by Tanessa Dillard
As local photographer Dorothy Wallace talks about “BLACK & WHITE in color,” her new show in the Irene Carlson Gallery in Miller Hall, her 3-year old daughter, Rose, entertains herself, passionately drawing portraits of her mother. She says she is an artist.
Wallace also likes to use her family and close friends as subjects for her work. Three of her four pieces that will be sold at the Los Angeles County Fair are portraits of Rose.
“BLACK & WHITE in color” is a collection of photographs that were originally black and white prints. Then, they were hand colored by Wallace with prismacolor pencils to create strikingly vivid pictures.
“Her work is unusual because the color is so bright,” stated Associate Professor of Photography Gary Colby. “I really like (the photographs). They have an intimate quality about them.”
Though Wallace did not include any photographs of family or friends in the show, the pieces, mainly landscapes and architecture, are still meaningful to her. Three of the photographs are self-portraits.
“Surf View Cafe” is a photograph that Wallace took on a pier in Santa Monica. It intrigued her that the cafe overlooking the beach had a desert painted on it. While she was setting up to take the picture, a homeless man wandered onto the empty bench in front of the cafe and went to sleep. Behind him, an enormous menu. Wallace says it was a contrast of things.
“They didn’t go together,” she recalled. “They all did ultimately.”
Wallace doesn’t have any new projects under way, but she plans to have fun with a plastic toy camera that was given to her by a friend, a student at ULV. The “Diana” camera, manufactured in the 1960s, takes distorted pictures. Today it is a sought after item by many art photographers.
Over the years, Wallace has experimented with various types of photography but has always had an interest in hand colored prints. She said that hand colored photography was used in the brown-and-white-photographs-of-Grandma days. Her inspiration came from one of those old photos of herself as a child.
“I like to photograph things that are old and that have stood the test of time. You can revitalize old places and make things look any way you want to.”
The main problem Wallace finds with hand colored photography is that the photographs are difficult to reproduce. She says that oils translate better onto color film, but she prefers to work with pencils. She has tried to recreate some of her hand colored photographs, but insists it cannot be done.
Rose, Wallace’s artist daughter, has grown weary of drawing pictures. In the short time Wallace has been talking, Rose has created her own collection of art, including multiple drawings of her mother.
Wallace continues to discuss her photographs. “Each one of these is definitely one of a kind. It never comes out the same,” she said. “It all just happens once.”
Wallace will give a lecture on Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. in La Fetra Auditorium. She will present a slide show of all the “BLACK & WHITE in color” pieces, as well as some that were not included in the gallery show. A demonstration on hand coloring will also be done. A reception will follow in the Irene Carlson Gallery. The show runs until Oct. 17.