-scale canvasses betray the eye of the onlooker.
“People want to touch the work, convinced that they are looking at a painting in oils rather than a photograph on canvas,” Ross said.
Her work hangs on the walls of Ordover Gallery in Solana Beach, which she co-owns with photographers Abe Ordover and Peter Fay. A third Ordover gallery has opened in Santa Fe, N.M., the second is housed on the upper floor of the San Diego Natural Museum in Balboa Park.
Ross’ recent retrospective show, which spans a decade, was held at the San Diego Cancer Center in Encinitas. Her work, “Imaging the World on Canvas,” features bold, representational images with intense color and painterly texture. Ross visited 85 countries and from each trip captured the detail of everyday environments, both man-built and natural.
A resident of Del Mar Mesa, Ross, a California native, was raised in a family with a mother who was an accomplished sculptor and painter. Her father was a well-known celebrity divorce attorney in Los Angeles. She attended Hamilton High School in the mid-1960s, where seventh period found her immersed in photography.
Duane Carter led the class, and through photo salons, brought in Ansel Adams and Bob Willoughby as professional critics of the students’ work.
“I had the privilege of having my work judged by Ansel Adams, and I received top honors in the department’s awards,” Ross said.
An allergy to the chemicals used in the development of her prints changed the course of Ross’ career path. She attended the University of Southern California, with a major in communications, and initially began in film school. George Lucas and Ron Howard were her classmates.
“But I found out I was not welcome, the department was hostile to women,” she said.
Ross turned her attention to psychotherapy, became a licensed practitioner and teacher in San Diego, then found her niche as a political writer and consultant in 1992.
However, with the recent technological shift in photography, Ross returned to this endeavor.
“When I first starting doing this in 2000, it was rather revolutionary. It was the dawn of digital photography, and I had discovered the technique of printing onto canvas,” Ross said. She began showing her works at the Hasson Gallery in Solana Beach.
Over the years, others have begun to print images on canvasses. “It’s now something that people are familiar with seeing,” she said. But a unique approach sets Ross’ prints apart from others. Even though her work is representational, it has an abstract quality and is more informed by modern art.
“I don’t work like a conventional photographer,” Ross said. “My images challenge the viewer to figure out what it is they are looking at.”
The work is more about light, form, shape, color and composition, said Ross, who uses archival pigments in the reproduction of her images using a large format Epson 9600 printer.
Each of Ross’ images is shot with this large format output in mind with details enlarged to take on new meaning. “I don’t Photoshop my work or enhance the color,” she said.
And while a piece may capture the immediacy of the moment, it is the painterly quality of the image that Ross wants to convey. “I’m moving into more abstract works, more interpretive pieces. I want to engage people,” she said.
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