Debbie Croft: Gallery features photography

May 4, 2013 

For several close friends who enjoy photography as much as these guys do, it was an obvious choice. Why not open a gallery?

Less than a month ago, The Gallery on 5th Street moved into downtown Mariposa. The retail establishment features fine art photography by Leroy and Richard Radanovich, Ira Estin and Dan Warsinger.

The Gallery's sign is an actual photograph printed on metal.

Within the small space, displays are tastefully arranged. Most subjects are landscapes in the western United States. A few photographs center on wildlife.

One print highlights the detail of a vibrant orange poppy. Photos of moss-covered rocks and a cascading waterfall invite a closer look.

On a grander scale, some images inspire awe: the wide open sky above giant sand dunes, and a pre-dawn moon setting beyond an iconic monolith.

Visitors can almost taste the dust of a cattle drive along a dirt road.

Brilliant color and a touch of whimsy are evident in Estin's shot of a frog's dinner catch.

Opening a gallery was Richard Radanovich's idea. His mother, Ellie, operates the business side of the new venture, greeting visitors and answering questions.

Richard's father, Leroy, is one of several local historians. His articles, books and old photographs have been around Mariposa for a long time. He's also well-known for custom photo work involving restoration.

Leroy's father opened a drugstore in the mid-1900s. It included a darkroom for photo processing. He took an interest in photography, which passed to his son, Richard. Both enjoy peering through a lens with the rugged western landscape spread out on the other side.

Photography is a more recent interest of Richard's, who rarely travels now without his camera. Last month he took time off for hiking in Utah.

Ira Estin's love of nature produces images in brilliant color. Wildlife, insects, wildflowers, waterfalls and the majestic Sierra Nevada are favorite subjects. There's a rich depth of feeling in his photographs. His patience is often rewarded with opportune moments for ideal shots, being in the right place at just the right time.

Estin is an outdoor guide with Yosemite Close Up Tours and a nature photography instructor. A lifetime of outdoor adventures has taken him around the world.

Another outdoor photographer, Warsinger prefers foul weather.

"After a big snowstorm about 20 years ago, I went to Yosemite dressed in outdoor gear," he said. "And a newspaper photographer took a picture of me taking pictures, because I was the only person there."

He claims bad weather makes more interesting photography. If he's working on a clear day, he's probably photographing a wedding.

Warsinger appreciates film. He thinks it handles more tones and a broader range of colors than digital photography, making the transitions between colors softer and smoother.

With a portable studio, his camera gear goes with him everywhere. He also teaches photo workshops. His website is at www.yosemitephoto.com.

Well over 100 years of combined photography experience is represented in the new gallery.

The grand opening will be held this weekend during the Butterfly Festival.

The gallery is at 4998-A 5th St. It is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays and by appointment. For more information, call (209) 769-4625.

Also on display are handcrafted felt pots made by Leroy and Ellie's daughter, along with some of Ellie's unique finds of jewelry, sculptures, ceramics and glass.

This group is excited to be part of Mariposa's eclectic arts scene. Three other art galleries in the downtown area are: Treetop Gallery with Mariposa County Arts Council, the Sierra Artists Gallery and Casto Oaks Fine Wine and Art.

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at composed@tds.net.

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