Storytelling at the Scandinavian Festival by John Ritchie

I finally made it to the Scandinavian Festival in Junction City - something I’ve been meaning to do for many years but never got around to. I’m glad I did! Not only was it a fun and interesting time, but the people watching (and people photography) was fascinating and fruitful.

I used the opportunity to practice capturing people moments and gestures. Peoples’ expressions can be challenging because they’re constantly in motion and are usually fleeting. It requires constant readiness, careful watching, and quick reflexes to see when something is about to happen, quickly compose, and take the photo.

The most interesting of these tell stories. With photography’s power of freezing momentary expressions and juxtaposing unrelated elements, a story can be manufactured from almost nothing. The story doesn’t need to be true to make it engaging but, in my opinion, it shouldn’t dishonor the subjects.

I had an excellent time finding the stories in these photographs. I hope you enjoy them too.

The Cat Park by John Ritchie

Almost two years ago, my wife and I were adopted by a cat named Gatsby. I’ve avoided posting photographs of him because cat photographs are a little thick on the ground. What would make my photographs different from the 2.93 trillion other cat photos out there (other than Gatsby’s obvious superiority as a cat)? But this posting is not about our cat, it’s about the Cat Park I’ve created for him in our back yard. This may look like another tale of cat obsession but it’s not - this is a story about Art. ;^)

When we adopted Gatsby, he came with a history of running away - he was on the lam from his previous owner, again, when he showed up in our yard. After we formally adopted him, we didn’t want him to wander off so he became an Indoor Kitty. But this is akin to a CAFO - in my opinion, cats’ natural state is to roam free. Gatsby was OK with it, kind of, but he was bored. So last year I rebuilt our back yard fences and installed a containment mesh all around the top. Since that time, Gatsby has been the ruler of our back yard and he is a much more active and happier cat.

Gatsby in the Containment Compound

Gatsby in the Containment Compound

Gatsby practicing martial arts with Carrie

Gatsby practicing martial arts with Carrie

When my friend Joni Kabana heard about the fence project and knew I could build things, she talked me into helping her build a Chicken Shack Bar out on her property in Central Oregon. That’s a different story but it’s related to this one in two ways. It triggered me to tear down an old awning/trellis thing we’ve been meaning to get rid of so I could salvage the old 4x6 cedar beams for the Bar, and it got me thinking about constructing with reclaimed materials and the value of aged-looking structures.

When the trellis was torn apart it left two tall 4x4 posts, supporting clematises, standing at the edge of our patio. I decided to build a cat climbing gym based on those two posts using materials reclaimed from the trellis. Because of the materials and its likely temporariness, I constructed the gym quickly to look haphazard and homegrown. But the main goal was that Gatsby love it.

The Cat Gym

The Cat Gym

The Gym has two towers, each of which is over 7 feet tall: the Crow’s Nest and the Grooming Gazebo. The towers are joined by a 12-foot-long Rickety Bridge. There are a series of platforms going up each tower that Gatsby can use to go up and down. There is an all-important scratching post at the bottom that he’s whittling his way through.

Gatsby spends hours of every day in the Gazebo, but he prefers to take his after-dinner nap in the Nest, where the evening sun gives him a final warming before going down. He has also been known to sleep on the Bridge.

The Grooming Gazebo - also known as the Sleeping Pagoda

The Grooming Gazebo - also known as the Sleeping Pagoda

Cranky Cat in the Crow’s Nest

Cranky Cat in the Crow’s Nest

The Rickety Bridge is also suitable for napping…

The Rickety Bridge is also suitable for napping…

The Cat Park also has a cherry tree that Gatsby loves to climb.

Gatsby in the cherry tree.

Gatsby in the cherry tree.

In the Spring, when all the cat-high undergrowth grew in under the cherry tree, Gatsby no longer went into the tree very much because he didn’t have a good launch/landing pad. So I built a cat ladder to bridge over the tall growth. Gatsby now runs up and down the ladder to get into the tree. This may sound a bit like cat pampering, but it is actually an important component of the overall art piece. :)


I achieved my goal of making a structure and yard that Gatsby loves. He spends almost all day, every day, outside. And because we’re spending a lot more time out there with him, our yard looks nicer than it ever has before. Not least because there’s an interesting cat gym structure in it.

Cat in the Garden

Cat in the Garden

The Critical Eye by John Ritchie

Street Party

In 2010 I and a group of fellow PhotoArts Guild members formed an independent critique group to critique each other’s work and help improve it. We have been meeting monthly ever since and have developed a common critical language based on composition, intent, technique and artistic impact in order to strengthen each member's photography without inhibiting his or her individual creative identity. We all owe a lot of our maturation as artists to the help of this group.

The group, consisting of Rich Bergeman, Phil Coleman, Marjorie Kinch, Bill Laing, Jack Larson, John Morris, Jim Magruder, Dave McIntire (deceased), and myself will be exhibiting in the Corrine Woodman Gallery in the Corvallis Arts Center. The exhibit highlights how artists can benefit from the useful critique of their peers, even when the artistic styles are completely dissimilar.

The Critical Eye

Corrine Woodman Gallery, Corvallis Arts Center

July 2 – 27, 2019

Conversations from the CWG Thursday, July 11th, 12 noon

ArtVote 2018 by John Ritchie

It’s election time, and I’m participating in ArtVote 2018, an initiative started by my friend and mentor David Paul Bayles. Local artists each donate six small prints, and people who have voted can come and select a commemorative print. The idea is to promote voting and celebrate art at the same time.

The print I’ve donated is “Crossing At Night.”

Update: As a successful voter, I also got to select a print. I got a nice work from Rani Primmer entitled “She Is Strong.

Crossing At Night

"Nara Teahouse" Receives Juror's Choice Award by John Ritchie

Nara Teahouse

Nara Teahouse

Two of my photographs were accepted into the annual PhotoZone Gallery Juried Photographic Exhibition.  "Nara Teahouse," above, received a Juror's Choice award.  The other image, The Salaryman, can be seen here.  Both photographs were from a recent trip I took to Japan. 

The exhibition is on display at the Emerald Art Center in Springfield, Oregon through July 27th.

Look for more images from Japan coming soon. The photographs are starting to surface as I make my way through all the material I gathered there.

Two Members Exhibits: PhotoArts Guild and LightBox by John Ritchie

Members Exhibits can be a good way to showcase things you want without having them accepted by a juror.  I'm in two member exhibits in November and December: the Willamette Valley PhotoArts Guild's biennial exhibit, and the LightBox Photographic's annual Member Show.  Both exhibits feature excellent photography by amazing photographers.

Birthday Boy

For the Love of Oregon: Willamette Valley PhotoArts Guild Members Exhibit

The PhotoArts Guild does a biennial themed members' exhibit at the LaSells Stewart Center on the OSU campus in Corvallis.  The theme for this year's exhibit is "For the Love of Oregon."  For my entry, I selected three photographs depicting the diversity of Oregon's residents.

For the Love of Oregon will exhibit from November 3rd to December 8th.

The Crazy Box

LightBox Members Exhibit 2017

I've blogged before about how special LightBox Photographic in Astoria Oregon is.  Once again, I'm privileged to be part of its annual Members Exhibit.  For this show I submitted two of my long-time favorite photographs.

The exhibit will be from December 9th to January 9th with an opening reception on December 9th from 5 - 8pm.  LightBox Photographic is located at 1045 Marine Drive in Astoria Oregon.

Nocturnes & Noir in San Francisco by John Ritchie


My photograph "Dispossessed" was accepted for the Nocturnes & Noir exhibit at the Harvey Milk Photo Center in San Francisco.  The exhibit, juried by Michael Kenna and Helen K. Garber, combines two schools of night photographic thought: the peace of the Nocturne with the darkness of Noir.  The exhibit celebrates the 25th anniversary of The Nocturnes Night Photography Group.

I've participated in Nocturnes exhibits before, but I was particularly pleased to have my photograph selected by Michael Kenna for this one.  His book "Mont St. Michel" was one of the first photography books I've purchased and his photographs have been an inspiration to me ever since.

The exhibit runs from February 11th through April 2nd, 2017 at the Harvey Milk Photo Center, 50 Scott Street, San Francisco.  There is an opening reception Saturday February 11th from 5:30 to 8:00 PM.

LightBox Members Exhibit 2016 by John Ritchie

Veteran, Patriot

LightBox Photographic is a very special gallery located in Astoria, Oregon.  They promote top-quality photographic art, specializing in traditional processing but supporting all fine photography.  LightBox has many fine exhibits every year, and I'm pleased to participate in the LightBox Members Exhibit 2016.  This is an opportunity for me to show a piece I'm excited to exhibit and to rub shoulders with many fine photographic artists of the North Coast and Portland community.

The exhibit will show from December 10th, 2016 to January 11th, 2017, with an Artists' Reception and Holiday Party on December 10th from 6-9pm.  LightBox Photographic is located at 1045 Marine Drive in Astoria, and its hours are Tue-Sat 11-5:30.