OC, UTPB represented in TPS show

Posted on July 14, 2020

Several Odessa College photography students and faculty members have had their work accepted into the Texas Photographic Society Exhibit.

Kate Mahoney, Dave Thompson and Sonja Garcia-Hopkins were all selected. The Listening to the Land exhibit may be seen from Sept. 8 through Nov. 22, the TPS website stated. University of Texas Permian Basin Director of Marketing for Athletics Richard Acosta also had work accepted.

Additionally, Odessa College art and photography students and faculty have had work accepted in the 62nd Annual Permian Basin Juried Art Exhibition, 20/20 Insight at the Ellen Noël Art Museum.

This year marks the 62nd Annual Permian Basin Juried Art Exhibition, which aims to highlight the talent of artists in and around the West Texas region. Juror Georgina Ngozi, executive director of the Greater Denton Arts Council, reviewed more than 170 works of art for this exhibition. Winners were announced online, and the exhibition may be seen in person through Aug. 9. The closing reception will be Aug. 6.

Current OC photo student Kristie Cummins had two works accepted and won an Honorable Mention award. Recent OC student graduates Marina Alvarez, and Thompson, have works accepted in the exhibition. Daniel Sorensen, assistant professor of art, has two works accepted and Professor Steve Goff has one photograph in the show, information from OC states.

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Mahoney and Thompson also will have photos in the community gallery at City Hall in Odessa.

Mahoney said she has taken thousands of photos since she was a younger, but didn’t begin a formal education in the art until the last few years.

“The majority of my classes were either with Steve Goff or Kirk Williams and they’re both incredible instructors,” said Mahoney, who retired from teaching with Ector County ISD two years ago.

She said she would describe herself as a documentary style photographer.

“And I like to create images that celebrate people, cultures, landscapes really of the world,” Mahoney said.

Most of her photos are digital, but she does like film as well. Digital is convenient because you don’t need to process them in a lab.

“I was thrilled,” Mahoney said of having her photos accepted for the exhibit. “It’s always very rewarding to have those accepted into various shows.”

She said the instructors at OC give a lot of creative assignments and she has learned new techniques and new ways of looking at things, plus how to edit and print.

“It’s a skill to print color images correctly and Steve is a master. I thoroughly enjoyed the expressive classes which are alternative process cyanotypes, platinum palladium prints, salt prints. I really enjoy that kind of work as well,” Mahoney said.

Before she retired, Mahoney said she would take evening classes, but retirement has given her more time to take classes and just to take photos.

“… I’ve done a lot on my own, but it’s nice to have some formal instruction as well because now you can find so many tutorials on the internet for how to do things. But it’s just not the same as having someone right there looking at your photo and working through the process,” Mahoney said. “There is a lot to creating a really nice image.”

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Thompson started at OC in 1979 and was there for about a year for photography. Growing up in Hale Center, Thompson was the high school yearbook photographer.

“That’s how I got the interest in all that. Being a yearbook photographer for a small school in Texas, you pretty much do everything. I photographed all the groups, special events; pretty much everything. I worked in Illinois and also Missouri for a company and the difference in those two states and Texas is they would hire professional photographers to come in and photograph their yearbook pictures. In Texas, that’s part of the curriculum,” Thompson said.

He added that he thinks being accepted to exhibits like the Texas Photographic Society is great.

“This kind of stuff, it’s fantastic not only for the new kids that are starting their careers but also us old folks that still have an interest in photography,” Thompson said. “The good part about it is they don’t know how old you are, or your experience process. It’s just the image and the work they put that up. It’s great and we’ve got a real good showing from OC for this contest and also a lot of other contests going on. It’s one of the best programs I’ve ever been involved with.”

With all the competition in the photography world, Thompson said he credits Goff for getting the students involved in competing. But OC also keeps it fun.

Thompson worked in the photography industry for many years. He was with Lifetouch when he retired.

“… I was in St. Louis at the time and we had five studios. I was the director of photography for five studios and 20 photographers. We photographed 20,000 high school seniors for St. Louis and the surrounding areas and also Illinois. So back then, it was film based. We were there for that transition from film into digital so that’s kind of what I grew up with,” Thompson said.

He added that Goff and his fellow instructors still teach the basics so students can understand light and how to work the camera.

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Garcia said she has had a camera since childhood when she would get the windup kind at 7-Eleven.

“I would get those and take pictures of anything. I didn’t become serious about it until maybe last year,” she said.

Garcia said she knew a couple of peers who attended Odessa College and she liked the small, close-knit community for her first college experience.

“… I wanted to take baby steps into it, which to me I think it was a good choice because I’ve really enjoyed my time there and building that community …,” she added.

Garcia said you never know what’s going to get chosen for a contest.

“I was extremely honored. It’s kind of nice to have that reassurance in your work and that other people want to see it and like it, as well. I know I did a collage piece for that. That’s kind of like my favorite medium to work with,” she added.

Collage photography is Garcia’s favorite medium to work in. She likes to buy magazines with old photos and if an image speaks to her, she will carefully cut it out and create her own work from it.

For Goff’s part, he’s like a proud father.

“I’m really proud when people get recognized and get into shows and get to elevate their work because a lot of times we don’t get the framework. We produce work and critique it in classes, but taking that next step where we put it in a frame, put glass on it and sign it and knowing that somebody has recognized the work as being special in relationship to the subject matter of the show or the technique, especially other than a teacher recognizing their merits, is a big boost to confidence. And I’m so excited. I always get excited for them when they have works accepted in other shows by other jurors,” Goff said.

“It’s very satisfying that people are applying what they were taught and things that I was able to share and help them grow and learn and now they’re doing it and loving it,” he added.

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Acosta has photos in the city art gallery show this year and was accepted last year. He also is in the Texas Photographic Society Show and the Ellen Noël Art Museum.

He is waiting to hear back on the Texas Photographic Society members only show and will have three works in the Dallas Metro Arts Contemporary show in Plano.

He finished third in the TPS show and earned an honorable mention in the Ellen Noël show.

Acosta said he took a photography class as part of his journalism degree from UTPB when he was 19 years old. His teacher was Nelson Schott, owner of Schott’s Photography.

Acosta said he took photos at his first job with the Monahans News, but when he moved to the Midland Reporter-Telegram, there were photographers so he didn’t have to. But he kept doing photography as a hobby.

At the time Acosta went to college, all photos were taken with film, but almost immediately after he graduated, everything went digital. He got a digital camera as a gift from someone, taught himself Photoshop and brushed up on taking photos.

To learn to use the camera, he purchased an online book and took about seven months to go through it. He started taking photos again at a quinceanera when the photographer didn’t show up.

“I’m coming up on six years where I’ve been at it at a professional level and I have just kind of gravitated toward the kind of photography that’s in line with my hobbies. I like to be outside. I like to hike. I like to camp. I like to go places where people don’t go. I’m able to get photographs that a lot of people can’t get because they’re not willing to go where I go, or sleep outside for several nights to try to get a picture,” Acosta said.

His work also can be seen on traffic boxes on West County Road and Second Street in Odessa.

He said he took photos of desert flowers and cacti, converted them into black and white sketch drawings in Photoshop and then painted the color back in.

Acosta said he was honored and humbled to be part of the shows he’s gotten into.

“They’re all juried shows. It means a lot,” he said.

UTPB student Beatriz Rivas was also included in the nationally juried TPS show with their self-portrait. For the Ellen Noel show, UTPB student Ashley Hernandez who won first place in the student category with her portrait photography work  and Amanda Casey who was juried in to the exhibit for her photo still life.