Art-o-Mat® at Rayko, one of several in the Bay Area, and one of 11 in California. I've long had a vague idea it would be fun to visit them all. This is the second I've seen in person. (An Art-o-Mat® is a vintage cigarette machine converted to dispensing art rather than cigarettes. For more about the Art-o-Mat®, see this post.)
The Photo Center has camera displays (some for show, some for sale), formal gallery space, some informal space that was showing student work, a large selection of the work of local photographers for sale, and rental studio space and darkrooms (both digital and analog), as well as work areas for mounting and matting prints. The center has a regular schedule of classes. Virtually everything to do with photography is here. There is even a vintage photo booth in the space.
Among the photographs for sale, I particularly liked work by Ryuten Paul Rosenblum, Cherie Mayman, and Nicolo Sertorio. I was impressed by Ella Dean among the student photographers. Cherie Mayman's piece was a blurry, dreamy platinum print of what looked like bottles suspended in the air.
The main show was Self and Others, work by Aline Smithson from a number of different series. A few of the images are black and white. Most are large color prints. The various series—portraiture broadly defined for the most part—seemed united by a fondness for large, mostly unarticulated areas of bold color and an isolated subject, often looking right at the camera or just off camera, although a series entitled Arrangement in Green and Black: Portrait of the Photographer's Mother is a set of 21 plays on Whistler's famous portrait of his mother, all imitating that work by using the photographer's mother seated sideways to the picture plane against a plain background (pale green and black in this case) with a painting hanging on the wall behind. The subject is flamboyantly dressed, the attire very different from the drab colors Whistler's mother wears. The paintings on the wall are likewise a sharp departure from the grey and palest beige of the print on the wall in Whistler's painting, yet each of Smithson's hand-colered images is anchored by the strength of Whistler's simple composition.
The next show at Rayko Photo Center will be The Ninth Annual Plastic Camera Show, opening March 9 and running through April 29. Opening reception on the first day of the show, March 9, 2016.