Finishing Touch: Photographer channels 'soul of a painter'
Indialantic artist adept at digital images, acrylic abstracts
For FLORIDA TODAY
Indialantic, FL The versatile Rene Griffith, as comfortable with a paintbrush as with a camera, is two very different artists living within the same body. Her digital photos are rich, realistic and serene. Her oversized acrylic abstracts and mixed media collages, on the other hand, are all about lines and motion. “I’m a photographer with the soul of a painter,” says Griffith.
This month, Clay Stephens LifeStyles showroom in the Eau Gallie Arts District is displaying these two very opposite sides of the Indialantic artist. The show is somewhat of a homecoming for Griffith, who grew up in Eau Gallie, attended Eau Gallie public schools and Brevard Community College and earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Tech. With a master’s in business and technology from the University of Miami, Griffith left the area to live around the world, including a decade in San Francisco, where she worked at Hunter’s Point Shipyard, home to the nation’s largest artists’ colony. Her stint at the Shipyard allowed her the opportunity to experiment with a Polaroid that delivered 20- by 24-inch prints. One of only five in the world, the camera was used by two of photography’s A-listers, William Wegman and Annie Leibovitz.
The large-format Polaroid fueled her continuing interest in photography, leading to her connection with an easier-to-carry 1972 Polaroid camera that became her constant companion for years. Griffith would “sculpt and push” by hand the emulsion of Polaroid film to create painterly photographs she termed “fauxtographs” because of their painterly qualities. Alas, with the demise of Polaroid, finding the film became an odyssey, so Griffith eventually switched to digital photography, which she uses to create HDR, or high dynamic range, images she sells through fine art publishers and galleries.
Her acrylic abstracts assuage her need to get into the thick of art.
“I need the tactile experience,” says Griffith. “It takes me away from computers, where I’ve been glued to for 25 years. I’ve always loved to splash color around.”
In 2006, she came back to Brevard, ostensibly to put her home on the market and return to San Francisco. Instead, she fell in love with the Eau Gallie art scene and stayed.
A member of Fifth Avenue Art Gallery, Griffith will have a one-woman show at the gallery this fall. Her photos were recently chosen by Applebee’s as part of the corporation’s makeover of Brevard and Panama City properties.
Although she is based in Brevard, her wandering days are far from over. She constantly travels — camera and sketchbook on hand — to hike and record places such as Macchu Picchu. On her agenda this year is a visit to Cuba.