art / artist / sacramento

An Artistic Collaboration with the Dead: Breathing New Life into Vintage Portraits

Passersby get a quick peak at Logan Fessler’s “No Past, No Future” exhibit at Insight Coffee Roasters in downtown Sacramento

Passersby get a quick peak at Logan Fessler’s “No Past, No Future” exhibit at Insight Coffee Roasters in downtown Sacramento

For the months of February and March, the quaint cottage-like coffee shop, Insight, features Logan Fessler’s “No Past, No Future” solo exhibit. Antique portraits collaged with vibrant paint and mounted on found wood compliment the white cobblestone walls of this downtown coffee shop.

While the 24 pieces on display range in complex composition and size, Fessler’s first artistic tools were not paint and brush. For this recent Sacramento transplant, creative expression began when he picked up a camera in 1999. “Photography helped me have a creative outlet, something where I could create a scene and then photograph it.” From the moment he saw life through a lens, Fessler embarked on a journey towards becoming a professional photographer; the thought of one day being unable to lift a camera never crossed his mind. The camera was an extension of him, another eye to capture the world.

At a young age Fessler was exposed to the everlasting power of photographs as he meticulously combed through National Geographic magazines, salivating at the iconic images on the page. “National Geographic is my dream job—to travel, see the world, have adventures and meet interesting people.” Soon after, photography became Fessler’s lifelong passion, a way for him to creatively express himself and remember the world in which he lived. For Fessler, moments and one-time memories could be eternally captured with a camera body and an assortment of lenses. But on the evening of May 21, 2013, a bicycle accident radically changed Logan’s ability to create eternal moments.

While riding home on the Santa Rosa Creek trail in Santa Rosa, Fessler encountered a group of teenagers blocking the pathway. In an attempt to avoid collision with the group, Fessler instinctually veered left to a small opening in the group. A moment of confusion ensued and a bystander moved directly in line with Fessler’s path forcing Fessler to clip the onlooker and fly over his bicycle handlebars. The resulting injuries: A gash on his head that hit a major vein and required stitches to stop the bleeding – one inch further and stitches would have been useless. It was not an almost-fatal head wound that stopped Fessler from his creative endeavors though, a broken collarbone made it impossible to lift a camera.

“I barely had movement in my arm. It was painful but I dealt with it and started looking for other mediums to express myself in.” Prior to the accident, Fessler dabbled in painting digitally on personal photographs and this is where his past and future collide: To pick a camera was impossible, but Fessler didn’t want to stop his creativity and found a new way to express with a paintbrush and vintage photographs after the accident.

To transform eternal moments into works of art, Fessler stares at portraitures for a length of time—sometimes months—to unearth a sense of individuality and connectivity. Fessler then translates these feelings through shapes and colors. Once Fessler has a clear interpretation of who these people might have been, he uses a pencil to sketch out shapes and lines as guides, later painting over them. Other times, Fessler starts painting directly on the image without any guides. “I guess you can say it’s kind of a meditative, spiritual experience [for me]. I suppose I was influenced by Kandinsky and his view on the spirituality of art.”

When Fessler attempts to unite the individuals in the vintage photographs with shapes and colors, this deep spiritual connection guides him. “I joke around and say I’m collaborating with the dead: the photographer’s dead, the person pictured is long since passed. It’s just a moment in time where their whole lives are condensed to and it can be bought and sold and found.” It may be a singular moment in time, but Fessler attempts to breathe new life into these portraits with his paint and brush.

A portrait is given new life with Fessler’s creative outlet.

A portrait is given new life with Fessler’s creative outlet.

Painted eternal moments are for sale and interested parties can contact Fessler directly via email at loganfessler@yahoo.com. Fessler is also working on revamping his website, www.loganfessler.com.

Insight Coffee Roasters-Capitol Cafe

1014 10th St (Between J & K)

Sacramento, CA 95814

Hours of Operation: Mon – Fri 7am to 5pm, Sat – Sun 8am to 4pm

Photos Compliments: Logan Fessler

TUBE Magazine_Shannon Haslinger_bio photo

 

About the Author: Shannon Haslinger is a freelance writer and former editorial intern for Comstock’s. In addition to working in higher education, she returned to her first love — the written word. As a cultural historian, educator and outdoor aficionado, she writes on a broad range of subjects.

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