guest post by Aaron Muszalski
San Francisco’s RayKo Gallery is currently presenting “Into the Ether,” an collection of work from ten contemporary photographers who use the historic collodion – or “wet plate” – process to create their unique images.
Come see this landmark West Coast exhibition featuring the work of 10 of the greatest contemporary collodion artists to ever coat a plate. Both ambrotypes (one-of-a-kind images made on glass) and ferrotypes, or tintypes (one-of-a-kind images made on thin metal plates) will be exhibited. The photographers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and pursue a wide range of subject matter, but they are united in their choice of process and their passion for this technique that renders some of the most exquisite photographs ever seen.
The exhibition includes work from John A. Coffer, the “traveling wetplate artist” who spent seven years wandering through North America in a horse and carriage, working as an old-time portrait photographer.
In 1978, John Coffer hitched a bay workhorse named Brownie up to a 19th century style darkroom wagon dubbed the “Photographic Van” and criss-crossed the continent for seven years, plying his trade as an old time traveling portrait photographer. This was an experience as unique as the many tintypes he made and sold along the way. In 1985, after more than 11,000 wagon miles and having passed through 36 different states, John and his horse, Brownie, settled down on their own 50-acre farm in the heart of the beautiful Finger Lakes country of up-state New York. John lives in a one-room cabin that he built himself. He lives off the land and has no phone, no electricity, no automobile, and no running water. There, Coffer photographs the livestock, the farm implements, and the annual cycles of nature.
“Into the Ether” will be on display through August 28. RayKo is open Tuesday-Thursday from 10am to 10pm, and Friday-Sunday from 10am to 8pm. Gallery admission is free.