Malibu artist Maureen Haldeman debuts a new exhibit of her innovative cell phone photography at a reception this Saturday at G2 Gallery in Venice.
By Michael Aushenker / Special to The Malibu Times
Some artists use paint brushes, others employ clay; Maureen Haldeman opts for a Razr Max Droid. Call her a 21st-century expressionist.
“They are my cellphone photographs,” the Latigo Beach resident said of her current exhibit, “Malibu Metallica,” now on display at the G2 Gallery on Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice. The exhibit has been in the works for a little over a year.
“They are landscapes, most of them oceanscapes, and it’s all Malibu,” Haldeman said. “They’re done with my Droid.”
Haldeman will appear at a reception this Saturday from 6:30-9 p.m. at G2, where 14 to 16 pieces will be on display. (All proceeds from sales of the photos go to environmental causes.)
Ironically, Haldeman says she resisted caving in to the digital revolution in photography for a long time, despite her current cutting-edge approach.
“I’ve been a photographer for many years,” Haldeman said. “I can’t remember when I wasn’t one. I had a studio with 35-millimeter film. I was a little bit of a purist and wasn’t going to go that route, but that didn’t last long.”
Her love affair with creating cell art began serendipitously “two Droids back” about a year and a half ago at the Venice Art Walk.
“I forgot all my regular equipment and so I took photos with my phone. I began to experiment with it, play with it.” Since then, the artist swears, “I’m not going to go back.”
Her first reaction to her accidental artistry was “‘My God, this looks solarized,’ not knowing I had [the cell phone camera] on a solarized setting. By happenstance. I love the solarizing effect. I did it years ago in a lab.”
Haldeman primarily “focuses” on palm trees, her signature symbol.
“I love Fauvism,” she said, referring to the 19th-century French avant-garde movement characterized by bold brushstrokes and spontaneous, vibrant colors. “It alters the colors to replicate those colors.”
Haldeman noted that she does not manipulate her images beyond her phone settings.
“I don’t do any Photoshop with them,” she said, “although I do use a little saturation just before the printing.”
Her Razr is not her only photographic friend. There are times when she still uses traditional equipment, such as her Canon G500.
“I just came back from Cuba,” she said. “I used my traditional equipment. But for this particular series, it’s been fun to continue building on it.”
Haldeman’s art has proved so striking and different, it has attracted the makers of the instrument she uses to produce it.
“Motorola contacted me and gave me the next version of their phone,” said Haldeman, who says she refuses to go to the iPhone, even for art’s sake. “I’ve always stuck with the Droid.”
A Malibu resident of nearly 30 years with her attorney husband Barry and screenwriter daughter Jennifer, Haldeman originally hails from Montreal. She loves living in Latigo, drawing artistic inspiration, she says, from the natural beauty of Malibu.
“It’s changed, but the spirit of Malibu is very much like a community,” Haldeman said. “When there’s a disaster, the people come together. Our neighbors look out for each other.”
Haldeman has been proactive in promoting a Malibu arts scene, serving on the Malibu Arts Task Force. In addition to photography, she collects vintage jewelry and refurbishes artifacts such as brooches and shoe buckles.
But it’s the camera that holds her in sway, and Haldeman is following wherever it leads her.
A reception will be held Saturday from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at G2 Gallery, 1503 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, Calif. A $5 admission at the door will directly support the Urban Carnivores project to mitigate the human impact on bobcats.