The Essence of Escapism

Dry Camping. Anza-Borrego, CA

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting at home in front of the computer working on images from the latest road trip when the phone rings. It’s Thom Sempre, the director of San Francisco Photo Alliance, asking me if I’d be interested in taking part in the yearly group show put on by them and the San Francisco Arts Commission. It is mainly a juried competition, but is to be anchored by three photographers, me being one of them. The others are Alice Shaw and Rebecca Horne. Each of us get 10 prints in the show, the rest will be chosen from a general call for entry pool. The exhibit will be be titled Take Me Away, and will be on view at the San Francisco City Hall exhibition space starting January 30.

My contribution will be from my Life on Wheels: The New American Nomads project. I am looking forward to seeing what edit the jurors will be taking. Escapism can be viewed in many ways I think. I guess I haven’t really considered the practice of full-timing as escapism. They are just living their dream – something most people only think about. But those on the outside might see this lifestyle as one of escape – leaving all their troubles behind. I don’t really think that is what happens though. Yes, they leave, but also yes, life follow along and must be dealt with while on the road. It’s an added complication, but actually serves to keep people in the Now and better grounded. I have found most full-timers to be more open and equipped to handle whatever is thrown their way. It just comes with the territory.

If they are escaping, it’s in the sense of not doing the expected.

Jerry. Traveling CPA. Valley of Fire State Park, NV

This by no means is an absolute. I have met a number of full-timers who were obviously running away from something. Jerry, the traveling CPA, told me straight out that he couldn’t stay in one place very long without getting antsy. He doesn’t know why, but has to move on to somewhere new. Slab City near the Salton Sea is full of those one might say are escaping. People here can live free of rent and rules and do what could not be done anywhere else. It is an unforgiving environment, but for those who can tough it out, it is home and seems to work.

In the context of the City Hall exhibit though, escape is more about getting away from it all on a more temporary basis and doesn’t necessarily mean leaving town.
From the Prospective:
The San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries and PhotoAlliance are inviting submissions of photography that depict images of escape and escapism. When you step away from your day-to-day, where do you go? Where do you escape or where do you dream of escaping?  It could be somewhere just around the corner, or beyond the city limits. You might instead escape to a fantastical place that manifests in your mind or in virtual space. We’re interested in knowing where you go, or would like to go, and are calling for images that will also inspire viewers to consider their own relationship with escapism.

If you are a Bay Area resident and are reading this, you should enter this no cost call for entry. The gallery space in the basement of city hall is huge and accommodates up to 100 photographs. The jury will be selecting between 3 and 8 images from each selected photographer and the show will run for more than 3 months.

End of Day. Valley of Fire State Park, NV ©David Gardner

I’m also in a number of other exhibits coming up in the near future:

January 4th is the opening of the group show, Beautiful My Desire at Wallspace Gallery in Santa Barbara, CA then traveling to Seattle, WA in February for showing at Wallspace there.

Later in January is the opening of Box Squared, another group show at The Center For Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO.

Both of these exhibits will be showing the same print, End of Day. Valley of Fire State Park, NV.

Still later in the year, the Center/Forward show formally at C4fap will travel to San Francisco and will exhibit at RayKo Gallery from May 30 – July 5. Lots going on. It looks like my year will be starting off hot!

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