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Underwater photographers to share their ‘Ocean Fantasy’ at La Jolla Library

A photo of dolphins in the surf by Greg Volger will be on display in "An Ocean Fantasy."
A photo of dolphins in the surf by Greg Volger will be on display in “An Ocean Fantasy” from Oct. 29 to Dec. 31 at the La Jolla/Riford Library.
(Courtesy of Greg Volger)

For the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the La Jolla/Riford Library will have an art exhibit to showcase the works of the San Diego Underwater Photographic Society. “An Ocean Fantasy” opens with a reception at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, at 7555 Draper Ave. and will be on view through Friday, Dec. 31.

Seemingly coming full circle, one of the library’s last shows before shutting down in March 2020 also was an exhibition of SDUPS works.

“The library and some of the art committee members wanted to get a show going now that the library is open again,” said curator Diane Ryason. “The last one was great, very well-received, and the reports back from everyone was that the viewers enjoyed it. And it’s a different time now, a different climate. They are looking forward to this.”

Included in this exhibit are photographs by Jack Der, Jami Feldman, Silvana Ghiu, Frankie Grant, Mike Poirier, Marla Matin, Dick Miller, Nanette Oselett, Greg Volger and Robert Yin.

Photos by Mike Poirier will be part of "An Ocean Fantasy" at the La Jolla/Riford Library.
(Courtesy of Mike Poirier)

“There are some amazing works by these artists,” Ryason said. “There are some photographers that are the new kids on the block. But there are others that have been doing this a long time. They all go to the ocean, to places like Singapore and the purple coral reef of Catalina Island. We don’t have as much color in the Pacific Ocean, so when you go to places like the Caribbean, you get more colorful images, and they have.”

Images by Feldman, the SDUPS president, depict sea life from La Jolla Shores, the Channel Islands and Cozumel, Mexico.

She said documenting life under the surface or out at sea “is a cool vantage point that most people don’t get to see.”

“It’s something completely magical that doesn’t exist on the surface,” she said. “It takes your breath away. Most people go to the beach and love the waves crashing, but right off the coast we have multiple species of sharks you can see underwater, octopus bouncing around and animals interacting. There is so much you don’t get on the surface.”

In Feldman’s photo from Cozumel, which she submitted for the show, angelfish and turtles are seen interacting. “That area is known for the currents and for the abundance of animals there,” she said. “It’s always neat to be in another country and see interaction and animals you don’t normally.”

Documenting those interactions and creatures “is an adventure, it’s something new and something special,” she said. “I feel like if I told people what I see when I dive, they wouldn’t believe me. This allows me to show them.”

Images by Mike Poirier will be on view as part of the exhibition "An Ocean Fantasy."
(Courtesy of Mike Poirier)

Feldman said many of the participating photographers had a love for the medium before they started diving, and embraced the challenge that comes with combining the two.

“Composition and lighting is not the same as above the surface; it doesn’t play by the same rules,” Feldman said. “Some people don’t have the patience to learn it and perfect it, but some of us are nerds that can’t get enough of it. But being able to share what we see and what we’ve been able to document is important to us.”

Ryason agreed: “There is a curiosity about what is in the ocean. You can jump around in the waves, but you don’t see much sea life. Without photography, you wouldn’t know what’s there. It’s almost as if you are on a whole different planet. You are weightless when you dive, whether you photograph or not. When you are swimming through a kelp forest, it’s like swimming through the redwoods. For people to see some of those images, it gives them a sense of what the photographer sees. It opens the door to what is living in our ocean. I love this show because I [was a diver] and I hope people that don’t dive will get a part of that experience.”

All the art will be for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting library programs. To confirm viewing hours, call the library at (858) 552-1657. Learn more at lajollalibrary.org or sdups.com. ◆