Palm Beach County cares about the arts, it really does. And in order to encourage more artistic expression in local photography, the Palm Beach County Film and Television Commission presents its first annual Exposure Fotofestival. Besides featuring local still photographers, the festival has also dedicated much of its time to supporting the Children's Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that helps underprivileged kids find jobs in the arts. Ralf Gschwend, a featured Fotofestival artist and organizer, is one of its instrumental players. "This organization isn't really on the radar of the wealthy upper-class of Palm Beach," he says. "It's our job to help these kids out and foster a love of art in them."
And now, on to the art! Of the six artists to be featured, two of them display very different styles. A self-described "passionate amateur," Gschwend produces dreamy, sepia-toned photoscapes and panoramic murals that recall the work of modern surrealist Scott Mutter mixed with some Dali. A nine-foot mural entitled "Florida Flock of Kleenex" is one example of Gschwend's penchant for the fantastical. A billowing cloudscape sits poised over a Florida beach, as a flock of birds flies in the background. So why is Kleenex in the title? That you'll have to find out for yourself. This piece can also be seen in downtown West Palm Beach on Clematis Street. On the more international end, photographer Gregory Ross' images of Thailand, Cambodia, and Burma are just a taste of his upcoming book, Quest: Thailand (a photo-documentary) and an upcoming PBS feature on the lives of the people of Southeast Asia. And for added viewing pleasure, a 3-D screened black room projects images of Palm Beach County's ongoing construction nightmare, such as unfinished overhangs and exit ramps to nowhere. Just in case you don't get enough of it on the way to work.