nicheimages

dave sobotka

every story creates a picture.

Well, I finally was accepted to ArtPrize this year.

ArtPrize is an international Art Festival that takes place in Grand Rapids Michigan. For three weeks in the fall, the businesses and venues in downtown Grand Rapids become a giant art gallery. The styles of art represented is an eclectic mix of 2-D, 3-D, time lapse, performance, and anything else you can throw at the wall.

The best thing about ArtPrize is that it creates an ongoing discussion of what is actually art. I have been up to the event multiple times, met with my friends from college as well as my family, and we all go around and have that discussion about the nature of art. Endless debates on what each piece says, whether that piece is actually art (or not, based on one's opinion), and the experience of seeing some really weird stuff. Weird, but extremely creative . . .

Ultimately, everyone has their mind opened. And we all gain a greater appreciation of the entire creative process. We learn to appreciate what an artist says through his/her work. We may not agree with it, but it does get us all thinking.

It was always my hope to get accepted into this festival. One lone submission from each artist. Only one. You put your best foot forward and hope to get in.

This was my third year trying. In 2020, I had entered, but COVID shut it all down. In 2021, I tried again, and was rejected by every venue. I really thought I had something powerful that year, but it didn't work out for me. I was despondent, but one can only succeed if one tries . . .

The third time was the charm. For months beforehand, I created a variety of works but nothing clicked for me. I finally had something that I was going to submit, but at the last minute, I switched it up with a piece submitted to another show that had taken me all of 1/2 hour to execute. But is was a very powerful piece, and the quick execution was due to months of working along a line of thought that had crept into all of my artwork.

The title of the piece is inevitable vi.

It speaks of our mortality in a very dramatic way. But if you choose, you can view the piece as offering a hope of resurrection and rebirth.

It all depends on your point of view.

On display at 
Monroe Community Church, 
1020 Monroe Avenue NW, 
Grand Rapids MI

I am a photographer . . .  a recorder of life and our existence in this world.

My photos are a record of a frozen moment in time, and are a means to elevate that moment or item to significance. Most everything in life will not be remembered, and l strive to immortalize my subjects into something of value and worth. In fact, as time has gone on, l have become even more drawn to subject matter that is insignificant and goes unnoticed.


I try to contemplate whatever l have shot. For instance, I have often thought about how many leaves have existed through time. It’s a number that is beyond me. How many of those leaves get noticed? But each one serves a purpose. They nourish the tree as they live, and when they die, they also feed the tree through decay.


I have applied that mindset to everything l now create . . . Life, death, decay, rebirth.


It is a concept that actually is a central tenet of my Christian faith too. We live in a fallen corrupt world, yet there is the hope and desire to rise above that corruption and create something that embraces the beauty of life and existence. 

So what should an artist say through his work . . . ? 

Say something meaningful and powerful.

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November 2022

Tis The Season

Tall Grass Arts Association Gallery - Park Forest, IL

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February 2023

From Death to Life - A Celebration of Lent

Monroe Community Church - Grand Rapids, MI

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June 2023

Tall Grass Arts Association Gallery - Park Forest, IL

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November 2023

(r)evolutions

Gallery Seven - Lockport, IL

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fossils & inevitables

portraits of creation

We are all children of time . . .

We are born, we live, we interact with one another, and yet there is the inevitability of our mortality. One hundred years from now, who will remember us? 

I create fossils. A visual reminder of this unending cycle of life, death, decay . . .  but also of the hope, and I believe, the inevitability of rebirth.  We live in an imperfect world, yet there is the hope and desire to rise above that imperfection and embrace the beauty of life and our existence, as brief as it may be when compared to the span of all time. And despite our mortality, we have the choice to have either a positive or negative impact on those people around us, as well as society and the world itself.

As fossils permit detailed evaluations of the organism and its context, I craft each piece to provide a verifiable recounting of the essence of that object, and its relationship to a larger world.

(un)natural creations

The evolution of creation . . .

Working with these 2,300 Fossil images, I started merging those images into repeating patterns and shapes to further emphasize the beauty that I saw. I merged several different images together to create an intriguing and unique pattern that takes on a unique life of its own.

As l was creating these images, I started to contemplate the infinite variety of biodiversity in our world, as well as the ongoing loss of those lifeforms because of the hand of man. We are on the precipice of a mass extinction . . . and that extinction could doom us too.  Furthermore, there are multiple forms of life that mankind will never discover, simply because we have destroyed that life in our careless stewardship of the earth. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are at a crossroad in our existence. 

We have the choice to decide which path we should take.

ruminations

a reflection on depression

In 2O14, I lost my job . . .

I slipped into a profound depression triggered by this loss. As I spiraled down, I lost my faith, my emotional balance and ultimately all hope. My grip on reality was shaken and events that might be viewed as simple challenges to overcome by most people appeared to be portents of a catastrophic spiral into despair to me. 

I almost didn’t survive. 

Through the Providential intervention of a close friend I realized that I needed help for something that I was powerless to overcome on my own strength. The recovery took months and was marked by events and circumstances that proved to be milestones of progress.

In 2021 and in the midst of the pandemic, I saw the stress and confusion that burdened so many people. I empathized and began to relive and evaluate some of my struggles of 2014. I was reminded of the waypoints and milestones I had navigated, and I saw an opportunity to tell the story of my experience.  

Each Rumination piece has its origin in an emotional, physical and spiritual aspect of my struggle, as well as how I could not deal with the events and circumstances that marked my 2014 experience. It was therapeutic to revisit that period of time. For me, these pieces tell a story of deep despair, but they also radiate a hope that I want to share as they depict the process of transformation that I experienced in surmounting the dark challenges that almost consumed me.
 

No matter what you are going through, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

two <||> sides

what is compassion?

Our humanity is measured by our compassion towards the least of those in society . . .

When we are rich, how do we handle the blessings we have? Do we hoard our wealth, because we have earned it and it is ours to do with as we see fit? Do we live in fear of what can happen to us? Are we afraid to lose what we have rightfully earned?

All of these questions have been haunting me for the past few years . . . Personally, I fail on many levels to be as compassionate as I could be. On a societal level, our nation has seemed to take a path towards isolationist protectionism. We needed to hold onto what was ours. American individualism headed in a new direction, turning inward . . . and in the process, it became fearful and somewhat selfish. Nowhere was this more apparent than on the ongoing public discourse regarding immigration . . . legal or otherwise.

I never gave immigration much thought. it was something that did not seem to affect me on a personal level. I am a fourth-generation us citizen, whose great-grandparents legally emigrated from Eastern Europe in the early 1900s. Over the past few years, I worked with many people who were first or second- generation immigrants, but i did not know anyone who was here illegally. Or maybe I did and I did not know it . . .

Illegal immigration is a complex and multi-faceted problem. It is easier to kick the issue down the road. Let the next generation deal with the problem.

I really do not have the answers as to how it should be solved. We are a nation of immigrants as well as a nation built on the rule of law. But if we are completely honest with ourselves, we are also a nation whose early settlers took this land from others who were here a long time before we arrived. We justify our actions by repeating the adage, ‘civilization has always been built on the back of conquest.’ We ourselves are not guilty of the crime, but we also cannot turn a blind eye towards that truth. 

What I do know is that our country has a lot of invisible people . . . among them, those who have entered this nation through other than legal channels. some have come here for nefarious reasons, but many more, for whatever reason, have fled their countries to seek a better life.

It is easy to sit back and say what others should do, based on the laws. We are taught to obey the law, but we are fortunate because for the most part, our laws are the most equitable of any society currently in the world today.

So i ask the question . . . what is wrong with that?

I cannot even imagine what they were escaping from. I live a life of comfort. I do realize that the poorest of our own citizens live far better than the majority of the people in the world. Seven billion people on this planet, and most live far below the U.S. poverty line. Millions of people chained into circumstances of violence, with no viable means of escape, or the ability to affect change in their own homelands to a more equitable society. Billions of people seeking their next meal, not knowing when or if they will eat again. All are trapped, simply because they are powerless to implement real and lasting change.

Still . . . I ask the question . . .  if you were in that situation, what would you do? Would you try to escape to a better life, even if the door was firmly shut and locked? Would you attempt to swim across a river with a child for the hope of a better life, because where you came from was hell on earth?

The debate continues to rage. We need to take care of our own. We need to punish lawbreakers who did not follow the proper legal channels of immigration. We need to protect ourselves from criminal elements entering our country. We need to feel safe from any threats, real or imagined. We have the right to enjoy life and the fruits of our hard-earned labors. We need to preserve the means to become as rich as we possibly can through our hard work.

And there is nothing wrong with those reasons either . . .

What troubles me as I follow the discourse, is not the fact that as a wealthy nation, we do have the rights to enjoy the fruits of our labors and the benefits of a land that honors the value of personal freedom, but that we have a severe lack of pity and compassion towards those who come out of these horrible societal conditions, and we do not even attempt to put ourselves in the shoes of those victims for even a moment . . . simply a shrug of the shoulders as migrants, immigrants and refugees are herded into cages, separated from their families and then deported back, because the immigration quota cannot be exceeded.

But let us spend billions on a wall instead . . .

random acts of photography

Time is merciless, unrelenting, unforgiving . . .

It absorbs all events, objects and changes that occur, leaving nothing in its wake except dust. Most everything that has ever existed is forgotten. How then can we remember and be remembered? 

I see the world as an infinite and ever-changing canvas and I am an observer of that canvas. Every object on that canvas has value. Each object, whether good or bad, great or small, beautiful or ugly, serves a purpose that we may not appreciate, grasp or fully understand, but nevertheless it is a purpose that ultimately serves a greater whole. 

Each moment in time is unique and will never be repeated. Time passes and the small moments are gone, as if they never existed in the first place. Furthermore, as objects interact with one another and their environment, they create an endless combination of new permutations.

That is why I am a photographer.

I see the world around me, and I see those permutations. Objects, plants, animals, people, shadows, colors. Sadly, most everything will fade into dust without anyone in the present, let alone the future, acknowledging their existence. But some things might survive through my photography. And to be honest, my photography may not last, but even in the here and now, what I photograph will have some significance, at least for one person.

And that is worth something . . .

e x o d u s

a story of redemption

The world can be a cruel place . . .

Circumstances and events can spin out of our control and it seems that life is an endless cycle of pain and suffering. We feel like we are powerless to stop what is happening to us. Then redemption occurs and reminds us that we are not in this world alone. We discover that we have an advocate who takes over and pulls us along despite our weakness. That advocate can take many forms… a friend, a spouse or even God himself.

As a child, I used to watch the movie The Ten Commandments every year at Easter time. Sure, the acting was over the top and it probably took liberties with historical accuracy, but it also conveyed a powerful message . . .  You are not alone in this world and there is an Advocate for you.

The year 2020 was hard on so many levels. From the pandemic, the semi collapse of our economy to the race riots, we saw our world spinning out of control.

We need the hope found in the story of Exodus . . .

I majored in Fine Art at Calvin College. While earning my degree, I cultivated a mind-set of creativity and an openness to the wonder of the world. In simple terms, as a result of the program, I began to view the world as a canvas.

Over the course of my career as a graphic artist, I have worked to creatively communicate meaningful messages to my targeted audience. For over 30+ years, I have confronted and solved the basic technical challenges of successful art by compellingly integrating color, composition, structure, and form. In fact, through sheer repetition, balancing these foundational artistic building blocks became second nature to me. What started as a challenge for me has become as natural as breathing

In 2007, I picked up a camera and began composing content from the immediate world around me. Over time, as I shot my photos, I discovered a new way of seeing the world that was informed by both my training and work experience. As a result, I had the means to convey what was meaningful to me personally in a medium that opened tremendous artistic opportunities. So, for the next dozen years I made photographs, honing my vision and my technical skills.

In 2020, COVID struck, and I was put on unpaid leave. With the newfound free time, I was able to pursue an illustration project for a close friend. Remarkably, that project led to a melding together of everything I learned over the past 35 years, and I took a very important next step in my evolution as an artist.

Say something with art . . . Say something meaningful and powerful.

September, 2022

ArtPrize

Monroe Community Church

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September, 2022

Geneva Center for the Arts

Say It Out Loud 

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September, 2022

Water Street Art Studios

13th Anniversary Show

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August 2022

Tall Grass Art Center

TaDa

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July 2022

Fine Line Creative Arts Center

On The Wing

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June 2022

Tall Grass Art Center

Multiplicity

permutation i - Award of Excellence

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June 2022

Gallery Seven

Open Lens XII

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March 2022

Tall Grass Art Center

Black and/or White

the chasm - Award of Excellence

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February 2022

Chicago Capital Gallery 

(un)natural creation

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January 2022

Tall Grass Art Center

Morton Arboretum Photographic Society Exhibit

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December 2021

Gary Brown Gallery

Winter Show

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November 2021

Gary Brown Gallery

Exodus

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September 2021

Water Street Studio

12th Anniversary Show

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September 2020

Water Street Studio

COVID In Place

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September 2019

Chicago Capital Gallery

two <ll> sides

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June 2017

Gallery Seven

Open Lens VIII

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2016, 2017

Cantigney

Winner - Annual Photo Contest

Pricing is available upon request. 

Prints are available on Archival Paper, Canvas or Aluminum, and I also have framing options available for you. I have the flexibility to print artwork in a variety of sizes, based on the proportions listed below each image (Each print's listing has the original creation size). Since these are all digital images, all artwork is set up at 300 dpi at the listed size.

Total price will be determined by the above options selected.

If you are interested in ordering prints of my artwork, please fill in the Request For Prints form below. Please include the name of the artwork that you want, size, material, framing, as well as your mailing/shipping address in the email. 

I will contact you with details of the timeframe for delivery, as well as payment options. 

There will be an additional shipping charge added to the purchase price, based on the weight of the final piece.