Beyond the Visual, with Gary Dillard

by Lisa Juliot  (August 2012)

Friday, August 17, at 7 p.m., Zenzi hosted an artist reception for photographer Gary Dillard. Gary presented a body of work he has entitled, "Beyond the Visual." The title, in part, refers to the infrared photographic technique he employs. Infrared spectrum is beyond the visual range; it is taken from light that we cannot see. He uses an infrared camera to capture his images; he literally captures images which lie outside of our visual range. He then manipulates these images with sculptor-like skill using various computer programs. The results are stunning.

"Beyond the Visual" also refers to his deep belief in color therapy. Gary explained to me that staring at different colors causes the different chakras to vibrate, promoting healing in different areas of the body/spirit and helping people to feel good. Many of his images are monocolor, with one color predominating the scene for this reason. "Green," Gary explains, "is balancing and stabilizing while blue is calming. Reds and oranges bring energy levels up."

Gary has been showing his work on 5th Avenue at Caminarte every Thursday for the past few months. He told me that he has learned a lot being on the street with his art. He went on to explain, "People come and stare at a color. I know that they like the image; they compliment the image or even say they love the image, but I really get the feeling they just need blue, ya know. They're staring at it because they need the color, it just makes them feel better and it does, it makes you feel good."

Gary is a man of many talents. He worked many years as an emergency room nurse in the United States. He is also a musician. Photography was always a passion for him and what started as a hobby quickly turned into a side business. He tried his hand at wedding photography, but ultimately moved on to blending his talents and passions to become a music industry photographer. Gary plays the guitar and was already part of the thriving music scene in Austin, Texas. He saw the opportunity to mix his media and used his music contacts to give him photography leads. He has produced numerous CD and album covers and has done band photos and headshots for many musical talents.

When Gary decided to renounce the world of work schedules and shoes with laces and move to Playa del Carmen, he decided to dedicate himself to his art. He wanted to begin to explore photography in a way that was different and not constrained by a client or any specific subject matter. Gary wields his computer tools as a painter arms himself with brush, paint and canvas. He literally paints with images and colors, mixing and layering, and adding colors. He refers to this as painting with pictures.

A very important part of the creative process for Gary lies in the printing of his own images. Most photographers feel that their art is in the capture of an image with the precise angle, light, composition, lines, proportions and focus to reproduce their specific way of seeing or portraying the mood and feel of a scene. Gary takes this feeling about his art all the way through to the printing process, where he has the ultimate control of the final image, without leaving any part of his interpretation up to someone else.

Using museum-grade 100% cotton paper and an impressive amount of technical skill and equipment, he further manipulates his images as he guides them through the entire printing process. He says that perhaps he is overly anal retentive, but he refuses to relinquish the control of his image to a printer. He feels passionately about the printing process and refers to a quote from Ansel Adams, a famous photographer/printer who invented his own system which was a guide for photographers to print black-and-whites while producing all of the shades of grey from black to white, when he compares the print-making process to music: the negative whether it be digital or film is the score and the print is the symphony.

Gary learned to print photographs in the darkroom, manipulating time and temperature, cut-outs and overlays, and pre-exposing paper, and therefore has a tremendous appreciation for the printing process. Gary explained to me that paper can only hold some of the tones. Negatives have always been able to hold more information than the paper, so the task of traditional photography is to compress that information so it will show the full depth and range of the image as does the negative.

Gary has been in various art and photography shows but this is his first show as an individual artist. He has produced pieces that he feels are representative of his work up until this time, that you may have already seen at Caminarte, and he offers us a sneak peak of a new technique that he has been working on that he is excited to pursue.

The photographic exposition, "Beyond the Visual," will be at Zenzi, on 10th and the beach through mid-October. Be sure to stop in at Zenzi to check out the walls! Show your appreciation to this wonderful beach bar lounge for their support of the arts and the art community in Playa del Carmen.

Gary Dillard Solar Sunrise