The Painted Photograph Exhibit is Open! Now til Feb 16

Greetings and happy Monday everyone!

Jen Perena here with big thanks for everyone who has supported my exhibit!

The show opened on Sat, Jan 12, and starting at 1 pm (an hour prior to the reception start time) we had visitors in the Gallery! I was in the process of folding the artist statement brochures and arranging food when the first person showed up to get a peek before the crowds. That started a steady stream and by 1:30 pm we already had a dozen people in the gallery!

Exhibit day poster
Me with the exhibit poster

Long-time friend, fellow volunteer and amazing, inspirational photographer and artist, Susan Andersen, brought the flowers for the exhibit and they were fantastic! Three displays that included flowers and vegetables – they were the PERFECT compliment to my work, especially the “Vegetation” series, matching the colors (greens, oranges and yellows) and specific vegetables (cabbages and artichokes!). Thank you so much for this thoughtful and really creative gift Susan!

exhibit flowers
Gorgeous vegetable ‘flower’ display for the exhibit from Susan Andersen

We had a great buffet of food (savory bites, cheeses, fruit, veggies and lots of sweets), which no one seemed to get a photo of, along with a full bar featuring the usual wine and beer, plus hard cider, water, pop and kombucha from Katboocha. Thanks to all my friends at the Center (Janice Gouldthorpe, Kate Whorton, Audrey Shaughnessy) plus friends and family (my Mom, my sister, friends Jennifer, Kathy, Hope, Angie and Amber) for contributing to the spread and ensuring we had enough for the throngs!

And, I have to note, I was amazed that we seemed to guess right with the food and there were hardly any leftovers !!

with former monitors
Susan Andersen, Thomas Schaeffer, me and Beth Lyons-Cary (Photo credit Fran Cary)

Altogether I counted (by name!) 163 people I know and talked to, and in photos I can see numerous others who I didn’t know, who came with friends or just showed up, so I estimate we had maybe 175 people in the Sunken Room throughout the duration. At times the room felt totally packed, and it was loud, but so much fun!

The room
Visitors in the Sunken Room – this was right around 4:30 pm (Photo credit Tammie Malarich)

It was great to see so many  ‘old faces’ – former volunteers, people I have worked with, former Studio 678 graduates and teachers, former darkroom classmates, cousins, etc. We had several surprise visitors from Colorado (Erin!), North Carolina (Tammie!) and Costa Rica (Elizabeth!), plus folks who traveled in from Syracuse, Buffalo and Long Island. It was really awesome!

And we got lucky that the weather cooperated. It was cold but dry, and that combined with daylight hours on a Saturday afternoon was convenient too.

with friends
With surprise visitors Tammie and Erin, plus Sharon and Jay (Photo credit Jay Perena)

As you might imagine, I spent the whole 3+ hours (really it was more like 4 hours) talking, working the room, greeting so many friends and listening to feedback. I am overwhelmed by the super positive reception, and more so by the fact that we appear to have set a record with 8 photos sold during the opening! Thank you to everyone who has purchased work, for supporting me AND supporting the Photo Department, who also receives a portion of the sales!

showing work
Talking about my photos with my uncle Ted (who came in from Long Island) and Bill Bates (Photo credit Tammie Malarich)
comments in the guest book
Some comments in the Guest Book

And finally, thanks to the Photo Dept staff, Megan, Liz and Mark, for their help preparing the Sunken Room, for all the last minute tasks, and for help with the bar and with clean up; thanks also to fellow AIR Megan May for affixing corrected labels on all the pieces in my Vegetation series (literally minutes before the opening started), and for her positive energy and encouragement; and to my friend Adele for hanging the show and making it (me) look so good! I could not have done it without you guys!

The show will be up now thru Sat, Feb 16, so if you missed the opening, you still have plenty of time to get over and see it. Gallery hours are:

  • Mon, Tues and Wed from 10 am to 5 pm
  • Thursday from 10 am to 9:30 pm
  • Fridays and Saturdays from 12 pm to 5 pm

Let me know if you want a personal tour…I live close by and I have keys til my Residency ends (end of this month).

And don’t forget I’ll be doing an Artist Talk and Kallitype Process Demonstration on Sat, January 26, from 2 to 5! Hope to see you there!



The Painted Photograph Exhibit: Almost Ready!

Happy Monday everyone!

Jen Perena here with good news: my photos have been hung!

Thanks to Megan and Adele for all their efforts to sequence and space and hang the work (I helped for a few hours….but it was really all on them)!

work waiting to be hung
My work, patiently sitting in Digital Studio 1, waiting to be hung – note the ’empty’ frames in the middle….

We started putting the show up on Wed, Jan 2, amid the building construction (knocking down walls in the Pottery and Book Arts area) and the re-organization of the Silver Den. It was pretty hectic, and we decided we could probably only tackle the brick walls.

adele sequencing
Adele, our master show installer, sequencing the work for the brick walls

Adele and Megan kicked things off with sequencing the first 12 images in the ‘vegetation’ series, which were all completely matted and framed and ready to go up. Megan thought that these particular images would look best on the brick walls, where the warm tones in the brick could bring out some of the subtle color in the images.

It was surprisingly hard to settle on the sequence because we all felt that so many of the images worked well side by side, but after about an hour of moving images back and forth to see how they looked next to each other, we finally started hanging.  Megan showed us how the hanging system worked, Mark helped us get the ladder, and with a few fits and starts trying to do math and figure out the optimal spacing, we got everything up!

We left room for my Artist/Show Statement, which will also go on the brick wall (a different spot than we’ve used in past exhibits), along with a ‘bonus’ 25th image which is matted differently to specifically show the brush strokes and highlight the ‘painted’ nature of the work.

work on the brick wall
Some of the ‘vegetation’ series on the brick walls

After we finished hanging Wednesday afternoon, I took a dinner break, and then went back to the Center to finally finish matting the remaining 7 pieces I had left off with the previous weekend. I had attempted to do them earlier in the day Wed, but it was too dusty with all the activity and I gave up.  I ‘finished’ around 10:30 pm, but still wasn’t done as I decided I didn’t like how the “25th” image looked unmatted….so more tweeking would have to happen.

Even without that one done, on Friday, Jan 4, Adele proceeded with hanging the next 12 images, my ‘winter’ series, which she reported was easier to sequence. The work is displayed in groups of 4 on the white walls, and the plan is to put the vinyl show signage on the far wall, below the lights and above the 4 portrait-oriented frames.

work on white walls
‘Winter’ series work on 2 of the 3 the white walls

Then on Saturday, Jan 5, I fixed the ‘mounting’ for the ‘bonus’ image, and while I was at it I reviewed a few of the frames in the winter series where the prints had appeared to have slipped under the mats – upon review it was just shadows caused by the lighting, and the fact that the watercolor paper doesn’t sit totally flush under the mats. We tried fixing this with frame springs and extra backer board to no avail. At this point it is what it is!

Finishing touches are still to be done: affixing the labels and vinyl signage, touching up the glass (removing finger prints!) and frames, putting putty on the corners of the frames, and printing and posting the show statement. But it will all get done this week, and we will be ready for the ‘vernissage’ (new word learned from a European friend who asked me about the opening reception…)!

I hope you can join us – this upcoming Saturday, January 12, from 2 to 5 pm. We’ll be in the Sunken Room Gallery on the 2nd floor. Free parking is available on the street and in the lot of the Blessed Sacrament Church across the street. The building is also ADA accessible and we have a lift for anyone who needs it. There will be snacks and beverages too! See you then!

Kallitype Update – Hand Coloring Continued

Greetings and happy December everyone! Jen Perena here with a short update on my progress with hand coloring my kallitypes, and a few notes about what comes next.

I’m now about half way through painting the prints in the vegetation series, and am starting to feel a little pressure to get everything done, including having all my work peer reviewed, then scanned, then matted and framed, by the end of December. The way that Christmas falls this year (on a Tuesday) means we have a very small window of time that we can hang the show (based on Photo Dept/FCAC holiday closures and end of year tasks), and while we have a back-up date (a single day in January where we could work around groups that will be using the Sunken Room) I would really like to have everything done and in the hands of the talented Photo Dept folks who will hang the show before the end of the year. So yes, some of the pressure is self imposed, but it has to be that way or I will procrastinate!

Here are a couple of my latest works. The first is an image of a cactus that I saw in Austin, TX. I had never seen a cactus like that before, but since seeing it I am noticing similar ones all over (botanical gardens, plant sales, at friends’ homes), and so I finally looked it up and it is a ‘crested euphorbia lactea’. (If you disagree leave a comment and tell me what it is!) The color ‘in real life’ was sort of yellowy green to blueish green, and very pastel; for the watercoloring I did a mix and I have to say this is my favorite one so far.

Hand-colored kallitype of Crested Euphorbia Lactea cactus

The second one is an image I made during a recent trip to Ganna Walska Lotusland in Santa Barbara, CA. If you’ve never been, it is like a botanical garden on steroids – you could walk around for hours and hours and still not see everything; in each ‘season’ it is different, and they are always updating the gardens and displays. I’ve visited twice in the last few years and it is one of my favorite places – full of color and texture, and lots of amazing things you won’t see anywhere else. This is from a row of aloe-like plants that lined a walking path. The sun was at just the right angle to make a lot of shadows and thus a lot of contrast, and I took numerous shots of this same section. I think this one is the most interesting composition-wise, though I need to play with the color a bit more – I want it to be more subtle/less saturated.

Hand-colored kallitype of giant aloe-like plant

I hope to finish up all the watercoloring this week, have my peer review next week (my choice to show the entire body of work to some trusted friends for input and final culling), then scan everything (I might create a zine….), and finally mat (or affix) and frame everything the week of Christmas so that by Friday 12/28, all 20 images are ready to hang.

I’ll write at least one more blog post between now and then with some of my final decisions (cut mats or affix to the top of each mat board? make a zine or not? etc). In the meantime, hopefully you have received the promotional postcard in the mail, and if not, here it is, front and back. Included are the gallery details and hours, exhibit dates (start and end) and dates/times for the reception as well as my Artist Talk and Demo. I hope you can make it!


Kallitype Update: Layering on Color

Hafa Adai! Jen Perena here, fresh off the plane from Guam….well, actually I have been back in Rochester now for a few days, but with the jet lag (Guam is a 15-hr time difference), I am all kinds of messed up time wise, and I have been mostly sleeping since arriving home, so it seems like only yesterday I was on the beach….

My two weeks in Guam went very fast; there were ups and downs: we were lucky with awesome weather and lots of sunshine (only sprinkled on us once); but my back went out on day 3 of the training workshop I was delivering and I had to be hospitalized (briefly – I was released 6 hrs later….); my husband was able to fly over from the Philippines to celebrate our 24th anniversary with me and we had a great day touring the island followed by a very nice dinner; but I gained too many pounds to count stuffing myself like a pig from the decadent and delicious island food; my training workshop was a great success thanks to the hard work and dedication of my students; and then I arrived home to roughly a foot of snow, 38 degrees, drizzle and gray skies. Hafa Adai! (Which means hello and welcome in the local Guamanian Chamorro language).

Anyway, I have been using the time I have been unable to sleep productively! Finally I made some progress watercoloring the ‘vegetation’ set of kallitypes I made in between Italy and Guam.

Me, bundled up because I don’t want to put on the heat yet, watercoloring one of my kallitypes

Getting back into it reminded me of the challenges I faced the last time I hand colored some of my kallitypes a few years back: when to stop and leave it alone! And, surprisingly, I used some of the darker images as practice, and I kind of like them better than the lighter, more underexposed ones, which I thought would work better. But you be the judge. Here are a couple samples:

This is the print that I deemed overexposed – but the color against it looks really nice
This is the slightly underexposed print and I don’t like it as much. What do you think?

Check out my  #kallitypegirl Instagram page for a few more examples of recent hand-colored kallitypes and let me know what you think! I’ll leave you with one photo from Guam to get you through what looks to be a cold and dreary week:

View of Ypao Beach on Tumon Bay, northern Guam (also the view from my hotel room….)

Adios! (Guam was colonized by Spain in the 1600’s and a lot of the Spanish language lives on in their day to day speech!)  And Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Kallitype Weekend Update

Hi everyone! Jen Perena here, fresh out of the darkroom. Well, 15 hours ago I actually left the Silver Den, but it FEELS like I am fresh out of the darkroom!

I finally resumed making work this past weekend (after almost a month of not making any work!), with a goal of finishing all of my printing so I can fully concentrate on water coloring the pieces for the ‘vegetation’ half of the show. I’m not 100% sure I accomplished that because I left work drying on the rack, and it always dries down darker, but I feel good about it.

Here are a few pics (iPhone photos of the work fresh out of the wash, so please excuse the reflections…) of what I made on Saturday. I spent 5 hours in the darkroom and made 8 prints that day. This set had close to the “right” exposure times (3.5 minutes) based on the richness of the final tones, though they look a bit too dark and flat to me:

Kallitype of large aloes or some kind of agave or succulent; I love this one but it is a little too dark for hand coloring
This one definitely has the right exposure, but could benefit from a teeny bit more contrast for my liking


Kallitype of snap peas and squash blossoms – also a tad too dark for hand coloring


Kallitype of kohlrabi – pretty good, but see if you can detect the ‘invisible’ root (it was purple and came out so dark it looks barely there)

On Sunday I returned to the darkroom, but when I checked the rack, I felt that the dried-down images from Saturday were a bit dark, so I reprinted everything at 3 minutes, plus added a single drop of the dichromate contrast booster to the emulsion chemistry. After washing each one, I felt they looked closer to what I am going for in terms of slightly underexposed so I can watercolor into the grayer areas. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of the second set; after 6 (more) hours and 9 (more) prints I was pretty tired, and it slipped my mind.

Next week at this time I will be in Guam; I am heading there for work for 2 wks and will be back Nov 17. I will try to make at least one post during that time…but it won’t be about my work (kallitypes nor watercoloring nor actual reason I am there)….more likely tropical waterfalls and beach scenes, which I know you will all love as November gets colder and grayer! But soon, I promise a sneak peek at my watercoloring!


AIR Introduction: Jennifer Perena

Hi everyone! I am super excited to be typing this introduction as the reality of becoming a Resident Artist in the Photography & Digital Arts department at the Flower City Arts Center sinks in!

Many of you know me, and have known me for years. I am a Rochester native, and have been a continual student here in the photography department since 2002, when I took my first class after being laid off from a job. That class, “Introduction to Black and White Photography”, taught by Mercedes Fages, was a refresher for me, as I had learned to develop film and make black and white prints in a darkroom back in high school. After graduating and going on to college, I continued shooting black and white film with my trusty Nikon F3, but never returned to the darkroom…until 2002.

Portrait of me with my Community Darkroom apron by Tin Type instructor Tammie Malarich; this was the first workshop where I fell in love with a multi-step alternative process

Since that time, not only have I taken dozens of classes, but I have volunteered and taught with the Studio 678 youth photo club (for roughly 14 years), served as a volunteer monitor for the Darkroom (for roughly 15 years), and served as a Board member (6 years) and active member of multiple Board committees (14 years). In other words, a huge part of my creative adult life has been spent here, learning, volunteering, supporting  and being inspired by the community of artists here at the Center, and I am really thrilled to have this opportunity to make work under the Artist Residency program!

Me with my Studio 678 group at their graduation ceremony, City Hall 2017
In the field making tin types with instructor Chris Schwer

These days my main focus is alternative process photography. I love making prints where each one is totally unique, even if the starting point and process is totally the same. I have dabbled in tin types, wet plate collodion, cyanotypes and palladium printing, to name a few, but my current love is kallitypes. Kallitypes are basically silver-based contact prints. In my case, I start with iPhone photos, digitally manipulate them, create plastic negatives from them, then hand-coat watercolor paper, and make prints in a light box. Because of things like humidity, age of the chemistry, paper quality, mood of the artist, etc, each print comes out different. And sometimes they don’t really come out at all, but I still love it. It is really exciting!

One of the first kallitypes that I made that actually turned out well!
Another print of the same image didn’t come out as well, so I applied watercolor to it; I like them both!

My residency will run through almost to the end of February 2019, and during that time I hope to make many new images, resulting in an exhibition in January. I spend a lot of time at the Center and hope that if you see me, you’ll stop to say hello. I look forward to seeing you around!