Osceola Refetoff’s interest is in documenting humanity’s impact on the world – both the intersection of nature and industry, and the narratives of the people living at those crossroads. His images exist within traditional means – landscape, portraiture, travel, editorial – and are variously produced using film, digital, infrared, and pinhole exposures. Thus, despite his documentarian impulses and the fact that his images deliberately depict ordinary, even mundane, subjects; he trains on them a nuanced vision, often yielding surreal, even dreamlike images. His process generally happens “in camera,” at the moment of capture, in a kind of alchemical reaction that transforms the external world into something both realistic and magical.

Refetoff’s early influences were the great mise-en-scène directors Lang, Welles, Kubrick, and Melville. This motion picture background informs his approach to constructing visual narratives. As he shifts between stylistic modesto build layered, multidimensional histories, what links all aspects of his eclectic practice is a commitment to capturing “what the picture requires.” Framing meticulous compositions in depth, he uses the many cameras he carries to render not only how a place looks, but how it feels to be there.

Refetoff holds a B.A. in Film & Mass Communications from Duke University (1985) and an M.F.A. from New York University’s Graduate Film Program (1991). His photography has been featured in Artillery, Palm Springs Life, Arid, Boom, Hemispheres,WhiteHot and Compass magazines, among others. His work is widely exhibited including at the San Diego Art Institute, the Palm Springs Art Museum, The Main Museum, Photo LA, Porch Gallery, and numerous solo exhibitions covered in The LA Times, Huffington Post, CBS, LA Weekly, and other publications.High & Dry, a collaboration with writer/historian Christopher Langley, is syndicated on KCET’s Emmy-winning program Artbound, receiving the Outdoor Writers Association of California’s 2016 Best Outdoor Media Award.


Window with Creosote Bush - Dunmovin, CA - 2010

“Window with Creosote Bush” – Dunmovin, CA – 2010
 
Three miles north of Coso Junction off California Highway 395, Dunmovin served as a rest station for mule trains carrying silver ingots from the Cerro Gordo mines to Los Angeles in the late 1800s. Over the years, the town had a post office, service station, store, cafe, and tourist accommodations, but when I captured this image from an abandoned cabin, the businesses were all closed and NO TRESPASSING signs were posted along the perimeter.
 
A couple of years later I had the opportunity to meet the town’s owner, Robert Ray, who lived in a doublewide trailer towards the back of the forlorn property; this despite owning several valuable mining assets. Robert told me the town was named Dunmovin because, by the time he settled there, his wife was “done movin.” I suspect the statement was, in part, apocryphal.
 
Two sizes: 24×30″ or 17×22” (each are editions of 20) – Archival Pigment Print

“It’s a Mess Without You!” – Cinco, CA – 2011

 
I had been photographing the abandoned trailers at this site for four years before capturing this image. The same room appears in an earlier photograph “Desert Kitchen – Cinco, CA – 2010” before the sink was pried out and some unknown person or persons were moved to add this memorable inscription to the scene. As a documentary photographer, I can only bear witness to the aftermath of such events, wondering like you, who may have spray-painted the note, in what circumstance, and for what intended audience. Whatever the author’s intention, this image has caught the imagination of a wide range of people on a personal level, leading to rampant, engaging speculation as to the full story. The large-size print edition is on its way to selling out, but a smaller-size edition is available as well.
 
Two sizes: 24×30” (edition of 10) or 17×22” (edition of 20) – Archival Pigment Print

Landing - BUR to SJC (Burbank to San Jose) - 2014“Landing – BUR to SJC” – Burbank to San Jose – 2014
 
Much of what I see from the sky cannot be fully comprehended in the moment. Even on close inspection, these salt flats outside San Jose International Airport remain a bit of a mystery. I have yet to understand, for instance, the presence of the orange band of what appears to be colored water. While offering much detail to explore, from the bolts on the wing to the distant bridge in the upper left corner, it is the overall balance of color and shapes that led me to print this particular exposure from the thousands I have made from commercial airliners. To me, the image has the feel of a traditional landscape painting, perhaps recalling “The Oxbow” by Thomas Cole of the Hudson River School, painted in 1836.
 
Two sizes: 24×36″ or 17×22” (each are editions of 20) – Archival Pigment Print

For more information contact: Delia Cabral – deliacabral@me.com — 310 770 2525

Artist website: Osceola Refetoff