Staying in Focus
Why do people gravitate toward the Cape? Arguably it is the iconic images of this tiny spit of land that are responsible for making merely the mention of Cape Cod immediately recognizable for people around the globe. Lighthouses, unspoiled beaches with frothy waves washing them clean for eternity, foggy mornings on a still marsh or harbor; these are all the uniquely satisfying vistas people lean into. Therefore, when considering what to include when one is appointing a Cape house, the answer is right here. Not only outside our windows, but thankfully also on Main Street in Chatham. Focus Gallery has been offering curated, locally representational photography for over a decade. Owner and gallery director, Cindy Vallino was the sole artist in the early days of her gallery; today, Focus Gallery is home to eight talented artists, Vallino’s riveting close-ups of plants, shells and other sea life share the walls with work by Alison Shaw, Brian Skerry, Bryant Austin, Michael Kahn, David Hills, Michele Dragonetti and Stephen Lathrop. “I’ve curated all the artists we have here at Focus Gallery,” she explains. “It is a lot of work to represent somebody, and it is not a responsibility that I take lightly.” With the gallery’s limited wall space and commitment in terms of the time it takes to properly represent an artist, Focus Gallery rarely adds new artists. “Brain Skerry, a photojournalist who has been a contributing photographer for National Geographic Magazine since 1998, is our most recent addition as well as Michele Dragonetti, a photographer specializing in architecture and urban landscapes in addition to her popular Boat Hull series,” shares Vallino. “Alison Shaw, Stephen Lathrop, and Michael Kahn are probably the three artists we’ve had featured for the longest period of time at Focus Gallery, they have been with us pretty much since the beginning, so it really is a testament to how popular their work truly is.”
An awarded photojournalist specializing in marine wildlife and underwater environments, Brian Skerry continues to dive into the mysterious world under the sea. “My desire is to capture the magnificence / perfection of marine life so that others can gain an appreciation for their value to our planet.”
Inspired by her summers on Martha’s Vineyard, Alison Shaw of Alison Shaw Photography captures coastal scenes that she abstracts into contemporary works of fine art, using her camera to paint with light. Shaw continues to draw inspiration from her now permanent residence on the island.
As a photographer and a skilled print maker, Vallino creates the majority of Focus Gallery’s prints at her offsite studio, “We work with artists who either offer archival prints or we do the prints in-house,” she explains. “All of our prints are archivally produced with the highest quality papers and pigment ink; they really are the most highly-rated at this point for producing colored photographs. With the print being our product, we’re pretty picky about what we bring in,” says Vallino. “We do a lot of custom work, but we also have several standard sizes. If we need to adjust a size we start with the matting and framing, if necessary, we will do a print crop which prevents a printer cropping the original work of the artist.” She continues, “It really is important for us to work with the artist closely because we want them to understand how the final product is going to look. These are limited addition prints, so each run is a separate edition and with our printing being in house, we have quality control directly at our fingertips.”
A fine art photographer for over 25 years, Stephen Lathrop is what you would call a “deliberate” photographer. As he waits for just the right conditions to merge with the proper light, he captures the ever-changing moods of the sea in captivating detail.
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