Wildlife Beyond Borders at Art Ark

© 2015 Robin Robinson -- Moorish Idols and Sandscape
© 2015 Robin Robinson — Moorish Idols and Sandscape

Sitting on the Ocean Floor

By Robin V. Robinson

A few years ago, I spent a week diving in Kiribati, an island chain in the Pacific close to the equator. It’s far from anywhere, connected by only one flight a week from the US. As the lone diver that week, I had a dive guide to myself. “What would you like to see?” he asked.

The island was surrounded by beautiful corals, so I surprised the guide by answering “I’d like to sit on the bottom of the ocean, on the sand, and see what comes along.” Having never attempted this before, the guide was hesitant but agreed to try it.

We sailed to a sandy spot, descended about 40 feet, and emptied our floatation vests so that we were sitting comfortably. I could see sand all around me, but no fish or visible life. After about five minutes, nothing had happened. It was pleasant – sunny, and the water was warm on my skin. I relaxed and waited. After about 15 minutes, still nothing had appeared. I signaled to the guide to stay put, I was determined to give this a chance.

Then an unexpected thing happened. I suddenly felt like I was on dry land, on a sunny beach, relaxing in the sand. Yes, I was enjoying the beach, the sky, and the warmth, and I was breathing air. But wait…I was underwater, right? I literally checked for my breathing regulator and found it in my mouth. Indeed, I was still underwater on the sand, but couldn’t shake the surreal feeling of being on dry land.

At that moment, I realized that sitting on the ocean floor really IS sitting on land and that the underwater terrain and the above-water terrain are actually the same thing – connected, and made of the same stuff. We think of things in the ocean as “underwater” or separate from dry land. We think of the ocean as the “other” part of the planet, the part that maybe we put our feet in or enjoy looking at, except it’s always “out there.” But really, it’s all the same thing; it’s one planet.

My experience made me think about how people are not too comfortable with the ocean; after all, it can be cold and scary. I decided that perhaps by making images with features like sandy bottoms I could somehow acquaint people with an ocean that feels familiar. We need to know that the ocean is often just like our usual places. I hope that my photographs provide a change in perspective and a new way of feeling and thinking about the ocean. Perhaps if we feel more familiar with the ocean, we will care about it more and make it part of our big picture of concerns.

About 25 minutes into our dive, a school of Moorish Idols swam into view. I laughed in my mask as I lifted my camera to record their random pattern above the sand. They could have been birds.

You can see my artwork at the Art Ark Gallery in San Jose from June 2nd to July 17th. Come meet me at the opening reception on June 3rd from 5 to 9pm. Register here.

© 2016 Jim Codington --- Ghost of Sonoma Mountain
© 2016 Jim Codington — Ghost of Sonoma Mountain

Jim Codington on KGO Radio

Wildlife Beyond Borders photographer Jim Codington will be interviewed on KGO radio this coming Sunday, May 29, 2016, from 8:00 PM to 8:30 PM. He will be discussing the Wildlife Beyond Borders Book, as well as his involvement in the Mountain Lion Conservation Project. Jim Codington is one of the WBB photographers who images are currently showing at the Art Ark Gallery in San Jose, California. Meet Jim and the other WBB photographers at the June 3 reception from 5:00 to 9:00 PM, and hear their incredible stories of photographing wildlife all over the world, and how they take their work from “Beauty to Deeper Understanding”.

Register for the Reception: http://wildlifebeyondbordersartark.eventbrite.com

The Free Spirit of the Horse On the Run

By Mary Aiu

I have always felt that if you are passionate about your subject matter, it will show through in your work. So a few years ago, I made a decision to choose a subject that would lend itself to becoming a body of work. Having great admiration for the horse and being an owner of a couple of them myself, the subject choice was an easy one. My journey has included photographing interactions and partnerships we have with the horse under saddle, their behaviors among the herd, to finding beauty or story within a portrait. These experiences have led me to an even deeper understanding and love for the horse.

My favorite moments and what really pulls on my heart strings, is to be able to witness through my camera the unbridled beauty of the horse in motion. For me, watching them run at liberty, is like watching a dancer, with each horse displaying their own unique flair of power, grace, and agility. It is so pure, watching a horse be a horse! I do believe few people ever get the chance to be in their presence to witness this, as horses seem to be disappearing from our landscapes and lives more and more.

© 2016 Mary Aiu -- On The Run (Gypsy Horse)
© 2016 Mary Aiu — On The Run (Gypsy Horse)

For centuries horses have been regarded for their ethereal beauty and nobility. I have been fortunate to have photographed some that have taken my breath away as they take flight to run through the wind. The Arabian horse floats like a ballerina with a graceful gait that almost seems to suspend them in the air. While the earth seems to open up under the pounding from the feathered hooves and elegant, long flowing manes of the Gypsy horse. The striking Stonewall Sports Horse with their beautiful spotted patterns always sets the stage for special captures. I can’t put into words the exhilaration I feel as I stand in a field and photograph a group of them running towards me.

My artistic intent with my collection of images, “On the Run,” is to showcase these moments of what I like to think of as equine splendor, and to share with the viewer the majestic beauty and free spirit of the horse on the run.

Meet Mary Aiu at the June 3 reception at the ArtArk Gallery and discover more images in her “On The Run” collection.

To Register for the Reception–click on the following link:

An Appreciation of Animals

By Mike Miller

I hunted when I was young. I shot and killed animals and birds for sport. I felt no empathy for them and never thought about what I was doing beyond the immediate experience. There were always more animals. What I did seemed to make no difference.

When I got older, I became a scuba diver. I dove in Monterey Bay many times. Sometimes I dove in the Hopkins Marine Sanctuary, which is adjacent to the Aquarium. I dove initially as a sporting activity, to enjoy the effort of diving, of swimming underwater and to speed through the kelp forests.


Manta Ray
© 2016 Mike Miller — Manta Ray

Eventually, I started to enjoy the underwater environment. I observed the fish, the many invertebrate animals, the kelp and the occasional sea-lion or harbor seal. I noticed that the fish in the Sanctuary were much less wary of divers than the fish in other places. They did not disappear as I approached. Divers are noisy underwater. Yet the fish in the sanctuary did not flee while those in other parts of the bay quickly disappeared. I learned that spear fishing was not allowed in the sanctuary and therefore the fish were not afraid. I began to look at the world from perspectives other than my own.

My wife and I went to Africa in 1999 on safari in South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia. I was in the midst of large animals living in their world. I saw lions kill a warthog. That’s how they lived… and died, a very different world. I saw that the human world of cities, development and money was not the only world.

I saw a truck full of soldiers in Botswana. They were after poachers. The people in the Okavango wanted the animals protected because they had learned that foreigners would come to see them. The poachers wanted quick profits. The army and the poachers battled with increasingly heavy weapons.

I knew then the animal world was threatened by poachers, by development, and by people. The grace of the animals allowed me to see that we all need to protect them. Since then, I have photographed animals both under water and on land to show their existence, to advocate their importance to us all and to enlist support for their survival.


© 2016 Mike Miller — Sharks

Meet Mike personally at the June 3 reception at the ArtArk Gallery!

To Register for the Reception–click on the following link:

Male Chimp Pondering Hand
© 2016 Jim Codington — Male Chimp Pondering Hand

Here is a preview of Jim Codington’s new chimpanzee images that he’ll be exhibiting at ArkArk Gallery in San Jose from June 2 to July 17, 2016. Come to the June 3 reception from 5:00 to 9:00 PM to learn and hear more!

Chimpanzee Narrative

By Jim Codington

My fascination with primates was awakened back in the early 70’s when I was studying and trapping squirrel monkeys in the Amazon Basin between undergraduate and Grad school. As a Grad student, I went on to work within the Calif Primate Center UC Davis where I spent quite a bit of time in the cancer research depart focusing on monkeys and their lymphoma outbreak. I developed a genuine respect for their intelligence, social complexity, athletic prowess and their natural beauty, but through those experiences, I somehow never felt personally connected to them.

My perception changed drastically on a recent trip to the remote Yerkes National Primate Research Center located in the jungles along the shores of Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania, a short distance from Jane Goodall’s famous research Center in Gombe. Hiking hours well into the cloud forest, up on the mountain steps, I had my first personal encounter with the magnificent Chimpanzee. That experience, of looking into the eyes of a massive alpha male at a range of some 20 feet, was one I will never forget. Quietly photographing as they played, groomed each other and their infants, and sat pondering their hands in a distinctly human-like manner, I was struck by the intelligence and serenity of these creatures. Observing them in their own wild environment touched my heart in a profound way.

It was in that dark steaming forest I sought to capture, with my camera, images portraying the magical feeling of kinship I had developed with my primate brethren. This unique experience cemented my desire to assist in the conservation of these truly splendid creatures.

To Register for the Reception–click on the following link:


Little Bee Eater Toss Moth In Air Before Swallowing
© 2016 Bruce Finocchio — Little Bee Eater Toss Moth In Air Before Swallowing


Wildlife Beyond Borders, a photographic exhibit by nine artists showing their passion for protecting the world’s animals, will open with over 100 images on display at the Art Ark Gallery, 1035 S. 6th Street, San Jose, California, with a reception by the artists on June 3 (5 – 9PM).

The images show animals in their natural state. The nine artists have spent years photographing animals in many parts of the world to express their deep conviction that animals need to be protected against the onslaught of human activity. The animals are in danger. The images in the exhibition are not only great photographs but also communicate that we need to act to protect them.

Unless we act, many of these animals will cease to exist and our children, or our children’s children, will never experience the awe of seeing an elephant in the forest or a crane in migration. By portraying horses, polar bears, harp seals, swans, songbirds, African cats, sharks, other marine animals and more, Wildlife Beyond Borders seeks to use the images to encourage us all to act.

The exhibit started September 2015 at the PhotoCentral Gallery in Hayward, has since traveled to Palo Alto, and been seen by over 3,000 people. A set of new images will be on display at the Art Ark Gallery, showing never seen before: fish eagles, chimpanzees, an underwater mix of “wildlife and landscape”, one of the 15 remaining species of cranes in the world, dreamscape scenes with horses, and the bond between humans and Indian elephants.

The exhibit has an audio/video feature, known as augmented reality. The viewer points their smartphone at an image and hears the artist deliver a message about their work, their passion, and how they felt when they photographed their subjects. This feature is free to all visitors.

All images are for sale with a portion of the proceeds benefiting various organizations protecting wildlife.

Private guided tours of the exhibit can be organized upon request. Please submit inquiries to the curator, Oliver Klink at oliver@oliverklinkphotography.com. For additional information on events, gallery opening hours, go to www.oliverklinkphotography.com/Exhibi…/WildlifeBeyondBorders.

The exhibit will be on display until July 17, 2016.

The exhibiting artists are:

Oliver Klink (Los Gatos), Susan Carnahan (Menlo Park), Mary Aiu (Fairfield), Mike Miller (Portola Valley), Marian Davidson (Portola Valley), Wendy Hannum (San Rafael), Robin V. Robinson (Carmel), Bruce Finocchio (Castro Valley), Jim Codington (Sonoma)

To Register for the Reception–click on the following link:

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