jonesbeachsunrisemichaelwills120copyrightFor the past four years the East Shore Festival Of The Arts (ESFOTA) has graced the Lansing Town Hall each May.  Last Month organizer Robin Schuttenberg took that to the next level with an exhibit of local photographer Sarah Thomson's work.  A new exhibit opens next Friday (October 25th) to continue adding art gallery to the multiple uses the Lansing courtroom is put to.  'Memories, Dreams, Reflections' showcases Ithaca photographer Michael Wills featuring large format landscape photographs and smaller format portraits.

"What's fascinating about photography is taking that appreciation and working it through the limitations of the camera itself so that you're presenting an aspect of the subject," Wills says.  You try to make it beautiful.  And that will appeal to people."

The exhibit features about 40 images, some of which are quite large, printed on canvas.  As you enter the gallery the first photograph you will see is image of Cathedral Rock at Sedona State Park in Arizona, striking in contrast and color, printed on a canvas four feet wide.  He says it is one of his more popular images.

"I have good memories of this photograph," Wills says.  "I was serving on the Alumni Board of Directors for the University of Arizona.  I was going to Arizona twice a year.  It was an absolute pleasure."

Another large photograph is a five by four foot canvas print depicting McLean Swamp on the Cornell Plantations.  The image is shown twice with the skie merging, and reflections on the water showing up at the bottom and top of the picture.  While Wills does some work in Photoshop he says he likes to get his pictures as perfect as possible in the camera so they need little or not tweaking on the computer.  That takes planning -- waiting for the right time of day, the right season and the right light.

"My best photographs are the ones that come out of the camera as-is," he says. "They are the ones I am happiest with.  Even the one made up of two images -- each individual image was as perfect in the camera as I could get it."

Wills took the title of the show from the Swiss analytical psychiatrist Carl Jung's biography.

"What struck me about that autobiography was he wasn't interested in taking note of people he had talked to or the places he had been," he says.  "He was more interested in presenting his ideas and inner life.  That's what these photographs are to me.  They are pieces of my own inner life that I believe other people will be interested in."

Originally from Long Island, Wills, a registered dietician, came to Ithaca to work at CBORD Group, which produces food and nutrition service management software.  After 15 years he was given a bonus, part of which went to purchasing his first camera.

mikeportrait349x400copyrightMichael Wills

"I enjoy getting out and telling stories with my photography," he says.  "I would share that on the Web with friends and everybody, and got good responses.  Eventually I increased my investment in photography.  I was able to get more sophisticated and produce larger, more elaborate pictures."

That was 11 years ago.  Today he regularly  sells a selection of images locally at The Corner Gallery in Ithaca.  On the Web his work is represented on Artist Rising, and has shown in various art shows, including ESFOTA.  He says that most of his portraits are of people he knows, but a notable exception, included in the show, was taken when he began as a photographer.

"One of the first times I was out in public photographing was at the Saint Patrick's Day Parade in 2002 in New York City," he recalls.  "That was right after September 11th.  That was quite an emotional event, especially when the New York City Fire Department came up the street.  They had a huge presence.  All of 5th Avenue from side to side was full of firemen.  Each one held a full size American flag, so there was a block of American flags up the street.  I got that, and that picture will be in the show."

The opening reception is at the Lansing Town hall Friday, October 25th from 5pm to 7pm.  All the images are for sale.  The exhibit runs through November 15th.

Photographs Copyright © by Michael Wills