As a follow-up to his popular presentation on landscape photography last year, James Ponder will discuss his work in the field formerly known as abstraction at the Sunday, February 12 meeting of the Loma Linda Cultural Arts Association, at the Loma Linda Senior Center, 25541 Barton Road in Loma Linda. The event will begin at 2:00 p.m.
Ponder doesn’t have a clue about the barrier between literalism and abstraction. By his own admission, he blurs the lines all the time and happily infuses his landscapes with elements of abstraction and vice versa. As a fine art photographer and workshop leader for several decades, Ponder has been searching out the hidden language of abstraction for a long time, never quite sure what it meant, but enjoying the journey all along the way.
His initial interest in the subject stemmed from seeing the photographs of Brett Weston during a trip to Carmel in 1975 and a subsequent meeting at Weston’s home in 1977. He later discovered the paintings of Wassily Kandinski and Franz Kline and the photographs of Aaron Siskind and Stephen Vodhanel and found that he has a natural affinity for imagery that reflects the works of the Abstract Expressionist painters.
He has been taken to task for using the term “abstraction” because postmodern art theorists have decided that nothing derived from existing sources is truly abstract.
“Since postmodern art theory has made it politically incorrect to call these images abstractions anymore, I refer to mine as Gorpian Extractions,” Ponder observes, adding that the term stems from the conjunction of Brett Weston’s term ‘elegant gorp’ and the fact that Ponder ‘extracts’ his images from found objects.
Ponder has been photographing for more than 40 years. From his early days working with the large-format view camera in the tradition of Ansel Adams and Brett Weston to his recent digital extractions and Southwestern landscapes in both color and black and white, his photographs evoke powerful, visceral reactions in viewers.
“I often find that viewers who like my Southwest landscapes don’t like my extractions,” he observes, “but it hardly ever seems to work the other way around. I’m not sure why that is.”
A patient teacher who puts the word “encouraging” in the phrase “constructive reviews,” he helps his students discover their own unique visual center. Photographers who would like to have him review their own work at the meeting are invited to bring a disk or thumb drive with a small selection of their images to the meeting.
Scroll down for a selection of images from the 'Gorpian Extractions' series.