By Lucia Viti
Talmadge artist to raise money for Little Italy’s Piazza Famiglia
The magical, mystical “minor magic” digital photography art tour is a celebration of original craft, whimsical color, bold contrast and one’s feral imagination.
The brainchild of illustrator Randy Crawford, “minor magic” allows the science of digital photography to distort and convert images into ingenious, thought-provoking artistry. Swapping pens, pencils and paintbrushes for a camera, a Mac computer and Adobe Photoshop, the Talmadge resident transforms the proverbial into tales of the surreal.
For Crawford, an expert in understanding the nuances of Photoshop, the idea by accident began while recreating digital transparencies. “I flip-flopped faces, over-laid elements and created fat and skinny cartoons for fun,” he said. “I played with transparencies until they became dynamic images, recognizable yet unrecognizable. It took five years to nail a process that yielded an illustrative photograph to look like an abstract surrealistic painting.”
The digitally enhanced artwork gave birth to “minor magic,” Crawford’s “simple, no-big-deal idea that’s awesome and magical.” Photographs translated into abstract paintings include years of international and domestic travel shooting metropolitan cities such as Berlin, New York and San Francisco; people, cars, bicycle, architecture, wildflowers, and San Diego’s Little Italy and Marina sunsets.
Touting a “good eye” for composition with a camera, Crawford said his passion for photography simply wasn’t enough. “I love photography but successful photographers are few and far between,” he said. “People see pictures every day. But I do what people can’t see every day. I take an average looking photograph and increase its appeal.”
Crawford noted that not every photograph works within his translation library. Snapshots require natural rotation or intersecting points to assemble as double exposures. “Images must be worthy of conversion,” he explained. “Because I use flopped, transparent layers to create multiple exposures on a single image, the photograph must have a pivot or a flip-flop point. I must frame a photograph — prior to shooting — to include an access point for lining two images together, so the image naturally fits the process of distorted manipulation.”
Crawford’s snapshots are altered according to his muse. “I’m inspired by the artist that resides in my heart and soul,” said Crawford, who spent 25 years as a graphic designer for Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical, now known as the Northrop Grumman Corp. “The artistic bone is the strongest bone in my body.”
Positive reactions and “major wow-factors” led Crawford to debut his work in Art Lab Studios, once stationed in Normal Heights. Instant success drove him to pursue his artistic venture full time. When approached by the Little Italy Association to host his own show to raise money for Piazza Famiglia, Crawford agreed without hesitation.
“I’m honored to support the Little Italy Association,” he said. “Little Italy is one of San Diego’s great urban neighborhoods and a perfect place to shoot photographs. The association has implemented wonderful changes to Little Italy and I’ve worked diligently to capture its unique essence.”
Marco Li Mandri, Little Italy Association’s chief executive administrator, said he was excited to host Crawford’s artwork as a fundraiser for Piazza Famiglia, the group’s most enterprising project to date. The 10,000-square-foot public space slated for a 2017 spring opening will become the new heart of Little Italy. “Projects like Piazza Familgia keep Little Italy one of the most coveted cultural communities in the nation, in a desirable, iconic location,” Li Mandri said.
“The Little Italy Association and its community are huge proponents of public art,” said Chris Gomez, district manager for the association. “The ‘minor magic’ show invites a climate of professionals and collectors, as well as dedicated festival attendees, to visit Little Italy and enjoy an activity other than shopping and eating. Crawford’s unique, edgy artistic designs offer a great opportunity to raise money for Little Italy’s beautification.”
Gomez described “minor magic” as thought-provoking, conversational artwork that is no easy feat. “Anyone can be a point-and-click photographer but it takes a talented eye to raise the bar and recognize composition and the use of color and contrast. Crawford’s work leads us to step back and question ‘what is my eye seeing, what is my mind seeing and where can I see this in my home?’”
Crawford’s show will exhibit original canvasses, prints and 2016 calendars that will list Little Italy’s 2016 special events. Custom orders of prints will also be available. Fifty percent of “minor magic” sales will be donated to the Piazza Famiglia fund.
A private reception will be held on opening night on Saturday Nov. 21, from 6 – 10 p.m. at the Little Italy Association office. The show will remain open to the public from Monday, Nov. 23, through Friday, Dec. 31, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment at 619-233-3898. For more information, visit littleitalysd.com.
—Contact Lucia Viti at email@example.com.