CARMEL — Just tell Jeanne Rousseau Marino when the plane departs, and she’ll be packed and ready in minutes to head to Egypt, Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe, Japan, or all across America. Although the peripatetic Pacific Grove resident can’t travel as she pleases during the pandemic, because she always brings her camera and a keen eye for the shot, Marino still has a way to revisit her favorite destinations.
And now through mid-March, with the installation of “Exotic Places and Spaces,” her new photography exhibition in the hallway gallery at Del Mesa Carmel, guests of the exhibit can travel with Marino to experience what she has.
With each photograph, Marino preserves a moment, giving her viewer a sense of the story she discovered there.
“When I capture an image,” she said, “I like to give a perspective other than the usual front view. Perhaps it’s a side view, a close-up of textures, certain shadows that form a shape or add depth.”
Often, the angle indicates her own personal response to what caught her eye.
When Marino saw a man, alone on a deserted street, she sensed he was leaving the shadows of emptiness and isolation, and moving instead into the bright red and white lights, evoking a mood of optimism and hope. It was the scene she encountered and the story she told with the photograph she chose to take.
Growing up in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, Marino was 16 when her parents decided to take their three eldest daughters, among seven children, on a two-week adventure in East Africa. Certain this would be a trip to remember, she borrowed a camera and bought some black-and-white film from “Mr. Tom Swain” at the local photoshop. It was the trip that launched Marino’s appreciation of photography as an art form and as a tool of observation.
“It is photography,” she said, “that has taught me how to pay attention to the details and what matters in the moment.”
More than 40 years ago, Marino started visiting friends on the Monterey Peninsula, where she ultimately stayed and began a career in the classified advertising department of the Monterey Herald. Her initial goal was to become an editor in the newsroom, but she found her niche in advertising while continuing to pursue her photography.
In the 1970s, Marino took a photography course at Monterey Peninsula College from the late Henry Edmund Gilpin, a renowned black-and-white photographer, whose work has been included in public and private collections, as well as prominent magazines and books. During his class, Marino developed her photograph of a trio of Maasai children, the only silver gelatin print included in her exhibition. The story in the image is as intriguing as the light and shadows, the forms and spaces in the photograph.
Marino also included a photograph of the Great Pyramids of Egypt in her exhibit, the portrait of a natural wonder, a study in geometry, and her story of being there.
“I found Egypt enchanting,” she said. “It is raw and real. The traditions are rich in historical significance, and the people are more welcoming than I imagined. Each image I have presented in my exhibition represents deliberate time spent exploring, learning, and seeing part of beautiful countries, states and cities.”
When looking through her lens, Marino sees the subject and also its abstraction, paying attention to the lights and shadows, patterns and shapes, which inspire her composition. Which is why, in addition to her long friendship and admiration, she invited abstract artist Gloria Shaw to include her mixed monoprints and acrylics in the exhibition.
“Like Gloria,” she said, “I appreciate the abstract elements I bring forward when working on an image, enhancing shadows and giving form to shapes I might not have seen right away.”
The art of abstraction
Although Gloria Shaw enjoys figurative and landscape works, abstract art most appeals to her as a way to get outside herself, where she finds the freedom to explore.
Also, an English and drama teacher, Shaw, with her husband, attorney Michael Shaw, established Marina’s “Learning for Life” charter school in 2002. Through this independent study program for seventh to 12th-grade students, Shaw taught English, drama, and art for 14 years before turning her attention to making art, full time.
“I see a definite connection between my art and the school,” said Shaw. “When working with kids, I try to get out of the way to see where they are, just as I do with my art. I feel fortunate that I have been able to teach art and do art, and to see and explore life in this way.”
Shaw’s own artistic explorations over the years have included weaving two prints together, creating a basketweave pattern of color and imagery. She also has been painting directly onto earlier monoprints, bringing in color and images to the abstract composition. Many of her images come from sketches made during a moment to herself at lunch while observing activity around her. With the introduction of a student, crouched against a wall while focused on a cell phone, the abstract print becomes the setting for a story.
“My geographic groupings, interspersed with Gloria’s monoprints create a nice complement,” Marino said. “Her woven paintings are masterful, with such a beautiful effect. She’s quite prolific in her work and has been making amazing monoprints and paintings for a long time.”
To curate “Exotic Spaces and Places,” Del Mesa resident Sam Harrison, who taught Marino in a 1980 photography class at Monterey Peninsula College, worked with fellow residents, artist Kari Hargrove, and California landscape painter Richard Tette, to hang the show.
“When Sam and his crew got our work up on the walls, and Sam finished lighting the show, I teared up,” Marino said. “I feel so fortunate to be able to share this work from around the world, while I wait to be able to travel again. So many people have supported me, including my travel partners, and particularly my husband, Steve Marino, who has patience with my travels and just wants me to be safe—and get the image.”
Contributed by local news sources