Printed from the Bold Life website:


Don't Shoot, Click!

By Ursula Gullow

The Calm, by Dave Allen
In spite of her painterly roots, Constance Vlahoulis is hosting a photography exhibit unlike any other at her Hendersonville gallery, The Conn-Artist Studios and Gallery. "I'm a wanna-be photographer," says Vlahoulis. "I take good enough pictures but not at the level of the Fabruary 14."

The "Fab 14" she's referring to is the group of WNC photographers that comprises The Click! Project, and whose work will be on display for 14 weeks beginning February 14th. A wide array of aesthetic visions and experiences are represented within the group — from award winning professional photographers to first- time exhibiters. What they have in common is a passion for photography and the regional landscape that is evidenced in their work. "We really want to share what we love to do, to help other people love what they do," says Vlahoulis, "that's why we're having the opening on Valentine's Day."

Vlahoulis initiated the formation of the group after meeting Facebook friend Dave Allen in person at The Saluda Arts Festival last summer. She was immediately smitten with his epic landscapes, waterfalls and sunsets. From there she met Walter Arnold and found herself captivated by his images of abandoned spaces printed onto metal. " I was so blown away I bought his best-of-show photograph for my own collection," says Valhoulis. A third photographer she met that day was the inspired landscape photographer Rich Nicoloff, a friend of Arnold and Allen.

After meeting the three men, an idea started to take root. "I thought, we should really have a photography show," says Vlahoulis. "There's so much artistic talent in this area." She began inviting more photographers to participate in her vision saying, "They didn't have to be well-known, they just had to be good photographers," and capped the number at 14. "We had three face-to-face meetings, and it was a love fest," declares Vlahoulis. "There was great camaraderie. I love bringing people together." The group came up with a name, a logo (designed by Click! photographer Sarah Barratt) and a promotional website (designed by Click! photographer Laurie McCarrier.)

Contacnce Vlahoulis
Rimas Zailskas

The experience has helped introduce Walter Arnold, a recent transplant to Hendersonville, to other photographers in the area. Last summer Arnold's photograph of an overgrown airplane cockpit belonging to an abandoned plane in St. Augustine, FL was one of eight photos (out of 96,000) selected by film director Ron Howard to inspire a short film. Arnold's photos of abandoned buildings, hotels, bowling alleys and diners are printed onto metal which he says makes the detail and the quality of the image shine. "Everyone has that sense of wonder for these kinds of places," says Arnold, who plans to include some of his favorite photographs in the exhibit.

Kathy Hardy got her start photographing her handmade jewelery for her online Etsy site years ago. In recent years she's taken to photographing animals, flowers, and nature at a close range. "I feel a little nervous about this show," admits Hardy, since it is the first time she's ever exhibited photos in a professional environment. Hardy plans to show more of her close-range images of animals. A particularly poignant image is that of a horses eye — so detailed the eyelashes are reflected on the pupil. "That horse in particular was so curious," says Hardy. "He just kept nudging my face so I snapped his picture.

Other photographers of The Click! Project include Jacquelyn Schechter — a psychoanalyst whose contemplative imagery exemplifies her "mindful photography" mission. Schechter's photos taken at carnivals remind the viewer of the universally human impulse to play. Clay Bolt's emotive images of insects and birds have been printed in a variety of magazines and encourage an appreciation of wildlife. David Simchock, a native of New Jersey, captures life's quirky details like a duck's webbed feet, and Catherine Vibert aims to encapsulate a moment or a "feeling that can't be described," with her vibrant macro shots of nature.

Whirling Dervish and the Queen, by Sarah Barratt

An award-winning painter in her own right, Vlahoulis' has owned and operated the Conn-Artist Studios and Gallery in Hendersonville for over four years. In addition to exhibiting paintings, prints and pastels by regional artists, Vlahoulis' teaches art in her studio and invites guest artists to teach as well. "It's become a gathering place for artists," says Vlahoulis. "I have people tell me, 'I don't know what I would do if I couldn't come here.'"

The Click! Project is: Dave Allen, Walter Arnold, Sarah Barratt, Clay Bolt, Kathy Hardy, Jared Kay, Cindy Landrum, Laurie McCarrier, Brad Mast, Rich Nicoloff, Jacquelyn Schechter, David Simchock, Rob Travis, Catherine Vibert

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