Photos Hint of California’s Charms At Gallery Obscura

Photographer Heidi Judge at her solo exhibition Space Oddity held at the Gallery Obscura on campus. April 3, 2016 Photo by Franchon Smith
Photographer Heidi Judge at her solo exhibition Space Oddity held at the Gallery Obscura on campus. April 3, 2016 Photo by Franchon Smith

By Michaela Payne

The new show at the photography department’s Gallery Obscura is “Space Oddity” by Heidi Judge, featuring 11 black and white images through April 30.

Judge named the show “Space Oddity” only partly after the David Bowie album with the same name. “It’s more because my show deals with negative space. I love to have (the camera) on tweaky angles. That’s my jam,” Judge said. “Negative space is such an oddity.”

All taken outdoors, the Newport Beach transplant’s images seem spacious and timeless. Some of the prints feature a Victorian facade, a steeple, people on a beach, a bird or a plane over the sea, a shirtless someone, a single branch and lots of sky. Looking much like her images, the artist dressed in monochrome white and black.

And classic to gallery openings, the combination of art and free beverages led to a thick crowd of at least 40 of Judge’s friends and fans. It was a boisterous and fashionable parade. “This is probably one of the more booming parties we’ve had,” Gallery Obscura curator Renee Tung said.

To prepare the show, Tung guided the artist through a four-month process of selecting her images. “Renee helped me narrow my photos down. She’s kinda the best,” Judge said. At $54 each, Judge said, “The frames and the matting were my big spender.”

“I ask to see a cohesive body of work, 10 to 12 images,” Tung said. “Heidi definitely took my suggestions but she had her own ideas, which is great to see in such a young person,” Tung said. The student photographer indicated to her along the process, “No, I’m sticking to my ideas. I want to stay true to this,” Tung quoted.

Then “Space Oddity” went up on the gallery walls. Three of the glossy prints are square 120 mm prints and the rest are rectangular 35 mm.

“Her eye for taking photos has gotten really good over time,” Judge’s friend and San Francisco State student Nickolas Tonn said.

Judge’s favorite images is of the Sky Glider ride at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, showing just a few high cables with dangling cars similar to a ski lift. When Judge captured this picture, she decided she wanted to put together a show and portfolio.

The photographer captured the images all around California while traveling, sometimes alone. “I can be like, ‘I like that exit’ and no one’s like ‘We gotta get home,” Judge said.

She snapped the images in Lake Tahoe, Marin, San Diego and more. “I love California. California is great,” Judge said. “I bring my camera wherever I go.”

She used a 35 mm Minolta SRT for most of the photos, and a medium-format Bronica camera for the three square-shaped 120 mm images. One of those vintage cameras that the photographer holds at waist height and looks down into, the Bronica came from Glass Key Photo in the Lower Haight.

“I develop everything myself in the darkroom here, then took it to Photoworks,” Judge said. On Market and Church, the photo developer offers a 10 percent student discount to scan, print and digitize film images.

All untitled, the 11 prints are on sale for $250 each. View more of the artist’s work at and on Instagram as HeidiJudge22.

“Space Oddity” will be on display through April 30 at Gallery Obscura in Visual Arts Room 160. Visitors may call the photography department gallery at 415-239-3422 for hours and directions.

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Send an email to: Michaela Payne


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